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LED Street Light Retrofit Lamps

Shop for LED Street Lights Retrofit Bulbs designed to replace HID and HPS - inside your existing fixture. Simple and easy to install. Quickly convert to LED without all the headaches...

We think you should consider a LED street light retrofit lamp over entirely new street light fixtures when it is possible. Typically, we find the only need for entirely new street light fixtures is when the existing ones are falling apart, look old, or are not compatible with a LED Retrofit Kit inside your street lighting fixtures.

By converting to LED lamps with our street light replacement products, you will gain all of the same benefits a native LED street fixture offers, with a reduction in cost. Not only is it 15% to 30% cheaper, but the installation costs drop dramatically too due to being quicker to install. Check out more of the benefits that not only does LED offer, but our retrofit lamps offer as well. Shop for LED Street Lights Retrofit Bulbs designed to replace HID and HPS - inside your existing fixture. Simple and easy to install. Quickly convert to LED without all the headaches...

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LED Street Light Retrofit Lamps The Definitive Guide

Street lighting fixtures make streets safer, inviting, and stylish for both people and vehicles. They enhance the security of urban centers, businesses, and homes, playing a critical role in development globally. However, reports indicate that street lighting is one of the world's largest consumers of electricity.

The commercial sector, which includes some outdoor spaces, consumes 40% of all lighting energy used in the U.S. and therefore plays a crucial role in environmental degradation. Statistics show that in 2015, the outdoor lighting sector, which includes street lighting, was the second largest consumer of electricity, using up 32% of the electric energy that year.

In 2015, the outdoor lighting sector consisted of approximately 258 million lighting installations. These are light fixtures in use during nighttime hours. Out of the 641 TWh consumed by lighting fixtures in the U.S. in 2015, outdoor lighting fixtures used up 32% (or 202 TWh). According to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, HID lights used approximately 34% of the electricity used up by lighting fixtures.

The report also highlighted the continued growth trajectory of luminaires in the country. In 2001, for instance, stationary lighting fixtures were approximately 7 billion in total. By 2010, the number had increased exponentially to 8.2 billion. By 2015, it had risen to 8.7 billion.

The report also stated that energy efficient LED lights were making inroads into the outdoor and street lighting sector and by 2015, made up at least 22% of all lighting fixtures in the industry. Street lamps installed in industrial and commercial building exteriors, roadways, and parking lots made up 93% of all outdoor lights.

It is estimated that there are over 300 million street lights globally. It is also estimated that by 2025, the number will have risen to 330 million. Most traditional street light fixtures utilize mercury vapor bulbs with 80 watts or higher wattage and an efficacy of 30 lumens per watt. The use of LED lighting fixtures is recommended as they have a higher lumen per watt ratio (100-300). LED bulbs also expend 75% less electricity than traditional HID bulbs.

It is believed that by 2050, over 60% of the global population – or 5 billion people – will reside in cities. The International Energy Agency warns that by 2030, the demand for electric lighting will be 80% higher than it was in 2005.

Since street lights fall in the category that consumes over 32% of all the energy used for lighting, as the demand for electricity rises, more of it will be required to run these lights – unless traditional street lamps are replaced with LED street light retrofit lamps.

Without a doubt, traditional street lighting negatively impacts the bottom line of many businesses. Nevertheless, without these light sources, community safety and economic growth in the cities will be adversely affected. Thanks to street lighting, the global economy continues to grow and there are increased nighttime economic activities such as entertainment or dining. World Bank studies report that adequate street lighting can cut down criminal activities by over 20%. Proper street lighting also has the potential to eliminate over 35% of traffic accidents on roadways.

Through the use of LED lighting and the elimination of traditional bulbs that provide low-quality street light, energy consumption can be lowered. This improvement in electric energy consumption can save the U.S. an annual $6 billion that is normally wasted on ineffective light fixtures. Lower energy usage can also cut down carbon emissions drastically – the equivalent of taking more than 8.5 million automobiles off the road for one year. The money saved can be put to better use elsewhere.

As profitable as it is to use LED lights, a lot of building exteriors still rely on traditional street lights. However, the energy saving potential of LED lights far outweighs the initial investment. These lights give a return on interest in a very short time. Even more affordable and uncomplicated are LED street light retrofit lamps that are kinder to the environment and much easier to install.

Street Lights

A Brief History of Street Lights

For centuries, the lack of adequate light at nighttime has always been a challenge. It was not only an inconvenience, but also a cause of insecurity. People are more likely to be mugged or attacked when they are blinded by darkness and can’t see the environment around them. The history of street lights goes back to centuries past when natural sources like gas could be tapped and lit to provide light.

In Peking, China, bamboo was used to direct gas leaks from volcanoes to the streets to fuel the street lamps in the year 500 B.C. In Europe, ancient Romans tapped the power of vegetable oil to light lamps placed at the front of their houses. The Romans had slaves whose work was to tend to the refueling and maintenance of these lamps.

The very first public lighting system was recorded in 1417, implemented by Sir Henry Baton for the city of London. He enacted a law that forced every house owner in the town to hang a lantern outside their homes, especially during those long winter nights.

In Paris, streets were lit at night by order in 1524. The law required every household in the city to place a night light on the window facing the road at night. The wealthy would hire children known as "link boys" to accompany them through the streets at night holding lit torches in their hands. Sometimes these young kids would often lead their employers straight into the hands of waiting muggers.

However, with the discoveries surrounding electricity came efficient street lighting. In 1802, William Murdock lit the exterior of the Soho Foundry while presenting to the public a coal gas-powered light. The 1800s saw a lot of advancements in street lighting with London getting its first gas-powered street lights in 1807. In the United States, it is the city of Baltimore that first experienced the beauty of street lights (in 1816), and Paris followed suit shortly after in 1820.

Majority of these gas lights were placed high on poles and had pipe installations affixed to them to feed them with gas. There were lamp lighters who had the responsibility of attending to the gas lights, lighting them, and putting them off in the early dawn. This was a widespread practice until the advent of electricity and the automatic lighting system.

Electricity transformed the street light and the first electric street light installed was known as the "Yablochkov candle" – in Paris back in 1878. Three years down the line, these electric street lights had overtaken gas lanterns and there were about 4,000 of them on the streets of Paris. The arc lamp took street lighting by storm in the U.S., and by 1890, there were more than 130,000 of these lamps lighting many streets in North America.

The arc lamps were mostly placed on top of “moonlight towers." These towers were very high metal contraptions that could light a few city blocks at a go. As you can imagine, their light was very harsh and they burnt out too fast. They were moved to industrial sites that needed them and were replaced by HID street lamps. The most common HID street lamps at the beginning were high-pressure sodium lamps.

The Disadvantages of HID Street Light Fixtures

Many of the traditional HID lamps still light up today's modern streets. Some of the most common HID street lights include:

  • Mercury vapor lamps
  • High-pressure sodium lamps
  • Low-pressure sodium lamps
  • Metal halide lamps

A HID lamp generally produces light when an electric arc is generated between dual electrodes. The lamp, by virtue of its design, generates more light than old gas lamps but also more pressure and heat. HID lamps are also very dependent on ballasts as their electricity regulatory devices. One major characteristic of these lamps – which is also a big downside – is the amount of time they take to reach full brightness after they are turned on.

This is referred to as their warm up time, and it can be anything between 2 to 10 minutes. They also have what is known as a restrike time. If the line voltage is temporarily disrupted and the current provided is too low to maintain the arc generated within the lamp, the lamp will be extinguished.

During restrike time, the superheated gases inside the lamp are given time to cool down, which allows the lamp’s pressure to drop. After about 5 to 15 minutes, the lamp will restrike. This mechanism makes HID lights very unsuitable for streets where lights don’t have to be on all the time.

High-Pressure Discharge Lamps

These gas discharge lamps have pressurized sodium or xenon in an arc tube. The HPS light has these gases often pressurized to 30 bar or more than the atmosphere. One common characteristic of the HPS lamp is the production of heat. The light is very common in large outdoor spaces like parking lots, arenas, and stadiums because of the brightness it gives.

Invented in the 70s, the HPS light was a staple in the streets back in the 80s. However, with the improvement of the sodium vapor lamp, the light’s popularity decreased. The light produced by a HPS lamp has a yellowish-orange glow. But the lamp has a very low color rendering index, meaning that everything illuminated by it will appear to have a yellowish-orange color.

The LPS lamp, which operates at a low pressure, has the lowest CRI value of all HID lights. Introduced in the 1930s, the lamp is not suitable for use as a street light since it lacks good color rendering ability.

HPS lamps have a mixture of mercury and xenon amalgam in them, which gives their light that distinguishing yellowish-orange glow. Their arcs are made to withstand the high temperatures generated by the vaporized gases.

The Shortcomings of High-Pressure Sodium Street Lights

  • HPS lamps have a wide range of luminous efficacy ratios, depending on the lamp type. Some have luminous efficacy ratios as low as 30 while other lamps have a luminous efficacy of 80 lumens per watt.
  • Their very low CRIs (27-30) make them unsuitable for outdoor use, especially where security is a concern. Their CCT values are also low and range between 2000K and 2700K, meaning that their light is warm colored.
  • They have a relatively short lamp life of 10,000 to 24,000 hours compared to a LED light's 50,000-100,000 life hours. They are great energy consumers and contribute to a very high electricity bill.
  • The lamps, like all the other HID lamps, have lengthy warm up and restrike times, meaning that they do not work well with lighting control features that help cut down energy use.
  • As they get to the end of their lives, these lamps produce very poor quality light
  • They contain mercury which is a known carcinogenic and is acutely toxic to humans, plants, and animals. This makes their disposal quite a challenge.
  • Because they have a relatively short lamp life, their maintenance costs are often very high. Hiring bucket lifts every now and then for maintenance purposes can dent even the most well-funded maintenance kitty.
Mercury Vapor Lamps

These lamps are the oldest HID lamps and have been at work for decades. They were once very common in large factory outdoor spaces as well as streets. There are two types of mercury vapor lamps: high-intensity discharge lamps and low-intensity discharge lamps.

The low-intensity discharge mercury vapor lamp is the invention of Peter Copper Hewitt, an American engineer. It was invented in 1901. The more efficient version of the lamp was invented in 1936 with increased inner pressure to not only decrease its size but also its lighting inefficiency as well.

The mercury vapor lamp is an arc lamp that has pressurized vaporized mercury in a tube made from fused quartz. The light is produced directly from the arc and the tube is encased by a large glass bulb that insulates the heat in the tube for better performance of the light. The glass bulb also helps retain the ultraviolet radiation produced by the lamp’s internal activity.

The lamp’s outer bulb is usually coated with phosphor or left clear, but covering it with phosphor improves the lamp's color rendering capacity. Mercury vapor lamps produce a bluish-green light which gives objects a greenish hue. However, those with a phosphor coat make colors appear a bit more natural under their light.

These lights were slowly replaced by HPS lamps which had better light quality and a longer lifespan. It’s not uncommon, however, to find them still in use as street lights in parking lots and for landscaping.

The Shortcomings of Mercury Vapor Street Lights

  • Mercury vapor lamps have a very low lumen per watt ratio of 30, but depending on the ballast type, they can attain a lumen per watt ratio of 60.
  • The lamps, just like HPS lamps, have a low CRI value. Lamps with clear bulbs have a CRI of 20. For phosphor-coated lamps, this value is usually a bit higher – 40.
  • They have a shorter lamp life compared to LED lamps. These lamps can only generate light for 24,000 hours.
  • Mercury vapor lamps are high wattage lamps and can pull up to 1000 watts. They tend to bloat an outdoor lighting bill.
  • The lamps’ average restart time ranges from 4 to 10 minutes. They are very difficult to use with light controls.
  • These lamps, like most HID lamps, have toxic mercury in them making their disposal problematic.
  • The bulbs are very inefficient and consume a lot of energy to generate light that can be produced by LED street light retrofit lamps using 75% less energy.
  • They get dimmer as they age, so at some point they will use the same amount of electricity they used at the beginning but produce low-quality light.
  • They are very fragile, and as security street lights, are highly susceptible to vandalism.
  • Some governments and local councils have restricted the use of mercury vapor bulbs in a bid to phase them out and replace them with better and more energy efficient lighting systems such as LED lights.
Metal Halide Lamps

The first metal halide lamp was invented by Robert Reiling in the 1960s who did so by improving Charles P. Steinmetz's experiments. It soon became one of the most popular street lights. Metal halides resemble mercury vapor lamps in their construction but they have additional halides in them from silver bromide, silver iodide, or sodium iodide. The halides increase the lamps’ light output and improve their color rendering abilities. They also make the lamps a bit more energy efficient than mercury vapor lamps.

Metal halides have a compact fused quartz arc tube within a larger glass bulb. This is important because the lamps hold very pressurized gases in the tubes that are up to 50psi and above. Metal halides produce intense white light with a CCT of 4000K. However, they are high wattage bulbs and pull high amounts of electricity throughout their lifetimes. One of their biggest shortcomings is their very short lamp life. They can only last for 10,000 to 20,000 hours.

Metal halides are not only used as street lights, they are commonly found in auditoriums, sports arenas, and industrial parking spaces. They are also popular in the automotive industry and are commonly used as headlights.

The Shortcomings of Metal Halide Street Lights

  • They have lower luminous efficacy ratios than LED street light retrofit lamps. Their highest ratio is 65 lumens per watt.
  • Their CRIs are also lower than for LED lights – 65.
  • They have very short lamp lives. Their maximum useful life is 15,000 hours.
  • They are high wattage bulbs, and there are those that use up to 3,000 watts.
  • They have long restrike times of 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Their luminous maintenance is quite low, only 90%.
  • They disperse their light in all directions, which is very wasteful and one of the most common causes of light pollution in the night sky
  • The lamps are also relatively expensive compared to other traditional light bulbs
  • They have a tendency to rupture when they age. Aging can also cause a color shift, which makes their light quality poor.
  • MH lamps are orientation sensitive and last longer when they are installed either horizontally or vertically as per a manufacturer's advice

5 Ways LED Street Light Retrofit Lamps Benefit Streets

Lighting maintenance and utility bills can quickly shoot up when underperforming and outdated lighting technologies are used as street lights. The increased costs and hassles of maintenance and replacements related to old lighting systems may eventually drive all building owners and managers to LED lights. And while many stakeholders are often put off by LEDs’ high initial costs, they shouldn’t be. LED retrofits cost less than new LED lights and offer the same benefits. A retrofit costs 50-75% less than a new light fixture.

With retrofitting, there’s no need for intricate electrical work as the wiring and light fixtures are not replaced. In most cases, all that is required is for the electrician to open the fixtures, remove the old bulbs and ballasts, and put LED heads and drivers in their place. However, if you purchase new LED street light, you might need to get the required permissions for new lighting installations.

Below are some benefits LED street light retrofit lamps can offer when it comes to street lighting.

1.      Even Distribution of Light

Retrofit Replacement Lights for Street Lights

In streets and parking lots, even distribution of light is an essential requirement. When light is evenly distributed, people feel safe as they go about their nighttime activities. Lighting professionals usually determine lighting levels by checking the foot-candles and luxes.

One way they determine whether light is evenly distributed is by checking the luminous flux – which is measured in lumens. Luminous flux indicates the total quantity of light discharged by a source. Luminous efficacy is also an important measurement of light as it shows the ability of a bulb to emit visible light.

Metal halide lamps have a lower lumen per watt ratio compared to LED lights. Their maximum luminous efficacy is 100 lumens per watt. However, it is important to note that HID lamps are multidirectional, so even if a MH lamp has a high luminous efficacy, it will not direct all of the light to the intended surface. Some of that light will be lost to the surrounding environment.

All HID lights need reflectors to direct the light where it is required. HIDs also have lower CRIs hence their light quality is normally poor. They also require a lot of energy to work.

Because of their low CRIs and CCTs, as well as their omnidirectional way of producing light, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps create dark and shadowy spots in the streets they are installed. If LED street light retrofit lamps are used in these areas, the light quality improvement will be instant. A lighting designer will help you to choose LEDs with the right optics for your environment to ensure that light distribution is uniform.

2.      They Bring Creativity to the Existing Lighting Infrastructure

When LED street light retrofit lamps are installed on your street, they will change the look and feel of the space, thanks to the bright light they produce. They will give your property a fresh new look at a pocket-friendly price. By utilizing LED lights with varied optics, a LED lights expert can ensure the light covers the entire area perfectly.

LED lights have some unique benefits that go beyond high energy savings and decreased maintenance costs. They are available in a wide range of correlated color temperatures and color rendering indices. When they are installed in a place where high pressure sodium lamps were in use, the change is immediate and very noticeable.

Perhaps, due to lack of knowledge, most people who installed LED lights in the past only utilized those with whiter or cooler color temperatures, because they tended to look brighter and more intense. It could also be due to the fact that over the years, the extended use of fluorescent lights made people more accustomed to white light. There is a perception that needs to be challenged – that white light equals better visibility – especially outdoors.

Back in June 14, 2016, The American Medical Association released a rather alarming study that highlighted the dangers of intensely white LED lights. These lights usually have more blue light which increases glare and light pollution at nighttime.

The AMA asked lighting engineers to look for ways to mitigate this danger which could result in traffic accidents, as the visual acuity of drivers is decreased. The other major problem of high CCT lights is that they have the potential to disrupt the human circadian rhythm by suppressing the production of melatonin at night.

White light, like that produced by LEDs with CCTs above 4000K, is very beneficial for tasks that require concentration, but not very useful in outdoor locations that have fog. The thing is, white light has a harder time penetrating through the fog to light up roadways than yellow light.

Therefore, during foggy weather, roads illuminated by intensely white lights have visibility problems. These lights also cause increased sky glows where they are utilized. The sky glows are unpleasant to the eye and hamper astronomical research.

Warm white LEDs are best for roadways and tunnel lights because of an effect called 'short dark adaption times.' The lights are warm, with a CCT of 3000K, but the human eye still perceives them as white, albeit with a tinge of yellow. Warm white light has less blue light wavelengths and is therefore more aesthetically pleasing at night. It has less adverse effects on the natural ecosystem and the human circadian rhythm. LED street light retrofit lamps with warm white light should be shielded to lessen any chances of sky glows and light pollution.

Street Lighting

3.      Rebates, Discounts, and Incentives

By installing LED street light retrofit lamps in your outdoor space, you may get to enjoy discounts, rebates, and incentives that can help reduce your initial investment. This information can be obtained from the Database of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency. There are federal and state level rebates as well as utility and government-backed incentives for the utilization of energy efficient lights.

4.      They Present an Opportunity for Further Improvements

If you would like to make further improvements to your commercial facility, it helps to start with little improvements then use the savings to improve other areas of your facility. Upgrading the lighting outside your facility to LED street lighting can build a very compelling case for upgrading the facility to this efficient lighting technology.

The LED light uses 75% less energy than conventional light fixtures. It has semiconductors and doesn’t go through an oxidative process to produce light, unlike HID light systems. The light that LEDs produce is emitted straight from the source since it has no filament. That’s why it needs very little electricity to produce light.

Older light bulbs drain energy because they have a gas (or a gaseous mixture) that must be heated to vaporization before sufficient light is produced. Therefore, the light produced by a 40W HID light source can be produced by a 5W LED light. LED street lights not only produce better quality light with lower energy consumption, they also generate much less heat.

A HID bulb will give off almost 80% of the energy it pulls as heat rather than light. LEDs also have heat sinks that further dissipate the little heat they produce to give them a longer lifespan. LED lights last longer than any other light source and will significantly cut your street maintenance budget.

Once stakeholders realize just how many financial benefits there are to be gained from a simple LED retrofitting project, they will be more than willing to adopt LED technology. If the lights had only been installed in the street outside the facility, they will be installed in the other areas of the building.


5.      Pair Well With Light Control Features

With lighting control features in place, LED street light retrofit lamps will save much more energy. They will also be controlled to produce light only when it is required. Photocells can save energy by controlling the light output of LEDs based on the natural light levels in an area.

Dimmers can also be used to control the light intensity. A LED light has a broad dimming range and can be regulated to offer full light output whenever there is traffic. Intelligent light controls can do so much more. They can monitor lighting usage as well as lights that require maintenance. This means that the facility will not need to hire a person to perform rounds and ascertain the wellbeing of the street lights installed.

Where Are Street Lights Used?

Pedestrian and Cycle Paths

Modern building infrastructure requires spaces that allow cyclists and pedestrians to perform their activities without endangering their lives or those of others. Such paths must be very easy to detect visually at night by use of high-quality light.

The light should allow for proper facial recognition so that cyclists and pedestrians can feel safe when on the paths.

Roadway Lighting

Street lights used in roadways are a very critical safety feature in highways and busy streets where drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians need visibility. These lights also help define car and pedestrian zones and make the motorists aware of the environment they are in.

LED street light retrofit lamps can help enhance the roadways they are installed in thanks to their high-quality light. The roadway lighting sector is gradually moving towards LED lighting for its cost saving benefits, reduced maintenance costs, and low light pollution levels.

Street Light Retrofit Case Study

The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland has a LED street lighting system that demonstrates the ability of LED street lights to reduce energy consumption by 75%. The retrofitting project was carried out very quickly as the LED retrofit units were installed in the existing street light fixtures.

Research students at Virginia Tech, in collaboration with students from the Old Dominion University, have further enhanced the system with street light control features that include smart servers, traffic sensors, and street light controllers. The program first monitored the efficiency of HPS lamps in the same area for one year to establish energy use. Once the LED street light retrofit lamps replaced the older HPS lamps, massive energy savings were recorded.

Besides consuming 75% less energy, these new lights eliminated rigorous lamp disposal processes.

While the HPS street lamps used 3.4 kW constantly until dawn, the LED street lights only use 1.24kW at their full intensity.

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When dimmed to 50% intensity, at times when there’s low traffic, they only need 0.71kW to keep illuminating the area sufficiently. 

The research report states that the money invested will be recouped in less than six years through the savings realized from reduced energy bills and maintenance costs.

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