Thumbs Up for LED Headlights on San Francisco’s Historic Cable Cars

Aug 23, 2018

Since 1873, the best lighting historic San Francisco Municipal Cable Cars had was dim incandescent headlights that did not do anything for illumination. They were merely bright enough to serve as an indicator that a cable car was coming.

After over 140 years, however, that finally changed with an upgrade inside and out to LED light bulbs from LEDtronics.

Arne Hansen, supervisor of maintenance at the San Francisco Municipal Cable Car Barn, said the first comment he got from an operator was “What a neat idea!”

With the installation of the LED headlights, he reported that visibility has gone up tremendously. And the company’s A19 style LED light bulbs were also installed inside the passenger cabins.

Those lights, along with the PAR46 LED headlights, are saving the city money on energy as well as maintenance-especially in the wintertime, when the lights are left on much longer.

“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.”

The old incandescent lights would quickly burn out, break from the constant vibrations and cause the batteries to drain much faster. Since switching to LEDtronics LEDs, those issues are a thing of the past. Hansen said they ordered LED lights for the entire fleet and that are all working without any problems.

Between those advantages and the increased visibility, “All the operators give it a thumbs-up, they all approved it, they all loved it,” Hansen noted.