Solar LED Lighting for Safer Walking Tracks

Solar LED Lighting Relief – Channel 9 News Story Campaigning for More Accessible and Safer Walking Tracks

Three times as many Victorians are searching for walking maps online and Heart Foundation figures show 31% of Australians were walking more during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

Now, Victorian residents and fitness groups are being called on to lobby their local council to apply for a new State Government grant that provides funding to install solar LED lighting on popular pathways and recreational trails.

Victoria Walks Executive Officer Ben Rossiter is heading up the campaign to call for applications to the $68 million Community Sport stimulus program before they close on Friday (June 19).

“Since mid-March, Victoria Walks has seen exponential growth in the number of Victorians looking for great, safe places to walk,” Dr. Rossiter said.

“With so many more people realizing the benefits of walking, it’s really important councils invest in good walking infrastructure and that includes lighting. Twice the rate of women than men walk, and for many, personal safety can be a major concern but good lighting can help with that.”

Melbourne-based Leadsun is a world leader in solar public lighting and an associate member of Victoria Walks. Managing Director Matt Pollard said just as sporting clubs upgrade facilities, walking groups and residents are now calling for improvements to pathways and trails.

“Many of the recreational trails where people love to walk are in areas where you can’t get traditional street lighting in or it’s too expensive to even try,” Mr Pollard said.

“In most cases, people either won’t use the path before dawn or after dark, or they’ll walk with an iPhone or torch to try to see where they’re going. One for one, solar lighting is more cost-effective than traditional electrical public lighting as there’s no need for extensive trenching, no electrical wiring, and the power stores in the battery for three days.”

Dr. Rossiter said Victoria Walks had supported previous campaigns to have solar lighting installed across Victoria and urged residents to contact their local council before applications for the grant closed.

“Walking is an activity Victorians want to do. You don’t need special equipment, and you can do it with your family, with friends or by yourself and if you shine a light on a path, it’s more likely to be used,” he said.

“We want to make it more accessible and improve walking conditions, so it’s very important residents talk to their council so we can use the pathways day and night.”

Wodonga Council Lights The Way

Wodonga Council Plans Expansion of Solar Pathway Network as The Number of People Walking Increases

There are more than 100 solar lights illuminating paths across Wodonga with another 47 new lights to be installed in the next stage.

Deputy Mayor Cr Brian Mitchell and Manager Sport and Recreation Liona Edwards met with the founder of manufacturer Leadsun today to showcase the project and discuss the next stage.

The lights are along the House Creek trail through Wodonga including Belvoir Park to the Gateway Island with linkages to Birallee Park, David Bishop Park, Arthur Dunstan Park, Frank Krier, and George Looms Park, Westlands Park, and James Taverny Park.

The next stage will cover Parkers Rd and Moorefield Park Drive to the underpass at Wodonga TAFE and complete the link from Forrest Mars Ave to Belvoir Park, a total of 47 new lights.

This continuation of path lighting will complete key linkages to the existing path networks already benefitting from previous installations and connect to major community facilities including Wodonga TAFE, Victory Primary School, and La Trobe University.

The lights provide lit access to Wodonga CBD, schools, hospitals, sporting reserves, and other amenities, and help increase perceptions for safety, reduce anti-social behavior and improve natural surveillance.

Manager Sport and Recreation Liona Edwards said the rollout of the solar lighting project enhanced the extensive pathways network that was well-used by the community.

“The solar lighting project is an initiative that aims to enhance personal safety, deter antisocial behavior and create improved levels of connectivity in the community,” she said.

Automated counters installed on each of the city’s key walking and cycling corridors – the House Creek Trail, the High Country Rail Trail and the Stock Bridge leading to Albury – show just how well-used our pathways are by the community.

Counters have shown an average of 101 percent increase in usage during the past two months compared to the same time last year.

The latest path counter data are taken along the House Creek Trail and the High Country Rail Trail showed that during the months of March to May, while the full COVID-19 restrictions were in place, more than double the regular users were making use of sections of the trails while gyms and sports clubs remained closed.

Helped by the newly sealed surface and furniture recently installed along the Rail Trail, average daily users increased by up to 171 percent near Whytes Rd and 89 percent closer into the CBA, while the recent addition of solar lighting assisted the House Creek Trail daily usage to increase up to 177 percent out by Clyde Cameron Reserve.

Light At The End Of The COVID-19 Tunnel

Creating Safer & More Attractive Public Spaces After Dark – A Light At The End Of The COVID-19 Tunnel

Like many Victorians on Saturday, I wanted to get back outside and hit a track, trail, or pathway to take advantage of the mild conditions. Before COVID-19 – and for the last several years – the 1000 Steps (in the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne) had been my destination of choice to get amongst nature and enjoy the fresh air and open spaces while challenging myself up and down the steps. I’ve always loved how healthy and revitalized it makes me feel.

So, on Saturday, with lockdown restrictions easing and parks reopening, I decided the time had come to reacquaint myself with ‘the steps’. Unfortunately, my reacquaintance ended before it even began.

Why? Because hundreds – perhaps thousands – of others had the same idea. The park was packed, with the adjacent road and streets jammed with cars and more people wanting to get in, bringing traffic to a standstill. The whole experience was like arriving at the concert of a huge music star, but in this case, the only star was ‘The Steps’ and she’s been the resident star attraction for decades. So why all the fuss now?

Maybe it’s because there seems to now be a surge in people realizing that exercise and physical activity doesn’t need to be sophisticated. It doesn’t need a gym or a tennis court. There’s been almost a collective realization that walking is the most convenient, simplest exercise most of us can do.

Which it is. But does this now pose an even greater risk to people’s health?

What I realized on Saturday was that although we have so many amazing open spaces with walkways and trails, we still don’t always have the time to use them during weekday daylight hours. It seems we still have to leave it to the weekends.

Only now, those weekends and those parks are full of a lot more people than before. People who have now discovered (or rediscovered) the joy of exercising out in our parks. But, with social-distancing recommendations still rightly in place, is this surge in numbers of people crowding into our parks on the weekends putting people at even greater risk of COVID-19 transmission?

Don’t get me wrong – it’s fantastic that so many more people are appreciating just how physically and mentally beneficial walking out in our parks can be. But what Saturday’s experience showed me is that we do indeed have the challenge to ensure we can maintain social-distancing measures while allowing people to continue to enjoy our world-leading parks and open public spaces.

It’s a great challenge to have, but it’s still a challenge. But like many challenges, when you look at it a bit more closely, there’s a clear silver lining of opportunity.

What if we could upgrade existing facilities and extend their hours of usage beyond just daylight hours, particularly from Monday to Friday when people are usually at their busiest? To allow people to use those facilities after daylight hours too?

There are currently limited options for attractive, safe walking paths or trails that people can use after hours, and it seems many of our most fantastic open spaces and community assets are underutilized.

There’s a clear opportunity – perhaps even a community and health responsibility – to extend their hours of usage.

A silver lining in golden public assets.

If we could extend these spaces’ usable hours, we could turn already-established networks of community infrastructure into golden assets that can be used not just during daylight hours, but in the early morning and evenings as well.

We saw it in the mid-90s when we extended hours of retail shopping on Thursday and Friday nights, and how popular that has become. Also, we already extend the usable hours of other recreation and sporting facilities with adequate lighting, like tennis, allowing people to do these activities outside daylight hours. Why should walking trails and pathways be any different? Why shouldn’t walking for exercise and leisure be deemed just as important as tennis?

After all, as is so rightly pointed out by Victoria Walks Inc – a walking health promotion charity working to get more Victorians walking every day – if you design communities for automobiles, you get more automobiles. If you design them for people, you get walkable, liveable communities.[1]

Walkable public spaces make good health and economic sense – but safety is still a huge concern.

Walking for exercise is the most common form of transport in Melbourne, and has huge benefits both for health and economics. Recreational walking, for example, is by far the most common physical activity for Australians aged 15 years or over, with nearly 45% of the population actively walking for recreation at least once a year[2].

However, we haven’t got anywhere near enough attractive, inviting, and safely lit environments to accommodate our recreational walkers. Because where Australia really falls down is on gender disparity in feeling safe in public spaces at night. While Australian men feel above-average safety, only women in Chile, Mexico, and Hungary feel less safe walking alone at night. For every 10 Australian men who say they feel safe walking at night, there are only 6.3 women who would say the same – the worst gender differential in the OECD [3]

It is clear that limited walking options in some places create barriers and concerns about personal safety, particularly for women.

The SMART light at the end of the tunnel.

Integrating public lighting systems can make all the above a reality, however, until recently, there have been three key barriers to this – Number 1. High cost for installation and ongoing electricity fees, Number 2. Disruption and Destruction caused during the installation process by trenching underground electric wiring, Number 3. The length of time it takes for permits and specifications to be drawn up from electricity companies before a project can become shovel-ready.

However, there is now a solution that overcomes these barriers and enables people to exercise when they want and where they want in an open space environment that has enhanced safety and is attractive to use. It’s called Smart Public Lighting.

It’s SMART because it is far more: 

Sustainable, in that it’s completely powered by the sun and off the electricity grid.

Modern, in terms of both innovative technical functionality and design aesthetic.

Adaptive in the different environments it can be installed in and operate specific to the needs of a given application.

Robust, both in build quality and dependable performance that can withstand electricity blackouts and brownouts.

Technologically advanced, through the most innovative functionality like wireless remote control and monitoring and automatic dimming functions that automatically adjusts the level of brightness upon detection of pedestrian movement around the lights.

The solution is as clear as day – or hopefully, night.

LEADSUN proudly specializes in innovative SMART public lighting solutions for open spaces – in particular, for walking trails, shared pathways, recreation reserves, and car parks.

As SMART public lighting specialists working with trusted local government and corporate partners since 2005, we are industry leaders in the provision of efficient, smart public lighting solutions that have enhanced the safety of communities across Australia and the world. 

Now more than ever, we’re here to bring light to Australia’s public spaces, easily and efficiently.

Click here to learn more about how we can light up your part of the world.

[1] Parris Glendening and Christine Todd Whitman in Victoria Walks Corporate Supporter Guide.

[2] Victoria walks 2019, Walking and transport in Melbourne suburbs.

[3] Ibid.

Kokoda Track Foundation

Leadsun & the Kokoda Track Foundation, Ready for the Partnership to Help Shine a Light on PNG!

Leadsun is proud to announce a Collective Energy(c) Initiative with the Kokoda Track Foundation after our Managing Director Matt Pollard recently undertook the Kokoda Track journey and also explored some exciting projects to help light-up communities surrounding the Kokoda Track in PNG.

During Matt’s visit to PNG, he learned that a staggering 87% of Papua New Guineans still don’t have access to grid electricity infrastructure and most villages are pitch black at night. But rest assured; Help is on the way and so far more than 3,000 indoor solar lighting kits have already been delivered & installed throughout 30 PNG Villages as part of KTF’s initiatives to provide lighting in people’s homes.

Leadsun will be further supporting the ‘Kokoda Track Foundation’ with their ambitious Livelihood Project which seeks to build new community learning centers throughout the Kokoda Track region, and also provide them with access to solar-powered light and power systems which will help enable further education for young people and a better chance of a brighter future!

4 Considerations for Lighting a Pathway

4 Considerations for Lighting a Pathway

Public pathways may be convenient during the day, but they often must close at sundown—which can limit their use, especially in winter months with shorter hours of daylight. Proper signage and after-dark policies may help, but installing effective lighting is an even better way to increase the sense of safety for walkers. Here are four key things to consider to effectively pathway street lighting.

#1: Consider What the Community Wants.

Properly assessed lighting considers who will be using the shared pathway and for what purpose. What types of users are there? Commuters traveling after dark, especially in winter, will likely need and want more lighting than weekend visitors, who may be more likely to stick to daylight hours for their activities.

In addition, there must be a proper environmental assessment to ensure the local ecology won’t be negatively affected by the pathway street lighting. Trees and underground works don’t mix very well, and tree roots often interfere with underground cabling when grid-powered lighting is used, which then leads to long-term maintenance costs.

#2: Consider What Lighting Type Works For the Physical Location.

There are several considerations for lighting on a pathway. Wired lighting may require little maintenance over time, but it is expensive to install and may not be feasible in riparian corridors or anywhere that environmental disruption is not permitted. Battery-powered lighting may be cheap and easy to repair, but it is not reliable and requires frequent maintenance for battery changes.

A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar pathway street lighting still be an option?

#3: Consider What Lighting Placement and Design Will Work for the Pathway Location and Use.

A solar-powered light combines the reliability of a wired light with the simplicity of the installation of a battery-powered light. With no trenching required for cables, it is environmentally friendly and simple to maintain. Solar-powered pathway lights are reliable as long as they are sized correctly for the location and are not heavily shaded by trees or structures. If trees are a factor, can solar lights still be an option?

  • Meet Australia’s lighting compliance standards: Lights should comply with illumination requirements as set out by the Light Council of Australia.
  • Light only what’s needed: Lights should be shielded, pointing only at the ground and not into the sky to help minimize light pollution, which affects people, animals, and the environment.
  • Be appropriate: Lights should be scaled effectively for pathway use and spaced properly for adequate coverage.
  • Be placed where required for safety: That includes at tunnels and overpasses; trailheads; bridge entrances and exits; public gathering places; along streets; crosswalks; where the path crosses another path or sidewalk; and on signage.
  • Be aesthetically pleasing: While not a requirement, lights that have a warm-white glow rather than a blue-white glow are more pleasant to the eye. In the past, achieving this color with LEDs was more of a challenge, but today’s technology is making it possible to provide a warm-white LED light without breaking the bank.

#4: Consider Who will Be Installing and Maintaining the Lights

It is one thing to choose lights for the end-users, but it’s another to choose lights that will be cost-effective to install and maintain. Installation varies by location and type of light, so running a cost comparison can be a good place to start.

Meanwhile, maintenance can be a challenge for local governments with budgets already stretched thin. For wired lights, a problem with one can cause a whole string to go out. Battery-powered lights avoid this problem, but if the lights are not configured properly, the maintenance team may be out changing batteries more frequently than they would like. With solar lights, there is maintenance still required like any other lighting solution, however, if lithium-ion batteries are used and the technology is high quality, then maintenance is minimal.

Leadsun’s 15th Anniversary In Business

Leadsun’s 15th Anniversary In Business

2020 marks Leadsun’s 15th anniversary in business, and as pioneers in the solar street lighting industry, we couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve achieved over the last 15 years. Whether it’s creating a higher level of safety in the community by lighting up dark public spaces or providing a sustainable lighting solution to cut carbon emissions in communities, there is no challenge we have not overcome.    

Since 2005, we are extremely proud of the positive impact we have made on Australian communities and the challenges we have overcome.  And even in these turbulent times, we want you to know that we are here for you, forging ahead and open for business, ready to help light up your community with affordable solar lighting that is quick and easy to install.

The Challenge

While 2020 has presented many challenges to us all, and the focus right now is staying healthy and socially conscious, we must stay positive and keep moving forward as a community learning from the past and strengthening the future. As we start rebuilding communities that have been affected by bushfires and floods, now is the time to seek new orientations and take a fresh approach to safety and sustainability. 

Lighting Reality Keeps Residents Safer

Residents Around Australian Urban Forest Safer Thanks To Lighting Reality

Residents and visitors in and around an area of Urban Forest in New South Wales, Australia, are feeling safer thanks to a new led solar lights plan created and implemented by Leadsun, using the latest software from UK-based Lighting Reality.

Camden Council in New South Wales wanted to install a new solar lighting system along a 150m stretch of its urban forest in Narellan, in order to deter loitering, reduce vandalism, and provide a safe walking route for local residents.

Solar power lighting specialist, Leadsun Australia, took on the project with the mission of creating a well-lit and safe walkway for pedestrians, while also ensuring that the forest wildlife and surrounding homes were not negatively impacted.

Leadsun, first established in 2005, is a leading lighting manufacturer committed to innovation and intelligent eco-friendly solutions. They specialize in safe, smart, and sustainable lighting for the future.

Gordon Manzione, a business development manager for Leadsun, said: “We used Lighting Reality PRO to place five freestanding 10W LED solar lights every 30m along the pathway, while three picnic shelters were illuminated with 5W link lights.”

“The system was powered by remote AE3S80W solar engines circuited to each of the shelters, and the resulting consistency of lighting is very good with no ‘black’ spots along the pathway.”

“The urban forest also features a unique light timing sequence where they dim down to 30% brightness after five hours from dusk and are then operated by a motion detector until dawn.”

“Not only is the amount of measured vandalism down, but locals are also very happy with the new lighting which helps them to feel safer when walking to and from their local shops.”

Bewdley-based developer Lighting Reality provides software that allows designers to create lighting projects for all manner of exterior environments, in a fraction of the time that it takes other competing lighting design software.

Rachel Green, the marketing coordinator for Lighting Reality, said: “With the fantastic work by Leadsun’s project designers and their specialist products, the urban forest area is now a much safer route for all. This is a great example of a challenging project that has been assisted by Lighting Reality software, and really shows the applications’ ability to be applied in a wide range of outdoor environments.”
The Lighting Realty PRO software supports all major international standards and is constantly evolved as these standards are upgraded.

First launched in 2001, Lighting Reality PRO is now used by around 97.5% of British councils, and the company estimates that around 90% of exterior lighting engineers in the UK own a copy.

Prepare to Start a Commercial Public Lighting Project

7 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Start a Commercial Public Lighting Project

When you install a traditional commercial light, you don’t often need to be concerned with whether it will be “bright” enough or will operate continuously because there is an expectation that it will work as specified. You trench, lay cables, connect to the utility, and bam—you have light!

However, if you’re looking to avoid the costly and time-consuming trenching option and you’d rather not pay any on-going power costs, then a properly-sized modern commercial solar lighting system is a fantastic option. While a solar-powered commercial light can achieve the same lighting results as a traditional light, there are a few specific things you will need to evaluate to ensure you get the right results.

Why are we asking these questions?

  • Avoid overspending: ensure the lighting system will use properly-sized components for your project needs vs. having an unnecessarily large and expensive system to compensate for poor design.
  • Avoid battery replacements or auto shut-off: install an efficient system that will be able to sustain your light requirements over the long term vs. one that dims the lights, leads to premature failure of the battery, or shuts the lights off completely.

Q1. Ask About The Project Location

What is the exact location of the project? Try to get an accurate street address and site description whenever possible.

Why? This allows the manufacturers to factor solar insolation data into their system design.

Different areas receive different amounts of sunlight each day. For example, a solar light specified for sunny, southern Los Angeles would be smaller and therefore wouldn’t be able to generate enough power to provide continuous light for Anchorage, Alaska. And a solar light specified for Anchorage would be unnecessarily large for Los Angeles.

Knowing the project location allows the manufacturers to build and specify their systems for your exact location and to avoid proposing a system that’s too small or too large for your area.

Also, a street address can allow for the assessment of potential shading hazards—like trees, buildings, or other obstructions—which could block the solar panel from the sun and decrease your system’s performance.

Q2. Ask About The Project Application

What kind of area are you trying to illuminate? Knowing the basic type of street vs. pathway will change the lighting output requirement.

Why? The application may affect pole height, pole spacing, and light levels requirements. A street, for example, will probably require higher light levels than a trail or park. Here are some possible applications:

  • Shared Pathway
  • Residential street
  • Recreational Reserve
  • Car Park
  • Thoroughfares
  • The entryway to a building

Q3. Ask About The Project Dimensions

What is the length of the street/pathway or size of the general area (for a parking lot, etc.)?

Why? The size or length of the area will affect the number of lighting systems required, and the uniformity of the light hitting the ground, which all factors into the overall project cost.

Q4. Ask About The Pole Details

Is there a specified pole height? What type of pole is required?

Why? Pole height may affect the number of lighting systems required for the project. Pole type may affect the installation costs.

Q5. Ask About The Required Light Levels And Uniformity

Is there is a state/municipal standard for light levels for the project, what are they? What light levels need to be met on the ground (measured by foot candles or lux)? What uniformity requirements are there if known?

Why? Different applications will require different light levels, which plays a large role in determining the overall project cost.

Q6. Ask About The Operating Profile

How long does the light need to be on each night? When the light is on, do the light levels need to be met throughout the night or just at certain times? If you’re unsure, a good manufacturer should be able to help.

Why? The operating profile is a key aspect of a solar lighting project. Manufacturers will “tune” their systems differently for power management, based on these profiles.

Here are some examples of operating profiles:

  • Dusk to dawn (all-night operation): the light will run at the same light output level all night.
  • Dim in off-peak hours: for example, the light will run at the required light output level for 5 hours after dusk, then dim to 30% of the required light level. 2 hours before dawn, the light levels will return to 100% until sunrise.
  • Off or dimmed at an exact time: for example, the light will run at the required light output level until 11 p.m., then will turn off.

Q7. Ask About The Color Temperature

What color of light is required—warmer (3000K) or cooler (6000K)?

Why? Color temperature affects the fixture power output and can factor into the project cost. While the light color temperature may be more of a preference than a requirement, cities are leaning more towards lights with warmer color temperatures as they seem to be better for our health and the environment.

In Summary

Asking these questions can ensure you’re specified a solar light that will meet your project requirements over the long term at no extra cost. You can also be confident that your lighting system won’t die prematurely or become unnecessarily large, and expensive.

Contact us to learn more about common specifications of commercial public lighting systems and how they can affect the overall performance and cost.