Pedestal Lights To Receive LED Upgrade
This summer, LPC is installing new, longer lasting LED (light emitting diode) bulbs in pedestal lights for the first time. The new LED bulbs have an estimated life span of 5 years and will reduce the labor and materials cost of maintaining the pedestal lights. Because their life is based upon light degradation, they may not need to be replaced for up to 7 or 8 years.
LPC operates and maintains about 9,000 pedestal lights that were installed in new residential home developments as street and front yard lighting from the early 1970’s through the late 1990’s. The base of the pedestal lights also houses the electric meter. The CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs currently used in the pedestal lights average a 2-year life span. In order to maintain safe street lighting and avoid costly call-out of LPC service personnel to replace burned out bulbs, LPC has for many years followed a 2-year light bulb replacement schedule in pedestal lights.
This year a team of 10 teenagers and two leaders from the Boulder County Youth Corps is removing old CFL light bulbs and installing new LED bulbs in about 4,000 pedestal lights, mostly on the east side of Longmont. The work area includes Main Street east to Fox Hill, 3rd Avenue north to Highway 66, Main Street west to Spencer Street, and Highway 66 south to 21st Avenue.
LPC has contracted this work to the Youth Corps for the last four years. The Youth Corps provides job opportunities for Boulder County teens (14-17) to develop a sense of community through personal responsibility, teamwork and service to the county, cities and towns. Corps members learn good work habits, new skills and the value of environmental and civic stewardship. LPC also uses Youth Corps members to paint pedestal light bases and poles.
LPC has previously tested several LED bulbs to determine how well they will work in pedestal lamps, but they have not been cost effective until this year. If the bulbs perform well over the next year, LPC will install them in more pedestals in 2014 as part of its normal light bulb replacement.
The new 12-watt LED bulbs are only slightly more energy efficient than the old 13-watt CFL bulbs. The LED bulbs cost about $10 per bulb; CFL bulbs cost around $2 a bulb. But the 5+ year life expectancy of the LED bulbs will eliminate the labor and material costs of replacing the CFL bulbs three times during the 5-8 year period.
LPC estimates the replacement and maintenance cost savings accumulated when using an LED bulb (rather than a CFL bulb) will more than pay for the cost of the plus several more. And the price-point of LED bulbs is expected to decline in future years.
Because the new LED bulbs look like an incandescent bulb, some customers have questioned why LPC is reverting to old, less efficient lighting technology. Even though the new bulbs appear to be incandescent, they are not. LED bulbs, in many cases, are designed to look like incandescent bulbs to improve customer acceptance. Some customers have also questioned why LPC is replacing the old CFL bulbs when they are still working. That is because more than 10 years of experience with CFL bulbs in the pedestal lamps has demonstrated that many of the bulbs will fail after the third year. Since labor is the highest cost in replacing the bulbs, especially when higher paid LPC staff employees must do the replacement, the most cost-effective strategy is to replace the bulbs en masse using lower cost labor of the Youth Corps.
Customers have commented that they like the new LED lights better because they emit a brighter, whiter light that helps eliminate shadows and improve vision at night.
The old CFL bulbs are packaged and shipped to a lighting recycling company that reclaims the small amount of mercury in each bulb and recycles the glass and metal parts for other uses.
If you have questions or comments about the new LED light bulbs or about the pedestal lights in general, please contact LPC through email or at 303-651-8386.