New LED Security Lights
LED yard lights have several benefits
We all remember the lightbulb revolution when people changed out “old school” incandescent bulbs over to the squiggly compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). That revolution evolved over several years, but it didn’t take long before CFLs became old technology replaced by LED lights.
“This is one of the quickest conversions of technology that I’ve ever seen,” said John Westby, Operations and Engineering Manager.
His comments about the fast evolution of LEDs came during a presentation to the Member Advisory Committee on Verendrye’s plan to change all of their yard lights to LEDs.
“There’s just too many benefits of LEDs – including a 50 percent energy savings – to not convert the yard lights,” he said.
Verendrye currently leases about 3,500 yard lights to members. The cooperative’s goal is to convert all of them to LEDs over the next three years, starting this year with about 1,000. Benefits of the LEDs include energy savings, longer lifespan and less maintenance.
“The present lights are really a maintenance headache,” Westby said. “We don’t know yet where we will start, but it will probably be with the ones that are the farthest away from our offices.”
There are no bulbs to change with LEDs. The photo cell - the device that tells the light when it is dark enough to turn on - is more reliable. One of the common types of service calls for yard lights is for malfunctioning photo cells, resulting in lights not coming on when it gets dark. The “smart” LED photocell learns the sunlight patterns throughout the year and programs itself when to turn on and off even if the photocell malfunctions. This feature would eliminate many service calls each year.
Most members with yard lights lease them from Verendrye and the electricity they use is not metered. Members pay a fixed fee depending on their wattage. If there is a problem with a leased light, there is no charge for Verendrye to make the repairs. This arrangement will remain the same when the LED lights are installed. Verendrye Electric is also applying for a grant through the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to help pay for a portion of the installation of LEDs.
How do yard lights work?
Currently, most yard lights on Verendrye’s system have high pressure sodium fixtures, but a few use mercury vapor fixtures. They light up when electric current runs through a filament to create an electric arc. The arc inside the bulb heats up and vaporizes a combination of gasses to create light. Mercury vapor lights work similar to high pressure sodium lights, but are not as efficient, and they produce a whitish blueish color, compared to the yellowish hue of the high pressure sodium lights.
How do LEDs work?
LED fixtures (light emitting diode) do not contain a filament or any kind of gas. Instead, the entire LED is made up of a semiconductor, which is solid in nature and makes LEDs more durable. LED lights are small, packed electronic chip devices where two conductive materials are placed together on a chip (a diode). Electricity passes through the diode, releasing energy in the form of light. Unlike other lights that require a few minutes to warm up before reaching their full level of brightness, LEDs achieve full illumination immediately.