Self De-Icing LED Traffic Signal Lighting System

Track Code: 

LED traffic signal system which melts snow and ice, preventing loss of visibility.


Traditional traffic signals lit by incandescent lamps are gradually being phased out in favor of more efficient LED traffic signals. LEDs are superior in terms of cost, maintenance, and power consumption. Their typical configuration projects very little heat, however, which allows snow and/or ice to accumulate in front of the lenses. The resulting loss of visibility creates extremely hazardous conditions to drivers and pedestrians. One attempted, but imperfect, solution to the snow/ice accumulation problem is to insert thermal wires on the lenses. The thermal wires consume even more power than the LEDs themselves, though, and compromise the visibility of the traffic signal. KU faculty have invented a novel LED traffic signal system which uses the heat already generated by the LED to effectively and efficiently solve this problem.

For more information about the technology, download the presentation showing how the system works and how it compares to what is currently available in the marketplace. download test results


The main use of the device is to replace incandescent-lit and "cool" LED traffic signals. It can be used in any climate, but is particularly suited for areas subject to snow and ice accumulation.

How it works: 

The device uses the heat already generated by the normal operation of the LEDs to warm the lens of the traffic signal through a heatsink. This, however, requires the LED to be reversed so that it faces away from the lens. A light collector and short fiber optic cables are used to direct the light forward through the heatsink to the lens. This arrangement can be optimized to provide the best possible combination of light intensity, visibility, and heat transfer.


This device provides the energy efficiency and reduced maintenance of LED technology while actively melting snow and deicing traffic signals for better visibility in winter weather. It can be used as a direct replacement of existing incandescent or LED lamps that consume more energy or are susceptible to snow and ice accumulation. Retrofitting these lamps should not require any changes to the existing traffic signal controller cabinet and can reduce maintenance costs of manual snow and ice removal.

Why it is better: 

Existing LED traffic signals typically fail to produce enough heat to prevent snow and ice accumulation without additional thermal wires or infrared heaters, which can increase power consumption and impair visibility. This technology increases visibility and provides a more efficient solution by using the heat already being generated in normal operation of the LEDs.

Other Applications: 

The device can be adapted to other surface transportation or outdoor lighting needs, including street lighting, railroad signals, airport runway lights, and seaport applications.

Licensing Associate: 
Michael Patterson, JD · · 785-864-6397
Hongyi Cai
Eric Fitzsimmons
Steven Schrock