Home Lighting A Guide to Understanding Light Bulb Shapes, Sizes, and Codes
Throughout the day, light changes from a warm white at dawn to natural white then to a cool white in the afternoon, back to natural white, and eventually to an ultra warm white at sunset. Our bodies are used to this cycle of light. Artificial lights that deviate from the natural lighting cycle can throw off our circadian rhythms. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences states that, Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organisms environment.
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Because blue light has a larger reach, cool white LED lights used outdoors at night can contribute to light pollution, or brightening of the sky. This decreases the visibility of stars and can have a negative effect on astronomical research. If cool white LED lights are used, they should be shielded or aimed directly downward to prevent light pollution.
Samantha is a web content specialist at Super Bright LEDs, Inc. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelors in journalism and currently lives in St. Louis with her husband. When shes not immersing herself in all things LED, shes zumbaing or playing with her two little troublemakers chihuahuas!
T will tell you what hue and tone of white to expect from a specific streetlight. It is measured in Kelvin K, which is similar to degrees in Celsius. Different temperatures on the Kelvin scale represent different s. For example, light at KK looks more orange/yellow and is called ultra warm or warm white, and as temperature increases in Kelvin, changes to more of a white known as natural or neutral white between K and K and finally into a bluishwhite known as cool white KK.
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The International DarkSky Association IDA, a group whose purpose is to protect the night sky, recommends that LED street lights have a T of K or less. These street lights will have a warm white glow that is safer for people and wildlife. The T of daylight is right around K, which appears pretty blue. Introducing that of light into peoples homes through their windows at night can suppress melatonin production and disrupt circadian rhythm. Melatonin doesnt just help us ll asleep; it has antioxidant properties, boosts the immune system, and regulates certain hormones. There have beenstudiesshowing that it can even aid in IBS as well as migraine and cancer prevention.
According to . . . different s of light trigger different physiological effects. Blue/white light, akin to a bright midday light, suppresses melatonin and increases serotonin, this light is great for activity. Conversely red/orange light triggers melatonin in preparation for going to sleep. If everything is in balance, the body will generate dopamine, serotonin, cortisol and melatonin in the right quantities at the right time of day.
All of the cts about cool white lighting clearly show why lights that emit this shouldnt be used in outdoor public spaces at night. This does not mean that cool white LED lights are bad by any means. They are simply better suited for indoor applications or areas that wont have a wide reach, such as building entrances or loading docks. Theyre also great for applications with lights that wont remain on throughout the night, such as outdoor sports stadiums. The same goes for natural white LED streetlights. Theyre an improvement on cool white lights but are still better suited for similar applications.Warm white LED street lights and parking lot lightswith a T of K or lessare a much better option for public outdoor areas. They emit a much smaller portion of blue lightwhich is unnoticeable to the eyeand are currently the best options available for street lighting.
At night, blue light used outdoors can also wreak havoc on ecology. Introducing light with a T thats close to daylight essentially changes the daily cycle that plants and animals are used to. They depend on this cycle of light and dark for hunting, reproduction, sleeping, migrating, and protection. Nocturnal animals have suffered greatly from cool white light at night; the IDAreportsthat, according to research scientist Christopher Kyba, . . . the introduction of artificial light probably represents the most drastic change human beings have made to their environment. Insect populations are declining because they are attracted to the cool white light. They circle under it until the point of exhaustion and death. Plants, birds, and other animals need insects to survive, so this ct alone greatly affects our ecosystem.
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On their website, the IDA cites important information from areporout human and environmental effects of LED streetlights. According to this report, studies have shown that being exposed to light with a higher T before going to bed can negatively affect sleeping patterns. The report goes on to say that continuous sleep disruptions can lead to cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
In addition to the possible effects on health, cool white street lights can increase disability glare. Disability glare happens when stray light enters the eye and affects your ability to see distances and space correctly. According to thereport, this happens . . . because blue light scatters more within the human eye. While its not directly causing harm to someones health, glare decreases driver safety and can lead to traffic accidents.
LED streetlights are great for the environment. They consume much less energy than standard highintensity discharge HID lights, last three times longer, and they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and maintenance costs. In general, LED lights also contribute less to light trespass because they emit direct illumination. Because of all their great qualities, many cities have started to convert from HID toLED streetlights. What some cities have iled to consider, however, is that while LED streetlights are capable of emitting different s of light, not every should be used in public outdoor spaces. Bright bluerich white light can cause some issues for residents, local wildlife, and night sky visibility. When it comes to streetlights, the warmer the /correlated temperature T the better.