LEDs Are Lighting up the Night

Posted: December 6, 2012 in CAUSES, GREEN, Table Of Contents
Tags: , , ,

By Tom Knoblock

1st Published: http://www.prairiefirenewspaper.com/2012/11/leds-are-lighting-up-the-night

St. Isidore parking lot before (top) and after (bottom) LED conversion. (Tom Knoblock)LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) is opening up new opportunities for improving outdoor lighting with incredible energy savings in applications where lights burn throughout the night. LEDs are a long-term solution for streetlights, parking lots, convenience store canopies, lighted signs and even high-mast highway lighting. LEDs are highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly and, when you combine the controllability of LEDs to compound energy savings via dimming and powering lights off when not needed, LEDs further offer better light quality than HID sources and eliminate light pollution.

It is estimated that there are 131 million street- and area lights in the U.S. and 34.7 million of these are streetlights. The street- and area lights are commonly run at full power for an average of 12 hours per night and consume 178.3 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per year. Thus, the approximate kilogram CO2 equivalent output of the nation’s street- and area lights is over 128 million metric tons CO2. It has been estimated that “seven 1,000 MW coal plants and 44.7 TWh/yr could be avoided by completely switching to LED street and area lights. This is 5.8% of all annual lighting electrical consumption.”1

Thanks to breakthroughs in SSL lighting technology, LEDs can provide uniform illumination with clear white light of consistent high quality and brightness and no glare, making our cities feel safe and more attractive while saving up to 90 percent on energy and maintenance costs.

With the vast number of LED manufacturers on the market it is important to choose a reputable company. Some of the things to look for are their certifications—UL Rated, Energy Star Rated, Lighting Facts Rated, Design Lights Consortium Rated. Reputable manufacturers will have spent the time and money to have their LEDs tested for lumen output, life, light color, etc. Also look for warranties of at least five years.

Outdoor lighting generally is mounted at up to 100 feet, requiring expensive equipment and manpower to maintain the lighting. This where LEDs excel with their extreme long life of up to 100,000 hours or 20-plus years when operated at 4,300 hours per year, thereby virtually eliminating the maintenance and replacement required by traditional lighting and reducing waste. LEDs are also mercury free, eliminating the environmental hazards associated with existing technologies.

Instead of replacing good fixtures with new ones, LED retrofit kits are available for easy upgrades of existing fixtures, reducing waste with a shorter payback period.

Global Tech LED has some advanced technologies in their LED retrofit kits:

  • An optic lens system to evenly spread the light;
  • An Energy Saver Program that automatically reduces the wattage by 50 percent after five hours for six hours and then back to 100 percent the last hour for additional savings;
  • Four power setting for custom setting from 100 watts to 30 watts;
  • For their new Mini 21 module, a lumen maintenance regulator circuit that maintains the lumen output for 60,000-plus hours with no light level reduction.

International Light Technologies CanopyLights are designed to retrofit existing light fixtures without disturbing the integrity of the canopy for fast installation without leaks. They recently introduced the CanopyLight-Plus retrofit kit, a 90-watt, 6,500-lumen fixture. With canopy light spacing up to 15 feet, this retrofit kit has the potential to reduce the number of lights in a canopy.


1. Inc., N.C., “Energy Savings Estimates of Light Emitting Diodes in Niche Lighting Applications” (Building Technologies Program: Washington, D.C., 2008).

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