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Things just got brighter

Portions of Main Street and a Culpeper neighborhood appear much brighter at night with last week’s installation of more efficient light emitting diode (LED) street lights.

“The new lights are much brighter, more efficient to operate and last much longer than the older style high pressure sodium lights they replaced,” said Town Light and Power Director Mike Stover.

The new LEDs lights and heads were placed atop the 30-foot aluminum poles along sections of North and South Main Street.
The town did not install any of the LED lights in the decorative acorn lights that line Main Street’s historic district. However, officials are looking into LED bulbs for those fixtures to improve downtown lighting.

The Highview Court area is the only neighborhood so far to see the new lights. The older style lights left dark spots, which created public safety concerns for police and residents, said Stover.

“Highview Court looks like daylight,” said Culpeper police Lt. Lee Rees. “There are very few places that are not lit.”
The town replaced 46 light fixtures at a cost of about $20,000. Unlike the older style lights, the new LEDs come with a 10-year replacement guarantee. Each LED light head fixture cost about $434. The older style light doesn’t last nearly as long and costs about $250 for each bulb and head.

Stover estimates that the new LED lights will shine for about 100,000 hours. The high pressure sodium bulbs being replaced last less than 25 percent of that.

LEDs also use about half the energy to operate as the older style bulb. The cost saving over the years will pay for the new LEDs several times over. Stover said the price of LEDs also is dropping annually as they become more popular and production increases. Next year, the town hopes to spend about the same amount and place LEDs at intersections to provide better lighting. Most intersections have two to four street lights.
“LED lighting is the future of street lighting due to lower operating costs and added brightness,” said Stover.
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