The development of LED luminaires suitable for all climates, combined with the lower cost of LEDs, has led to a surge of LED street light replacement projects across the nation. In the process, a lot of data have been generated through studies, testing, and side-by-side comparisons with High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps, the incumbent technology.
Large cities, in particular, have embarked on conversion projects as part of overall energy reduction programs.Boston and Seattle have replaced roughly half of their streetlight inventory with LED luminaires. Las Vegas has replaced more than 80 percent. While LED source efficacy is slightly better, the real advantages over HPS lie elsewhere. For starters, the LEDs in street lamps can last for decades without replacement. A quality manufactured luminaire with a modular design and top-line components like the Electro-Matic AP and AR Series will require almost no maintenance. According to the Michigan Energy Efficiency Contractors Association, LED streetlights reduce maintenance and replacement costs 60 to 80 percent, with associated savings in inventory and storage.
The inherent stability and control of solid state lighting provide additional benefits. Seattle reports LED lighting has eliminated the problem of rapid failure of HPS lamps in Seattle due to bridge vibrations. A Kansas City test site determined that while LED luminaires demonstrated 15 percent greater efficacy than the HPS fixtures, much greater energy savings occurred from a reduced overall light output due to directional control that reduces light spill.
Cities like Detroit are taking advantage of federal tax credits to help pay for the upfront costs of LED street light conversion. In an article published in the nonprofit news site Midwest Energy News Odis Jones, CEO of the Public Lighting Authority of Detroit, says better lighting in downtown Detroit—where half the street lights do not work—will reduce crime and improve safety. “Broken windows theory tells us that when you improve lighting it has a big effect on crime. We’re going to have 65,000 lights that are working. It’s going to improve the safety of our communities.”