Vincent Thomas Bridge: LED Lights and Solar Power
The Vincent Thomas Bridge is the third longest suspension bridge in the state of California. The bridge spans 6,050 feet in length, with a main suspension of 1,500 feet and additional 500 feet suspensions on each side.
A campaign began in 1988 to light the bridge, the official landmark to Los Angeles. Officials faced many challenges including funding, energy shortages, migrating birds and two nesting falcons getting in the way of stringing lights across the bridge. The advances in LED technology over the years eventually enabled an ideal solution. A Los Angeles-adjacent company, LEDtronics, was brought on to the project. They first met with the committee back in 1999 to demonstrate the capabilities of LED lighting.
After years of collaboration, LEDtronics developed a blue 360 degree beam LED lamp that was acceptable to all parties. Each fixture consumes only 19.5 Watts. A total of 160 fixtures light both sides of the bridge, 80 of these attached to the apex of the suspension cables and the other 80 fixtures located a the deck level.
LEDtronics also proposed implementing solar energy to accompany the LED technology. A 4.5 kilowatt solar panel system was installed which feeds more electricity into the grid during the day than the LED fixtures consume at night. The LED fixtures are operated from dusk to midnight, standing out beautifully amongst the amber colored lights in the Los Angeles Harbor. This bridge was the first ever to leverage solar power to pay for the cost of decorative lighting.