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CRA looks at LED for street lamps

2011/10/1 15:31:22

SEBRING - Saving on the city's electric lighting bills was a topic Monday when the Community Redevelopment Agency heard a presentation on the benefits of replacing the downtown's antique light fixtures with LED bulbs.

Ewald Probst, with Energy Savings Systems, told commissioners that once they got past the initial cost of $15,000 to replace 100 bulbs, they could save 83 percent on their light bills as a pilot test indicates, or about $5,307 a year after 2.8 years.

"You have a lot of antique fixtures around the city of Sebring, especially in the downtown area," he said. "We're looking at reducing your operating costs of these fixtures by two things, reducing the energy use of these fixtures and also extending the life of the new LED lights that would replace the high pressure sodium."

He passed around a 20 amp high efficiency LED lamp for the CRA board to see and handle.

The city currently has about 250 of the antique lights, but many of those are on State Road 17, and the Florida Department of Transportation still does not allow the LED lights on its roadways.

That would include part of Lakeview Drive, south and north Ridgewood Drive and around the Circle.

The program starts with replacing about 100 of these fixtures, Probst said.

Samples of the LED retrofitted fixtures may be seen outside of city hall.

"You pay the electric bill on these lights," Executive Director Pete Pollard said.

Existing lights have a life of about 24,000 hours. The LED lights have an extended life of about 35,000 hours, or about 45 percent longer, Probst said.

Since the lights burn about 12 hours per day, they burn about 4,380 hours per year. Therefore, the project generates revenue for 5.2 years after it has paid for itself, he estimated. He estimated the bulbs last about 8 years.

"The average lifespan of the high pressure sodium, it's been our experience, depending on the light itself, is about 5 to 7 years," Pollard told the board.

The color of the high pressure sodium is not as good as the whiter light provided by the LED, Probst added.

Objects look clearer and sharper in the LED lights, he said.

A red car looks orange under the high pressure sodium and looks red under the LED.

"That is why you'll never see a high pressure sodium lamp sitting in a car dealership," he said. "They know this and that's why they will not make the colors look worse than they really are."

He had confidence in his product. Any lamps that would fail in a three-year period would be replaced free of charge.

There is a slightly greater charge for the needed ballasts.

Chairman Gene Brenner asked what would be done with the lights they take out.

They would be taken to a recycling company, Probst said.

"With the LED lamps, they don't contain the mercury, and don't have to be disposed of in that way," he said. "They can be thrown out in the garbage can. That's an additional benefit."

The board currently pays about $12,000 per year for electric lighting of the 250 antique lights. It would go as a recommendation to the city council.

"You're the ones that would be paying the bill on it," Pollard told the board.

Commissioner Chris Benson wanted to know more options for measuring the savings and a little more information.

The board decided to revisit the item at its next meeting.