Blinded By The Light
Want to guess the number one reason people install outdoor lighting? So they can see at night, of course. Improving nighttime visibility is what it’s all about. Did you know that often times the lights we install to help us to see at night actually hinder our ability to do so? It’s true. Sadly, improperly chosen outdoor lighting is almost the norm.
Many people choose an outdoor light fixture that’s “pretty” to look at in the daytime, with absolutely no consideration for how it will perform at night. The “pretty” brass & glass fixtures that are so common nowadays often shine more horizontally than down. This means that the majority of the light these fixtures put out is aimed right into your eyes. Think that’ll improve your visibility? Nope, not even a little.
What you’re experiencing, even if you don’t know it, is a form of light pollution known as glare. Glare is the result of an excessive contrast between bright and dark areas. Light shining into the eyes of drivers and pedestrians is glare. Glare is a particularly important issue in road safety, as poorly shielded lights along roadways may partially blind drivers or pedestrians and contribute to accidents.
Wow! The very lights we install to help us see can actually reduce our visibility if they’re not chosen wisely. I’ll come out on record and say it. Lighting manufacturers should not be allowed to sell these vision robbing glare bombs. They are dangerous and inefficient products that can be immediately replaced by better and more efficient designs already on the market.
Fortunately, there are a large and rapidly growing number of attractive, high quality outdoor lights for homes, businesses and communities. These don’t cost any more to purchase and often will be significantly cheaper to operate due to more efficient use of the light produced.
Many communities have begun requiring the use of exterior light fixtures that only shine light down. This significantly improves nighttime visibility while also dramatically improving the views of the night sky as an added bonus. Hopefully, these “night sky friendly” outdoor lighting ordinances will continue to spread. There might even be one under discussion in your community?