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Grissom leads the way with LEDs

More than a century after Thomas Edison patented the first commercial incandescent light bulb in 1879 Grissom is leading the way with a more efficient light technology.

The north central Indiana base became the first Air Force base to transition its aircraft mass parking area lights from a high pressure sodium light source to a cost-efficient light emitting diode, commonly known as LEDs, recently.

The idea for the project began after a tornado knocked down one of the light poles in Grissom's aircraft mass parking area and damaged three others during the fall of 2013.

"In comparison, the old lights were just energy hogs and their technology was outdated." said Bryan Jaworski, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron civil engineer and project manager. "The storm was the perfect opportunity to upgrade the lighting."

The LEDs that are replacing the incandescent lights in the mass parking area use approximately 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer, said Michael Bowden, 434th CES electrical engineer. Based on 151 fixtures, the new LEDs will reduce Grissom's average annual operating costs by $100,000.

"The project has a payback period of 2.88 years; the Air Force requires a 10-year payback period for any energy project," explained Bowden. "This project clearly exceeds their requirements and has a return on investment of 35 percent."

An additional aspect that makes the new lights more efficient is that they are brighter.

"LEDs produce a brighter and whiter light," Bowden said. "This allows us to reduce the number of fixtures and still deliver the foot candles required for Maintenance and Security Forces to conduct their duties,"

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