For years, LEDs (light emitting diodes) have been touted as an energy efficient, low maintenance alternative luminaire to traditional metal halide and high pressure sodium options. In practice, however, few communities actually made the switch to LED site lighting systems until recently. This was likely due to the higher upfront costs of LEDs, limited availability of fixture types and styles, and short life span of the lamp drivers due to high heat output of the luminaire diodes. Fortunately, ongoing improvements are resulting in price reductions, expansion of available inventory, and the development of new light fixture styles that are more compatible with both traditional and contemporary settings. Combined with advanced remote control features, the time has finally arrived for LED site lighting to make the leap from a great idea to a tangible reality.
Lower electricity costs
LED lamps are up to 60% more efficient than traditional streetlights, resulting in decreased carbon emissions, and dramatically reduced operational costs. For this reason, state DOTs have begun phasing in LED mast head lights along their highways that are expected to pay for themselves in cost savings in just two years.
Lower maintenance & replacement costs
In streetlights, the average life span of a typical metal halide lamp is two years. In comparison, the average life of an LED lamp with a single driver is 10-15 years. Because the lamp’s driver usually quits before the LED diodes need to be replaced, the driver, not the diode, is the limiting factor determining the life of an LED fixture. With a dual driver system, which essentially provides a backup driver, the life of an LED streetlight can be doubled.
Improved lighting controls
LED lights offer several new dimming and control options:
- A single dimmed point of control is factory set via a photocell on each fixture.
- A dimming driver provides more control by allowing adjustment for a series of lights at the control panel.
- A remote wireless lighting control system allows wireless dimming to be performed at any time from a remote location and can include a diagnostic feature that alerts the municipality when a fixture has failed.
- Compatibility with existing streetlight systems
LED streetlights combine superior energy efficiency with good color rendering and are available in a wide range of color options ranging from cool to warm. New LED fixtures are being introduced that are practically indistinguishable from popular traditional streetlight styles, such as teardrop, acorn, lantern, and spherical luminaire options. Contemporary ornamental streetlights and highway-style cobrahead fixtures are also available, and more styles are introduced each year with advances in technology.