A customer asked today whether we sell LED street lights. We have not picked up LED street lights because we have not yet been convinced of the value. They are very fashionable and people like to think that by using LED lights they are cool, but the data does not bear that out. LEDs are great for many lighting applications – they are even great for traffic lights, but we think not for street lights. We think the compact flourescent lamp (CFL) is still the best – especially the Magnaray lamps that we sell, which can be used for street or area lighting – they have even been used for lighting up operating rooms in clinics!
LED lights claim to be longer lasting, which is probably true. However, when you do replace the lamps, you usually have to replace the entire board of LEDs – we have not yet seen a modular replacement approach. Furthermore, you would need to have the size and shape of board built by that specific manufacturer, whereas almost anyone can supply a 36w CFL. LED lights claim to use less power, which they do individually. But you have to cluster so many together to match the same wattage output of a CFL that you actually use more power. In a watts per useable light equation, they are not as efficient as CFLs. LED street lamps are more expensive to buy than their CFL equivalents, so no savings there. Finally, the quality of LED light – even if you are able disperse and project it properly is still not as nice as the CFL.
So where is the advantage of the LED in that application? I think LED street lighting is a mis-application of a great technology.