Industry News

San Francisco’s Historic Cable Cars Get LEDtronic LED Lighting

The cable cars in San Francisco, California have been in operation for over 140 years. Since way back in 1873, only relatively dim incandescent headlights served as an indicator that a cable car was coming. LED lighting firm, LEDtronics changed that when the company’s LED lighting was used to upgrade the lighting for the historic cable cars.

Arne Hansen, the supervisor of maintenance at the San Francisco Municipal Cable Car Barn, reported that the first comment he got from an operator was “What a neat idea!”  The LED lighting installation increased the visibility of the cars tremendously. The San Francisco Municipal Cable Car Barn is a popular place for tourists in the city. Hansen noted that the museum is packed all day, and that they always welcome visitors.

The historic cable cars in San Francisco get LEDtronics LED lighting.

In addition to the headlights, A19 style LED light bulbs from LEDtronics were also installed inside the passenger cabins. According to LEDtronics, the A19 style bulbs along with the PAR46 LED headlights, saving the city money on energy and reduce the need for maintenance especially in the wintertime, when the seasonally shorter daylight hours translates to more time in operation for the lights.

“The biggest issue was the light on cold, wet, dark nights,” said Hansen. “We would change the batteries in the cars maybe 10 or 12 road calls in a night. We got these better batteries now that last much longer, but still, with the GPS system and the cameras, they were taking a drain on the batteries.”

Incandescents Burned Out and Broke from Vibrations

The old incandescent lights would quickly burn out, or could break from the constant vibrations. Even when they were working, they would drain the batteries quickly. However, since the city switched to using LEDtronics LEDs, those issues are a thing of the past. Hansen said they ordered LED lights for the entire fleet, and the LED lighting is working without any problems.

Hanson also said that between those advantages and the increased visibility of the cable cars, “All the operators give it a thumbs-up, they all approved it, they all loved it. The project was a complete success.”

Hansen indicated that he has been working with the Cable Car Barn for more than 30 years, and he says it is an ideal place to work. “The operators here are all happy going to work, because they have people that want to ride their cars and they’re on vacation,” he said. “It’s a good place to work, being it’s the only national moving historical monument in the world.”