One day in the not too distant future, the familiar orange and yellow glow of a streetlight may become nothing more than a distant memory. Why? Cities en masse are switching to brighter, whiter LED streetlights, and Cree has a new low-cost LED that could accelerate municipal adoption of these highly efficient illuminators.
Starting at $99, the new Cree XSPR LED residential street light comes in two flavors -- 25-watt (2,722 lumen) and 42-watt (4,109 lumen) -- that uses 65-percent less energy than the common high-pressure sodium streetlight. Cities can replace up to 100-watt streetlights with these LED units, and Cree notes that the light could deliver payback in less than one year.
Aside from slashing energy costs, what's the difference between a regular streetlight and one of these Cree LED configurations? Longevity and color temperature, for starters. Nearly any LED streetlight will last at least two to four times longer than a conventional model. With the XSPR running at either 4,000K or 5,700K color temperature options (normal streetlights output around 2,000K), Cree's shiner illuminates an area with whiter light for increased nighttime visibility.
Of course, Cree isn't the only runner in the race to convert U.S. streets to LED lighting. Last year, Los Angeles concluded a four-year program to replace 140,000 street lights with energy efficient LED fixtures from companies such as Cree, Hadco, and Leotek. The result? $10 million dollars a year in savings and 40,500 tons of emissions displaced. Many other cities across the U.S. -- including Las Vegas, Austin -- are turning the LED light on, too.