Metropolitan Appeal of LED Lighting: Street Lamps, Bridges and the Empire State Building

Cities across the globe are choosing to install LED lighting, first and foremost for financial reasons. Compared to an incandescent bulb, an LED light is 90 percent more efficient, so cities can get more light for their buck with LED lighting. LED bulbs also last up to 10 times longer than CFLs. Moreover, the possibility for visual dazzle is nearly limitless with LEDs, which can be programmed to take on mesmerizing patterns of shifting, shimmering colors.

Cities can see big savings by switching to LED lighting. For instance, the Newhallville neighborhood of New Haven, Conn., is converting about 20 percent of its streetlights from conventional orange-toned high-pressure sodium lights to LED lighting. (Eventually, the city plans to replace all sodium lights with LEDs, but this is just the first phase of the project.) Here’s how the finances work out: Thanks to offsetting incentive payments from the Connecticut Energy Efficient fund, the project is “cost-neutral” for the first few years. After five years, the city will save $100,000 per year, thanks to these new LED streetlights. As cities across the U.S. pencil out the long-term savings of LED lighting, many are making the switch from outdated “cobra head” sodium lights to LEDs.

Beyond these practical considerations, metropolitan leaders are drawn to the fact that LEDs can create stunning light shows to exhibit a city’s iconic architecture. LED lights can emit any tone of light, and they may be programmed to fire in visually dazzling patterns, as is the case with the new LED lighting soon to be seen on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. To honor the bridge’s 75th anniversary, 25,000 LED lights are being hung on vertical suspender cables. Each LED light in this, the world’s largest light sculpture, will fire independently in a complex pattern that will repeat only once every two years. The $11,000 annual price tag to light the Bay Bridge will be easily offset by the predicted $100 million the new light display will bring to the local economy through tourism.

An even more iconic American structure, the Empire State Building, has also been outfitted with beautiful LED lighting. Previously, the floodlights installed in 1964 could shine in just 10 colors – green for St. Patrick’s Day, blue and red for the Fourth of July, and so forth. Now, as you can see in the video above, there are far more color possibilities – 16.7 million, according to the installers of the Empire State Building’s new LED lighting system. And this amazing new light show will cut lighting costs in half for the famous Art Deco building.

LED lights can save cities and building managers money while also drawing in new business with gorgeous light displays. Consider this bright new future of metropolitan lighting the next time you turn on your LED headlamp or flashlight. The same technology powering that bulb in your LED headlamp is also transforming cityscapes around the world.

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