LED street light conversion

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Street lights in Kelowna before LED conversion Street lights in Kelowna after LED conversion

The City of Kelowna is working to build vibrant urban centers and make improvements to City infrastructure. Street lighting is an important community service, but has historically consumed as much as 25 percent of a city’s energy budget.

The use of light-emitting diodes (LED’s) in roadway lighting fixtures is becoming more prevalent as advancements in LED technology continues. In 2016, following an LED street light pilot project, City Council endorsed the decision to convert approximately 10,000 street lights to LED’s.

What are LED’s?

LED stands for light emitting diode. LED lighting is the result of an electrical current passing through a microchip, which illuminates the tiny light sources we call LED’s, and the result is visible light. LED’s have a significant advantage over high pressure sodium (HPS) lights in that they don’t typically “burn out” or fail, but instead they dim slowly over time. They also generate significantly less heat and use considerably less energy than traditional light sources such as incandescent and HPS, resulting in decreased operating and maintenance costs and a longer lifespan.

LED’s have several advantages compared to high pressure sodium including:

  • a longer lifespan (100,000 hours)
  • reduced maintenance requirements
  • lower electricity consumption
  • higher quality lighting which improves clarity and the ability to see details while walking or driving
  • are more focused and directional, reducing the amount of wasted light and “uplight” or “skyglow”, ensuring light is focused on roads and sidewalks where drivers and pedestrians will benefit from it the most.

LED Light Conversion Project

The replacement of over 10,000 high pressure sodium street lights to LED was completed in fall 2018, taking just over 6 months to complete.

Over the next 15 years, approximately $16 million dollars will be saved by converting these street lights over to LED. The previous high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps have a short life span of only about five years, while LED lighting has a much longer lifespan of 15-20 years. The total cost to replace the lighting was $3.75 million, and that cost will be recouped within the next three and a half to four years due to energy savings and reduced maintenance costs.

Annual electricity consumption has been reduced by 4.5 GWh per year, a 62% reduction in energy use as a result of the conversion, which is equivalent to the electricity used to power more than 400 homes in BC each year.