Vintage Street Lights Remain In Falmouth

On the left is a
GENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - On the left is a "cobrahead" style streetlight that will be used in most areas of town. The LED light used in these is brighter and whiter than the LED lights that will be used in the "admiral hat" lights. On the right is one of the 188 vintage "admiral hat" style street lights that will be retrofitted with LED lights in September. These lights will be mainly along Route 28A and in Woods Hole.

Falmouth’s 1950s-era streetlights will remain perched atop their poles, but will be retrofitted with new LED bulbs as part of a recently modified agreement between the town and the Cape Light Compact (CLC).

After several meetings between town officials, CLC program manager Kevin F. Galligan and residents skeptical of switching to bright LEDS, the group agreed to changes to the agreement and selectmen signed off on them Monday night, July 21. The amended version preserves the last 188 “admiral hat”-style lights from being replaced with more industrial-looking lights and also satisfies the compact by using more energy-efficient lights.

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“We were able to come up with a near perfect solution,” said Catherine O. Bumpus of Woods Hole, who attended the meetings. She opposed the streetlight conversion stating it is a question of cost versus aesthetics. She said the cobrahead fixtures are not shielded very well on the side and in general are too bright.

Cape Light Compact finished up last month converting 2,400 cobrahead streetlight fixtures around town to brighter LED lighting. All that remained was converting the admiral hats, which are located mainly in historic sections.

The town entered a contractual agreement with Cape Light Compact in June 2013 for the conversion.

The few admiral hats left in the Falmouth’s Village Green will be replaced with the cobraheads. 

“We want the busiest commercial areas to be lit with higher levels of illumination that the cobraheads provide for public safety,” town manager Julian M. Suso said. Areas predominately illuminated with admiral hats will be along Route 28A and around Woods Hole. A few will be put aside and used as replacements when needed.

During Monday night’s selectmen meeting, board member Susan L. Moran asked about the cost savings under the new proposal compared with the original contract.

“The admiral hats will require a little more maintenance, but will be offset by a higher energy savings,” Mr. Galligan said.

That energy savings to the town is about $120,000 a year.

He said the CLC will install a new long-life photocell and replace some wiring in the admiral heads to extend their life. “They are rugged, but we think we can extend their life by another 10 years. It’s a good resolution in the end,” Mr. Galligan said.

The LED bulbs in the admiral hats will be softer and a bit warmer in hue than the cobrahead lights. The latter have 2,300 lumens and measure 4,000 on the Kelvin scale compared with the new LED bulbs, which register 2,700 kelvin and have 1,100 lumens. The higher the Kelvin value, the more visible light reflects back to the driver, increasing visibility at night. The town formerly used CFL bulbs in most of its streetlights.

The new LEDs are on order and should be in next week. Mr. Galligan said the retrofitting will most likely resume after Labor Day. 

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  • 4303

    We have the new bright 'cobrahead' lights here in North Falmouth now. Yes indeed, they are brighter, but sadly not properly shielded to keep the light from shining horizontally. If a LED flashlight can be shielded so that the light goes ahead and not sideways, why cannot this be done with streetlights? Can a better shield be retrofitted onto these new lights so that they don't shine sideways? We have 2 within sight of our house, and luckily they are not directly shining into our windows, but on other streets, they certainly are annoying. Looking forward to other comments to see if anybody else has noticed this with the new lights.