Since 2009, the lighting industry has made remarkable improvements in LED technology for exterior lighting. Manufacturers have been able to significantly increase light output, improve the color quality and reduce electrical usage all while lowering upfront costs. These advancements have made upgrading to exterior lighting to LED sources a viable way to create a positive, long-term effect on operational costs while enjoying reasonable payback periods.
For example, the city of Los Angeles has recently completed a city-wide street lighting upgrade where 140,000 high pressure sodium lamps were replaced with LED lamps. By retrofitting the existing street lighting, they were able to keep most of their existing infrastructure (poles & bases, conduits, handholes, etc.), greatly reducing the upfront costs. The city is reporting an annual energy savings of $9.2 million – cutting their street lighting energy usage by 63.1%. The longer life of the LED light source has decreased maintenance calls for lamp replacements significantly, saving an additional $2.5 million each year. The entire project is reported to have an estimated payback of 7 years.
An unintended side-effect of the Los Angeles street lighting upgrade is an increased sense of security. The new LED lighting emits a much whiter, better color rendering light than the orange glow of the replaced high pressure sodium sources. This higher quality light greatly increases the ability to distinguish colors and contrast at night. Residents are experiencing a greater visual acuity under the new lights, making the city safer a safer place to live.
The street lighting retrofit project in the city of Los Angeles is a shining example of how to use a combination of existing infrastructure with new LED technologies to reduce energy and maintenance costs. While Los Angeles primarily upgraded street lighting, similar savings can be seen when upgrading any outdated exterior lighting technology to LED. Whether your facility is in need of a street, sidewalk, parking lot or parking deck lighting upgrade, a properly designed LED exterior lighting system can help you realize significant savings.