LA changing its glow for more efficiency

LEDs to be used at bus stops and for street lamps as old lights come up for replacement. Bus stop LEDs are solar powered and off-grid for light during blackouts.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
After: The 6th Street Bridge after high pressure sodium streetlights were replaced with LEDs (See end of post for a before photo). City of Los Angeles/Bureau of Street Lighting

Los Angeles is literally basking in a whole new glow.

The city has decided to replace its street lights and bus stop lighting with LEDs. The bus stop lighting will be solar-powered and off the grid.

LA's Bureau of Street Lighting has been actively testing out different types of energy efficient lighting to replace the public lighting that currently includes a combination of incandescent, mercury vapor, metal halide, and high pressure sodium lights.

In 2009, the agency began an LED street lighting energy efficiency program to actively replace its existing 209,000 streetlights. When complete, the city's energy consumption for public lighting should be cut by 40 percent and save 40,500 tons of carbon emissions per year, according to city statistics.

Now the city has decided on which specific lights to go with. Many of the street lamps will be LEDway streetlights from BetaLED. The solar-powered bus lamps are EverGen lights from Carmanah Technologies. Because the bus lights are self-sufficient, they will not need to be tied into the city's electric grid and will allow the city to remain lit even in the event of a blackout.

In a statement released Tuesday, Carmanah said its lights will also give the city more freedom to replace existing lights or introduce lights in new places without having to dig up sidewalks or tie into electricity poles, cutting down on installation costs.

But in addition to making the city more energy efficient, the switch from an abundance of high pressure sodium lights across the city's highways to LEDs is also drastically changing the city's look. Before and after photos provided by the city of the 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River illustrate a clear change in tint from orange to whiter lighting.

Before: The orange glow of high pressure sodium lights on 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River before they were replaced with LEDs. City of Los Angeles/Bureau of Street Lighting