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Lighting the City up with Energy Efficient LED

Surrounded by mountains and water, Seattle has evolved into a culturally diverse global technology hub with a cityscape and skyline the first settlers would surely be amazed by.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle has preserved its heritage, identifiable by places such as the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square. Our city continues to be a great place to live and work in, ranking as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. As our city grows for the times, so has our public infrastructure.

Pike Place Market Vintage

Pike Place Market circa 1917; Seattle Municipal Archives.

Seattle City Light and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) started replacing outdated “yellow-color” high pressure (HPS) street lighting  a few years ago with newer, environmentally safer, and more energy efficient LED lighting that can been seen lighting the streets and transit shelters across the city.

Westlake and Dexter avenues looking towards Fremont Bridge ca. 1935

Westlake and Dexter avenues looking towards Fremont Bridge ca. 1935; University of Washington.

LED technology has been around since the 1960s. Increased production in LEDs for electronics has advanced the technology to a point where we can use it to efficiently light our public infrastructure. LED street lighting is directional and can be aimed in any particular direction so the light distribution is consistent across the area that is being illuminated. This provides uniform lighting coverage over a roadway, park, or transit shelter.

LEDs are environmentally friendly and don’t contain any mercury. Mercury is an extremely toxic element that can have a major effect to health if exposed.

Maintenance is a big cost for lighting systems. Crews would have to go out to clean the fixture, replace lamps, or even replace the entire fixture if electronic components are at the end of their useful life. HPS lamps last about 20,000 nighttime hours, or 5 years. By comparison, newer LED street light fixtures are reporting upwards of 100,000 nighttime hours, or 25 years before they have to be replaced.

Most recently, SDOT used local funds to replace the Westlake Avenue Transit Shelter (seen in vintage and current photos) and added new LED lighting to improve transit users’ safety while significantly lowering maintenance costs.

New Westlake Transit Shelter

New Westlake Avenue Transit Shelter facing Nickerson Street.

Westlake Transit Shelter

New Westlake Avenue Transit Shelter looking southbound.