Category: Traffic lights
LED’s have been taking a bum rap recently and we want to set the record straight.
Unlike CFL’s or incandescents, LED, or Light Emitting Diode, create light by running a current through a small computer chip which then emits light. There’s no gas, no mercury, no moving parts – making it one of the most energy efficient and durable lights in the world.
That incredible energy efficiency, however, has LED to some problems. (excuse the pun) In Des Moines and other cold weather cities, incandescent traffic lights are being replaced with high energy efficient LED’s, which are 90% more energy efficient and can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for cash-strapped cities. The downside is the very advantage that LED’s have – they produce far less heat than their predecessors, which allows snow and ice to build up, particularly during this record breaking winter. That has created visibility issues for drivers and headaches for the city road crews who have to clear the snow and ice by hand.
Truth be told, on the coldest, snowiest, windiest days, no traffic light – incandescent, LED or burning caveman torch – can keep up with the snow and ice. Otherwise there are solutions. Plastic covers can be placed over the lights, or they can be coated with a special moisture repellent substance. Airports usually add heating elements to their energy efficient LED’s and still see dramatic savings.
But many businesses also use the cooler running characteristic of LED’s and CFL’s to their advantage.
Adventure Lighting is currently retrofitting the cooler lights – literally the lights in the coolers, where beverages are kept cold – at all Short Stop Convenience Store locations, as well as other businesses where refrigerated products require display lighting. These new energy efficient LED’s produce 60% energy savings by themselves, plus their lower operating temperature means refrigeration units don’t have to work as hard. That energy saving one-two punch is great news for business owners looking to pinch every penny in this economy.
This type of savings also holds true for businesses where there are lots of lights in general – replacing wasteful incandescents with more energy efficient, cooler running CFL’s means lower lighting costs year-round plus lower cooling costs in the summer. There’s also a safety factor for residential customers who switch to CFL’s – they generate less heat which means they won’t burn your kids’ (or your) hands or create the high heat of incandescents that can, and do, ignite nearby cloth and other combustibles.
And while we probably wouldn’t mind a little extra heat from our lights during this coldest of winters, think about it this way – you can put your hands around an old 100 watt incandescent bulb to stay warm, or you can replace it with an energy efficient CFL and use the money you’ll be saving to pay for turning up the furnace a bit. Or to buy extra fire wood for your fireplace. Or an extra blanket.
Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to www.adventurelighting.com
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