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Street light Questions and Answers

Why are you replacing all of the lights on the street? Many of them are still working.

Westar has been transitioning to all LED street lights and fixtures for the past 3 years. LEDs are more reliable, allow for better visibility on the roadway, use less energy than the previous fixture and are more cost-effective.

Since we began this transition, we have seen high performance and very few failures. Additionally, this program saves energy and carbon emissions and many people like the quality of light emitted by the new LEDs.

Some existing street lights appear to be working just fine, but there are equipment failures that cause the nighttime light output to be diminished; or another issue referred to as a “day burner” which causes the light to come on during the day. When these occur, non-LED lights are replaced with LED fixtures. This is a more cost-effective way to replace the lights.

Who is doing the work?

Westar Energy is contracting with Sturgeon Electric to upgrade existing street lights to LED fixtures in the cities of Wichita and Topeka and their surrounding areas. This work will start in March of 2018 and will be completed by the end of the year. Any non-Westar vehicles involved in this project will have Sturgeon Electric logos.

When do you anticipate our area will be changed out to LED?

Westar is planning for a 2-year program with all street lights on our system changed by the end of 2019. Replacements in Wichita and Topeka and their surrounding areas will be completed by the end of 2018. We are working on a detailed schedule of locations and time frames for the 2019 replacements, but do not have that available currently.

How long has Westar been installing LEDs? 

It has been our standard street light procedure to use LEDs since February 2015, although we did participate in a small LED pilot along with two neighboring electric utilities in some areas near Kansas City in 2012.

Why are you changing the entire fixture out, not just the bulb?

LED fixtures have much higher light quality and light efficiency. These fixtures have a lifespan of 20+ years, much longer than the previous fixtures. By only replacing bulbs and not the entire fixture, maintenance costs would increase and the overall benefits of the fixtures would decrease.

Are you coming to replace the fixture in my yard with an LED soon?

If you have a street light on your property, the plan is for it to be upgraded to an LED fixture. Security lighting that you may have had installed on your property is not part of this program. If you would like to inquire about upgrading security lighting, you can contact us at 800-383-1183.

What is the color temperature of these lights?

The lights being installed are 4000K with one exception, the Old Town area of Wichita uses 5000K Omero fixtures. An industry standard refers to 4000K as “cool white”, and that color sits between a yellowish “warm white” and bluish “daylight” colors that might be typical of light bulbs one could purchase for their home or business.

Westar uses 4000K color temperature for its resemblance to natural moonlight and the safety benefits of enhancing colors and maximum visual acuity on the roadway.

Do these lights save energy?

Yes. This is one of the primary reasons for the upgrade. Depending on the type of light fixture being replaced, the new LEDs reduce energy use by 20-50%. This allows Westar to lower street light rates for the cities being served and cuts down on carbon emissions.

These LEDs seem brighter than the old lights. Are they?

Although they seem brighter, in the most cases they are not, and are dimmer when considering the actual lumen measurement on the ground.

Many people report a perception of increased brightness despite less lumens emitted from the new LED fixtures. The LEDs seem to be brighter because they emit a much more even lighting pattern across a roadway than their predecessors that dumped a lot of light right below the fixture, and didn’t light the area midway between two fixtures well.

The even light helps with visual acuity and causes less glare because your eyes aren’t constantly adjusting to areas of light and dark as you travel down the roadway. The specific color light we have chosen is optimal for night vision and being able to identify targets/obstacles at a maximum distance according to some studies, and other studies have shown people simply perceive that white color to be brighter.

There’s a street light(s) on my block shining in my window and it’s bothering me. Is there anything can I do?

For an existing older-style street light causing the nuisance, there might be a significant improvement just by switching to LED.

If the light causing the issue is already an LED, Westar has a few options available to help alleviate the issue. Please call Customer Service at (800) 383-1183 and they will request the local design team evaluate the situation free of charge or obligation. This may or may not include a site visit.

Will this project increase my bill?

No. Our residential customers are not being charged for any LED lights installed on this project. Westar purchases and owns the lights, and the cities they are installed in pay a monthly lease rate to Westar for the service. If the light were to quit working, Westar will repair or replace the light. The monthly rates paid, as well as all other rate information, can be found on the Westar Energy website here.

Note regarding city street lights: some cities choose to own the fixtures in their area, and they may or may not be LEDs. Many cities have a mix of their own lights and Westar lighting.  In this project, only Westar Energy-owned lights are being replaced.

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