General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Any street light experts here?

Asked by elbanditoroso (32051points) March 7th, 2019

The streetlight in front of my house stopped working a couple days ago. This morning, a guy from the power company with a bucket lift truck came to fix it.

He said that the had to “replace the head” instead of simply replacing the bulb. He did so, and it looks different from all the others on the street. He also said that they’re no longer using sodium vapor bulbs, but now using mercury vapor.

What’s the benefit of mercury vapor bulbs? And why would they need to replace the head instead of just screwing in a new bulb?

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11 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

The most efficient lighting sources available today are High Intensity Discharge (HID) and Low-Pressure Sodium (LPS) lamps. With the exception of one HID lamp (mercury vapor) HID and LPS lamps produce the most light per watt of any light source. They create up to one-third less heat and last as much as 24 times longer than incandescents.

Despite their advantages, these lamps do have some special considerations. Like fluorescents, they need special ballasts.

Mercury Vapor (MV) lamps are most frequently used outside for parking and security lighting. These lamps have a white or blue-white light and limited color rendition, but are still suitable for many outdoor uses. They are the least efficient of the HID lamps (slightly less than fluorescents) and should be replaced with more efficient metal halide or high-pressure sodium lamps when possible.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Let me correct myself. They are moving to LEDs not mercury vapor. My mistake.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m no expert but being on council we just talked about how some of the old sodium vapors are being replaced when they get dim by the electric co. The new ones are apparently much brighter and don’t fade out. That’s the extent of my knowledge, sorry.

Yellowdog's avatar

True, Mercury Vapor was banned in 2008. The EPA said so, and they were banned the same year the EPA demanded those mercury-laden twisty florescent lightbulbs in our homes. Considering the wisty florescent interior lightbulbs have mercury dust and chunks, it makes me wonder why the pleasant blue-moonlight- green of mercury vapor was banned.

Mercury vapor had a pleasant blue-green spectrum which was more like moonlight. Even though one MV light lighted large areas for long distances, they still kept the ambiance like night. There are very few mercury vapor streetlights and yard lights left. Soon there will be none.

Now, we are losing those warm-coloured Sodium Vapor lights as well, which we’ve had since the late 1970s ,to the stale, ambiance-free bluish white LED’s.

the warm glow of Sodium Vapor, both the peachy-orange High Pressure and yellowish Low Pressure renditions, are still common. Enjoy them while you can, for soon night will be as day and all streetlights will be stale bluish white

kritiper's avatar

LED’s use less power and many city utilities, like ours, are replacing all street lights.
And I like them. When driving at night there is less light, from the lamp itself, blinding me.

Yellowdog's avatar

Really, the best streetlights were low-pressure sodium vapor. which were yellow—they had the least glare and were less confusing to birds and less light pollution for astronomers / observatories,

elbanditoroso's avatar

It’s night. The new streetlight came on.

Jeez, it is bright. And the lit-up area is 2–3 times the size of the old sodium vapor one. This is a big change.

Yellowdog's avatar

Sorry you are having to deal with this. The glare I know is harsh and ghastly. Enjoy the other lights on the street while you can.

It will probably never win municipal use, but I hope they will regulate LED lights like they have others. LEDs can be made to look like anything, so I hope they te,[er it or make the spectrum more pleasent.

The original sodium vapor lights were extremely bright but eventually municipal planners came to their senses and started using dimmer ones, which look warm and orderly. Maybe those LEDs will eventually be made to look more like old Mercury Vapor.—lighting the streets but retaining an ambiance of night.

We DO need streets lit, but we don’t need harsh daylight in the nighttime hours.

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