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400w Mercury sCobrahead

400w Mercury sCobrahead

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Ive mentioned a few times on here that my city still uses 400w mercury vapor for about 95% of its streetlighting. This is primarily due to the fact that the city owns the streetlights and not the utility. Pictured here is the most common model in service, I have no idea what brand makes these or how old they are, if somebody knows please comment. This particular one is on the street in front of my house, its dim and greened out as is most of the others in the area

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Filename:20170929_114116.jpg
Album name:BlueHalide / New album
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Date added:Sep 29, 2017
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Date Time:2017:09:29 11:41:16
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Silverliner
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Sep 29, 2017 at 12:54 PM Author: Silverliner
That's a GE M250A. It can't be 400w, has to be 100w-250w. The M400A carries 400w lamps.

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Sep 29, 2017 at 05:29 PM Author: streetlight98
Yep, M-250A and it was never made in 400W... the M-400A is essentially a larger clone of this light though. I see this one has a 60s Ripley photocell on it. Likely the original PC on this light!

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Sep 29, 2017 at 08:34 PM Author: BlueHalide
Thanks for the info, It very well could be 250w, nearly all of the streetlights around here are so dimmed out its hard to tell what wattage they are. There are a few other types of mercury cobraheads around that look older or even more retro than this one, ill get some pics next time I pass one. From what I heard talking to linemen in the area the city installed most of these lights in the 50's and 60's and hasnt touched them since, just spot relamping ones that totally stop working...and from what ive seen living here 3 years now, that is completely true. The municipality spends literally no money on public lighting upkeep.
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Sep 29, 2017 at 09:31 PM Author: Silverliner
Would have to be 1960s, the GE M250A above wasn't introduced until around 1966-67.

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Sep 30, 2017 at 04:03 PM Author: streetlight98
What city and state is this in? I'd love to do some Google Streetview explorations. Looks like 175 or 250W MV judging the size of the lamp through the glass and yeah this would be aged 1966 to 1970 since after 1970 Ripley switched to the shorter photocell covers, unless they were cheap enough to transfer a used PC onto this light when it was installed...

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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Oct 30, 2017 at 05:13 PM Author: BlueHalide
Sterling, Illinois. You could view practically any street in the area and find these lanterns or similar 95% of the time. Regarding the re-using of old photocells, I wouldnt put it past them. The other 5% of streetlighting is a mix of HPS and cheaper LED fixtures, there are also a few of these older 60's cobraheads with metal halide lamps installed, I know the ballasts are still the original MV as the MH flicker for several minutes before firing up. There are also a few cobraheads around with the corn-cob LED lamps put in them, as well as at least one with a large 65w/85w 6500K CFL crammed in it. The municipality couldnt care less about aesthetics or uniformity of roadway lighting as it looks awful, its clear they are only concerned with the cheapest possible solution to get some light on the road when people complain about failed streetlights.
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Oct 30, 2017 at 06:43 PM Author: streetlight98
I was looking through some of the streets and saw a few newer spot replacements with 175W MV NEMA tags. Kinda cool to see MV fixtures that recent. That M-250R2 I linked above is from ~2004 or later, which is pretty late for a MV.

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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Oct 30, 2017 at 07:03 PM Author: wattMaster
My MV cobrahead is from 2007, which means they were made until the bitter end.

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Oct 30, 2017 at 09:24 PM Author: BlueHalide
Interesting, at some point they mustve been trying to remain uniform with the mercury lighting color on the residential streets considering that newer MV cobrahead. The main roads like IL Rte 2 and IL Rte 40 are the worst for mixing the older dimmed out MV, HPS, and LED, every third streetlight is literally a completely different color and intensity. Also, they arent consistent with using DX or clear mercury lamps, as theres a good mix.
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Oct 30, 2017 at 11:03 PM Author: nicksfans
In my area, Duke Energy was replacing old MV fixtures with new ones (AEL 115 and 125) right up until the ban, and if you wanted one, you could rent one from them as a private area light, even for a new installation. I was born in '96 and I remember new MV lights being installed. It's kinda weird to see an AEL 115 FCO with a clear 175W MV lamp, but they exist in my area if you look hard enough. There are also recent (think early 2000s) subdivisions near me that are lit with 175W MV post tops, many still running clear lamps. Not long after the ban, Duke switched to /DX for relamping, and as of a couple years ago, MV lights are no longer serviced and are replaced with LED when they stop working. Between the MV ban and the LED streetlight boom, they replaced failed (dead ballast) MV lights with HPS units, leading to a mismatched look. A handful got replaced with PSMH instead, but I think that was only an experiment because those are few and far between. However, to this day, Duke still services HPS fixtures and replaces them with new HPS fixtures when the old ones fail.

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Oct 31, 2017 at 12:41 AM Author: joseph_125
When Toronto replaced their incandescent gumballs with PSMH gumballs in the 90s they originally used 3000K lamps to better match the old incandescent lamps. Over the years, they got sloppy with colour matching and started using 4000K lamps instead.
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Oct 31, 2017 at 10:34 AM Author: BlueHalide
There is one modern (2000 or later) FCO cobrahead with a clear MV lamp installed I know of, I always just assumed it was a lamp misapplication as all FCO streetlights ive seen have been HPS, but it could very well be actually MV now that youve mentioned that.

Here, the municipality owns all the public lighting, and is maintained by it's public works department. The utility here ComEd (Commonwealth Edison) does nothing with lighting whatsoever, from my understanding they dont even rent out the area lights anymore to rural customers. When I lived in Milwaukee, WI (1990-2007) the utility owned the public lighting and maintained it, and it was obvious. Everything was HPS, all the fixtures were always in working order and very well maintained, all the roadways and city landscape was uniform in color and intensity, Growing up I honestly cant remember seeing a single mercury vapor fixture that wasn't privately owned, all public lighting was HPS.
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Nov 01, 2017 at 03:19 PM Author: streetlight98
In the 1980s the electric company here used tons of FCO M-250A2s with dual-wattage 100/175W MV ballasts. The ballasts are all 240V and the fixtures were wired with 120V PCs, so each fixture got two hots plus a neutral. It's definitely interesting to see FCO MV fixtures. Can't beat the soft glow though. There's nothing less glary than a FCO MV fixture with a phosphor-coated lamp.

The last MV installations here were in the early 90s. By ~1992 they were done installing MVs here except for a small utility called Newport Electric, which installed MV until the current utility National Grid took over around 2000. Once NGrid took over, all MV installations stopped as did all MV relamping, except for 100W MVs, which were relamped until around 2014. This was because there were a lot more 100W MVs here than any other wattage by the 2000s. Most other wattages were depleted in the early 90s by HPS. NGrid will not relamp any MVs now but they will replace a photocell on a dayburner or replace a broken refractor as long as the lamp isn't too dimmed out. Otherwise they will let the fixture run til it dies. They won't replace a dim fixture until either someone reports it or it stops working entirely so there are many pathetically dim MV lights around that are still working perfect since their installation in the 60s.

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Nov 01, 2017 at 05:09 PM Author: wattMaster
Why use a 240v ballast with 120v photocontrol when you could just use a 240v photocell?

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Nov 01, 2017 at 05:37 PM Author: streetlight98
That's the mystery of the 20th century. The best guess I can come up with is for surge protection. The photocells have surge protection inside, which sends the surge to the common leg (neutral for 120V or 277V and the second hot for 208 or 240V). Having the lights wired for 240V with a 120V PC socket would mean the neutral only goes to the PC socket and not the lamp or ballast, which would mean the surge would be sent on an isolated path away from the fixture. Not sure if that's the actual reasoning behind it but it's a best that other lighting enthusiasts in the area could come up with. By the end of the 80s they started using 120V fixtures and all HPS lights are 120V here.

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Nov 01, 2017 at 08:49 PM Author: BlueHalide
It seems to be the case that utility-owned streetlights are on average better maintained and every time a newer, more efficient technology comes about, the utility is quick to rapidly replace the existing lighting for the new type. My father vaguely remembers right before I was born (1990) all of the Milwaukee area streetlighting "going to orange" rather quickly over a couple years in the late 80's, my guess that it was likely MV previously, but he does remember the rapid shift to HPS during those couple years.

Upon moving to Sterling, IL I was curious as to why the area didnt follow suite with the mass HPS shift that occurred over two decades earlier in other cities. I never really got an answer to that, other than that the city owned the streetlighting. Literally 90% of the old mercury cobraheads like the one in the pic above are so pathetically dim now, they might as well not even be on. Some are dim to the point where there is no shadow cast on the street below when I put my hand out underneath it, the lighting from adjacent houses and buildings lights the streets better. I like mercury vapor, but the city is wasting an exorbitant amount of power with all these un-maintained lights
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Nov 03, 2017 at 05:43 PM Author: streetlight98
Yeah mv lighting is great but only when the lamps are properly maintained. Honestly that's whybid rather see mv lamps burn out automatically after 24000 hours since most places will leave the lamps until they burn out like you've noticed.

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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Nov 03, 2017 at 05:47 PM Author: nicksfans
I know what you mean. I can think of one particular 100W NEMA near me that has been completely useless for at least a decade, and probably almost useless since it was installed. It's mounted pretty high up and has an extremely dim clear lamp. It does a great job consuming power and not much else.

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Nov 03, 2017 at 06:34 PM Author: streetlight98
Same is true about most of the MVs left here. There are a handful of 100W MVs here that are still decently bright since they were relamped not long before they ceased 100W MV relamps in 2014 but most are dim, with a good number being "useless" (moonlight outshines them). All the remaining 175, 400, and 1000W MVs here have not been relamped since the 90s so they're all dimmed out to at least 50% below initial output and aren't "useless" in their own right, but are not nearly as bright as they should be. Of course, unless they burn out completely or are reported, they will not be replaced. IMO, at this point in the game utilities with remaining MV lights should just start relamping them again since LEDs will probably be taking over most street lighting within the next decade, so there is no point in replacing remaining MVs with HPS in my opinion. Yet it's been happening all the time here. NGrid has been continuing to install new HPS fixtures and then months later the municipality buys ownership rights to the lights in their borders and slaps up LEDs, trashing the brand-new HPS lights when they could have left the ages-old MV fixtures for just a few more months and not wasted a new fixture.

Please check out my newly-updated website! McCann Lighting Company is where my street light collection is displayed in detail.

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