Coming to a Street Near You

As technology matures, LEDs are being used in more public areas

By John Casadonte

Coming to a Street Near You

LED street lights can be designed to create safer nighttime driving conditions.Lighting pervades the space we live and work in, directly impacting our rhythmic clock, productivity and mood. Yet, unless the lighting is “bad,” it usually goes unnoticed. In fact, most people still see lighting as solely a utilitarian illumination product — when in reality light can do so much more (photo by CREE).  

Light-emitting diode (LED) technology has transformed the way we think about lighting. Instead of simply illuminating an area, LED lighting is a technology that can reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs; increase productivity and mood; and reduce health and safety issues. As the technology landscape has continued to evolve and new products enter the market, it can be difficult to determine which LEDs will deliver on the promise of better light. Today, the lighting technology has reached a point where it can and should deliver enhanced experiences, without compromise, in a manner not possible before. LEDs are technically capable of replacing all existing lighting technology, including Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium, in every application from streets to stadiums.

Along these lines, one application for LED technology that you may notice outside your home is street lighting: High-performance LED street lights can deliver warm, comfortable and low-glare light. A new wave of street lights provides innovative solutions for municipalities, cities and departments of transportation that increase lighting performance while significantly reducing energy consumption.

With traditional street lighting technology, lighting can be one of the largest energy expenditures a utility or municipality faces. By switching to LEDs, energy consumption can be reduced by 70 percent, and LED lights can last up to 10 years without maintenance.

Secure lighting

While energy and maintenance efficiencies for LED lighting are known, some have yet to realize the technology’s ability to enable vibrant, even and clear illumination that can be distributed exactly where and how you want it. These features are particularly useful for installations operating around the clock, such as street lights that are critical for creating safer environments for vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The specific LED technology used depends on the specific application. “Warm color” temperature street lights (in the 3,000 Kelvin range) are preferred in many residential and rural applications as they enhance visual comfort, reduce glare and dark spots, improve vision and evoke a feeling of security. A higher-output LED is necessary for highway applications to keep drivers alert, awake and safe.

The big picture

With these benefits, implementing LED lighting seems like a no brainer, but it is important to note that not all LED lighting is created equally, and specific types of LEDs often work better than others in specific applications. Electric cooperative across North Carolina are taking a holistic view of LED lighting to ensure they are realizing the full potential and benefits of LED technology. The key to better light lies in finding an LED lighting solution that is designed with the human factor in mind.

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About the Author

John Casadonte is a product marketing manager at Durham-based Cree, Inc., an industry leader in LED lighting for indoor and outdoor applications.

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