City Maintains Historical Charm With LED Street Light Upgrade


led street lighting Like hundreds of small towns throughout the Midwest, Burlington, IA, was looking for a way to cut costs. One avenue open to the city was to upgrade its outdoor street lighting with new energy-efficient lamps. For ideas on how to begin – without compromising the city's historical charm – a representative met with the lighting experts at Van Meter Inc.

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led street lights retrofit
led street light fixture

History abounds from Burlington's Victorian homes on the Mississippi river bluffs to its architecturally rich buildings in downtown and dramatic steepled churches.

The street and park lights are part of the charm, but the high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps that light the city frequently burn out and the ballasts need replacing about every three years. “Replacing the HPS lamps and doing maintenance gets very expensive,” explained Mark Runnells, Maintenance Mechanic for Burlington.

Runnells took this problem to Van Meter Product Specialist Mark Dunne for a solution. “Mark came to us for some new fixtures and asked if there was an alternative to HPS lamps that could do the job and cut the city's energy costs,” Dunne said. After further discussion, Dunne suggested a trial.


Van Meter gave Runnells two new LED (light emitting diodes) street lamps to test. One was installed in South Hill Park and the other on Jefferson Street.

“The re-wiring process was easy; we just replaced the old lamps and ballasts with the LED street lights,” explained Runnells. “We were able to keep the globes and poles, so we could maintain the historical ambiance.” The LED street lamps worked beautifully, the response by city management and businesses was positive and the switch was on. Plans were made to start replacing HPS lights with LED street lamps in other areas.

Sixty-three 400-Watt metal halide fixtures were replaced with 55 clean, cool, efficient LED street light fixtures. "The LED street lighting works instantly when powered on and it can be switched off-and-on frequently without affecting its operational life. It's reliable, brighter, long-lasting and better for the environment," explained the schools' Facilities Manager Gary Wolfe.

Burlington's re-lighting project included the re-lamp of 150, 150-watt HPS decorative street lights in two city parks and on Jefferson Street with highly efficient 35-watt LED street lamps. Plans are also underway to retrofit Central and Sixth Street bridges.

led streetlight upgrade
led street lights retrofit
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The energy efficient, LED street lighting is making a positive impact on the environment and the budget. The relighting is expected to save Burlington about 80,417 kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually and shave nearly $6,500 off its energy bill.

Reducing that amount of energy usage has the same benefit to the environment as slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 55.5 metric tons, reducing CO2 emissions equivalent to 45.5 acres of trees or saving enough electricity to power 7.5 average American homes for one year.

Working with Van Meter has helped the city lower its energy bill, improve its security and reduce its environmental impact. “We were looking for a way to lower our energy and maintenance costs and LED street lights are helping us accomplish this. The cost savings will benefit all,” said City Manager Jim Ferneau. Certainly, there are more LED street lighting upgrades in Burlington's future.

While LEDs cost more up front than traditional HPS streetlamps, they last three to four times longer and produce two to three times more light per watt, delivering anywhere from 30 to 70 percent in annual electricity savings. “Since these LED outdoor street lights are on all night, every night, the savings really add up,” Ferneau said. Pay back is about two years and the savings just keep coming.

We were looking for a way to lower our energy and maintenance costs and LED street lights are helping us accomplish this. The cost savings will benefit all.
- Jim Ferneau

Van Meter Inc. provides expert advice on LED street lighting solutions and more. We welcome your call to discuss your next project. To speak with a Van Meter representative, call 1-800-247-1410 or 319-366-5301. We’ll quickly connect you with the person or information you need.

Case Study (PDF)

The City of Burlington, a progressive community of 25,663 citizens located on the Mississippi River in Southeast Iowa, is a regional center for employment, shopping, education, healthcare and recreation. The city is beautifully situated on the river bluffs and has a rich heritage as a center of commerce and culture. Burlington was incorporated in 1836 and serves as the county seat of Des Moines County. There are plenty of things to see and do for residents and visitors alike...from Municipal Band concerts in the park, to the annual Steamboat Days festival to the Riverfront Farmers Market and more. Burlington takes pride in its past but keeps its focus on the future.