Certifications exist to denote a luminaire’s safety standards, operating conditions, and even energy efficiency. One certification, Dark Sky Friendly, determines if outdoor lights can provide light without contributing to light pollution.
What is light pollution?
According to the International Dark-Sky Association, or IDA, light pollution “is the inappropriate or excessive use of artificial light.” Light pollution involves multiple elements:
- Glare- Strong or dazzling light that interferes with vision.
- Light Trespass- Unwanted illumination. Think of the streetlight or your neighbor's floodlight spilling through your blinds or curtains.
- Skyglow- A brightened night sky, typically seen over cities.
- Clutter- Excessive groups of light.
Skyglow over Vancouver, B.C.
What is Dark Sky Friendly lighting?
A third-party certification from the IDA, Dark Sky Friendly Lighting states whether an outdoor light provides illumination with minimal glare, light trespass, and light pollution. Dark Sky Friendly “products approved in the program are required to be fully shielded and to minimize the amount of blue light in the nighttime environment,” per the IDA. Some examples of compliant light fixtures include full cutoff wall packs, area lights, post top lights, and decorative wall lights.
Why should I use Dark Sky Friendly lights?
Dark Sky Friendly fixtures direct light where necessary and prevent it from escaping and polluting the sky. This influences several factors:
Energy consumption and waste always presents a problem with electricity and lighting. According to the IDA, roughly 30% of outdoor lights in the U.S. go to waste, resulting in an excess of $3 billion spent annually. Dark Sky Friendly luminaires used in proper lighting design leads to less energy and money expenses.
The day and night cycle strongly regulates human behavior. Blue light has been shown to alter our circadian rhythm. Blue light exposure at night can suppress melatonin levels, making it difficult to sleep. Whether the blue light comes from a screen or light trespass, poor sleep results in negative health effects.
Not only does light pollution hamper our view of the sky, but it also disrupts wildlife as well. Light pollution disorients animals, including turtle hatchlings and migratory birds. Using Dark Sky Friendly lights helps protect animal populations by preserving natural night lights that guide essential animal behaviors.
How can I help reduce light pollution?
People can do their part to help reduce light pollution by:
- Purchasing Dark Sky Friendly light fixtures which shield light from the sky while providing valuable illumination.
- For existing outdoor fixtures, purchasing shields. These protect and project exposed lights from escaping the sides of the fixture and up to the sky.
- Installing motion sensors to automatically turn lights on or off when not needed.
- Using warm color temperature lights. The IDA recommends color temperatures between 2000K and 3000K since higher temperatures emit more blue light which brightens the sky more than other colors.
By doing our part to reduce light pollution, we can enjoy the stars in the dark sky while helping ourselves and nature. If you’ve decided to upgrade your outdoor lighting, shop HomElectrical for the Dark Sky Friendly light fixtures!