LED Traffic Lights in the Winter

 

We recently had a nice Fall blizzard here in the Midwest with around a foot of snow and high winds. The drifting and snow where it normally doesn't go was interesting but I saw one thing of concern.

The newer LED were all filled with snow making it almost impossible to see which one was lit until you were right on top of it. Several days after the storm the roads had been cleared and traffic was pretty much back to normal speed. However, since the lights do not generate enough heat to melt the ice and snow all the traffic lights were still mostly covered leading to dangerous situations as the traffic speed increased. I actually saw a couple of rear end collisions caused by the first driver braking when they realized the light had changed.

Just a word of caution if you travel where it snows a lot.

--
John B - Garmin 765T

A town nearby had some LED

A town nearby had some LED lights. It's a pain in the winter.

My area started switching a

My area started switching a few years ago to LED and I noticed the same problem after the first storm.

I have even experienced first as my Jeep has recessed LED fog light, they don't melt even a little bit the the snow. Some LED headlight companies now make heated LED headlights for just this reason, I guess the heater kind of discounts the low power savings of the LEDs but that's only when it snows.

Here's a video of one company trying to combat the traffic signal LED/snow problem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THpjC8lkaqo

.

--
. 2 Garmin DriveSmart 61 LMT-S, Nuvi 2689, 2 Nuvi 2460, Zumo 550, Zumo 450, Uniden R3 radar detector with GPS built in, includes RLC info. Uconnect 430N Garmin based, built into my Jeep. .

That possibility

That possibility had not occurred to me.

Living near the ocean in Southern California, it is not an issue here - but we go up to the mountains occasionally, and it could easily be an issue there.

I'm going to need to remember this. Thanks for mentioning it.

- Tom -

--
XXL540, GO LIVE 1535, GO 620

Interesting Post - LED Traffic Lights

soberbyker wrote:

My area started switching a few years ago to LED and I noticed the same problem after the first storm.

I have even experienced first as my Jeep has recessed LED fog light, they don't melt even a little bit the the snow. Some LED headlight companies now make heated LED headlights for just this reason, I guess the heater kind of discounts the low power savings of the LEDs but that's only when it snows.

Here's a video of one company trying to combat the traffic signal LED/snow problem:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THpjC8lkaqo
.

It amazes me that the manufacturer didn't realize that the LED would cause problems in freezing temperatures in regions that are subject to it.
Moreover, what were the municipalities thinking when they contracted to have the LED's installed and not realizing the safety issues facing the public.

--
Nuvi 2460LMT 2 Units

In Reality

Even with the freezing problem, LED stoplights are still safer in the long run.

A you tube-video posted on the Popular Mechanics website explains why:

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/a...

It's a bit long winded but the main points are:

They have less down time than incandescents. A burned out bulb is just as dangerous as one that is obscured. LED's last 2 to 5 times longer.

Due to their low power requirements, batteries are being installed to keep the LED's working during power failures.

LED's are sealed units and not subject to dirt build up inside the unsealed cases of incandescent lights. A dirty lens can be just as hard to see as one covered in snow.

Most accidents involving obscured traffic signals can be avoided if motorists simply obey the law. If a traffic light isn't working, you must STOP before proceeding through the intersection.

These are the reasons traffic engineers are proceeding with LED conversions despite the freezing issue.

headlight problem

soberbyker wrote:

My area started switching a few years ago to LED and I noticed the same problem after the first storm.

I have even experienced first as my Jeep has recessed LED fog light, they don't melt even a little bit the the snow. Some LED headlight companies now make heated LED headlights for just this reason, I guess the heater kind of discounts the low power savings of the LEDs but that's only when it snows.

Here's a video of one company trying to combat the traffic signal LED/snow problem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THpjC8lkaqo

.

Headlights problem is more serious than traffic lights as new car lamps are plastic and it's not recommended to clean them mechanically, as you can scratch them. Other problem is snow buildup when driving during snow or near freezing temperature with melted snow on the road. In this condition you get nice freezing buildup of dirt and ice on front of you car, including headlights.

I've noticed issues with LED

I've noticed issues with LED traffic lights and have also read about them.

But that leads to dangerous actions also

In snow or Ice conditions one driver stops not clearly seeing, next vehicle slides into them not anticipating the stop on Green that he can clearly see

I haven't seen it here in RI ...

yet! ... but that doesn't mean I won't.

Thanks for the warning,

CC

This may be the reason...

...that the state didn’t use LED’s when they recently renovated an intersection nearby. I thought that they would use the newest technology but was surprised when they installed the incandescent type traffic signals. Just goes to show that the latest and greatest is not always the best.

--
It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible. ----George Washington

Some corrections

The reason LEDs started replacing the 60W incandescent bulbs was due to the EPA mandating the replacement of all incandescent bulbs in traffic signals as a way to combat global warming. The ruling caused the US Department of Transportation to issue a directive to all state DOTs this had to be done. Manufacturers of the traffic signals understood the heat produced did provide the defrosting needed to cleat snow and ice but the EPA wouldn't change its rule. (It has since been cancelled which is why you can still buy incandescent bulbs.)

One of the problems is with older signals the mechanism used required the electrical load from the bulb to function so replacement units still had to use the same amount of electricity so there was no savings as the EPA had promised. The lack of heat being generated by the LED units brought out the snow and ice problem but one signal manufacturer developed a different hood that incorporated a vent allowing the wind driven snow to exit the hood keeping the lens clearer. Later work with newer signals incorporated a different design which still provides shadow for operation in sunlight and helps keep the lens clear. The main problem for the state, county and cities is having the money needed to update the signals to new designs.

--
"In order to be old and wise, one first must have been young and stupid."

We also have a no left turn

We also have a no left turn sign near my home. It had LED lights which proved useless during Sunny days. After several accidents they switched it to incandescent lights.

--
John B - Garmin 765T

Interesting

Ah, the Law of Unintended Consequences.

--
"There's no substitute for local knowledge" nüvi 750, nüvi 3597

More correct

Box Car wrote:

The reason LEDs started replacing the 60W incandescent bulbs was due to the EPA mandating the replacement of all incandescent bulbs in traffic signals as a way to combat global warming.

LED traffic lights go back a considerable way. Studies I saw quite a while ago prominently mentioned savings from reduced visits for lamp replacement, and reduced power consumption. Zero mention of EPA mandate. Maybe a later mandate included traffic lighting.

--
personal GPS user since 1992

Never noticed that in

Never noticed that in Pacific Northwest. All I see are retro conversions where led bulbs replaced the incandescent bulb. The outer shell is the same. I think they started changing everything over in early 2000's so its hard to find one that isn't led.

On another note. I see metal post now instead of wood for signs and also they now wrap the metal post with corresponding color.