LED lighting and controls are being used for many general outdoor lighting applications, such as to illuminate landscape features, attract shoppers to retail areas, illuminate outdoor sales areas like gas stations and car sales lots, illuminate pedestrian and bicycle pathways in parks and campuses, light athletic fields, and more. LED and associated controls are now competing economically and with good performance in many, if not all, of these applications, and continues to develop at a rapid pace with performance improvements, increased product offerings, and cost reductions.
Energy savings over traditional lighting systems may be significant – 30 to 75 percent – depending on the original light levels, technology and controls. Lamp life could be significantly longer than incumbent systems, making LED technology especially useful in hard-to-access locations. The use of self-cleaning glass or coatings on outdoor LED fixtures could reduce the need for cleaning, which supports manufacturers’ claims of reduced maintenance.
The U.S. Department of Energy expects this technology to also improve the quality of roadway lighting. Light distribution is superior to that of other technologies, allowing for lower light levels while still providing high visibility. However, roadway lighting must be effective in a broad range of locations, from low-traffic residential neighborhoods and rural roads to interstate freeway interchanges, each application with its own unique requirements for acceptable light levels and distribution patterns. As no single product (including LEDs) serves all needs, careful study is needed when considering their use in a specific project.