Artful Decision Why Gallery Curators Choose Amerlux

Amerlux’s SPEQ LED track heads illuminate the “Never Built NY” exhibit at the Queens Museum, in New York City.

Like a cast of supporting actors who help the lead shine, superior lighting casts art in the best light.

Gallery curators carefully choose what part of the exhibit should be well lit and which part should be left to the shadows. The dynamic is a play within itself.

Lighting art is an art—and the new gold standard for galleries is Amerlux’s SPEQ track lighting.

LED lights can help protect the artworks, enhance the visiting experience and provide significant energy cost savings. When it comes to lighting precious works of art, more and more galleries are choosing Amerlux for the elegant lighting solution they need.

One of those galleries is the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Its recent “Never Built New York” exhibit, which showcased New York City architecture projects that were never constructed, was lit with SPEQ LED lighting from Amerlux, which remains in the space for future exhibits.

SPEQ, a modern-styled and highly efficient LED tracking lighting system by Amerlux, offers exactly what galleries need including, most importantly, light that does not damage the art as well as energy savings that do not sacrifice color quality. Maintaining this balance has long been a difficult problem for museums and galleries to manage.

Halogen and metal-halide lights provided an imperfect solution and could seriously damage artwork over time with their UV emissions, not to mention maintenance issues from lamps burning out during exhibits. With Amerlux’s SPEQ lights, it could easily be a decade or two before the LEDs need to be replaced.

SPEQ LED track heads come in three sizes Small (15 w max, 1,310 lm), Medium (26 w max, 2,056 lm) and Large (48 w max, 3,977 lm).

SPEQ LEDs emit neither harmful UV rays nor high amounts of heat, making their use with priceless art entirely safe. Since there is no UV light or substantial heat, galleries can illuminate delicate art much brighter without risking damage. With SPEQ LEDs, heat and UV concerns are a thing of the past.

Furthermore, now LED lamps have the color control to completely supersede halogen lights. Halogen lighting’s strength was its warm color rendering, but LEDs like SPEQ have evolved to render color even better than the outdated halogen lights, especially with whites, blues and other which appeared yellowish under halogen lights. Additionally, SPEQ LEDs hold their color temperature when dimmed, maintaining the same light color at any power level. Finally, low light does not have to mean orange light!

Highly adjustable and repositionable, SPEQ’s track heads have a clean and minimal design that does not draw attention to itself, instead putting the spotlight on the display. Unlike several competitor’s lights, SPEQ lights have excellent beam control without any glare as well as customizable controls (e.g. snoots, louvers) to ensure that the light goes exactly where it is needed without any spillover.

In addition to SPEQ’s art preserving qualities and customizability, the lighting system really shines when it comes to energy efficiency and longevity. The 48-watt SPEQ LED lights installed at the Queens Museum, used about 15 percent of the 300-watt quartz lamps they replaced, resulting in significant energy savings for the museum.

Most of the power going to halogen lamps is actually wasted in the form of heat, which causes paintings to fade and increases electric bills. With LEDs, instead of wasting lots of energy in the form of heat, they use a tiny amount of electricity and all of it goes into lighting the space.

Galleries can enjoy these significant energy savings for years, if not decades, due to SPEQ’s long life. While halogen lamps last for about 2,000 hours, SPEQ LEDs suffer no depreciation in light quality for more than 50,000 hours. This is especially key for high ceiling applications, where costly lifts and scaffolds are not needed for years after installing SPEQ lighting.

Amerlux can ship SPEQ lights in just 10 days, so your next exhibit will be seen in the best light.


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Top Streetlights: A Checklist for University Facility Managers

When it comes to campus safety, one of the easiest ways to quickly make a safer campus is through exterior lighting improvements.

People tend to feel unsafe on unevenly lit walkways and around dark corners. In fact, “walking on unlit pathways” was one of the top safety concerns listed by the 179,000 college students recently surveyed by New lighting on campus is a quick fix that actually works.

More colleges and universities recognize that upgrading their lighting to LEDs, can improve campus safety, reduce energy costs, and reduce their carbon footprint. LED lighting technology is a win-win on every front and it is revolutionizing the lighting industry.

A Checklist for LED Street Lighting Upgrades

Here are the factors to consider when retrofitting pedestrian lighting on campus:

  • Safer campuses: More light on walkways and around academic buildings and residence halls makes for a safer environment on campus. Additionally, LED technology can significantly improve the quality of images captured through closed-circuit television systems (CCTV) and security cameras. Having better images makes law enforcement’s job much easier when they are investigating incidents and makes for a more secure campus.
  • Significant energy savings: LED technology is extremely efficient and uses dramatically less power than conventional lighting. Energy bills can be slashed by as much as 90 percent with LED lighting. That difference can result in $100s of thousands in annual savings — a major boost to the operating budget.
  • Easy retrofitting: Maintain your current campus aesthetics by using Amerlux’s Avista LED lighting in your existing light fixtures (luminaires). Designed for easy retrofitting, Avista LED light engines can be installed in just 15 minutes in most fixtures. Avista can be simply retrofitted into a wide variety of luminaires, including those by Holophane, Hadco, King, Louis Poulsen, Lumec, Pemco, Sternberg, Visco.
  • Long-term reliability: Avista lights can deliver years of maintenance-free operation, due to the LED technology and durable construction. The quality of the light (lumen output) in LEDs remains constant and consistent for 50,000 – 100,000 hours of use, versus 100 hours for outdated conventional lighting such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium. Additionally, Avista LEDs are IP66-rated to withstand water and dust intrusion, ensuring functional operation in cold, wet and dusty conditions and prolonging the life of the lighting engine. Install Avista LEDs on your campus today and your current students will be bringing their children back to campus for tours before you have to replace the lights, which is why university facility managers choose Amerlux.
  • Environmentally friendly: LEDs use a fraction of the energy that conventional lighting requires and frequently delivers more lumens for that power. Besides the savings this brings to your energy bills, it also helps the environment by wasting less power. Avista lighting has three different lighting distribution options (symmetric, asymmetric, and low-glare street optic) so you can customize the lamps output. This ensures the light goes where it is needed without waste and does not trespass outside its designated area — all factors that help with green certifications such as LEED. Besides using less energy, LEDs also lack the hazardous materials, such as mercury that fluorescent and HID lights contain, making them more environmentally-friendly all around. Avista lighting is an easy tool to help your institution enhance its sustainability and position it as a leader in green practices.
  • Get started right away: You can have Avista lights in your hands in as few as 10 days.

Campus security is not something to make light of. You can help your university be seen in the best light by upgrading to Amerlux Avista lights. See how.


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How Los Angeles cut energy costs by 75% with Avista lights

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Best Retrofit: Why ESCOs Choose Amerlux’s Avista

Los Angeles, C.A. cut energy costs by 75 percent in its historic downtown area by retrofitting street lights with Amerlux Avista LED light engines.

Upgrading street lights from outdated and energy hogging lighting systems is a great way to quickly transition a city to lower energy consumption levels. Since they use only a tiny fraction of the energy required by conventional lighting, LED lights are hands down the best option for reducing power usage. Enter Amerlux’s Avista — a highly efficient LED light engine designed with easy retrofitting in mind.

Avista LEDs are simple-to-use light engines ideal for retrofitting traditional and post-top light fixtures (luminaires), as well as new construction applications. With a completely-sealed LED optical chamber, the highly-efficient Avista delivers cutting-edge optics and extraordinary output to meet the most demanding streetlighting needs. Avista’s simple-to-install design features adjustable height levels and other customizations to ensure optimal application and maximum performance.

The versatility baked into Avista’s design allows Avista to be a “skeleton key” of sorts because it can be used in a wide variety of fixtures, including those by Holophane, Hadco, King, Louis Poulsen, Lumec, Pemco, Sternberg and Visco. Most installations take 15 minutes or less.

Avista is made to accommodate some of the most challenging light fixtures (luminaires) around, including the vintage fixtures still in use in many historic areas and city centers today.

The cities of Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles, California, both recently found themselves stuck between trying to decrease their energy consumption and preserve the character of the cities’ historic neighborhoods.

Using Amerlux’s Avista, Portland decreased its energy consumption by 60%, while keeping its beautiful vintage luminaires in place all over the city. LA did even better, cutting energy costs by 75% in the historic downtown area.

Amerlux’s Avista LED light engines helped Portland, Oregon preserve its vintage light fixtures, while reducing energy consumption by 60 percent.

In Portland, the “acorn” fixtures were the challenge: “Our poles and ornamental castings go back as much as 100 years and are attractive, but finding LEDs to adapt to them was difficult,” said Lisa Elbert, P.E., Signals and Lighting Engineer with the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation. “Some manufacturers wanted to sell us a complete fixture with the pole, but Portland’s castings are historic and we wanted to use them – we absolutely didn’t want to replace them.”

Amerlux customized Avista LEDs to Portland’s exact needs, allowing the city to retain its original fixtures, while also significantly reducing energy costs. The installation process was so simple that city contractors did not even need tools to affix the new lighting engines, and they were quickly installing more than 80 a night.

In Los Angeles, the 1920s-era streetlights dotting the downtown area (including the Arts District and Historic Core) were a difficulty.

“Some of our bigger post-top and glass globe fixtures throughout the city and downtown couldn’t use a standard screw-in lamp. We needed a more creative solution and this led us to Amerlux’s Avista fixtures, which are working very well,” said Norma Isahakian, assistant director for LA’s Bureau of Street Lighting. “Our total LED program is saving up to 75 percent in energy consumption, which amounts to quite a bit of cost savings annually, and is meeting all of our lighting needs.”

Besides the significant savings in energy usage, Avista LEDs also provide savings in reduced maintenance costs. Avista lights deliver 50,000 to 100,000 hours of maintenance-free operation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, maintenance savings derived from installing LED lighting equates to roughly $50 annually per fixture, delivering tremendous financial advantages over the life of the lighting engine.

With its ability to fit in almost any existing light fixture and its easy installation, Avista lighting lets cities enjoy the benefits of modern lighting and while maintaining their history.

Avista by Amerlux can be delivered in just 10 days, so your city can start seeing energy savings immediately.


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How Contractors Reduce Costly Call-Backs

Not all lights are created equal and contractors understand that the best long-term solution requires quality products from trusted manufacturers. A leader for more than 30 years, Amerlux’s Passo step lights are efficient, high-performing and reliable.

Electrical contractors are extremely busy these days, as more organizations rush to upgrade their lighting to take advantage of tax credits before they expire.

Because the clock is ticking, contractors don’t have time for lighting fixtures that are difficult to install or skimp on quality. Their customers demand high-performing, energy-efficient and reliable illumination that enhances safety, as well as aesthetics.

Getting it right the first time means fewer costly call-backs for contractors, which can tarnish their reputation and dramatically reduce repeat business that generates the bulk of profits.

When contractors want steadfast step lights that work whether it rains or shines, they choose Amerlux’s break-through Passo step lights.

Contractors understand that all lights aren’t created equal.  For the best long-term solution, they opt for quality products from trusted manufacturers.  As a leader in application-driven lighting innovation for more than 30 years, Amerlux’s Passo step lights deliver high-performing, reliable, energy-efficient, as well as comfortable illumination to stairs, pathways and building exteriors.

“We understand the complications of installing step lights and have successfully addressed those with our Passo family of step and wall lights,” said Bill Plageman, Amerlux’s vice president of marketing.

Here’s how Amerlux has specifically addressed several concerns from contractors:

  • Ease of Installation: Constructed with installers in mind, Passo’s retrofit models are specially designed to easily and quickly replace costly, high-maintenance step lights driven by conventional lighting technology. Passo models designed for new construction projects feature an injection-molded PVC housing with integral machined brass anchor blocks that complement the sealed properties of the LED module and driver, ensuring added protection against corrosive environments.  Whether a retrofit or new construction application, Amerlux’s Passo step lights provide contractors with a hassle-free installation experience.
  • Engineering for Reliability: Weather-proof Passo step lights feature game-changing innovation, including an independently sealed LED optical chamber (encompassing an LED array and heatsink enclosed in an IP66-rated sealed glass tube) that eliminates water infiltration, the No. 1 cause of product failure. Such innovation minimizes the risk of outages and the subsequent high labor costs associated with maintenance.  The bottom line?  No dissatisfied customers or costly call-backs for contractors.
  • Flexible Design: Passo is available in a wide selection of sizes, faceplates, color temperatures and light output levels to meet the needs of most any project. Specifically, Passo step lights come in louver, stainless steel louver, and tempered soft glow lens versions and in round, square, and rectangular shapes for new construction projects, as well as 8-inch and 12-inch rectangular shapes for retrofit projects.  A choice of solid color composite, brushed stainless steel, or painted cast aluminum faceplates provides additional flexibility and design versatility that will satisfy even the most discerning customer.
  • Flexible Light Output: Passo luminaires offer added versatility thanks to their availability in a choice of two light output levels, enabling contractors to tailor the desired illuminance to the specific project and ensure the optimal visibility and aesthetic effect.
  • Connectivity and Compatibility: Passo’s standard 0-10V dimmable driver ensures greater integration with the market’s most popular controls, minimizing complexity and product compatibility issues for contractors.
  • Service with a Smile: Amerlux knows that long wait times and delivery issues can cost contractors time and money….and sometimes even the job! Most Passo step lights can ship in 10 days or less from the time they’re ordered to quickly advance any new construction or retrofit project; contractors or customers with special requests can also avail themselves of Amerlux’s renowned concierge services.

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How to Make College Campuses Safer

Like academics, the subject of safety is mission critical on college campuses.

From a facility manager’s perspective, the objective is to find ways to mitigate potential incidents of crime and injury. Such unfortunate outcomes can increase a university’s liability, insurance rates and bad media coverage, which could have a negative impact on student enrollment.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, colleges reported the incidence of some 39,000 campus crimes in 2015, involving everything from burglaries/robberies to physical/sexual assault and car theft. In addition, a National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reveals that roughly two-thirds of physical/sexual assaults and nearly three-quarters of all auto thefts occur at night.

A recent survey of 179,000 college students by revealed that “walking on unlit pathways” represented one of students’ top safety concerns on campuses nationwide.  A recent article published in University Business Magazine by author Neal Raisman further reiterated that “nothing generates a sense of fear like dark areas” that decrease the sense of security for students and faculty.

More Light, More Security

There is one quick fix that can dramatically improve safety on campuses across the country, and it’s an idea that is often overlooked. From a security perspective, the best way to proactively improve a college environment is with quality lighting.

Improving pedestrian lighting along walkways, dormitories and academic buildings is the best place to start. University facility managers have their own checklist to determine which streetlighting is the perfect fit for a venue in higher education.

Previously dominated by more conventional halogen, incandescent, fluorescent, and HID light sources in higher education settings, pedestrian lighting have been revolutionized by the emergence of LED technology during the last five years.

Here are several factors that facility managers consider:

  • Improved CCTV Resolution: A recent article in Private University Product & News noted that LED technology significantly enhanced the visibility (and subsequent usability) of security footage captured at colleges and universities utilizing closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems or who operated security cameras throughout their facilities.
  • Reliability: While conventional light sources may not always be able to withstand certain types of harsh environments, the unique properties of LEDs render them extremely durable and weather-resistant, especially in cold and/or wet conditions.
  • Consistency and Uniformity: Since conventional light sources can suffer from considerable lumen depreciation over time, LED technology maintains a significantly higher level of light output for much longer (per the lighting industry’s L70/LM-80 measures) and isn’t subject to performance issues, such as color shifting and hot spotting, both of which can cause gaps and shadows along pathways that can promote criminal behavior or lead to accidents. Their availability in a variety of color temperatures offers clean, white light that delivers improved visibility and a greater sense of security.
  • Long Life: While conventional light sources require more frequent change-out and maintenance due to their more limited lifespan, the 50,000-100,000 hours of rated life available on many LED fixtures ensure years—even decades!—of maintenance-free operation, resulting in lower maintenance costs and enhanced maintenance crew productivity.
  • Environmental Friendliness and Appeal: Unlike fluorescent and HID sources, LEDs contain no mercury or other hazardous substances and run much cooler and more efficiently, losing far less energy in the form of heat relative to their predecessors.

In terms of keeping expenses within a budget, LED technology draws only a fraction of the power of its more conventional lighting counterparts, reducing energy bills by one-third to as much as 90 percent, while enhancing sustainability and helping to position the institution as a leader in green practices. Colleges are now able to cut their utility bills by adding enhanced security features, such as reliable, energy-efficient lighting.

Upgrading your lights on campus will help make your school be seen in the best light.

For more information on how Amerlux can help make your student body, faculty and staff feel safer, visit us at

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Bright Lights, Beautiful City

Amerlux’s Game-Changing Avista Light Engine Helps City of Portland

Decrease Energy Consumption 60%, While Preserving Vintage Streetlamps

Amerlux’s Avista LED light engines helped Portland, Oregon preserve its vintage light fixtures, while reducing energy consumption by 60 percent.

As the largest city in Oregon with more than three million residents in its metro area, Portland is home to breathtaking natural beauty, a wealth of microbreweries and coffeehouses, and a historic downtown marked by must-see landmarks. The city is also renowned for its thriving eco-friendly scene and focus on sustainability, so it came as no surprise when The Portland Bureau of Transportation began upgrading the city’s 52,000 streetlamps to energy-efficient LED technology in 2014. The City of Portland wanted to move forward with new energy-efficient lighting technology, but not at the expense of its vintage streetlamps, which had proved to be an obstacle in the past.

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9 Reasons Why Cities Choose Amerlux for Streetlighting

pedestrian lights

Light-emitting diode (LED) technology has created a great opportunity for city managers to dramatically reduce the energy bill for their municipalities.

But not all lighting solutions are created equally in terms of value and performance.

As a result, more cities are turning to Amerlux to help with pedestrian streetlighting. Designed to bring an ease and seamlessness to city streetlighting, Amerlux’s Avista LED fixture is a simple-to-use yet advanced LED light engine ideal for retrofitting traditional and post-top luminaires, as well as use in new construction applications.

Featuring a completely-sealed LED optical chamber, the highly-efficient Avista delivers cutting-edge optics and extraordinary output to meet the most demanding streetlighting needs within today’s cities and municipalities, while its simple-to-install design incorporating adjustable height levels allows users to position the light exactly where it’s needed for optimal application and maximum performance, taking LED streetlighting to the next level.

Two industry experts—Lisa Elbert, P.E., signals and lighting engineer with the City of Portland at Oregon’s Bureau of Transportation (which recently oversaw the upgrade of Portland’s 6,100 century-old single and twin ornamental decorative fixtures to Amerlux’s Avista LED light engine), and Jason Strano, C.E.M., energy sales manager at leading lighting agency Reflex Lighting in Wethersfield, Connecticut—discuss the many reasons why cities are wise to invest in Amerlux’s Avista fixtures for their streetlighting needs.

  1. Quality – Strano said that the difference between an Amerlux fixture and competitive products is clear. “When you hold an Avista fixture in your hand, you can see that it’s a substantial, well-made piece with strong set screw, durable materials, and great build quality,” he said. “While it’s customizable, it’s well-designed up front.”
  1. Flexibility – “Amerlux created four different styles of the Avista retrofit kit for us—all were the same basic product but incorporated different adaptor plates to mount onto our different streetlighting fixtures,” Elbert said. “The system’s adjustable height levels gave us additional flexibility as well.”
  1. Customized Options – While many manufacturers can be resistant to customization, “the Amerlux team is so open and adaptable to customer requests for changes that users don’t have to jump through hoops to make the changes they require,” Strano said. “Amerlux can do everything from meeting a specific Kelvin temperature standard to providing product in customized colors and more.” Based on her experience in Portland, Elbert agreed. “Amerlux met all of our needs, from fine-tuning the fixture design to ensure Type III street optics with the optimal amount of lighting both in front of and behind each pole to matching the exact floral design of our fixture’s filigree ring, placing bar codes in a specific spot to support our asset management requirements, and securing a manufacturer to create a specialized acrylic version of the original globe, based on detailed drawings of the vintage product,” Elbert said.
  1. Responsiveness – “Customers can always call and get Amerlux team members on the phone,” Strano said. “They’re extremely responsive, accommodating and happy to help.”
  1. Aesthetically-Pleasing – “The appearance of our Avista LEDs is amazing, and I was absolutely stunned the first time I saw the new lighting on our streets,” Elbert said. “I’d gotten used to seeing hot spots and lamps burning inside the globe with our old technology, but Amerlux’s fixture uses a top-down LED system that makes the entire globe appear to glow without seeing the lights. I love the experience and it’s soft on the eyes.”
  1. Dark Sky-Friendly – While Elbert conceded that her team in Portland had worked for years to minimize the uplight component of their streetlights with various designs, other lights always looked like they had a hood over them. “By contrast, Amerlux’s dark sky-friendly fixtures allow us to see the entire silhouette of the acorn globes, while minimizing light pollution,” she said.
  1. DLC-Listed – Amerlux’s Avista LEDs are listed by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), a renowned organization that establishes product quality specifications, facilitates thought leadership, and provides technical expertise in an effort to promote high-quality, energy-efficient lighting products in collaboration with utilities, energy efficiency program members and government entities. As a result of their efficiency, dark sky-friendly properties, and subsequent DLC listing, Avista fixtures are eligible for rebate by a host of utility companies nationwide, introducing the potential for an attractive financial incentive that can boost a project’s ROI and reduce its payback period.
  1. Ease of Installation – In addition to designing a customized compression screw plate for the fixtures in Portland to further simplify their installation, “Amerlux was willing to provide us with a tool-less installation,” Elbert said. “The mechanism they devised—thumb screws that simply lock onto the casting—was huge for us in terms of the time and money it saved our installers/maintenance crew.”
  1. Vested in Customers’ Success – “The Amerlux reps and team members we worked with were extremely responsive and great on follow-up, getting us samples, drawings, and any other information and support we requested,” Elbert said. “They were passionate about looking out for our interests and sincerely wanted to see our project be successful. Amerlux truly met all of our needs and we couldn’t possibly ask for more.”


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Lead Capture

Pedestrian Lighting: City Managers Consider 7 Factors

pedestrian lights

Thanks to the benefits of light-emitting diode (LED) technology, more than 600 cities from New York to Los Angeles are in the process of upgrading less-efficient lighting sources.

LEDs provide a longer useful life, minimal maintenance, appealing color rendering and increasingly attractive price points. In short, LEDs can deliver decades of reliable and attractive illumination to the nation’s estimated 26-44 million streetlamps—the average of which is reportedly older than 25 years old and in need of modernization, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Municipal Solid-State Streetlighting Consortium.

However, pedestrian streetlighting upgrade projects in cities and municipalities are complex endeavors that require thoughtful consideration and careful collaboration between city managers and lighting providers to ensure the most successful outcome.

Two industry experts—Lisa Elbert, P.E., signals and lighting engineer with the City of Portland at Oregon’s Bureau of Transportation (which recently oversaw the upgrade of Portland’s 6,100 century-old single and twin ornamental decorative fixtures to Amerlux’s Avista LED light engine), and Jason Strano, C.E.M., energy sales manager at leading lighting agency Reflex Lighting in Wethersfield, Connecticut—recommend several key factors city managers should consider when upgrading the pedestrian streetlighting in municipalities.

  1. Evaluate Performance. When evaluating between different lighting options, “a fixture’s performance is critical – color temperature, brightness, etc.,” Elbert said. “In Portland, we were constantly running numbers, looking at how the lighting performed using AGI, a simulation tool used for designing lighting projects, and assessing the visual effect of that light on our streets and sidewalks, compared to our previous high pressure sodium technology.” Elbert and her team ultimately settled on LEDs with a 3000K color temperature, “which is a very comfortable and palatable color that’s gained increasing acceptance in streetlighting nationwide,” she said.
  1. Ensure Uniformity. As part of a comprehensive assessment of various fixtures, Strano confirms that the lighting needs to be uniform throughout the space and free of any hot-spotting, shadows or gaps that both detract from its aesthetics, as well as enable criminal behavior. If the skills aren’t resident in-house, “it’s important to take advantage of the services of a lighting specialist with expertise in preparing photometric layouts so that you can see exactly how your space will be lit by the fixtures, including light and dark areas,” Strano said. “You also want to ensure that you’re providing equal lighting without over-lighting the space.”
  1. Go LED. With their exceptional performance, high efficiency, long life, and affordability, Strano confirms that there’s no reason not to pursue LEDs for city streetlight upgrades. “You want to emulate a nice, natural moonlit effect when lighting city streets and LEDs are able to do that,” he said. “City managers are lucky to have so many LED options today. Though high-pressure sodium and metal halide have been around for a long time, price points for LEDs are now nearly equivalent to those older technologies, and the tremendous energy and maintenance savings that LEDs deliver over their extended lifespan makes them a no-brainer.”
  1. Pursue Rebates. Whether you’re in a part of the country with a high or low kWh utility rate, “the availability of utility rebates and incentives on specific LED fixtures can make a streetlighting upgrade project more palatable,” said Strano of the subsidies that can help to offset up-front project costs, as well as enhance its economics overall—all of which are critical factors for city managers, especially when projects are funded by taxpayer dollars. (According to the U.S. Department of Energy, streetlighting nationwide accounts for $2-3 billion in annual energy costs alone.) To get access to such utility rebates, Strano recommends opting for an LED fixture that’s listed by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), a renowned organization that establishes product quality specifications, facilitates thought leadership, and provides information, education, tools, and technical expertise in an effort to promote high-quality, energy-efficient lighting products in collaboration with utilities and energy efficiency program members and government entities. Elbert agreed, noting that a rebate which the City of Portland successfully secured on the purchase of its Avista LEDs from the local Energy Trust of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Energy positively impacted its project’s ROI and reduced the payback period.
  1. Preserve the Dark Sky. Strano recommends choosing a fixture that’s dark sky-compliant, which means it supports the global movement to help reduce the amount of light pollution emitted into the sky by outdoor lighting fixtures. As opposed to older technologies like high-pressure sodium that often distributed light upwards, disturbing the night sky along with local residents and wildlife, “LEDs allow us to put light and energy exactly where it needs to be,” he said. “They enable us to better control the distribution and color temperature of light so that we’re not just throwing light out there and creating all of that light pollution.”
  1. Consider the Impact of Trees. “We love trees and they’re a major part of our streetscape here, but they can also block light,” said Elbert of the leafy, tree-lined streets of Portland. “If obstacles like trees are in the way, you won’t get the performance you need out of your lighting. We’re constantly battling this issue and there’s no easy answer, but we came to the realization that trees can often wreak havoc on lighting systems.” As a result, Elbert recommends that a plan for managing trees should be part of a city’s overall streetlighting strategy. “Developers who reconstruct property frontages need to space trees properly, and we also look carefully at different tree species and do our best to prune our trees so that they rise above the lighting, as a tree canopy over the top of the lighting can add ambiance,” she said.
  1. Go with a Trusted Manufacturer. Strano recommends that city managers avoid making lighting decisions based solely on first cost. “There are a lot of less-expensive fixtures out there made by less-experienced manufacturers, but for cities, towns, and institutions that plan to be there for the long haul, it’s important to make a good investment that will last and go with a manufacturer who’s vested in the industry and will stand by their product,” he said.


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Lead Capture

Top Pitfalls to Avoid with Pedestrian Lighting

pedestrian lights
The City of Portland, Oregon upgraded their lighting to Avista LEDs, resulting in a 60% decrease in energy costs.

City managers face several challenges when selecting pedestrian lighting.

These complex projects require a level of collaboration between the city manager and lighting providers to ensure various benefits, such as reduced energy consumption and expense, less maintenance and enhanced color rendering, are realized.

In fact, there are seven important items that should be considered, according to industry experts Lisa Elbert, P.E., who is a signals and lighting engineer with the City of Portland, and Jason Strano, C.E.M., who is an energy sales manager at leading lighting agency Reflex Lighting in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

  • Don’t Neglect the Specs. Because fixture performance is key, “spec out every detail and everything you want,” advised Elbert, who thoroughly reviewed and verified Illuminating Engineering Society-specified “LM-79” and “LM-80” electrical and photometric measurements of life and performance on the LED products it evaluated, how the lighting performed using AGI, a simulation tool used for designing lighting projects, and how the lighting actually looked to the eye on Portland’s streets and sidewalks, compared to the city’s previous high-pressure sodium technology. According to Elbert, failure to do this can result in regrets or unwelcome surprises later. (Elbert oversaw the upgrade of Portland’s 6,100 century-old single and twin ornamental decorative fixtures to Amerlux’s Avista LED light engine.)
  • Don’t Pass on Due Diligence. Strano agreed that there’s no substitute for a comprehensive due diligence process up-front. “Dismantle a fixture, get the right application or base plate and install it to see how everything works,” he said. “A few hours spent in the beginning taking the proper measurements will make the rest of the job so much easier.  Also, allow others to see the new lighting and encourage their feedback before moving forward.”
  • Don’t Go Too Big Too Soon. Based on her own hard experience in Portland, Elbert recommends that city managers test streetlighting products on a small scale before proceeding to change every streetlight targeted for upgrade. “On an early LED project we did years ago, we installed 400 lights and within a year suffered a 50 percent failure rate,” she said.  “The project had involved a custom fixture incorporating controls that we had made for us and it was untested. When they started failing, there were so many variables involved that we didn’t know whether it was the lighting or controls causing the malfunction.  Because ‘too much too soon’ on an untested fixture can be a scary thing, we stick with known, tested products and test them on a smaller scale first, being sure to elicit some feedback before we proceed to a larger installation area.”
  • Don’t Fail to Communicate. In addition to anticipating as much as you can on a project, Strano confirmed that good communication is key. “Be as clear about your expectations as possible,” he advised.  “If you’re doing a retrofit and you want all of the fixture glass wiped down, for example, be sure to tell the lighting rep, distributor, and/or contractor so that you get exactly what you want.”
  • Don’t Forget About the Trees. While Portland and many cities and towns treasure the trees that line their streets, Elbert learned first-hand that those very trees can become obstacles that block light and impair the performance that’s required and expected from streetlighting fixtures. For that reason, Elbert suggests a close review of trees and their distance from streetlights.  “We recommend 25 feet of space between lights and trees—less than that triggers a closer review of the tree species,” she said.  “Lighting can be as close as 12 feet from a tree if it’s a narrow/columnar tree variety, but a 20+-foot distance between trees and streetlights is advised to ensure that the lighting can operate most effectively and meet its potential.”
  • Don’t Ignore the Maintenance Aspect. As part of a comprehensive evaluation process up-front, don’t forget to consider the voice of the contractor or maintenance crew. “Before you select a streetlighting fixture, be sure to review it with the people who will be maintaining it once it’s installed,” Elbert recommended.  “The maintenance team sees an entirely different product than we do. While we’re focused on a fixture’s performance, they see what’s involved in terms of the tools and trucks they’ll need to install or repair it.  You have to think about what will make a good/easy installation process for the team when selecting a fixture,” she said.  “That’s an important cost in the process that can often be forgotten.”
  • Don’t Fall for a Fly-by-Night. Strano can’t stress enough the importance of working with a trusted lighting manufacturer who’s vested in the industry. “You want to seek out a product made by a company with history and roots in the lighting industry,” he said.  “If you’re going for least cost and you don’t know where the product is manufactured or the company has only been in business for a short time and doesn’t have a known track record, you’re setting yourself up for potential problems.  You want to work with a solid manufacturer and/or lighting rep agency with experienced people and all of the resources in place to stand by the product and help you work through any questions or concerns you may have.”  Strano added that it’s especially important to make a wise investment up-front given the fact that many streetlighting upgrades are public projects that are funded by taxpayer dollars. (According to the U.S. Department of Energy, streetlighting nationwide accounts for $2-3 billion in annual energy costs alone.)

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Lead Capture

Top Pitfalls Lighting Designers Should Avoid When Selecting Step Lights

All qualified lighting designers know that lighting products are most effective when optimally matched to the unique conditions of the specific application. This is especially true as it relates to step or directional lighting, which, by illuminating the way forward is critical for helping to prevent injuries, while also enhancing a property’s architectural appeal.

According to Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents, slips, trips, and falls related to staircase/step mishaps are among the nation’s 10 most common worker’s compensation claims. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control report that each year, one in every three individuals older than 65 will experience a fall, at a collective cost of more than $31 billion annually to Medicare alone.  Whether a commercial/industrial building, hospital, school, resort, or hospitality setting, step and directional lighting enhances visibility and brings the critical elements of safety, security, comfort, and aesthetics to a range of indoor and outdoor applications, both new construction and retrofit.

For those reasons, it’s critical for lighting designers to fully understand the lighting application at hand and the needs of their client when recommending step light products. Following, lighting industry veteran and seasoned lighting designer Quentin Thomas, president of Douglaston, New York-based Quentin Thomas Associates, Inc., suggests top pitfalls that lighting designers should avoid when selecting step lights for a client project:

  • Avoid Incompatibility with LEED – If your client is pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a globally-recognized symbol of sustainability achievement administered through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) that provides a framework for the creation of healthy, highly-efficient, and cost-saving green buildings) and specifically LEED Light Pollution Reduction compliance, “be sure to avoid fixtures that don’t conform to the LEED Light Pollution Reduction credit,” Thomas said. While he confirmed that the credit offered for compliance with this category is very positive in the sense that it aims to reduce light pollution traveling up into the night sky or onto adjacent properties, Thomas notes that at this point in its evolution, that credit is extremely restrictive and difficult to meet. “You can’t uplight a flag or tree or have step lighting or lighting in handrails that has a glow of any kind—the lighting must face downward, be shielded, and light only the surfaces you’re looking down at in order to be eligible for the credit,” he said. “Luminous tubes, globes with opal or frosted faces, or decorative lights with a glow would all be completely disallowed. Overall, if you’re working towards LEED’s Light Pollution Reduction credit, you can’t select any step light that glows and the light source can’t be visible—it must be shielded.”


  • Don’t Overlook Lighting Placement in All Positions – Thomas advises lighting designers to consider the impact that the placement of a step light will have on users in all positions—not just on those standing upright but those in a seated position as well. “Step lighting can’t be perfect for people when they’re standing but then blind them when they’re sitting on a bench or driving along a pathway you’ve lit,” he said. “There must be no direct view of the light source from seated positions. You don’t want people looking directly into the step light when they’re sitting or driving.”


  • Avoid Products That Aren’t Well-Engineered – Thomas encourages lighting designers to select step lights that are durable, well-engineered and impervious to water and other elements. “Condensation inside the fixture can cause it to short out,” he confirmed. “In addition to the fact that these lights are often recessed into expensive materials, any fixtures that are malfunctioning, flickering, or burnt out will make the whole plaza or outdoor space look awful. LEDs last for a long time but they’re still electronic devices after all, so be sure to avoid products that don’t provide the highest protection against infiltration by water, bugs, or dirt/dust, as measured by the various Ingress Protection (IP) ratings.”


  • Don’t Overlook Practical Considerations – By the same token, Thomas said that a variety of other functional/operational issues should be taken into account when selecting a step light. Among those, “avoid products that don’t have an integral driver—it’s helpful to not have to locate a separate driver in a secondary location that needs to be waterproof,” he said. “Also, you’d need to determine whether the application is in a coastal location with salt water/air, because exterior step lights can get degraded by these elements and look bad over time. At the same time, is the paint finish on the fixtures either an anodized or stainless steel material or is it something less durable? And is the building’s location prone to flooding?” he said. “Thanks to the properties of LED technology, temperature issues have largely been done away with, but because step lights are sealed, the lighting designer must also ensure that the step light product has been engineered to dissipate heat backwards.”

A Step in the Right Direction

Delivering the benefits of energy efficiency, long life/low maintenance, consistency, reliability/durability, environmental friendliness, LED technology has revolutionized the step lighting category. And Amerlux’s Passo LED Step Lights take lighting and landscape design to the next level, providing landscape architects, lighting designers, and facility managers with an aesthetic detail that not only enhances indoor and outdoor safety and security, but adds a touch of beauty as well.

Available in louver, stainless steel louver, and tempered soft glow lens versions and round, square, and rectangular shapes for new construction projects and in 8-inch and 12-inch rectangular shapes for retrofit projects, Passo LED Step Lights are designed for flexibility, while their independently-sealed LED Optical Chamber (encompassing an LED array and heatsink enclosed in an IP66-rated sealed glass tube) eliminates water infiltration, the #1 cause of product failure, and ensures that they’re engineered for reliability.

Easy to install, Passo models designed for new construction projects feature an injection-molded PVC housing with integral machined brass anchor blocks that complement the sealed properties of the LED module and driver, ensuring added protection against corrosive environments.  Further incorporating a standard 0-10V dimmable driver for greater integration with today’s most popular controls, Amerlux’s family of Passo LED Step Lights represent a step in the right direction for lighting designers.

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