When burned out incandescent lamps threatened to disrupt the delivery of safe
water to customers along the California Aqueduct, the Castaic Lake Pressure Control
Structure replaced nearly 500 incandescent lamps in the facility’s control
panels with Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps from LEDtronics, a premier supplier
of LED lighting solutions. LED lamps resolved not only the station’s lamping
woes, but also reduced maintenance and energy costs to save thousands of dollars.
The California Aqueduct transports water over 400 miles from the Oroville Dam,
located north of Sacramento, to the arid plains of Southern California. Care
of this essential system rests with the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), a
group of 26 cities and water districts that provides drinking water to nearly
17 million people in parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San
Bernardino and Ventura counties.
The Castaic Lake Pressure Control Structure helps to maintain consistent water
delivery along the line. Machinery and process controls within the facility
feature lighted operator and indicator panels. At any given time as many as
one third of the incandescent lamps were out, leaving operators in the dark
about the status of critical processes.
With the urgency to take preventative measures before failed bulbs compromised
the water supply, the Metropolitan Water District turned to LEDtronics for help.
LEDtronics manufactures thousands of LED products ranging from discrete surface
mount indicators to direct incandescent replacement LED lamps for such applications
as traffic signals, panel indication, emergency lighting and decorative lighting.
LEDtronics sales representative Wayne Fischer visited the facility with a variety
of LED lamps (part numbers FF200, SLF464, WF200 and BF321) to demonstrate their
brightness, vivid color and performance. While fragile metal filaments and glass
globes make incandescent lights vulnerable to damage from mechanical vibrations
and electrical shocks, LEDs’ robust, solid-state construction withstands
the harshest industrial conditions.
An LED is made from semiconductor materials, encased in a solid epoxy lens,
that generate light at a specific wavelength when current is applied. LEDs come
in visible (400 – 700 nanometers) and infrared (830 – 940 nanometers)
wavelengths as well as white light. In fact, when white LED lamps were installed
behind the milky-white lenses of annunciator panels, the appearance of the panels
transformed from antique yellow to bright white to the delight of the facility’s
Enthusiasm turned to hesitation when the MWD compared the price of the LED
lamps with equivalent incandescent lamps. Fischer eased their concern by using
the Energy Calculator available on the LEDtronics website (www.LEDtronics.com)
to show that the investment would be returned within less than two months (0.14
years) from the savings resulting from reduced power consumption alone. Based
on a quantity of 500 lamps, a 100,000-hour lamp life and an electric rate of
$0.08kwh, LED lamps will save $98,200 ($1,100 per lamp) in power costs over
the course of their operating lives. This comes out to an annual savings of
$1,145 for 500 LED lamps. Total annual energy saved is 4774kwh per 500 lamps.
Up front incandescent lamps are inexpensive, a few dollars at the most. However,
it’s the back end expenses like maintenance and labor that add up. Take
for instance replacing failed bulbs: Depending on what it costs to pay a maintenance
worker, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, that $0.50 incandescent lamp
may cost thirty times that much! With an average 11-year operating life, LEDs
last 30 – 50 times longer than any incandescent lamp.
Fueled by the success of relamping the Castaic Lake Pressure Control Structure,
the MWD is incorporating LED lamps into its comprehensive energy management
strategy. The MWD intends to retrofit six filtration plants, which each use
3000 lamps, in addition to three other pressure control structures. Installation
of LED lamps improves the reliability of the water delivery infrastructure on
which the people of Southern California depend. And, just importantly, the energy-efficiency
and maintenance-free nature of LEDs helps to keep water affordable for revenue-strapped
municipalities even as water supplies become scarcer and demand increases.
Publish Date: May 2003