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Finned LED streetlights go for flashy look

Cree releases high-design and traditional LED streetlights to speed adoption of long-lasting and efficient LEDs in municipalities.

Cree's AeroBlades' LED streetlights. Cree

Cree is leaning on high design to get LED lighting onto lamp posts.

The company today introduced new lines of streetlights that use long-lasting and energy-efficient LEDs, including AeroBlades lamps which are an array of LED light sources in blade-like strips.

Cree also updated its traditional LED streetlights for overhead lighting and developed a lamp with traditional bulb designed to fit into historic districts.

The products are the first since Cree, which makes LED light sources, purchased Ruud Lighting to expand its lighting fixture business. LEDs are a good fit for street lights in that they last longer than other technologies, save money on energy, and can direct more precisely.

But in the U.S., many municipalities are strapped for cash, making the higher upfront cost of LEDs a difficult sell. Cree's latest line of streetlights are lower priced, but the primary savings comes from reduced maintenance, said Cree vice president and general manager Christopher Ruud.

"It's not an inexpensive job to change a light bulb--that's where the payback is," he said. He said the payback from this latest line is typically within a few years.

In the consumer market, LEDs face the same challenge of higher upfront costs even though there are energy savings, particularly compared to incandescent bulbs. But Cree executives say that apart from efficiency, consumers should value the LEDs for better control with dimming, longer life, and the potential for different designs.