Ask Us: Where did the purple street lights come from?

Published 12:00 pm Monday, July 25, 2022

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to

SALISBURY — A reader sent in a question about the noticeable change in color of Salisbury street lights within the last couple of weeks. The purple bulbs that can be found in select fixtures at random because of the change to energy efficient LED lights. But, because of a manufacturing error, the laminate that filters the color on a small percentage of these bulbs has chipped away.

Duke Energy maintains 900,000 lights across North and South Carolina. Close to 400,000 of those lights have been changed to LED bulbs with less than 1% being defective out of the manufacturer’s lot. The LEDs last up to 20 years, provide clean light and use less energy than sodium bulbs. The change to these lights has been a process over the last several years.

According to Jeff Brooks, a media representative of Duke Energy, the bulbs with chipped laminate are still safe and emit the same amount of light. Crews survey for purple bulbs, but the public can report ones they see by going to Duke Energy’s website or using the company’s phone application, both under “street light repair.”

Each LED bulb is rated at 4,000 kelvin while sodium and amber bulbs are around 2,200. The higher degree causes the new bulbs to emit a white-colored light instead of an orange hue. Another reason to switch out the fixtures was because the previous one were becoming out of their service date.

“Duke Energy is keeping up with progressiveness of technology with LED lights,” Brooks said. “This way, it is also easier to keep up with maintenance.”

There was no estimate given when all the defective bulbs will all be switched, but Duke Energy encourages people to report any they see.