The LED retrofit market is at the beginning of a huge upward swing, according to an article in Forbes. IHS Technology reports that of the 140 million streetlights installed worldwide, just over 13 percent are LEDs, and that percentage is expected to jump to almost 65 percent by 2020.
Although LEDs cost three to four times more than traditional streetlamps, they last three to four times longer and produce two to three times more light per watt. They also deliver 30 percent to 70 percent in annual electricity savings over their predecessors, are more programmable and are easier to connect to citywide wireless networks.
By 2017, New York City plans to replace 250,000 lights to the tune of $76 million—an investment that should pay for itself in fewer than six years as the city expects to save $14 million in energy and maintenance costs annually. Boston and Seattle are also undertaking big retrofit projects.
Osram, Royal Philips, Acuity Brands and Panasonic are the biggest players in the streetlighting market, and they are all looking at ways to create smart lighting products. For example, several manufacturers are selling software to control and monitor LED networks.
Since more than half of a city’s lighting costs are wasted during times of inactivity, the key will be for manufacturers to develop products that allow cities to use less light overall without compromising safety. Los Angeles, Calif., started a LED retrofit project in 2008. The system includes the ability to measure each light’s energy use and operational status. It also allows the city to dim or brighten the light on any individual pole—a feature that has helped to reduce instances of burglary and vandalism by 10 percent between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. As a result of the retrofit, the city has been able to cut its $16 million electricity bill by 40 percent.
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