Positive results from surveys show a growing desire for more use of LED lights in and outside of businesses, homes, and in public areas (such as parking lots, parks, and even along city streets).  There are several areas in which LED lights are far superior to conventional lighting;

Durability; failure rates continue to hover around the 1% mark, and typically the failure is due to some unrelated defect.

Energy savings; 20 out of 27 tested products showed energy savings of over 50%, although total energy savings have shown figures as high as 85%, especially when coupled with smart controls.  This energy savings comes partly from the ability of LED lights to send more light from the source to the desired surface.

Illuminance; due to the LED light being able to direct more of its light towards the desired location, the illuminance per watt is higher than that of other lighting materials.  Without the ability to direct more light where it’s needed, the light tends to dissipate into the environment surrounding and not to the intended area.

Lighting standards; very few LED lights do not comply with local standards; most, in fact, are fully compatible just as they are without any requirement for change or updating.

Lumen maintenance; although for the first 1000 hours of operation these lights can be volatile, over time the vast majority either stabilize or even increase their lumen output.

Colour variance; LED lights show a much higher ability to retain a stable colour over other more conventional lights.

The public speaks; very few negative comments were expressed when public opinion was sought.  The vast majority of pedestrians, drivers, shop owners and customers stated that their preference was for the LED light; most even said they felt far safer with the type of light that LED provides.

Although up-front costs appear to be the main reason why LED lights have not made a broader appearance thus far, focusing on the up-front cost alone is a narrow minded approach and doesn’t take into account the large scale benefits of the product.  Scaling up to LED lights can have an immense impact on not only the home or business owner’s safety, energy savings and enjoyment of their environments, they can also make an impact on the greater environment and on our planet.  With so much energy savings at hand, using LED lights can reduce the need for power stations around the world and significantly reduce the user’s carbon footprint.  When applied on a grand scale, such as with street lighting, you can imagine how drastically this would change a cities impact on the environment in a positive way.  When determining whether or not scaling up to LED lights would be beneficial, there are a number of components to take into account;

  • The number of lights being replaced
  • Cost of installation including the cost of roadway closures and diversions
  • Maintenance costs of replacing burnt or failed bulbs (including cost of road closures and diversions)
  • Energy cost over the lifetime of the bulb (including estimate for inflation of utilities)
  • Useful lifespan of existing and LED bulbs
  • A discount rate
  • Benefits for public safety and productivity
  • Internal rate of return on investment

Comparing the total cost of LED light retrofit (compared to other existing and reasonable technologies) along with an internal rate of return of the investment that would be required to scale up to LED would give a bigger and more accurate picture of the pros and con of this type of venture.  The City of Los Angeles makes an ideal example of a city that took into account the right details before making a decision that will benefit their citizens over the long term.  They determined, after a full cost of ownership analysis including 5 different light sources; mercury vapour, LED, high pressure sodium, MH and incandescent, that LED was the choice that made the most sense.  The city also studied induction technology as an option but in the end determined that induction technology doesn’t have the same optical control or cost effectiveness that LED offers.  140,000 of their 209,000 street lights now glow with LED lights that were more expensive to install than some of the other options, but will ultimately see an IRR of 7.4% over the approximate 12 year lifespan of the new bulbs.

There are many different options for financing when it comes to large scale LED implementation, including self financing, leasing, performance contracting, public/private partnerships, private finance initiatives, and carbon financing under the Clean Development Mechanism.  With several cities (including Birmingham and Los Angeles) already undergoing major lighting changes, there is sufficient tracking for future cities to review.

LED lights are perfectly designed for use with smart controls.  This means that, along a street, for example, the light levels can actually fluctuate depending on traffic levels and weather.   With heavy traffic or inclement weather, the safety of both drivers and pedestrians will be increased by an increase in lighting.  This ability to dim lights during times when traffic is very light or light levels are increased can save both money and energy consumption. It can also save life for the bulb itself, and help to decrease maintenance costs as failed lights will be targeted through GPS mapping and reduce the amount of troubleshooting and repair time as every light is accessible through a central brain.

The benefits of LED lights and smart controls aren’t only realized at the economic level.  Studies have shown that with indoor use, students and employees working under LED lights show an increased productivity and performance.  Public safety is a key component, as lights can become brighter with pedestrian traffic in parking lots or other public areas where citizens feel nervous or afraid.  These factors must also be taken into account and weighted along with financial factors for a greater picture of LED light benefits that can be achieved.

This post is written based on the research article published by Philips Lighting University and intends to give a summary of the full article. To access the full article click on the link below;

http://www.lighting.philips.com/main/education/lighting-university/lighting-university-browser/publication/lighting-clean-revolution-book

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