Seattle City Light to start installing LED streetlights on arterials, too

August 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm | In Utilities, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

When Seattle City Light started converting streetlights to LEDs around its service area, the focus was on non-arterial streets because of concerns about how the new lights would handle the needs of major streets.

(WSB photo from 2010: Side-by-side residential test of LED vs. sodium streetlights)
Now, after testing, City Light is getting ready to start swapping out arterial lights too. We talked with SCL’s Scott Thomsen after we spotted a published notice about the call for bids.

He says SCL expects to award the contract for fixtures on August 26th, getting the components sometime in October, and beginning installation shortly thereafter. According to Thomsen, they hope to get as many as 1,800 LED streetlights installed on arterials by year’s end, before the weather gets too bad.

That will include 88 lights in the White Center Business District, by request of the WC Chamber of Commerce, he said, but otherwise, they will be focusing on a northern area, with “selected lights chosen by SDOT,” strategic placements with easy access while the weather remains workable. After that, the installation pattern will be much the same as the one that’s been followed for residential-street LEDs, going north first before heading south. And, Thomsen adds, they’re still finishing up the residential installations.

It’ll take up to six years to get all the arterial lights/fixtures replaced. The advantages, in case you were wondering, include that they last three times as long, use less electricity, waste less light on non-targeted areas (which means less “light pollution”), have a better “depth of field” so that more objects are illuminated, and show colors more truly, particularly helpful for police trying to get accurate descriptions of vehicles, suspects, etc.

6 Comments

  1. We have in our alley a streetlight which we pay the electricity for each month around $10, the bulb was changed to an led sometime back and we are still paying the same amount each month. Anyone else out there have a streetlight in front or in alley and paying the same as before?

    Comment by NW — 3:30 pm August 16, 2013 #

  2. Is there any chance SCL will use the LED’s that mimic the old incandescent bulbs?

    I understand the energy efficiency concern … but I HATE the blue-ish fluorescent lights that have popped up in our neighborhoods. The old yellow-hued bulbs added character and charm; the new fluorescent bulbs are cold and ugly.

    My two cents.

    Comment by wscommuter — 4:28 pm August 16, 2013 #

  3. The new bulbs are LEDs and not fluorescent. As you can see from the picture above they render white light and not blue. Funny how no one seemed to complain about the orange look of sodium vapor that made everything look jaundiced. I think the color temperature is a big improvement. I’ll be glad to no longer have to manually set my camera to 2800K when shooting news at night for the WSB. The longevity of the new bulbs, the cost savings and the reduction of light pollution more than balances out the criticisms of the change averse. Kudos SCL.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 5:06 pm August 16, 2013 #

  4. I agree with you wscommuter that the new led lights look artificial just plan blan and they also hurt my eyes a lot wish they would bring back the old ones no difference to pocket book here.

    Comment by NW — 6:16 pm August 16, 2013 #

  5. (please read the following as an observation rather than a criticism or complaint!!!)

    With the old-style streetlights; when biking through neighborhoods at night I am able to see if a car is approaching the same intersection I am (IF they’re headlights are on) as they cast a dimmer, more yellowish beam, these new ones however take away that advantage as they are just as bright as the cars lighting.

    Conversely, they help illuminate those walkers, runners, dogs, cats, coyotes, etc. that seldom sport lights of their own.

    Comment by sbre — 7:04 am August 17, 2013 #

  6. Good news, good news, good news!
    The new LED’s provide vastly improved visibility for drivers to see pedestrians, or road hazards and provide a much better lighting environment to help cut down on street crime.

    Comment by Been There — 9:43 am August 17, 2013 #

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