by Meghan Walker
Next week, 15th Ave. NW will be closed for three nights as new LED streetlights will be tested between NW 65th and NW 80th. The street will be closed on March 6th, 7th and 8th from 8 p.m to 1 a.m. while resident participants help with the study. Seattle City Light and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) are organizing the study.
The test will help to determine the performance of LED streetlights in a real-world setting. It will also test if LED light sources can be reduced by 50 to 75 percent while maintaining public safety. About 300 resident participants are expected to help with the testing. Some will be riding along in test cars, while others will simply walk up and down the street to test visibility and comfort level. The test car is designed to capture information on lighting levels while participants ride along with a professional driver. As passengers, the participants will press a button when small objects, which will be positioned along the route, become visible. The objects will be illuminated under both traditional and LED lights in order to compare how the the participants see the same object under different types and amounts of light.
According to NEEA, the northwest has 1.7 million streetlights, many of which are quickly expiring. The LED streetlights can use 25 percent less energy than traditional streetlights. NEEA says adding control systems could add another 50 percent of energy savings potential, which would mean savings up to 115 average megawatts each year for the northwest. ?115 average megawatts is the equivalent of powering almost 88,000 homes per year?greater than the current number of households in Tacoma,? says NEEA.
NEEA says the data collected from the tests could influence the standards for LED streetlights not just in Seattle, but also across the country. They will report findings to the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, a group that sets standards for lighting in the U.S.
To learn more about the streetlight testing, visit NEEA?s site about the project.