Grand Rapids LED streetlights need more spread on sidewalks, but new models on way

Aug. 12, 2008
The Grand Rapids, MI, mayor has commented that some of the new LED streetlights outside his home do not spread illumination far enough back behind the pole to light the sidewalk.
Grand Rapids LED streetlight Mayor George Heartwell is not happy with the spread of illumination that the prototype cobra-head 35-foot LED streetlights throw across the sidewalks of the five-lane street outside his Grand Rapids home, according to a recent article in the The Grand Rapids Press newspaper.

"I think anybody walking along the street would quickly come to the conclusion that this particular prototype doesn't work," Heartwell said in the article, referring to coverage on the sidewalk.

Public Works Director Patrick Bush shares the mayor's concern, but believes future prototypes will perform better.

In reply to the newspaper story, Bush said: “They forgot to mention that we said there was tremendous progress from the first generation prototypes to the second and third."

“We also pointed out that we are dealing with models from 4 different suppliers and some such as the Relume models were performing much better than others," Bush said.

LED streetlight spread “The only negative with the streetlights was that the light didn’t spread behind the pole 15 feet more onto the sidewalk,” said Bob Hahn, the GM of Lumecon, the national distributor for Relume Technologies. He added that Relume is planning on fixing the spread issue by deploying new prototypes to the city within 60 days.

"The City of Grand Rapids as a general rule has a very high standard for their outdoor lighting," continued Hahn. "It exceeds the IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) standards by quite a bit, by as much as 3 times the minimum requirements. They do that for safety and aesthetic reasons – they like the city to be well lit."

“I would also like to continue testing the Relume models but in a location other than Fulton Street,” Grand Rapids's Bush said. “Fulton Street was the ultimate in worst case scenario. I would like to install them in a two or three lane roadway configuration to see if we can achieve better results.”

Over the past five years, Grand Rapids has replaced almost all of the lamps in its traffic signals with LEDs, saving the city about $60,000 a year in energy costs.

"We remain optimistic. There were a lot of issues with the first generation of traffic signals, but the technology ramped up quickly to address those needs," Bush said. "We're hoping the same will happen with the street light products."

In December 2007, Relume Technologies and Lumecon won a contract with The City of Ann Arbor, MI, to supply more than 1000 LED light retrofits for the city's conversion to 100 percent LED light for its downtown streets.

Hahn says that 920 of the decorative globe lights have already been installed in Ann Arbor.