Bright Lights, Big University

Brighter LED lamps mean better visibility, with not much more energy consumption

New LED lamps make the walk a little brighter along Big Springs Drive Photo by Peter Phun

New LED lamps make the walk a little brighter along Big Springs Drive.
Photo by Peter Phun

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – Big  Springs Drive has more of a glow after dark to brighten the way for UC Riverside students walking back and forth to the residence halls. The change comes from new LED lamps, which are brighter and more energy efficient.

The impetus for the project came from Samantha Ubillus, a UCR sophomore, who frequently walks back and forth after sunset. She saw too many dark bushes, and too many shadows. She researched LED lights and told Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox that the campus could just switch the lamps to LED, which stands for light-emitting diode.

Vice Chancellor Ron T. Coley made it a priority, and Ken Mueller, who directs the tradespeople who make physical improvements to the campus, asked the team to go make it happen.

“We replaced the old 100 watt high pressure sodium fixtures with new high intensity LED fixtures that have four times the lighting performance with only a 43 watt increase in power consumption,” he said. They installed 16 new lamps along Big Springs Drive. Each lamp cost $800. “These lamps are rated to last 100,000 hours,” Mueller said.

“Oh my gosh, it seems much brighter now,” said Ubillus, who is 19 and from Buena Park. “It was a dramatic difference,” she said, during the first few days after the change. She said her focus on the LED lights was prompted by a class assignment. She has settled on sociology as a major and she said she likes the way sociology looks at everyday things.

“Comments like Samantha’s are more important than people realize,” said Coley, who came to UCR recently from UC Berkeley. “If we are going to streamline our operation and make it more efficient, we need everyone’s suggestions.”

These are the not the first lamps to be changed, Mueller said. Over the past three years, UC Riverside has been able to update about 10 percent of campus lighting with high efficiency LED lamps and fixtures. He said three of the most notable LED re-lamp projects are: Parking Lot 26, Physics 2000 lecture hall and the University Theatre.

A picture taken at the same time of night shows how the older style lights did not throw as much light. Photo by Peter Phun

A picture taken at the same time of night shows how the older style lights did not throw as much light.
Photo by Peter Phun

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