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Business: Residential

Progress Report

Manitoba Hydro LED Traffic Signals – Energy Savings at Every Corner

Pedestrian and traffic signals
In the spring of 2004, Manitoba Hydro and the City of Winnipeg began a pilot study to monitor the feasibility of a scheme to retrofit the entire city with Light Emitting Diode (LED) traffic signals. With help from Natural Resources Canada and the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Hydro installed sets of full ENERGY STAR qualified pedestrian and traffic signals at 15 intersections around Winnipeg. The first phase, now complete, involved gathering background information and installing LED traffic signal indicators at selected intersections. The second phase of the project, currently underway, is focusing on the long-term performance of LED traffic signal indicators through routine monitoring of the study traffic signals over a period of three years. Market barrier analysis had shown that affordability and certain performance characteristics were of concern to prospective users.

The Winnipeg study will provide us with valuable information on labour, equip­ment and material resources needed to install and maintain LED traffic indi­cators, in-service energy consumption, cold-climate operation and long-term performance of LED signals.

About ENERGY STAR®

The international ENERGY STAR symbol is a simple way for consumers to identify products that are among the most energy-efficient on the market. Only manufacturers and retailers whose products meet the ENERGY STAR criteria can label their products with this symbol. In Canada, Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency administers and promotes the international ENERGY STAR symbol for a wide range of energy-using products sold in Canada.

Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol on product packaging, in product literature and advertising and on products themselves. Ask your local retailer to help you identify products that qualify for the ENERGY STAR symbol so you can begin saving energy and money. For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR Web site at energystar.gc.ca

Phase One: Installation

In good weather, it takes an experienced, well-organized traffic signal crew 1.2 to 1.5 man hours and 0.25 to 0.3 hours of bucket truck time per indicator to convert whole intersections to LED traffic indicators. Additional time may be required for new installations, depending on the condition of the existing traffic heads; corroded lamp heads can be difficult to open. Closely tracking installation costs in this project has provided the City and Manitoba Hydro with meaningful insights into the real cost of converting existing incandescent traffic signal indicators to LED indicators.

Calculating the energy use with “assumed” incandescent lamp characteristics resulted in an overesti­mation of the energy savings potential of converting to LED traffic signals. When assumptions regarding lamp wattages and operating schedules were corrected, measured and estimated energy use came into close agreement. Table 1 highlights the 534 kWh per month per indicator lamp set energy savings achieved from the LED traffic signal conversion. The 15 intersections converted to LED signals consume only 4440 kWh of energy per month compared to the 38 520 kWh per month needed to illuminate incandescent lamps.

Table 1.

Traffic Signal Indicator Calculated Energy Consumption (kWh/Month) Measured Energy Consumption (kWh/Month)
Incandescent 642 608
LED 86 74

Phase Two: Long-term Performance

Maintenance and Lamp Failures - As part of this project, the City implemented a system to track maintenance and failures of lamps in the study. By mid-November 2004, the City reported that seven study lamps had failed; of these, six were from one manufacturer. This emphasizes the need for proper records, including not only LED lamp failures but also where and what lamps are installed. Reviewing lamp serial numbers and date codes can result in bad batches being identified and isolated.

Light Intensity Measurement - Manitoba Hydro is currently testing light output for red and green solid signals with two light output meters. Field measurements for LED traffic indicators, such as physical, mechanical and electrical requirements ; , photometrics ; , and quality assurance, are in accordance with the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) standards. 

Communication with Other Users - Routine contact is made with other major municipalities in western Canada ( Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver) to discuss LED traffic signals.

Qualitative Assessment of Lamp Performance - Snow accumulation is a concern for both incandescent and LED signals. In low ambient light conditions, the LED signals remain acceptably visible, even with substantial snow cover. The issue with them is the time required to melt the snow. [Why is this an issue if they “remain acceptably visible”?]

Photo of study lamp with sunlight shining directly on it

A common complaint about east and west facing traffic signals is that morning and evening sunlight can make it very difficult for motorists to discern whether lights are on or off. This appears to be less of a problem with the LED signals which have a flat clear face over a dark background. LEDs do not cause ghost lighting, thus improving driver ability to discern which indicators are energized and which are not.

Natural Resources Canada estimates the potential savings from an LED traffic signal retrofit across the country to be 285 million kWh/year or $14 million/year, where energy costs 5 cents/kWh.


Contact Information

Manitoba Hydro
Jamie Hopkins
Marketing Specialist
Tel.: 204 474-4018
Fax: 204 452-3976
Cell: 204 479-1865
Manitoba Hydro

ENERGY STAR High Efficiency Symbol

For more information on ENERGY STAR®, contact Natural Resources Canada's Office of  Energy Efficiency: Gisèle Maillet, (613) 992-4535 or by e-mail

For tips on energy-efficient products, visit the ENERGY STAR Web site at energystar.gc.ca or the Web site of Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency at oee.nrcan.gc.ca.

To obtain additional copies of this or other free publications on energy efficiency, please contact

Energy Publications
Office of Energy Efficiency
Natural Resources Canada
c/o S.J.D.S.
Ottawa ON K1A 1L3
Tel.: 1 800 387-2000 (toll-free)
        995-2943 (in the National Capital Region)
Fax: (613) 740-3114

Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency administers and promotes the international ENERGY STAR symbol in Canada.