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RETROFITTING ROAD TRAFFIC SIGNALS WITH LED

- AN EVALUATION.
BY
NITIN VAIDYA *, KRISHNA KUMAR. C. **, SURESH. P.S. ***

ABSTRACT
Road traffic signals are used as a cost effective measure for controlling traffic safely and efficiently
at intersections. Incandescent bulbs are being used as light sources in traffic signal heads for a
long time now. LED s(Light Emitting Diodes) have been used in place of incandescent lamps in
traffic signals of late due to its energy efficiency and longevity. At present there is no standards
available for LED signal faces in India. Number of standards are compared and discussed here
with the aim of providing uniformity in the standards for LED signals, especially for colour,
luminous intensity, luminous intensity distribution. Recently Surat Municipal Corporation has
embarked upon a programme of retrofitting signals with LED aspects. The evaluation of the
retrofitting with LED signal aspects are done in this paper. The investment for retrofitting LED in
traffic signals in Surat is estimated to have an IRR of 14 % compared to the use of incandescent
bulbs for an analysis period of 7 years. It was found that the power savings due to retrofitting with
LED is 88 % and the savings in maintenance cost is 51 %. It is estimated that in a city having 500
intersections approximately Rs.9.5 millions can be saved per annum, at a rate of Rs. 3/ kw. hr. of
electricity, by completely retrofitting signals with LED aspects. As an energy efficient measure, it
is suggested that the use of LED retrofit in traffic signals need to be implemented in other cities
also. At the same time proper methods need to be ensured to understand the performance of LED
retrofitted signals on its optical performance and longevity in the tropical climate prevalent in
India.

* Executive Engineer, Surat Municipal Corporation, Surat.


** General Manager, CMS Traffic systems Limited, Mumbai.
*** Manager – Traffic Engineering, CMS Traffic Systems Limited, Mumbai.

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RETROFITTING ROAD TRAFFIC SIGNALS WITH LED
- AN EVALUATION.
BY
NITIN VAIDYA *, KRISHNA KUMAR. C. **, SURESH. P.S. ***
1. INTRODUCTION
Incandescent bulbs are being used as light sources in traffic signal heads for a long time now.
Conventional incandescent lamps generate light by applying voltage across a tungsten wire
filament in a glass enclosure and making it hot. Most of the energy is dissipated as heat and hence
incandescent lamps are not energy efficient. Light Emitting Diodes (LED) are semiconductor
based light sources where light is generated by an electron energy transition across a p-n junction
by passing a current through the junction. LEDs are now available in many colours including red
amber and green. LED can produce monochromatic light and hence there is no need for using
external light filters to change the colour. Incandescent lamps produce white light and require
optical filters to obtain the desired colours. LEDs are capable of operating from –40°C to 100°C
and they can withstand higher levels of shock and vibration than incandescent lamps. The life
expectancy is higher, may be 10 years or more and more than 5 years of warranty is given by the
manufacturers. LED traffic lights are made by combining number of LEDs in arrays and this
number is brought down by every passing year. The first signal lamps that were developed in 1994
had over 600 LEDs in them, the same lamp can now be built with about 100 traditional LEDs.
Now it is possible to build LED signal faces with six LEDs .( Burton,R(2003), ) LEDs can
operate with reduced power consumption. A standard 300 mm traffic signal with incandescent
lamp consumes 100 watts of power. A LED lamp having the same dimension consumes only 10
watts. This results in savings of 90 watts per lamp and a city having thousands of signal
installations can save large amounts from this. LED s have been used in place of incandescent
lamps in traffic signals of late due to its energy efficiency and longevity. India is no exception to
this and numbers of cities are having LED retrofitted traffic signals functioning now. In India,
local self governing bodies are in charge of installing and maintaining traffic signals with the
active involvement of local traffic police. One of the local self governing bodies in India, Surat
Municipal Corporation has recently embarked upon a programme of retrofitting the traffic signals
__________________________________________________________________________
* Executive Engineer, Surat Municipal Corporation, Surat.
** General Manager, CMS Traffic systems Limited, Mumbai.
*** Manager – Traffic Engineering, CMS Traffic Systems Limited, Mumbai.

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with LED. So far no effort was done to quantify the benefits due to the retrofitting with LED
signals in India. As most of the local bodies in India do not have the financial capacity to invest in
traffic control activities as necessitated by the traffic conditions, it is high time to understand the
accrued benefits from the modernization of signal systems. This paper details the standards for
LED signals along with an evaluation of the LED retrofitting done in various intersections falling
under the Surat Municipal corporation limits.

2. Standards for LED traffic signals


The visibility of traffic signal depends upon many factors, the most important of which are colour,
luminous intensity and luminous intensity distribution. Various standards are discussed here on the
basis of this here.
2.1 Indian Standards
Currently there is no specification or standards in India for LED signals and the ITE specifications
are widely accepted by the concerned authorities as a guide line for their requirement. The
guidelines given by IRC 93 -1985 “Guide lines on design and Installation of road traffic signals”
and IS 7537-1974 “ Indian Standard specification for road traffic signals” have given some
general optical requirements of traffic signals which are discussed in brief here
1. Illumination of lenses
The indication should be clearly visible from a distance of at least 400 metre under normal
atmospheric conditions
2. the intensity and distribution of light
IS 7537 -1974 specifies a minimum value of luminous intensity of 400 cd on geometrical
axis for red and green light on normal roads and 800 cd
It further stipulates that 10° below geometric axis these values are 200 cd and 375 cd
respectively on normal roads and high speed roads.
For amber signals it specifies values not less than twice the values mentioned above.
It has to be noted here that these values are for incandescent lamps and 85 % of these values
are accepted as the required value for LED traffic signals in other standards.
The minimum values for luminance on geometric axis for green arrow and red and green
pedestrian signals on geometric axis and 10º below geometric axis are 3500 cd/m2 and 2500
cd/m2 respectively.
3. Cone of vision
As per IRC 93-1985 primary signal should have a cone of vision of 30 degree on both sides of
optical axis and secondary signal should have 33.5 degree.

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2.2 Comparison of various standards for LED traffic signals
LED standards for traffic signals are varying in different countries, different specifications
dominate in USA, Japan,Europe etc. The differences are based largely on required visibility or
luminous intensity. A comparison of standards for LED traffic signals are reproduced in
Table 3.

TABLE 1 COMPARISON OF TRAFFIC SIGNAL REQUIREMENTS

ITE: ITE: Draft Japanese CIE(Commis CIE:


Vehicle VTCSH European Standard sion Review of
Traffic Part 2: Standard: April 1986 International the Official
Control LED Traffic e Recommen
Signal Vehicle Control d’Eclairage): dations for
Heads Traffic Equipmen Suggestions the Colors
April 1985 Signal t - Signal from Light of Signal
Modules Heads Signals for Lights
June 1998 January Traffic 1994
1998 Control
1980

Colour 0.998-x<=y 0.998-x<=y y=0.290 0.835- y=0.290 red y=0.300


boundar y<=0.308 y<=0.308 red 0.774x<=y y=0.980-x y=0.290
ies: Red y=0.980-x y<=0.335 purple y=0.980-x
purple y=0.320
y=0.320 yellow
yellow

Colour 0.411<=y< 0.411<=y< y=0.387 0.932- y=0.382 red y=x-0.151


boundar =0.452 =0.452 red 0.918x<=y y=0.790- y=x-0.206
ies: 0.995-x<=y 0.995-x<=y y=0.980-x 0.036+0.611 0.667x white y=0.980-x
Yellow white x<=y y=x-0.120
y=0.727x+ y<=0.109+0. green
0.054 65x
green

Color 0.506- 0.506- y=0.726- x<=0.214 y=0.726- y=0.726-


boundar 0.519<=y 0.519<=y 0.726x 0.214<=y 0.726x yellow 0.726x
ies: 0.150+1.06 0.150+1.06 yellow y<=0.499- x=0.625y x=0.625y-
Green 8x<=y 8x<=y x=0.625y- 0.474x white 0.041
y<=0.730-x y<=0.730- 0.041 y=0.390- y=0.500-
x[2] white 0.171x blue 0.500x
y=0.400
blue

Lumino Min=157 Min=133, PL1: Min=240[5] Min=200,


us (d=200 Max=800 Min=100, urban and
intensity mm) (d=200 Max1=400 daytime
(cd): Min=399 mm) , 50<=intensity

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Red (d=300 Min=339, Max2=110 <=100,
(in the mm)[1] Max=800 0[4] nighttime[6]
referenc (d=300 PL2:
e axis) mm)[3] Min=200,
Max1=800
,
Max2=200
0
PL3:
Min=400,
Max1=100
0,
Max2=250
0

Lumino Min=726 Min=617, same as Min=240[5] N/A


us (d=200 Max=3700 Red above
intensity mm) (d=200
(cd): Min=1848 mm)
Yellow (d=300 Min=1571,
(in the mm)[1] Max=3700
referenc (d=300
e axis) mm)[3]

Lumino Min=314 Min=267, same as Min=240[5] N/A


us (d=200 Max=1600 Red above
intensity mm) (d=200
(cd): Min=798 mm)
Green (d=300 Min=678,
(in the mm)[1] Max=1600
referenc (d=300
e axis) mm)[3]

Uniform Intensity at each of 44 test Min:Max> Min:Max>=1:


ity points shall not be lower =1:10 5
than 80% of required (type
values. No more than 8 E,W,M)
test points having values Min:Max>
less than 90% of required =1:15
values are allowed. (type
N)[7]

Size 200 mm, 200 mm, 200 mm, 250 mm, 200 mm, 300
300 mm 300 mm 300 mm 300 mm mm

Temper -40 to 74 C -40 to 74 C Class A: - -20 to 60 C


ature 0-100% 15 to 60 C 40-90%
humidity Class B: - humidity
25 to 55 C
Class C: -
40 to 40 C

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Notes
[1] The intensity value is the required value at the point where horizontal and vertical angles are
2.5 degrees from the reference axis. d indicates the diameter of the signal head.
[2] The measured chromaticity coordinates of LED signal modules shall be between 500 and 650
nm.
[3] The required intensity value of an LED signal is 85% of that of a corresponding incandescent
signal.
[4] Values are the required values in the reference axis. PL1, 2 and 3 indicate Performance Levels
1, 2 and 3. For the maximum intensity, Max1 is for Class 1 and Max2 is for Class 2.
[5] Values are the required values in the reference axis.
[6] Values are the required values in the reference axis. The nighttime condition excludes urban
areas with bright surroundings and high-speed rural roads.
[7] Type E: extra wide beam signal; Type W: wide beam signal; Type M: medium wide beam
signal; Type N: narrow beam signal.
Source
http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightingTransformation/led/LEDTrafficSignalComparison.
asp
It can be seen that the Indian standards stipulate a luminous intensity of 400 cd for red, 800 cd
for amber and 400 cd for green light on normal roads (for incandescent lamps), ITE standards
need a minimum luminous intensities of 339 cd, 1571 cd and 678 cd for red amber and green
respectively without mentioning the type of the road.
3.Data Collection
Traffic in the city of Surat is growing at a fast pace due to its divergent and flourishing business
activities like textiles, chemicals and dyes, diamond cutting etc. The traffic here is mixed in
composition; a higher percentage is comprised by motorized two wheelers and three wheelers. A
typical junction in Surat is shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1 A typical junction in Surat.

Data were collected for various intersections where the retrofitting with LED was done. Data
related to monthly power consumption and maintenance expenses were collected from Surat
Municipal Corporation.
The list of intersections and junction wise details of the retrofitting are shown in Table 2 and
typical views of LED aspects are shown in Figure 2.

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TABLE 2 LIST OF JUNCTIONS AND DETAILS OF
RETROFITTING

On cantilever height On normal height


Sl. Pedes- Pedes
No. Junction Name trian trian Total
Red Amber Green Red Amber Green Red green Aspects
1 Suryapur gate 6 6 10 22
2 Moti cinema 6 6 12 8 8 40
3 Bhagal 3 3 9 7 7 14 8 8 59
4 Chowk bazar 8 8 24 5 5 50
5 Athwa gate 6 6 12 24
6 Circuit house 2 2 4 6 6 13 6 6 45
7 Ambika niketan 2 2 4 6 6 12 9 9 50
8 Ram chowk 6 6 8 20
9 Elbee cinema 2 2 3 14 14 20 12 12 79
10 R.T.O 2 2 4 11 11 14 10 10 64
11 Majura gate 8 8 16 8 8 16 64
12 Timaliyad 12 12 24 14 14 76
13 Navsari bazaar 8 8 23 4 4 47
14 Kadiwala 3 3 9 14 14 26 14 14 97
15 Udhana darwaja 5 5 14 15 15 25 13 13 105
16 Kinnery cinema 3 3 6 8 8 10 9 9 56
17 Rushabh tower 2 2 6 14 14 28 15 15 96
18 Tarwadi 2 2 4 11 11 17 10 10 67
19 Ramnagar 2 2 6 8 8 24 10 10 70
20 Bhulka bhavan 2 2 4 7 7 11 10 10 53
21 Udipi 2 2 4 12 12 18 6 6 62
22 Daksheshwar 2 2 4 6 6 12 6 6 44
23 Dindoli 2 2 2 6
24 Sahara darwaja 3 3 6 10 10 18 10 10 70
25 Holiday inn jn. 2 2 4 10 10 22 8 8 66
Blinker aspects 123 123
47 47 107 221 344 415 187 187 1555

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Figure 2 Views of LED signal faces in Surat.
4. Evaluation of LED retrofit traffic signals
4.1 Cost savings
268 red signal faces, 391 amber signal faces and 522 green signal faces were replaced with
LED signals. In addition to this Pedestrian signal faces of 187 numbers each of red and green
were also retrofitted with LED signals. Considering
60 % , 35% and 5 % as the usage time of red , green and amber signal faces respectively ,
annual savings were calculated as shown in Table 4. Initially, the incandescent lamps were
having wattage of 100 each and the same was reduced to 10 for red and amber, 4 for green and
3 for pedestrian green and pedestrian red.
TABLE 3 ENERGY SAVINGS PER YEAR
Initial After LED
Signal Wattage Wattage wattage installation. Savings/yr
faces. Number (Incandescent) LED (kwhr.) (kwhr.) (kwhr.)
Red 268 100 10 127166 12717 114449
Amber 391 100 10 7136 714 6422
Green 522 100 4 66686 2667 64018
Pedestrian
Red 187 100 3 92144 2764 89380
Pedestrian
Green 187 100 3 23889 717 23173
Blinkers 123 100 10 53874 5387 48487
Total 370895 24966 345929

Figure 3 shows the possible savings for different signal faces as per the variation of unit cost of
electricity for 25 junctions.

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2500000

2000000
Annual savings in Rs.

1500000

1000000

500000

0
1 2 3 4 5
Cost of electricity (Rs/kwhr.)

Red Amber Green Pedestrian red Pedestrian green Blinkers Total

Figure 3 Annual savings for 25 junctions.

4.2 Possible savings


Possible savings were calculated on the basis of the details available from the study in Surat. It
was found that 17 % of signal faces are red, 23 % Amber, 31% green, 11 % each pedestrian red
and pedestrian green and 7 % blinkers. These figures were used for estimating the annual savings
for different number of intersections. Possible savings with an electricity charge of Rs 3/kw.hr.
for different number of intersections are shown in Figure 3

10
14000000

12000000

10000000
Annual savings

8000000

6000000

4000000

2000000

0
50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 550 600
Number of junctions

Red Amber Green Pedestrian red Pedestrian green Blinkers Total

Figure 4 Possible savings for signalised different intersection groups at Rs 3/kwhr


It can be seen from figure 3 that there can be a savings of Rs. 9.5 millions, at an electricity
rate of Rs 3 /kwhr, for a city having 500 signalised intersections if retrofitting with LED is
done

4.3 Evaluation of retrofitting signals with LED.


An evaluation of LED signals was done by extrapolating the actual power savings accrued for one
month due to the operation of LED signals. It was found that the retrofitting with LED has
resulted in 88 % savings in power consumption and 51 % savings in maintenance costs as shown
in Table 5. The retrofitting programme has an overall Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of 14 percent
for an analysis period of 7 years, substantiating the investment done by the Municipal Corporation.
It has to be noted that the economic IRR will be higher than this value. Sensitivity analysis was
done considering the two scenarios of 10 % increase in costs and 10 % reduction in benefits. It
was found that IRR with 10 % increase in cost is 9.55 %. IRR with 10 % reduction in benefits
was found to be 8.55%. The payback period was found to be 3.31 years.

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In addition to these, there are intangible benefits like benefits accrued from the non disruption of
traffic due to 100 % utilization of the system during the warranty period, reduction in accidents ,
savings in insurance sums etc. Also it has to be noted that with the research and development in
the field of LED , the price of LEDs are going further down in the coming years , which will
improve the economical viability of retrofitting with LEDs.
TABLE 4 ACTUAL COST SAVINGS
Parameters Unit With
With Led Incandescent Savings %
Source Bulbs In Rs Savings
Energy Expenses

Energy cost per Month Rs/Month 8,940 74,582 65,642

Energy cost Per Year Rs/Year 107,280 894,984 787,704 88


Maintenance Expenses

Maintenance cost per Month Rs/Month 33,000 67,235 34,235

Maintenance cost per Year Rs/Year 396,000 806,820 410,820 51

Total Expense Rs/Year 5,03,280 17,01,804

Net Savings Rs/Year 11,98,524 70

Payback Analysis

Total Initial Retrofit LED Investment 39,63,492

Payback Period Years 3.31

Life of LED Signal Years 7


Total Savings over the life of LED Rs 83,89,668

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4.4 Further use of retrofit LED in signals
Certain other details like the life span of LED signals need to be thoroughly evaluated as the
retrofitting with LED for traffic signals in India is in its initial stages. Data need to be collected in
the coming years, related to the performance of LED signals in the higher ambient temperature
prevalent in India. Various combinations of usage like use of LED aspects for red signal only etc
need to be analysed further. It is expected that use of LED retrofits are going to increase globally
as an energy efficient measure, which can also result in reasonable economical returns.
5. Conclusion
Over the past few years the use of LED retrofitting in traffic signals is growing phenomenally due
to its energy efficiency and durability. By taking into account technology explosion taking place in
the development of LED, it is expected that their efficiency will double in every two years and due
to this the number of LED in a signal can be brought down without affecting the intensity of light
output. Standards for LED signal heads are varying depending on the country. There is a need for
uniformity in the standards for LED signals, especially for colour, luminous intensity, luminous
intensity distribution.
The investment for retrofitting LED in traffic signals in Surat is estimated to have an IRR of 14 %
compared to the use of incandescent bulbs for an analysis period of 7 years. This is a conservative
value without considering many in tangible benefits and with the reduction in prices of LED in the
coming years the returns from retrofitting with LED will increase in future. It was found that the
power savings due to LED is 88 % and the savings in maintenance cost is 51 %. It is estimated that
in a city having 500 intersections approximately Rs.9.5 millions can be saved per annum, at a rate
of Rs. 3/ kw. hr. of electricity, by completely retrofitting signals with LED aspects. As an energy
efficient measure, it is suggested that the use of LED retrofit in traffic signals need to be
implemented in other cities also. At the same time, proper methods need to be ensured to
understand the performance of LED retrofitted signals on its optical performance and longevity in
the tropical climate prevalent in India.

References.
1. Burton, Roy (2003), Traffic Technology International Annual review 2003, pp 22-23.
2. IRC: 93-1985, Guide lines on design and installation of road traffic signals-. (1985). The
Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi.
3. IS 7537-1974 Indian standard specification for road traffic signals- Bureau of Indian
Standards
4. http://www.lrc.rpi.edu/programs/lightingTransformation/led/LEDTrafficSignalComparison.asp

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