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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 8:43 PM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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LED lights are bright, but decisions around their installation are made in the dark

Hey guys, I wrote this op/ed for CL a couple of weeks ago. I don't think people are paying attention to this issue as much as they should. Long story short, if they had started installing these lights in Buckhead, you would be hearing a *lot* of complaints.

http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/...-big-questions



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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 12, 2014, 11:49 PM
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tascalisa tascalisa is offline
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We have LED streetlights on our major highways in Tuscaloosa, but they're no where near as bright as these seem to be. But, these do look more like the neighborhood street lamps that we have on campus at UA, and they are pretty obnoxious at night if you're trying to sleep next to a window.

This is what our highway street lights look similar to, they're faced directly down.

Source: www.hero-ledstore.com
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  #3  
Old Posted Jul 13, 2014, 1:51 AM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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believe it or not, those *are* pointed directly down. they are just that bright.

do you have any photos of the ones lining the freeways over in tuscaloosa? i'd like to see those; maybe they're a lot better than what we're getting.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2014, 1:57 PM
arjay57 arjay57 is offline
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Those LED lights do seem painfully bright. I wouldn't want one outside my bedroom window.

How DO they decide where to put them?
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2014, 11:18 PM
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tascalisa tascalisa is offline
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I'll see if I can take a picture sometime, bryant. Don't have my car right now, so I can't really access the main highways without walking through traffic.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jul 15, 2014, 5:34 AM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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Originally Posted by tascalisa View Post
I'll see if I can take a picture sometime, bryant. Don't have my car right now, so I can't really access the main highways without walking through traffic.
okay, thanks so much!
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2014, 2:11 PM
echinatl echinatl is offline
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You mentioned that the city bypassed potential electricity savings when they upgraded 25 years ago by upping the wattage to the same wattage that the previous lights used (same wattage, but more light), and then you mention that the city is on track to make the same mistake. Could you tell me what the wattage is for the lights pictures in the article? It's really hard for me to believe that the new LED lights use anywhere near as much electricity as the old lights, no matter how bright they are.

Also you touch on induction lighting, and note that the city hasn't given reasons why LED was chosing over induction. You don't need the city to comment on the why, because induction lighting flaws are widely known. Induction lights contain mercury (complicating disposal), and generally reach 65% brightness after 60,000 hours (most LED's used in street lighting reach 70% brightness after 100,000 hours). This is the reason they are so bright to start, because they will dim. If induction lighting was used it would also be really bright in the begining.
Early on induction lighting was much cheaper, but there have been faily dramatic advances in LED tech over the past 3 years which can give them the edge. I'm not saying LED wins over induction every time, but they're so close it's kind of a wash now.

Last edited by echinatl; Jul 16, 2014 at 2:28 PM.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2014, 6:20 PM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by echinatl View Post
You mentioned that the city bypassed potential electricity savings when they upgraded 25 years ago by upping the wattage to the same wattage that the previous lights used (same wattage, but more light), and then you mention that the city is on track to make the same mistake. Could you tell me what the wattage is for the lights pictures in the article? It's really hard for me to believe that the new LED lights use anywhere near as much electricity as the old lights, no matter how bright they are.
i posted a response to this on reddit, but it's generally the same subject, so please forgive me for copy-and-pasting

"Keep in mind that street lamps are not incandescent bulbs. HPS lamps, which are the current technology, give out about 100 lumens per watt, which are what LEDs generally perform at. The problem is that most of that light is scoptopic, meaning it only stimulates the rods, not the cones, in human eyes. The energy savings come from the increase in photopic, or normal, light that LEDs put out. So to say it's an order of magnitude more efficient is not entirely true.

If Atlanta decides to install LED fixtures that put out more lumens (which do not distinguish between photopic and scotopic), they will indeed consume more energy than the current fixtures."

Quote:
Also you touch on induction lighting, and note that the city hasn't given reasons why LED was chosing over induction. You don't need the city to comment on the why, because induction lighting flaws are widely known. Induction lights contain mercury (complicating disposal), and generally reach 65% brightness after 60,000 hours (most LED's used in street lighting reach 70% brightness after 100,000 hours). This is the reason they are so bright to start, because they will dim. If induction lighting was used it would also be really bright in the begining.
Early on induction lighting was much cheaper, but there have been faily dramatic advances in LED tech over the past 3 years which can give them the edge. I'm not saying LED wins over induction every time, but they're so close it's kind of a wash now.
i generally like induction lights because they look nicer. also, there have been advancements in the induction lighting field; however, they have not made it to street lighting yet. one example is tesleon technology, which bosch helped developed— they have increased lumens per watt to over 100, and have drastically reduced the dropoff in brightness. another example is the 'finally' light bulb company that is introducing induction bulbs for home use later this year.

i don't think induction technology is over yet, but it seems to me that neither technology has really reached its potential yet. it could be that replacing lights at this point is jumping the gun; perhaps we could get lights that are much more efficient than they are today in another 5 years.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2014, 3:01 AM
RocketSurgeon RocketSurgeon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bryantm3 View Post
i don't think induction technology is over yet, but it seems to me that neither technology has really reached its potential yet. it could be that replacing lights at this point is jumping the gun; perhaps we could get lights that are much more efficient than they are today in another 5 years.
Isn't that pretty much true with everything ever?

I'm a lighting nerd so I'm interested in this discussion, but I don't understand what you're actually opposing. Is it the technology? The efficiency? The cost? The brightness? The fact that they're changing at all?
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  #10  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2014, 7:52 AM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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Originally Posted by RocketSurgeon View Post
Isn't that pretty much true with everything ever?

I'm a lighting nerd so I'm interested in this discussion, but I don't understand what you're actually opposing. Is it the technology? The efficiency? The cost? The brightness? The fact that they're changing at all?
i would like to see trials conducted like they did in LA, with different types of LEDs and induction lights installed on different streets to see what residents like best.

i also think that the city should hire someone to identify what streets need higher lighting levels and which need less, to identify which streets do not have lights at all, and how to ensure the whole city gets adequate lighting.

what i would not like to see is the city simply do a switch-out of all the existing fixtures, which is what i'm afraid they will do. many of the lights in the city are not installed with any regard to pedestrian or vehicle safety, and are haphazardly placed randomly along roadways. many roads have too many lights, many roads have no lights, and some are dark in patches and bright in others.

i would also not like to see them arbitrarily choose one fixture for the entire city. if they choose a single lighting level, it will either leave arterial streets underlit, residential streets overlit, or both. there needs to be different levels of light for different roadways.

overall i would like more accountability and transparency in the project, which we haven't seen at all so far.
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  #11  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2014, 3:03 PM
echinatl echinatl is offline
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I just want them to fix the lights that have been out forever... and maybe install some kind of anti theft device that cuts off the fingers of anyone trying to steel the copper wiring.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2014, 3:29 AM
bryantm3 bryantm3 is offline
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Originally Posted by RocketSurgeon View Post
Isn't that pretty much true with everything ever?
to answer your question about increasing efficiency, that's not necesarily true unless you're talking about technology on the macro level. HPS lights, which are the current technology, were developed in the 60s, and while they were tested in some areas early on, they didn't see widespread adoption until the 80s and 90s; at that point the technology had progressed enough that it was about as efficient as it could get.

LED and induction streetlights weren't introduced until the late 90s, and they're seeing a much faster adoption rate. the problem is, the technology is still being developed and they haven't worked out all the kinks yet. they are getting more and more efficient as time goes on; for example, the LEDs that los angeles installed are only 75 LPW, and now they've got fixtures that get 95 LPW and some that get over 100; that's only been about 2-3 years time to see such a rapid rate of improvement, and now that induction is getting renewed investment after once being labelled a 'dead technology', you're seeing efficiency going up there also.

obviously there is a limit to how efficient these lights are going to get, so it might be a good question to ask whether we should install 20-year fixtures at 95 LPW today, or wait a couple of years and get 150 LPW fixtures that have better optics, and might be cheaper.

i do think they need to be switched out soon. i don't like HPS lights. they are ugly, they make the city orange-brown at night and most of the scotopic lumens they put out do little more than agitate the eyes. but if we can wait and get a better deal, i think that needs to be part of the discussion, also.
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