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National Lighting Product Information Program Releases New Report on Street Lighting Technologies

The National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP) released its latest Specifier Report, designed to provide objective performance information on existing street lighting technologies including light-emitting diode (LED), induction, and high pressure sodium (HPS) streetlights.

This report comes at a critical time when many municipalities, some with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, are in the process of replacing HPS streetlights with LED and induction models.

NLPIP performed photomet­ric evaluations of 14 streetlights that used either HPS, pulse-start metal halide (PSMH), or induction lamps, or LED modules. NLPIP analyzed the streetlights for light output and distribution, energy use, spectral effects on visual performance, discomfort glare, and economic factors.

The streetlights were evaluated as part of installations that meet the lighting criteria as defined in the American National Standard Practice for Roadway Lighting, ANSI/ IESNA RP-8-00 (R2005), for a simulated one-mile stretch of collector roadway (a road servicing traffic between local and major roadways).

According to NLPIP, when replacing the pole-mounted HPS streetlights on a one-mile section of collector road with the LED or induction streetlights used in the study, it would take twice as many of the pole-mounted LED or induction streetlights to meet the lighting criteria as defined in RP-8-00.

Complete performance results are published in Specifier Reports: Streetlights for Collector Roads, which is available online.

“The LED and induction streetlights we tested required narrower pole spacing. As a result, the life cycle cost per mile was dominated by the installation cost of the poles, as opposed to the initial cost of the streetlights or any potential energy or maintenance cost savings, as one may assume,” said Leora Radetsky, LRC lead research specialist, principal investigator and author of the report.

LED and induction technologies are often marketed as money saving alternatives to HPS, with some manufacturers claiming reductions in energy and main­tenance costs. However, NLPIP found that the HPS and PSMH streetlights evaluated in this test provided a better cost value than the LED and induction streetlights evaluated, which would need to produce about the same street-side lumens as the HPS models to be economically competitive.

The average power demand of the LED streetlight layouts evaluated was slightly lower than the average power demand of the HPS streetlight layouts, but there was wide variation among LED models, according to NLPIP.

Mesopic Vision
The human visual system uses two types of photoreceptors, cones and rods, found in the retina. Cones are used to process visual information under daytime or “photopic” light levels, while rods work under completely dark “scotopic” conditions. There is, however, a range of light levels called “mesopic,” where both cones and rods together provide input to the visual system. Mesopic light levels are typically found outdoors at night. However, commercial photometry is based entirely upon the photopic luminous efficiency function, which considers how the eye “sees” during daylight hours. As a result, conventional photometry may misestimate the effectiveness of some light sources used in nighttime applications in terms of energy efficiency and visual performance.

NLPIP notes that, at the illuminance levels typical of collector roadways, “white light” sources such as LED streetlights could be slightly dimmed and provide equal levels of visual performance, based on mesopic photometry. However, in the collector roadway scenario used in this study, the reduced power requirement would have little impact on the life cycle cost per mile described above.

The Specifier Reports series is designed to provide brand name performance information for efficient lighting products and systems. All Specifier Reports can be found at

About the National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP)
NLPIP, established by the Lighting Research Center (LRC) in 1990, helps lighting professionals, contractors, designers, building managers, homeowners, and other consumers find and effectively use efficient, quality products that meet their lighting needs. With the support of government agencies, public benefit organizations, and electric utilities, NLPIP disseminates objective, accurate, timely, manufacturer-specific information about energy-efficient lighting products in its series of Lighting Answers, Lighting Diagnostics, Specifier Reports, and Technical Guides. NLPIP sponsors include Centre for Energy Advancement through Technological Innovation (CEATI International Inc.), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). Learn more at

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y., and is the leading university-based research center devoted to lighting. The LRC offers the world's premier graduate education in lighting, including one- and two-year master's programs and a Ph.D. program. Since 1988 the LRC has built an international reputation as a reliable source for objective information about lighting technologies, applications, and products. The LRC also provides training programs for government agencies, utilities, contractors, lighting designers, and other lighting professionals. Visit
About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation's oldest technological university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the humanities and social sciences. Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Rensselaer faculty are known for pre-eminence in research conducted in a wide range of fields, with particular emphasis in biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and the media arts and technology. The Institute is well known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventions benefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

Mary Cimo | EurekAlert!
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