Where the Northwest
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Good-bye glare bombs. Hello stars and sidewalks.

Created 1/25/2016 by James White
Updated 3/19/2019 by James White
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The photo below shows two different porch lights that were made by modifying conventional light fixtures. Both have zero up-light, built-in LED, motion sensing and photocells.  The fixture on the right also has step-dimming capabilities so that at night it dims down to a low level to still illuminate the porch all night, but comes up to full brightness whenever motion is detected.  These lights save energy and help preserve the beautiful night sky.
Dark Sky Porch Lights

In the photos below, one outdoor light is dark sky compliant, the other is not.  The dark  sky friendly light would cost less to make and use less material than the original glare bomb.  The dark sky friendly light was made by simply removing two screws that hold the glass diffusers and metal housing on the original.  The modified light puts out more light and dramatically reduces light pollution because all of the light is directed down, and like the original, only comes on at night when motion has been detected.
Modiified LED Outdoor Light

Original LED Light

Look around at night and you can find all kinds of examples of bad outdoor lighting.  We have the power to change this.  Doing it right will not only save a tremendous amount of energy, it will reduce glare and recapture our view of the night sky.  Nearly ALL exterior lighting is going to be converted to LED over the next several years.  This is the perfect opportunity for the Pacific Northwest to make sure that a majority of outdoor lighting gets done correctly.  

Good outdoor lighting design starts with minimizing the BUG rating (Back-light, Up-light and Glare) of each fixture.

 1.) Minimize Back-light - Shine the light only where you need it.  Unwanted light shining in your or your neighbor’s window, especially point-source LED lighting, can be extremely annoying.

 2.) Minimize Up-light - Stop killing the night sky.  Except for possibly flag lights, there is no reason to shine lights up into the night sky.  It wastes energy and destroys our ability to see the incredible universe that surrounds us.

 3.) No Glare bombs! -  Our eyes constrict to the brightest point source of light.  It then takes more light to see the same amount of detail.  An ideal lighting design will illuminate the things we want to see without us seeing the source of that light.

 Adding step-dimming and motion sensor control will save even more energy AND IMPROVE SECURITY. Keeping light levels at a lower level unless motion is detected will not only do a better job of deterring thieves; it will greatly increase the life of the LED light fixture.

 The question I have is, "Are we going to do this right or are we going to let this opportunity pass us by?"
From what I have seen so far, we are not doing the right thing and are letting this wonderful opportunity pass us by.




For more information check out the Dark-Sky Association, http://darksky.org/

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Comments (3)
James White on 02/04/16 on 11:49 AM (Pacific Time)

Here's an article that gives some important design considerations that should be included when retrofitting street and area lights with LED.


IDA recommends several approaches in choosing and installing LED lighting that enhances public safety, reduces light pollution and creates a healthier environment for urban wildlife. They include:

1. Limiting the color temperature of LED lighting to no more than 3000 Kelvins

2. Fully shielding all new fixtures and ensuring they’re installed correctly, so the light is on the ground where it is needed

3. Installing dimmers, timers and other adaptive controls that limit the intensity of the lighting and the number of hours it’s on

James White on 02/04/16 on 01:32 PM (Pacific Time)

LED Street Lighting Project Gone Bad (Then Good $350K)

City of Davis learned a valuable lesson with LED street lights.


Jack Weaver on 02/05/16 on 05:07 AM (Pacific Time)
Thanks James...those articles where great!