Streetlight bulb failures leave part of Gig Harbor in the dark
In 2017, the city of Gig Harbor installed LED bulbs in each of its 1,200 streetlights, replacing old metal halide bulbs. The upgrade cost about $300 per bulb.
The change reduced energy consumption and saved the city money on its power bills. It also reduced the amount of time the public works staff spent replacing burnt-out bulbs.
But about 10 percent of the LED bulbs (the city calls the bulbs “lamps”) failed in the six years since installation. The city did not expect that on bulbs with a 10-year warranty.
The warranty requires the city to send every failed bulb back to the factory for repair, which causes a significant delay for city crews to get the lights back on.
The city doesn’t keep a large supply of replacement bulbs on hand, according to Public Works Director Jeff Langhelm.
“At any one time, we have from 50-80 lights burnt out, so we would need that many spare bulbs to replace (them),” Langhelm said.
The city is waiting to get refurbished bulbs from the vendor so crews can re-install them in the streetlights. The manufacturer takes 4 to 6 weeks to repair the bulbs and return them to the city, according to Langhem.
Until then, all those bulb-less streetlights will be dark. At the moment, some lights are out on Borgen Boulevard, Harbor Hill Drive and McCormick Creek Drive.
The city is exploring legal options to require the LED vendor to improve its warranty process, Mayor Tracie Markley said in a recent city newsletter.