LED Lighting Upgrade


The City of Medford is upgrading all of our streetlights to LEDs!

Update: We completed a pilot in West Medford to display and gather feedback on the different light options; seeing them in person is often preferable to looking at images. Sample lights were installed in West Medford on High Street, Playstead Road, Warren Street and Irving Street.

The lights selected are the blue diamonds and the blue circles on the map below:

  • Cooper brand 74 W Fixtures – Playstead Rd between Usher Rd and Irving St
  • Cooper brand 24 W Fixtures – Irving St between Playstead Rd and Warren St
  • Medford Sq Post Tops – Craddock Bridge fixtures
map of the pilot area, shows roads, buildings and symbols for the pilot lights.
Click on this map of the pilot area to download a PDF that you can print.

All 4,500 streetlights owned by the City of Medford are being upgraded to LED lights through this project. This upgrade will reduce our energy usage, which will save the city money and help the environment. Medford is receiving funding for the project from the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and our utility provider, National Grid (NGrid).

Medford does not manage all the streets in Medford.  To find out which streets are managed by the city versus the state, refer to this map, on the Medford Bicycle Commission webpage.

This project is different from the municipal energy aggregation project which will help residents save money by reducing the cost of electricity. More information about that project can be found here.

How will it save the city money?

This upgrade will lower maintenance costs on the streetlights and reduce the amount of energy the streetlights consume each month.

Maintenance costs will be lower because Medford has bought our streetlights, where before we were renting them from National Grid. Medford no longer pays the rental and maintenance fees, saving the city approximately $30,000 each month. Medford now owns the LED lights, so we will only be paying for the electricity that they consume and approximately $3,000 a month for maintenance. Once they are converted to LED, we anticipate maintenance costs to also drop significantly.

Just purchasing the LED lights is saving the city approximately $300,000 each year.

LED streetlights use approximately 60% less electricity than standard streetlights, so once they are installed the city will save money by using less electricity.  We will also be reducing our carbon footprint because as of today, we still release carbon in the atmosphere when we produce electricity in Massachusetts. 

Why are LEDs better than the existing streetlights?

HPS streetlight near Medford Square – scheduled to be upgraded

LEDs are more energy efficient and require less maintenance than the current lighting system.  It is also easier to distinguish colors under LED light than under traditional streetlights.  Our current system uses high pressure sodium (HPS) lights, which have shorter lifespans and require more upkeep than LEDs.

LEDs last about 100,000 hours (20 years); HPSs last 20,000 to 24,000 hours (6 years). The longer lifespan means that the lights will need to be replaced less often. LED streetlights are about 60% more efficient than HPS lights, which means they use about 60% less electricity to produce the same amount of light.  Because of the better control of the light that is emitted from LEDs, it is easier to see colors and distance with LED lighting than with HPS.

There is a list of places where you can see the difference between HPS and LED lights at the bottom of the page.

When are we upgrading everything?

The project has already started, but it will take some time to complete. It should be finished by February 2019.

The current schedule of the project is as follows:

Project Stage Expected End Date
Streetlight Audit  Summer and Fall 2017
Data Reconciliation  December 2017-March 2018
Design for New Streetlights  Spring and Summer 2018
Installation  Fall and Winter 2018/2019

Medford has hired Tanko Lighting to audit the streetlights and design the upgrade. Tanko is also working with Everett, Malden, Somerville, and other neighboring towns on similar projects.

How much will it cost?

The total cost of the project will be approximately $1.93 million and Medford will pay approximately half the total cost of the upgrade. The rest of the money will come from MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and from National Grid.  As mentioned above, just buying the streetlights is saving the city $300,000 a year, once converted to LED, the city will save approximately another $250,000 a year in electricity costs.  Therefore, while the city’s share of the cost, $993,000, sounds like a lot of money, we will save almost that much in the first two years of operation.

DOER has awarded Medford two separate grants to fund this project, as well as some smaller projects. The city’s website has more information about the DOER grants here. National Grid will also provide incentives that will help pay for the upgrade costs.

What about other outdoor lighting?

Decorative streetlight near Medford Square – will be upgraded to match the lights on the Craddock Bridge

Street lights that are maintained by state agencies, like the MA Dept of Transportation and MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), are coincidentally receiving upgrades to LED lighting at the same time as the ones maintained by the city. The City of Medford is not behind these changes to state controlled street lights. The agency that maintains each street controls and pays for the lighting on that street, therefore those are outside the scope of this project.  You can see a map of which streets are managed by the City and which by other agencies on the Medford Bicycle Commission webpage here.

The City is having all the exterior lights in municipal parking lots and city parks audited as well.  Most of these lights will be upgraded to LED at the same time. 

What do these lights actually look like?

We’re replacing the current lights with 3000 Kelvin LEDs LEDs. This number indicates how warm (yellowish) the light seems. The current streetlights are approx. 2200 Kelvins, and produce a warm, yellowish light;  3000 Kelvin LEDs are recommended by the Dark Skies project and the American Medical Association.  Some areas, like shopping malls and highways tend to use a whiter light, rated 4000 Kelvin. Residents have indicated that they would prefer the warmer light in Medford.

To really get a sense of what these lights look like, you need to see them in person. See the top of the page for Medford’s pilot locations and this table has information on other locations in the region that you can see other color streetlights.

Where should I go What can I see there?
Intersection of Alewife Brook Parkway and Powder House Blvd in West Somerville HPS and 4000 Kelvin LEDs
Almost any streelight in Somerville 4000 Kelvin LEDs
New streetlights in Burlington MA 3000 Kelvin LEDs

Issues with the streetlights? 

If a streetlight is shining into your house, you should send Alicia Hunt, an email, ahunt@medford-ma.gov, with your address and as much information about the situation as you can; our consultant will investigate and make a recommendation.

IIf a light is flickering or blinking or flashing, you should send an email to, ahunt@medford-ma.gov, directly with the pole number and a close address, or as good a description of the location as you can provide.

If a light has been upgraded and is on all day as well as all night, you should send an email to, ahunt@medford-ma.gov, directly with the pole number and a close address, or as good a description of the location as you can provide.

If a light has been upgraded and is not on at night, the preferred action is to fill out the form at https://covielloelectricinc.com/reports/medford/ These repairs occur once a week, typically on Wednesdays.

Any other concerns and questions can be emailed to ahunt@medford-ma.gov.