Outdoor SSL news: Urban Control cellular, Dhyan TALQ, and Ameresco

Oct. 13, 2021
Turnkey 4G-enabled Zhaga module enlightens LED street lights while we have another example of TALQ interoperability and evidence of increased ESCO interest in outdoor SSL.

Urban Control has announced a cellular connectivity module for LED-based street lights that can be seamlessly added to standardized Zhaga-compatible sockets on luminaires from many vendors. Connected outdoor solid-state lighting (SSL) is also evolving toward interoperability as Dhyan Networks and Technologies has added its StreetMan central management systems (CMS) to the TALQ portfolio of smart city systems. Ameresco, meanwhile, has announced a range of outdoor SSL projects and also a new battery-centric, smart-grid project to power SSL and other loads.

4G connected street lights

Smart LED street lights connected via cellular networks aren’t a new concept. For instance, we wrote in 2015 that Philips Lighting (pre-Signify) would support the Los Angeles, CA connected SSL project with cellular technology. Indeed, mostly the manufacturers of such products and municipal or utility users of such products have been large organizations with contracts in place with mobile network owners.

UK-based Urban Control, however, said its Urban Node 324 (shown above) can deliver cellular connectivity in a near plug-and-play fashion via a module that connects to standard luminaires via a Zhaga socket. The company says the technology will prove valuable to connect small pockets of lighting for instance, at hotel chain locations or in retail parks with common ownership and enable centralized street-light network management. Moreover, the technology can connect widely scattered lights. In either case, the Urban Smart City CMS would manage the SSL portfolios.

Urban Control has previously supported networks based on Itron’s WiSUN mesh network and now will also support the cellular option under one CMS. “We’ve deployed hundreds of thousands of smart street lights across the UK, from Glasgow to Westminster, using Itron’s WiSUN mesh networks — the world number one for connecting street lights and smart meters,” said Terry Dean, CEO of Urban Control. “Our cellular IoT solution is a natural complement to these deployments, because now we are able to provide the same smart control for small and scattered sites across the UK.”

The fact is that mobile/cellular network technology has evolved significantly since that Los Angeles project deployed. In 4G networks, extensions such as NB-IoT and LTE-M have enabled Internet of Things (IoT) devices with light communications needs to use a slice of the bandwidth a mobile phone user might require. And the situation will get even better with 5G. Urban Control said cellular IoT connections already number more than 5B (billion) nodes and are headed to 14B by 2025.

Urban Control sees its mission as making it easy to deploy SSL IoT technology. “Our Urban Node 324 is plug and play, highly secure, and scalable,” said Miguel Lira, director of innovation and development at Urban Control. “Most of all, it is designed to ensure worldwide interoperability and interchangeability at the device level, at the central management software level, and at the luminaire level.”

TALQ interoperability

The Urban Control technology is said to be TALQ compatible for interoperability. And speaking of such interoperability, Dhyan has added to the growing number of companies demonstrating the success of TALQ. Indeed, we had a story just last week about a very large TALQ deployment at a state of Georgia utility where one CMS connected network and luminaire products from many vendors. Dhyan delivered a similar demonstration at a TALQ plugfest intended to demonstrate interoperability.

“Cities are no longer locked into a single vendor’s solution for smart street lighting but can choose from many different vendors, all of them controlled by StreetMan a single, state-of-the-art CMS that is intuitive and easy to use,” said Prakash Ramadass, Dhyan vice president of smart cities. At the plugfest, the CMS was used to control TALQ-compliant gateways from Flashnet, Itron, LuxSave, Paradox, and Sicom.

ESCO SSL interest

Moving to funding and installation of outdoor and indoor SSL systems, we have seen pockets of activity over the years of energy service companies (ESCOs) helping municipalities, institutions, and commercial businesses install LED lighting. And perhaps the ESCO projects are always percolating and are just not announced via news releases. But Ameresco has made several recent announcements related to such projects.

A few weeks back, Ameresco said it had completed a major LED lighting renovation at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals of the National Football League (NFL). Ameresco partnered with Hamilton County, OH on the project that will save $60,000 in annual energy costs. The major portion of the project was replacement of more than 500 metal-halide (MH) fixtures that lit the playing surface with 300 LED luminaires. Of course, professional sports venue lighting was once a stretch for LED technology but became somewhat mainstream starting in about 2016.

We are excited to mark the completion of this enhanced lighting project at Paul Brown Stadium and we are proud of the long-term partnership we have maintained with Hamilton County,” said Lou Maltezos, executive vice president of Ameresco. “By replacing outdated field lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LEDs, Paul Brown Stadium is making significant improvements in terms of sustainability and field visibility for the athletes and fans. The county’s continued focus on reducing their carbon impact via energy-efficient upgrades solidifies their position as a leading smart and energy-responsible county.”

Ameresco also recently announced the signing of a contract with Wells County, IN covering a major retrofit of the county jail. Work will range to air handling, but indoor and outdoor SSL will be a significant part of the project.

And just this week Ameresco said it would partner on a project with the US Coast Guard (USCG) on a battery energy-storage system, which will be the first such system for the USCG military branch. The project at the USCG Training Center Petaluma will include a 5-MW solar array and a 11.6-MW battery system to enable microgrid capability and power a variety of loads (shown nearby is a rendering representative of the USCG project). The project will include retrofit of more than 8000 light fixtures to SSL technology.

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

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About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.