Lighting columns tend to be called lampposts by the general public, but this is not the term used in the industry. Lampposts refer to old-fashioned and low-level mountings for gas-powered street lights from a bygone era. These were usually made from cast iron. Nowadays, street lighting needs to be mounted at ever greater heights given the power of modern electric light fittings, especially where they are used to light busy road intersections. In order to have the durability needed to functions at these higher positions, street lighting manufacturers have turned to a range of materials for their products. What are they?
A highly versatile material, steel is often formed into tubes for a variety of purposes. Essentially, all that makers need to do is to cut tubular steel to the desired length in order to make it into a lighting column. Usually mounted within a concrete foundation, tubular steel will have a door or small aperture located about half a metre from ground level so that the light fittings electronic control systems, like ballast, can be accessed easily. Steel of this type needs to be thicker, the greater the height it is designed for.
Ideal for coastal towns and cities where corrosion can cause a problem with other sorts of metal lighting columns, stainless steel offers the right level of durability. It comes in a variety of grades for different environments. Lighting designers will often specify brushed stainless steel for their columns so that a deep sheen is created. This means that columns fashioned from stainless steel look great next to other coordinating street furniture, such as cycle racks, bollards and waste bins.
This metal is frequently chosen because it can be easily fashioned into a tapering lighting column. Architecturally pleasing, aluminium has a pleasant finish to look at as well as a rigid structure that can accommodate even quite large light fittings. Where tapered aluminium lighting columns are chosen, there are two usual types that are specified. The first has a base diameter that is constant with the rest of the column tapering from around one metre in height. The second type offers a constantly tapering shape that seemingly resembles a giant needle sticking out of the ground when viewed from street level.
This type of lighting is not very common in Australia, but it has been used in certain developments. Reinforced concrete is commonly cast into columns off-site and transported to its ultimate destination rather than being formed on site. Concrete is a highly durable material and some ornate designs have been made using it in the past.