Contrary to the concerns raised by recent reports in general media, LED streetlights have performed well during extreme cold and heavy snowfall in Alaska and Minnesota.
Recent winter storms throughout the United States have caused some to worry about the effects of heavy snowfall on LED streetlights. General media coverage has raised concerns about snow accumulation resulting in reduced lumen output and in some cases total fixture failure.
The source of the problem, however, is not the new technology, but the use of incorrect terminology by the media and the public. Often, LED roadway lights are referred to generically as LED traffic lights or LED lights, when in fact snow performance issues relate specifically to traffic signals at intersections. Snow accumulation leading to obscured lenses and lights is a problem faced by some traffic signals at intersections—not LED roadway fixtures.
According to transportation officials in Fairbanks, Alaska, a region that regularly faces extreme winter weather conditions, snow has no impact on LED streetlight performance. Transportation engineers in several other regions of the United States that face extreme winter weather have not faced performance or reliability issues from LED streetlights due to snow or extreme cold.
Snow accumulation preventing heat dissipation has not been a problem—contrary to general media reports—and the complaint that LED streetlights do not generate enough heat to melt snow accumulations on the fixture is also inaccurate.
According to Michael Gerbensky of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, “I haven’t heard of any issues as a result of snow accumulation leading to problems with LED roadway lighting.”