By the end of this year, the Estonian Maritime Administration (MA) will have adopted a new innovative technology in four lighthouses which are going to be outfitted with environmentally more friendly LED sector lights instead of the old-school incandescent lamps. The previous one to be equipped with the same type of light was Viirelaid lighthouse; now also Ristna lighthouse in Hiiumaa Island, Kihnu lighthouse in Kihnu Island, and Lõu light beacon and Roomassaare leading line light beacon front in Saaremaa Island are going to have the new improved lights.
According to Mr Andry Rütkinen, Head of the Aids to Navigation (AtoN) Department of the MA, modernisation of the technology used in aids to navigation has several reasons, a major one being that new technologies are significantly less harmful for the environment and considerably more dependable than the older solutions. “Earlier we used lanterns with incandescent lamps (35 W) that needed to be replaced every year. LED sector lights only use 10-20 watts of energy, and their life expectancy is even up to 100,000 hours, as stated by the manufacturers. That means that we get a much more reliable technology with much less energy consumption,” explains Rütkinen. “In lighthouses where there is no permanent electrical connection, energy is typically produced with solar panels and wind generators. Now, thanks to reduced energy consumption, we can give up using wind generators which, on the one hand, are not that dependable (life expectancy ca 2 years) and, on the other hand, create vibration that has a negative impact on the construction of lighthouses.”
Mr Sven Neeme from Sabik OÜ, the MA’s partner in the process of modernisation of our AtoN, says the technology used in Viirelaid lighthouse and other similar AtoN is tailor-made – the lights are designed and built according to the specific light characteristics of each lighthouse. “The technology of a lantern depends on many details – the spire where it is to be installed, the structures in the lighthouse, the needed visibility of light, the width and colour of the light sectors, the characteristics of the light, etc. We design a suitable solution for each particular lighthouse on the basis of the specification received from the MA,” he clarifies.
The efficiency of innovative technologies is exemplified by the equipment in Viirelaid lighthouse: a LED sector light was installed consisting of six modules. The required visibility of light is 9 nautical miles. “In order to make the light shine up to 9 nautical miles, its luminous intensity has to be 1500 candelas. The same intensity is achieved when 15 100-watt electric bulbs are switched on simultaneously,” illustrates Neeme. “The power of the six modules together, on the other hand, is 20 watts. This could be compared to an average refrigerator light. So, thanks to the new technology, we can light a fairway 9 miles with the energy of a fridge light! The same result but much less energy consumption.”
Viirelaid lighthouse in the West Estonian archipelago, one of the first metal lighthouses of its type on Estonian shores, will be 138 years old next year. It was renovated in 2002, and on 2 October 2018, the light was replaced with the newest type of LED sector light.