You may have noticed the dark purple-coloured street lights in Portage. While you may have wondered if that was an intentional effort, Manitoba Hydro stresses it's a defect. 

Manitoba Hydro media relations officer Bruce Owen explains it's actually part of a huge problem everywhere that LED lights have been used outdoors.

"We first detected the problem in March 2020," notes Owen. "What's happening is there's a yellow phosphor coating on the light or the lamp, which gives it its white hue. These are LED lights we're talking about now. When that phosphor coating comes off or delaminates, that creates the purplish colour that people are noticing where the LED lights are installed."

Owen stresses the lights were not intended to emit the purple hue. 

"There's a manufacturing defect," continues Owen. "The manufacturer is replacing the parts as they become available. We are replacing the lamps, too. In some areas where we know there's been a number of these lights turning purple, we will go into the entire area and do the entire area to switch out all those lights. The last thing we want is to have purple lights. We maybe have half a dozen. We switch out them, and then three months later, we're back switching out even more lamps in the same area. So we're trying to do larger areas all at once, so we don't have to go back."

lightsSet of lights with a normal lamp and a defective LED lamp

He explains the problem has arisen across the entire province.  

"There are approximately 130,000 LED lights in Manitoba," adds Owen. "Most are in Winnipeg. But where this particular kind of LED light is installed, we're experiencing these problems. We're trying to be a little bit proactive on this. Our experience has shown, when we've done, say half a dozen in the neighbourhood, we've had to go back and switch out even more because they've turned purple, too, at a later time. As parts and people are available to do the work, we're going into entire neighbourhoods to switch them out, so we don't have to go back."

He notes the lights are not a safety issue. 

"Certainly, they're noticeable," says Owen, "But our focus is on the lights that are burned out completely. That's a priority for pedestrian and vehicle safety. So, those take priority above the purple lights."

Owen adds there are similar cases all over the USA and Europe, as well.

Portage la Prairie at nightPortage la Prairie at night