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When Green Doesn’t work – LED Lights in Green Bay

Posted by J Powers at 10:48 PM on December 11, 2009

So we had this pretty big snowstorm pass through the Midwest. Over a foot of snow, added to a  plethora of horrible conditions. But one forseen issue happened that simply came from making the planet greener.

Light Emitting Diodes.

Green Bay WI put in some high – efficiency LED traffic lights throughout the town. The idea was straightforward. Save on electricity, save on bulb replacement and use the money in other places. Great plan… except for the unforseen snow….

What happened was the LED bulbs did not produce enough heat to melt the snow and ice off. The snow blew up into the light and the protective cover did just that – protected the snow and blocked drivers from seeing the lights.

West Bend, WI had the same problem. However, this was the first time in 7 years that it caused concern and an accident. The city created a special scraper to clean the lens. There is a special cover that heats up in cold weather to melt ice, but it’s simply too expensive.

Since this is the first time since installation, there is not a big concern over it. City officials simply tell people to be careful if the light is covered in snow.

3 Comments

  1. From susabelle at 6:06 am on December 12, 2009

    You know, this is a side effect no one thought of! Just another reminder about how everything we do has consequences, both good and bad!

  2. From Angelo Mandato at 9:46 am on December 12, 2009

    Makes you wonder if we should even be traveling in our cars when road conditions can be blamed on poor lighting. Did you say you had a foot of snow fall?

  3. From sslPro at 7:48 am on December 20, 2009

    Light emmitting diodes job- produce light – do it effiecently- last a long time – Leds
    use is superior to incandescent use-
    The heat missing in this equation would be costing communities the other weeks of the year,
    the heat is waste- the short lifespan of incandescent bulbs that is wasteful(maint, cost of
    ownership , co2 footprint of the device…
    The solution is in the housing design not the type of LIGHT – Stories of Led- anti adoption
    or resistance to their use reminds me of back in the 70s& the switch to unleaded gas/ now
    no one I know uses leaded gas it seems that people will resist logical change because
    they don’t want change. Progressing in to the future may require thinking and some
    problem solving – engineering . The traffic control devices need retro fitting – It should
    have been factored in at the point of acceptance of the proposal!