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LED Obstruction Lighting Systems Give Back
LEDs will last a long time, but only if the product design is engineered correctly. The key is to manage heat dissipation: keep the LEDs running cool and they will last for years. Unlike other lighting technologies, LEDs love cold weather. Most LED-based obstruction lighting systems ship with a standard five-year warranty, but most often last upwards of 10. Since the LED is semiconductor technology, they can be managed easily, networked with GPS, making the monitoring of units quite simple.
Compared to wasteful L-864 incandescent beacons that consume 1400 watts, the latest LED beacon equivalent consumes only 20 watts, or roughly 98 percent less energy. L-864/L-865 Xenon dual beacon systems consume up to 390 watts for day mode (white), and 490 watts for night mode (red). This is reduced with an LED system to 90 watts for day mode and 35 watts for night mode. Meanwhile, the L-810 side marker lights reduce consumption from 116 watts to 8.5 watts.
With recent efficiency improvements for both red and white LED technology, the products are becoming significantly smaller, which means a significant reduction in wind load. For example, the recently introduced Dialight Vigilant Series L-864/L-865 LED red/white dual beacon stands at only 7", where the typical xenon/incandescent units installed in field are roughly 28".
The future of the technology
High-brightness white LED technology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, but the industry is on the cusp of something extraordinary. The most efficient LED on the market today is 130 lumens per watt, but recent announcements suggest that in 2011, 160 lumens per watt LEDs will be commercially available. So what does that mean for tower owners and LED obstruction lighting?
The current state of LED product development makes this technology available only for certain towers, leaving non-painted towers above 500' unable to reap the same benefits. However, with the recent improvements in LED lighting technology, an L-856 high-intensity lighting system is almost a reality. Towers utilizing this type of lighting system can soar up to 2200' -- a very difficult height to reach to change a lamp.
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