Jeff Jacobs/Director of Technical Support/Hughey & Phillips/www.hugheyandphillips.com
Ever since nighttime aviation became practical in the early 1930s, obstruction lighting has been a necessary safety feature to prevent midair collisions with tall structures. Incandescent lights were the technology of the day and are still common fixtures in the growing wind-energy industry where they are mounted on wind turbine nacelles.
Light-emitting-diode (LED) technology, however, offers a new level of safety and reliability for obstruction lighting in the wind industry, and with the major advantage of saving energy. For example, the HORIZON line of LED obstruction lighting from Hughey & Phillips (H&P) lasts 15 times longer and uses 98% less power than 1,200W standard incandescent lamps within the Medium Intensity Red Beacon, a light the FAA classifies as Type L-864.
The energy efficiency of LED lights offers wind farms several advantages. For instance, they reduce maintenance costs and increase safety while greatly minimizing the number of times technicians must climb wind towers to change lamps. While the initial cost of LED-light systems exceeds that for incandescent lamps, LEDs pay for themselves in as little as two years due to their energy efficiency, lower maintenance costs, and greater reliability. LEDs, which are solid-state devices, resist shock and vibration and stand up to extremes better than incandescent lights, which rely on a fragile filament.
Before purchasing a new obstruction lighting fixture, wind-farm engineers should investigate the costs associated with retrofitting with new LED equipment. LED modules facilitate efficient retrofitting from existing incandescent lights. The feature decreases the time and expense of working at height. The installation expense of traditional lamps can average thousands of dollars per tower. Installing H&P flash heads, for instance, is further facilitated by their relatively light unit weight of 17 lbs.
A product series from the company has two options for wind-turbine illumination. In one, an FAA type L-810 LED low-intensity obstruction light provides a steady-burn lamp available in single and double configurations. The other provides an LED Strobe, defined as either an FAA type L-864 (red), L-865 (white), or L-864/865 (red and white) fixture. Both LEDs meet FAA specs and those for the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The L-810 operates on 95 to 277 Vac and 9 to 48 Vdc, and comes as original equipment or as replacement light modules for existing incandescent obstruction lights. The L-810 may operate in a steady burn or a flashing light.
As a single compact unit, the medium-intensity system provides daytime white and nighttime red lights, while operating on 95 to 277 Vac, and consuming 26W by day and 15W by night. For comparison, incandescent beacons consume up to 1,400W.
What’s more, medium-intensity white LEDs used in the daytime generally eliminates the need to paint structures with aviation white and orange stripes, and the red flashing beacon creates community-friendly light at night. Advanced optics reduce ground scatter. Some systems are available with GPS sync and day and night sensors.
LED technology will play a growing role in wind-energy safety and obstruction-lighting applications as engineers and project managers come to discover and appreciate its dual role: advancing safety through reliability and controlling operational costs through greater efficiency. WPE
Filed Under: News, Obstruction lighting
Frances Morey says
I have a small fan with five small LED lights embedded in one of the blades. These alternate in random ways to make very attractive circles of alternating lights and patterns. Their application on the power windmills could become both a safety as well as an artistic feature. On the wind towers their presence in the landscape would be somewhat akin to the Marfa lights. The West Texas wind farm could even become a tourist attraction.
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