Durham-based lighting company Cree recently unveiled its latest LED creation: a low-cost, energy-saving residential street light they claim can save cities millions on their electric bills. While LED street lights have been around for years, most are created specifically for roads and interstates, not neighborhoods. Cree’s new light—the XSPR street light— is designed with residential areas in mind, and it also wears a lower price tag.
“When LED street lights initially came to market, they were seven times as expensive as what they were replacing,” says Greg Merritt, Cree’s vice president of marketing. “We’ve gotten a lot closer to the average price point.”
The XSPR street lights start at $99 for a 25-watt version. Merritt says the 42-watt version is more expensive, but “in the ballpark” of a normal street light. What makes it competitive is that it uses 65% less energy than typical 100-watt high-pressure sodium street lights and can last three to four times longer. Cree offers a ten-year warranty for the new product.
The XSPR also comes with a new type of lens that diffuses light more evenly on the ground.
“What we’re able to do is eliminate that really bright spot underneath a typical street light and spread it much more uniformly across the street,” Merritt says. “And the other benefit is we don’t put it in people’s yards where they don’t want it to be, or in the sky. We’re reducing light pollution.”
Cree’s LED street lights have already been tested around the country. Last year, Los Angeles replaced more than 140,000 of its street lights with LEDs, the majority made by Cree.
Raleigh also tested Cree’s new XSPR lights. “Street lighting is our city’s largest single energy-related cost,” Raleigh assistant city manager Dan Howe, said in a statement from Cree.
Cree says that with average electricity costs, the light pays for itself in less than one year. Other versions of Cree’s LED lights are used by cities nationwide and in many cities in Europe. The University of North Carolina system announced last month that it would use Cree for indoor lighting in 13 of its campuses and several affiliated organizations in an effort to save $25 million in energy costs over seven years.