LED lighting has many benefits compared to other sources—but only if it is used correctly. Using the wrong Kelvin temperature can cause an unattractive glow, while incorrect placement of the luminaires can lead to light trespass. Richard Smith of Tonawanda, New York is experiencing both issues. According to WIVB.com, he claims that bright lights across from his home are harming his quality of life. The light that is meant to illuminate an apartment complex is also shining into his windows.
What happened is the management of Newall Avenue Apartments replaced existing outdoor lighting with new LED lighting. While the new LED lighting saves energy and reduces maintenance, it emits a harsh light and has caused a significant light trespass issue. Light trespass occurs when artificial lighting reaches areas where it is not intended or wanted, like a neighbor’s backyard or living room. Since LED lighting is a directional light source, it is generally used to avoid light trespass, not make it worse.
Town of Tonawanda officials claim the new lighting was installed for security purposes, but as the image suggests, it appears the lighting is not pointed towards the ground where it would serve the greatest purpose. Instead, it is pointed across the street toward Smith’s property.
Another problem seems to be the Kelvin color temperature. While a higher color temperature can be less costly, it creates an unattractive blue light that contributes to light pollution and light trespass. Even more so than traditional light sources, like metal halide or high pressure sodium. The harsh blue light is also criticized for harming humans and animals and disrupting circadian rhythms.
The article states that town officials are working to fix the issue. I, Dr. Bulb, know one way to fix the issue would be to use dark sky compliant fixtures. Dark Sky compliant fixtures emit light down towards the ground, limiting light pollution and most light trespass issues. In this case, using full cut off LED luminaires would direct the light down as opposed to everywhere. It would also eliminate the light source being visible from anywhere other than from directly below the luminaire. No light would be visible on the property across the street, let alone in the Mr. Smith’s home. Management should also consider using a lower Kelvin temperature, to maintain acceptable aesthetics.