Frequently Asked Questions

As leaders in energy-efficient lighting we get asked many questions. We hope these FAQs will help answer municipalities’ most-asked questions about LED Streetlights and Smart Controls.


Massachusetts State Contract FAC100, Category 2:

Q. What is this contract and what LED product categories are included?

"LED Roadway and Outdoor Area Lighting" contains the following LED fixture types: roadway, post-top, floodlight and wall lighter.

Q. What are the advantages of buying LED streetlights through state contract?

Purchasing from FAC100 state contract offers a straightforward and economical path to procurement. Like any other state contract, it is "pre-bid", so the hard part is done. 

Q. Who initiated the concept of this state contract and why?

MAPC worked with OSD to create this state contract in 2012.  LED streetlights were becoming a great opportunity, yet it made no sense for each town and city to separately write up their own RFB.  

Q. Why is it better than the town going out to bid?

It is certainly much easier.  Plus, we have seen the results of stand-alone bids, and they have offered no advantage.  Purchases through state contract have cost less and saved more energy while achieving the same or better quality.   

Q. Is state contract procurement better than joint purchasing?

Municipalities might presume there are additional savings available from joining forces. However, this tends to delay the process.  The presumed volume savings are not likely to offset the energy savings lost during the delay.

Q. How does state contract compare with a "performance contract" approach?

This approach presumes a need for a separate layer of design and/or consulting.  The fee for that service can and should be seen as separate from procurement of product.  

Q. How does state contract compare with EMS group purchase through MAPC?

This approach is a hybrid of the above two concepts. Purchasing through state contract is much faster. Also, when we compared results, towns saved slightly more energy through state contract while reducing initial costs by over 20%.

Q. How much is the fee and where does it go?

Although you don't pay it, 1% of every procurement through state contract goes to MAPC.  Even with this fee built in, state contract pricing still nets out lower to the towns. 

How to purchase new streetlight technology is a tough decision.  But, even if you don't buy off state contract we can still be your supplier.  We have guided many communities through the process. Please call us today to ask more questions.


Smart Controls:

Q. Do we need to buy a new photo control for our LED fixtures?

Every streetlight needs a control, and for decades that has meant a dusk-to-dawn photocontrol. The basic "cap" can still be used in a new LED streetlight, but better would be a long-life version which comes close to matching the expected lifetime of the LED fixture.

Q. What's a smart control?

These are networked addressable units that can be programmed to do a lot more than just turn on at night and off in the morning. They can increase energy savings by dimming lights and/or reducing on-time.  Settings can be changed, and it can be done remotely.

Q. Should we install smart controls with our new LED streetlights?

Towns today should definitely consider smart controls. In fact, some Massachusetts towns have been installing them already in 2015.

Q. Do they save even more energy?

Yes, depending on settings, smart controls can boost total energy savings from about 63% (quality LED fixtures alone) up to over 80%. Once programmed, they will produce these additional energy savings immediately  by varying the electrical input over time.

Q. Does the municipality benefit monetarily from this additional energy savings?

Currently, utility tariffs do not have a mechanism for a varying load.  So, until the tariff changes, these additional energy savings will not translate to dollar savings for the town.  The consensus is that such tariff changes are not a question of "if", but rather of "when".  We anticipate New England to have smart-controls supported within a couple of years.

Q. What other benefits might such a system provide?

A wide variety of other applications may open up for the communication network; it is like the variety of applications for cell phones.  Such opportunities -- security/safety, flexibility, enhanced capabilities and future-proofing -- are some of the key selling points for smart control systems.  Others have stated: "Sensors transform fixtures into an applications platform."

Q. Are smart controls expensive?

The added cost for these units is significant, although they can be included as an accessory and purchased along with LED streetlights on State Contract FAC76 Category 6.

Q. If we'll want smart controls later, should we install them now?

Since new tariffs are hopefully coming soon, and the cost of labor need not be duplicated, putting these controls in at the same time that fixtures are installed can make a lot of sense.

Q. Can smart controls be added later?

We recommend that any new LED streetlight conversion be installed smart-control-ready.  New standards for the receptacle to accommodate smart controls have been accepted, and the incremental cost for that receptacle is minimal.  This way, the controls themselves can be purchased and installed later.

Q. Is there something in-between?

Yes, there are numerous control solutions available, from very smart to not-quite-as smart.  An example is a control that has a programmable schedule for on/off and dimming without a network.  A product can be selected to fit your needs.