As the holiday season makes us think more about illumination, one may have noticed a few changes in the way urban areas are providing lighting this year. Outdoor public street lighting systems are replacing traditional incandescent street lights with new Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. Incandescent bulbs, which use high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide or mercury vapor in their construction, make up about two-thirds of the street lights in the United States. A 2011 Carnegie Mellon University study estimated that roughly 40% of total energy consumption was due to these older lamps.
As gas discharge lamps, these bulbs require heat to generate light, which in turn requires a higher expenditure of energy. Industrial LED Lights don't require heat to produce light as they are semiconductors, only needing an electric current. As a result, LEDs are starting to be viewed as a less expensive and more energy efficient alternative for use in various types of urban lighting. Cities in Nebraska, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have already begun to implement replacement initiatives for traffic lights and street lamps. LEDs are also being used in parking garages, along with new sensor technology. In areas without a robust electrical grid, these LED lights make use of modern solar power technology to offset the drain on a municipality's power usage and their pocketbook.
Early on, Pittsburgh made it clear that the city wanted to help move the LED revolution along. LED street lights can be found in sections of the city such as Brighton Heights, the South Side and downtown. An annual savings of $140,000 has been estimated by Pittsburgh's Department of Public Works, mostly from reduced maintenance expenses. The city has also been able to cut energy consumption by half.
The LED lighting in Pittsburgh has encouraged nearby communities to make similar changes, such as Edgeworth's recent conversion of their traffic lights. The borough was able to save about 60% on energy costs following the move.
Edgeworth has since decided to expand the conversion to its street lights, but the process is a more difficult undertaking. As LED bulbs tend to cost between $200 to $300, compared to $50 to $100 traditional bulbs, the decision can be an expensive gamble. Looking to Pittsburgh as an example of expense, in replacing its 40,000 metal-halide lights, which would cost $9 million if nothing changed, with LEDs, Pittsburgh is estimated to spend $21 million. A city as large as Pittsburgh, however, can budget the amount by banking on the long-term savings LEDs will provide to outweigh upfront costs. If you're looking for green energy LEDs, I would definitely recommend a professional business like Laface and Mcgovern, Incorporated. Click this link to learn more about LED lights and fixtures
Some have raised concerns, despite the good reputation of LEDs, over their environmental impact. Examining the entire process involved in producing LEDs, the areas of manufacturing and recycling were shown to be as bad or worse than incandescent bulbs. Risk of environmental hazards during the production phase actually rates LEDs worse than other styles of lighting. They also are more difficult to recycle because of the raw materials used in building circuit boards which are used. However, LEDs use no mercury in their constructions and fewer toxins than in metal-halide bulbs, which contain 15 milligrams of mercury on average. Most urban planners agree the positives outweigh the negatives for LED light fixtures and it is likely we will only see more in the future.