Outdoor lighting: DOE funds more SSL, MaxLite post-top LEDs, Cree and projects

June 11, 2014
US will fund LED street light projects in five cities, while Cree and MaxLite announce new products and Cambridge, MA and Honolulu, HI start new roadway upgrade projects.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will enable LED street light upgrades in five metropolitan areas under the new High-Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator program announced by President Obama. In outdoor products, Cree has combined a customized LED and unique optics in an area-lighting fixture while MaxLite has announced new solid-state lighting (SSL) retrofit kits for post-top fixtures. Moving to projects, Cambridge, MA and Honolulu, HI have announced major street-light upgrade plans with the former having already begun deployment.

DOE outdoor accelerator

Back in May, US President Obama made a sweeping announcement of energy-oriented initiatives meant to decrease energy usage, create US jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The programs included new commitments to solar and $2B (billion) in new investments in energy efficiency projects. As Jim Brodrick, lighting program manager at the DOE, pointed out in one of his recurring Postings emails, the new High-Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator portion of Obama's program will lead to the retrofit of 500,000 legacy street lights with LED fixtures.

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Brodrick specifically mentioned Detroit, MI, a city with ongoing economic issues and an inventory of street lights that are more than 20 years old on average. The new program will enable an upgrade in Detroit that will include network and control technology that is expected to save the city $1.5 million per year.

Detroit is one of five US cities that will be a part of the accelerator program. The others include Huntington Beach, CA; Little Rock, AR; West Palm Beach, FL; and the greater Kansas City, MO metro area. Under the DOE's counsel, the cities will utilize the specifications developed by the agency's Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium (MSSLC) for both luminaires and controls to guide the purchase process.

New outdoor products

Moving to the outdoor lighting product space, there are a couple of items worth noting. Just before LightFair, we covered the new Cree OSQ luminaire that the company said would greatly decrease the price of SSL area lighting retrofits. We saw that product firsthand at LFI and learned more about the new optic technology integrated in the luminaire.

The version of NanoOptic technology in the OSQ is based on a lens that's molded into a metal carrier that can accommodate six such lenses and of course the LEDs are positioned underneath the lenses. The optic does have unique reflective and refractive properties. But the optical performance is enhanced by custom LEDs from the Cree component side that have primary optics designed to deliver an asymmetrical beam pattern. The result is a match with the most popular beam patterns used in area lighting.

Related article: Outdoor Lighting: Cree supplies LEDs to Baytown; 'Street Fight'; San Francisco

The Cree Edge series still offers a broader selection of beam patterns due to the flexibility of the smaller LED sources and individual total internal reflection (TIR) optics used in the Edge product. But the OSQ will be a more cost-effective choice if the application at hand can be served by the available beam patterns. Evidently Cree will not offer the LEDs used in the OSQ family as part of its commercial component product line because the LEDs and optics are designed specifically to work together.

In the post-top luminaire area, meanwhile, MaxLite has added to its retrofit LED light engine product line designed for installation into existing acorn, globe, and bollard fixtures. The new 12W and 20W models are offered in 3000K and 5000K CCT models.

"Our LED Post Top Retrofit Lamps are the perfect solution for replacing existing inefficient and lesser quality outdoor light sources," said Alex Truong, MaxLite product marketing manager. "This LED lamp provides a broad range of opportunities in the exterior lighting market and will deliver substantial savings on energy and maintenance in public spaces for urban planners, DOTs and landscape architects."

Cambridge and Oahu projects

In the SSL project space, we have news of new LED fixture installations in Cambridge, MA and Honolulu, HA. The Cambridge Chronicle reported that the city public works department had begun the upgrade of 4800 cobrahead fixtures with new LED fixtures. The project is scheduled for completion in August.

The project is projected to cost $6M (million) but will cut energy consumption by 50%. Cambridge will also install a network and controls to both monitor performance and automate maintenance, and to enable dimming for additional energy savings.

Related article: Outdoor Lighting: London makes LED street light plans; US and UK projects

On the island of Oahu, the Honolulu mayor has announced plans to replace the more than 50,000 light inventory with LED street lights, according to Hawaii News Now. Honolulu has already installed LED lights on some freeways, but in the next 18 months will tackle the broader problem of upgrading all types of roadways. The motivation is both efficiency and a safer environment for the many pedestrians on the island.