Reacting to complaints about the brightness, harshness and appearance of its LED streetlights, Durham-based Cree is rolling out new devices that it says will provide a “warm color.” They can even be dimmed.

“Cree’s RSW LED Street Luminaire is part of a new family of street lights that address brightness and glare concerns for cities across the country,” Sean Harris, a product portfolio manager at Cree, told WRAL TechWire.

“Cities and municipalities originally adopted LED lighting that utilized mostly cool white technology to help achieve an attractive [return on investment]. Now, with Cree WaveMax Technology, customers have the opportunity to utilize warm color temperatures for their street lighting needs.

“Cree’s RSW Series enhances the lighting experience with visual comfort, reduced glare and high color contrast. It provides the warm, inviting dark sky friendly lighting that makes good economic sense.”

Just last week, residents of some Raleigh historic neighborhoods complained to the city about the brightness and harshness of LED streetlights that are being installed. Raleigh is putting in 30,000 LED replacements. Cree and other LED manufacturers insist that LED lights use less energy and last longer than conventional lighting.

Despite the advantages and the power of LEDs as Cree has demonstrated on a new span of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and the 2015 Super Bowl, Cree has faced challenges of acceptance for the sharpness of LED lighting on streets.

Thus today’s announcement: “Cree Reinvents the LED Residential Streetlight with New RSW Series,” offering “better light at warm color temperatures.”

“Cree continues to prove its commitment to LED technology innovation that focuses on delivering a better light experience, without compromising on quality, and the RSW is a great example,” Harris explained.

“Better light changes everything, and it’s a fact that LED lighting can completely change the environment.”

Cree is a global leader in development of LED lighting technology, from stadiums to living rooms. And it responded with a research-and-development effort to adjust how its LEDs illuminate streets after hearing calls for warmer, softer fixtures.

“Cree’s RSW LED Street Luminaire has been in development for roughly a year. It was conceptualized and designed specifically to address these community concerns,” Harris says. “By using Cree’s proprietary WaveMax Technology, we are able to create a street light that produces less glare and warmer color light with market leading color quality and efficacy.”

Asked if the lights can be adjusted after installation, Harris says they can indeed.

“If needed, Cree’s RS LED Street Luminaire does have an adjustability option that allows for the light output and energy usage to be tuned to match the needs of the community,” he explained.

“The dimming capability allows control and programming throughout the evening depending on individual community needs, lowering to a desired lower light output. With occupancy sensing, the lights can be turned on instantly when it senses movement, and dim to a lower output after a certain amount of time.”

The new lights also were redesigned to better fit with traditional fixtures as seen on light poles.

“Cree’s RSW LED Street Luminaire has a traditional “cobrahead” styled housing and is designed to mount to existing arms and poles,” Harris noted.

In response to a question, he also noted that the new lights are similar in costs to previous versions. .

“The RSW is priced to align with the existing LED light fixtures that are currently on the market, while delivering even better light experiences,” Harris said.

How did Cree make LED warmer?

Cree engineers have long sought to give LED bulbs and other lighting a “warmer” feel to resemble that of soft-light and other traditional lighting. They faced a similar challenge with the street lights not only in warmness but also in reducing glare.

So how did they do it?

“Cree’s RSW LED Street Luminaire utilizes Cree’s WaveMax Technology to extract the light from a series of non-phosphor coated, color mixing LEDS,” Harris explained.

“In other words, we are able to mix the colors of our LEDs to get the desired, warmer color; and extract the light out of the fixture using our new lenses to deliver it to the application as needed.”

He thus described the new lights as the “first viable warm” street light that “delivers superior efficacy.”

“The result,” Harris added, “is enhanced visual comfort, reduced glare and higher quality street lighting for residential areas using less energy.”

In the product announcement, Cree’s Norbert Hiller, who is the executive vice president for lighting, said the new street light “ensures residents will no longer have to live with the glare of street lights in their homes at night, saving municipalities time and energy while reducing resources allocated to managing residential complaints about harsh street lighting.”

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