The sustainable streetlight trend gained new ground recently, thanks to a new device that makes measuring the brightness of LED streetlights easy and affordable. Developed by Missouri University of Science and Technology with support from the Missouri Department of Transportation, the handheld tool uses lasers to measure lumen output of the LED lights from the street, making the use of large, inefficient bucket trucks unnecessary. High pressure sodium bulbs were the norm in streetlights until recently, when many cities across the US made the switch to energy efficient, money-saving LED lights. The signs are obvious when it’s time to replace an HPS bulb: it goes dark. LED lights on the other hand, slowly lose brightness as they age, making it difficult to tell when their lumen output is no longer at a safe level for drivers.
Furthermore, “The maintenance costs associated with sending a crew out to replace a single LED are very high. Our methodology provides a more cost-effective mechanism for determining replacement and allows agencies to meet goals of being good stewards of public money,” says Dr. Suzanna Long, lead developer of the new apparatus. Most LED streetlight warranties call for the outdoor LED lighting fixtures to be replaced after six years. Long’s device will allow workers to assess if the LED light bulbs need to be replaced sooner than the manufacturer’s recommendation, or if they are still functioning at an acceptable level, once again reducing costs for cities and their taxpayers.