College Station converts to efficient LED street lights

By Timothy R. Crabb, P.E., Electric Utility Director

In 2009, College Station became the first city in Texas to install an automated street light monitoring system, which helps us quickly identify and repair malfunctions and burned out bulbs.

Now, we’ll be the first with that system to convert entirely to high-efficiency LED (light emitting diode) lighting.

On Wednesday, College Station Utilities will begin upgrading the city’s 5,500 street lights to LED fixtures. The LEDs will reduce our power and maintenance costs while providing better, more reliable lighting. The conversion should be complete by mid-July.

The street lights used in residential neighborhoods will be 3,000 Kelvin fixtures that retain some of the warm glow of our current lights but with better color recognition. Thoroughfare lights will be 4,000 Kelvin fixtures that emit a brighter, cooler white light to enhance security and traffic safety. Our monitoring system also allows us to dim the LEDs.

Since the LED fixtures provide more lighting, our customers may need to allow a month or two to get used to the change.

Replacing thousands of street lights isn’t cheap. The project has a price tag of about $2.56 million, but the money we save from lower maintenance and power expenses means we’ll likely recover the costs in 7-8 years.

Since the new system is expected to last about 30 years, we’ll be reaping the benefits for decades to come.


About the Author

Timothy Crabb is in his fifth year as College Station’s electric utility director and has more than 40 years of electric utility experience. He began his career in the electric utility industry the week after he graduated from Taylor High School in 1977. Timothy earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the UT-Arlington in 1990.


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5 thoughts on “College Station converts to efficient LED street lights

  1. I’m glad to see the city investing in energy efficiency while also improving the color reliability of lights in public spaces! The use of 3000 K lights in neighborhoods is also good to help avoid putting too much blue light into our eyes at night.

    Will the new lights have full shielding to prevent too much light from going upwards into the sky, causing light pollution? Although I live in Bryan, and won’t be directly affected by the change in College Station, there are several city streetlights in a parking lot across the street from my house that shine their lights in all directions, including into my windows at night. With proper shielding, all the light can be directed downwards into the nearby areas, to avoid glare in people’s houses, and also to preserve dark skies for the rest of us to see the stars at night shine big and bright.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Timothy Crabb responds:

      There are many thoughts about how LED lighting affects “light pollution”. You can find many different opinions on the internet. Here are the main issues that were addressed in the selection process by CSU:

      1. Light pollution will be increased because of added blue light: This may be true for 6000K lighting. CSU is installing 3000K lighting in the residential areas and 4000K lighting on thoroughfares which should not increase reflected blue light and therefore should not increase “light pollution”.

      2. Light pollution will be increased because cities will increase the number of lights since they are less expensive to operate: We are not changing our specifications on where, or how many lights, are required in a new development and we are certainly not going back to install additional lights.

      3. LEDs are brighter than existing lights: Yes, they are. But the LEDs we are installing have directed light patterns, which do not focus all of the direct light down on the surface of the ground like HPS lighting. Light focused directly on the ground reflects directly off the surface, increasing “light pollution.”

      4. LEDs are brighter and will increase light trespass: LEDs have a focused pattern that will fall mostly on the streets (i.e. they are for “street” lighting, after all). We will also have dimming capability should this become an issue for a specific light.

      Just like the incandescent bulb, HPS is being replaced by LED lighting and probably will no longer be available on the market in a few years, so the transition to LEDs is pretty much inevitable.

  2. It will take a little bit more than just a mere adjustment to get used to the new lights, since they seem to shine directly into my house. 🙁 I get the whole energy saving, brightness to deter crime etc etc but seriously they are blinding. Couldn’t you have just switched out the old light bulbs with brighter light bulbs instead of placing these spot lights on top of the existing street lights that make you want to shield your eyes when walking outside into the back yard???? :-((((

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