Mid-Continent Railway Museum is happy to announce a project to upgrade much of the museum property to high-efficiency LED lighting is now complete. This project was fully funded by donated funds given specifically for this purpose and as a result.
Upgrading to LED lighting has been discussed for some time, but large upfront upgrade costs had always presented a significant roadblock. However, upon the completion of the new Laurence Dorcy Building (a.k.a. Coach Shed #2) in September 2019 which featured LED fixtures exclusively, the bright illumination of the new building made it immediately obvious just how much the museum’s other buildings could be improved by LED lighting. This served as a springboard to launch LED lighting upgrades as a priority and helped catch the attention of a major donor offering to cover the upgrade costs.
The installation of the new fixtures began in June 2020. Service Electric of Reedsburg was selected as the contractor and was hired to install LED lighting in the museum’s Machine Shop, Engine House, Car Shop, and Coach Shed #1, representing a total of 30,000 square feet, plus several outdoor security lights. This in addition to smaller LED upgrade projects already completed in the depot basement, office building basement, and the new lighting along the passenger loading platform means that the vast majority of the museum property is now making use using high-efficiency LED lighting.
The energy cost savings from these upgrades are expected to be sizable when the museum resumes full operation from the COVID-19 pandemic. Improved light levels and energy cost savings are not the only benefits though. The upgrades will also reduce fire hazard by replacing the various mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide lights. Those technologies use bulbs that heat gasses to extremely high temperatures that pose a risk to any flammable materials below (like wooden train cars) in the event of bulb failure. That risk is mostly eliminated by LEDs that operate at much cooler temperatures.
With the upgrade project now complete, once the museum reopens to the public, visitors will get to enjoy the exhibits within Coach Shed #1 in a new light. Be sure to monitor the Mid-Continent website for the most up-to-date information about the pandemic closure.