Cost about 50% less than the previous versionLighting isn't always the sexiest topic, but it's important. Every city has zillions of not only municipal street lights, but also commercial area lights that keep stores and parking lots lit up all night, mostly for security reason. It is estimated that the U.S. alone has 54 million of those floodlights, and most are high-intensity discharge lamps (HID lamps).
HID lamps are relatively efficient when compared to incandescents, but they get crushed by good LEDs housed in well-designed enclosures. That's exactly what Cree seems to have done with its new OSQ line of area lights. They claim that they provide up to 70% energy savings compared to HID lamps, and they are 50% cheaper than Cree's previous line of LED area lights (I couldn't find an exact price, probably because they just came out and aren't listed yet, but Cree says that payback from savings is only 2 years).
Energy efficiency is an impressive 100 lumens-watt and the LEDs are rated for 100,000 hours of operations with a 10-year warranty. They're even available in 3000K, 4000K and 5700K color temperatures and three different input powers (112W, 168W, 223W). Light quality is also pretty impressive, with a CRI that varies between 70 and 80 depending on the model. This compares well to HID light, which is almost monochrome and can hide lots of details.
Some of you might say: Well, all those lights are turned on at night, off peak. Replacing them won't change that much. Seems like a fair point, but I don't think it's quite correct. A lot of these lights can be turned on during peak demand time during wintertime, when darkness falls earlier. But even at night, all the power that is currently used in wasteful lamps could still has to come from somewhere, so reducing usage could lead to some power plants shutting down, at least at night, or it could be better used somewhere else, like to charge electric cars.