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  • LED lighting: a warm glow?

    Many local councils across the world are switching to LED lighting. This new lighting technology can cut energy bills by up to 80% and significantly reduce CO2 emissions (1). Other benefits include smart lighting control to allow remote dimming and monitoring; long life expectancy: 20 to 25 years for LED compared with 3 - 6 years for conventional lighting, and reduced maintenance costs with fewer lamp renewals and less scouting and physical monitoring. Whereas traditional street lighting can spill up to 30% of light upwards, causing orange glow in the night sky, LED's are better directed and should reduce light pollution (2).

    However some commentators are now reporting that while the environmental impacts have been widely welcomed, the visual impact has not been considered to the same extent. The very bright LED lights in use on trunk roads in Britain can cause driver fatigue; whilst the harsh white LED light which often replaces a much warmer and softer traditional street light source has been likened (in Rome) with replacing a candle lit dinner with the appearance of the cold food aisle at the supermarket. (3)

    Surely this need not be the case? LED street lighting is clearer than traditional light sources as it covers more of the visible spectrum, so perhaps there is a strong case for reducing its intensity. Furthermore, perhaps there is scope to soften its appearance: household LED light bulbs started life as cold white lights but these quickly proved unpopular and alternative 'soft' or 'warm glow' lights are now freely available. Perhaps the street lighting industry could look at options to warm up their LED lighting to make it attractive as well as energy efficient.

    Jerry Spencer

    [email protected]

    1. Low energy streetlighting: making the switch A market report by the UK Green Investment Bank February 2014

    2: Institution of Lighting Professionals




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