Street Lights – HPS or LED?

It’s a standard sight driving down the road at night – the typical orange glow of street lamps. They’ve become so common on British roads that driving down streets which don’t have them almost feels foreign. As time passes it seems the writing is on the wall for the high pressure sodium, or SON,  lamp; street lighting is a continuously developing industry where the standard orange SON lamps are, slowly, becoming a thing of the past thanks to more appealing alternatives. LED lighting is becoming more prominent within this sector and offers the advantages of reduced lamp wattage and a longer life span than ‘standard’ lighting alternatives.

The Highways Agency recently replaced lighting on parts of the M3 in Hampshire with more efficient LED luminaires. Their final choice of luminaire was the Philips Luma LED; and they look spectacular. Not only has this increased visibility across the entire stretch of road, replacing the orange tinge with a far more appealing white light throughout, it is also expected that energy usage will be reduced by up to 69%, saving more than £30,000 per year. Although other projects of this nature have happened before, this is the first of such magnitude and as such acts as a great experiment on the receiption that LED lighting will have in the highways industry.

M3 in Hampshire, with new LED lighting

M3 in Hampshire, with new LED lighting

So why havn’t more highways bodies turned towards LED lighting? It could be related to the general cost undertaking the initial works required to facilitate roadworks – this obviously includes shutting parts of major roads, which always brings along a negative reaction from the regular road users.

It’s easy to see how, should it be decided that large parts of the UK’s road network requires a lighting upgrade, the capital expenditure would be easily offset by the overhead expenditure across the entire lifecycle of the product, considering that a standard LED floodlight typically produces the same amount of light as a 70W SON, and even provide a cost saving in the long term. This is notwithstanding the often undervalued benefits of street lighting, in an effort to keep our streets safe for all.


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