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Day of reckoning: LED lighting


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I knew it would happen eventually, and yesterday it did.

A van drew up across the road, a man climbed into a cherry picker on top, and raised himself up to the street lamp.


The company was Enerveo, who apparently used to be part of SSE. I knew it couldn't be just a repair job, because that light had been working OK. Sure enough, the man moved on to the next light, and on all the way down the road. It was a complete LED replacement.

The local street lights had previously been (almost all) low pressure sodium jobs:


Some of the light used to spill between the houses and into our back garden, but it didn't affect the observing too much. There is nothing in direct line of sight.

I'd noted previously that the few lights that had been replaced elsewhere in the village had given way to LEDs that were noticeably rich at the blue end and far too bright, quite uncomfortable to look at directly. So I wasn't looking forward to the visit from Mr. Enerveo.

Dusk confirmed the new status:


It obviously looked very different, but the LEDs didn't seem as harsh as I'd feared, not as bad as the others I'd seen. It's not obvious from the picture, but they were neutral in colour, and not too bright. The fittings covered the bulbs from above, but because the bulbs were offset slightly downwards, it means that some light can escape slightly above horizontal.

I decided to go for an evening walk with my pocket spectroscope to compare them with the other LEDs (no-one called the police on me). It wasn't conclusive. Both types covered the whole spectrum, but the new ones did seem to be stronger in the red and green.

I also went into the back garden later on, to see how much was apparent from the usual observing area. It didn't seem any worse than before in terms of brightness, though the light reflecting from the walls was clearly a different colour. It was almost clouded over and the moon was up, so it will be interesting to see what it's like on the next dark evening.

Obviously I'd prefer the old orange to the white, but my first impression is that it's not as bad as it could have been.


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I think over time they've learned to moderate the lights a bit following lots of complaints. The one opposite but slightly down the road was horrible bright when it first went in, hurt the eyes if I walked into the bedroom as it was then in direct line of sight with the curtains not closed. Lately that's seemed to have been dimmed a bit and I think dulls a bit further past 11PM so its now a lot better. Downside tho it doesn't cast as much light at my front door to see the keyhole in the dark, not that I'll be complaining there 😄 

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13 minutes ago, Nik271 said:

But it will be even better if they switch them off or turn them down after midnight

Yes, I'm not sure if that will happen - the sodium lamps stayed on all night.


4 minutes ago, AstroKeith said:

BS 5489-1:2020

Thanks, I'll check that out. The LEDs are no worse in terms of direction than the previous lights.


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My neighbour had the trees at the end of his garden "pruned" last week. I thought it a great idea as it would give me a better view of my western/southwest view. 

How wrong was I. Now I'm staring at 20ft tall flood lights in the football pitches behind. 

This week he has erected a wooden fence between our gardens. It's 6ft 4 tall. It's visible above my 6ft 2 metal fence. Flood lights still visible.

Not content with this, he is now constructing an 8-10ft tall wooden structure the whole way across his garden. It's possibly a home garden office or annex. 

Hopefully it will block out the light from afore mentioned lights.

I still have to stare at it though. It may even block out sunlight from my garden, which I'm not happy about.

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9 minutes ago, david_taurus83 said:

Did you see them change out the control panel on the pole?

I didn't notice, but he was getting through them so quickly that I suspect that only the light source was changed.

Without a change to the control panel, I presume that dimming or switching off in the small hours wouldn't be possible remotely?

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I think LED street lights are crap.  Too bright to look at, they dazzle when driving, less light on the ground,many and deeper , larger dark pools between lamps, just as much scatter. Too many dim areas on the ground too- what is the point if they don't fulfil their primary role in making dark streets safer? The old orange sodium jobs (which I didn't like when they came out) leave them for dead, in all practical aspects.  Energy saving? A waste of time, IMHO. My council tax hasn't reduced.  And don't get me started on LED car headlights; those things are lethal I reckon. Local light pollution is now just a different hue. Big deal! 

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My village had low pressure sodium (orange) when I moved there in 2007.
Lots of scatter but easy to filter.
After a few years they were swapped for high pressure (pinker) sodium.
Difficult to filter and brighter. More scatter.
Now I have LED. Yes too bright because they just plant new bright fittings on existing posts. Filtering is impossible.
However, the scatter is much better than either sodium flavour. So my garden is darker.

My local light pollution agency (Nottinghamshire County Council) abandoned late night turn off some years back after the county hall front door changed colour as a result of local elections.
I still don't understand how street lights are political, but there we are.

This gives me an idea. We write to the polluters, pointing out that 50% of our electricity comes from gas burning. We are at risk of power cuts this winter due to gas supply uncertainty.
Why not do some late night turn off to allow sufficient electricity for homes?
As a side effect is saves money, local wildlife benefits. Forget about those odd folks who sit in darkened back gardens.



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7 minutes ago, Barney Rubble said:

I think LED street lights are crap.  Too bright to look at, they dazzle when driving, less light on the ground,many and deeper , larger dark pools between lamps, just as much scatter. Too many dim areas on the ground too- what is the point if they don't fulfil their primary role in making dark streets safer? The old orange sodium jobs (which I didn't like when they came out) leave them for dead, in all practical aspects.  Energy saving? A waste of time, IMHO. My council tax hasn't reduced.  And don't get me started on LED car headlights; those things are lethal I reckon. Local light pollution is now just a different hue. Big deal! 

I suffer from visual migraines and all this new street lighting is a major problem for me. Don't even get me started on cyclists with their uber-bright strobe lights! Vehicle lights, too, are a problem as so many use pulse-width modulation to control the brightness (always too bright!) and I can see the high frequency flicker in my peripheral vision which makes me feel violently sick and can trigger a migraine. Anyone seen the new LED "cats eyes"? These, too, flicker like crazy and I have to get off any road that has them just as soon as possible. The government says that adequate consultation was carried out prior to implementation of all these ridiculous new lighting rules, i.e. they spoke to the epileptic society who said it was OK for their members with the proposed flash rates! Nobody ever spoke to the migraine society as far as I can ascertain.

Road safety has clearly gone down since the implementation of these new types of lighting. Like you, I cannot understand street lighting schemes that give alternating patches of uber-bright light and pitch blackness - "Now you see me, now you don't" A bit like a cyclist with a flashing rear light. Now where did he go? Oh, there he is again!


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Generally lucky in Lowestoft as Suffolk County Council turns off the LED lamp outside my house at 11.30pm. Also helps that it is on a short pole on the North side of my house which blocks light from it spilling onto my backyard.

On balance I prefer the use of well designed, installed and controlled LED lighting but remain concerned regarding it’s impact on moths and bats, both of which have declined locally.

 A new shorter pole has appeared next to the first. I’m hoping it’s for a non-illuminated information sign, the one with the two old age pensioners with walking sticks.🤣 George 

Edited by Hawksmoor
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  • 4 months later...

An update on my recent experiences with LED street lights being fitted in my area.

As I wrote in the top of this thread, all of the low-pressure sodium lamps in my road were replaced with LEDs before Christmas. Since then, I've been trying to decide how much of a difference it's making.

On the one hand, the colour - while now white - is not as blue-rich as some others I have seen, and their intensity is not as bad as it could have been. I have had difficulty assessing the effect on my back garden viewing location, because of the infrequency of clear nights with no moon since then, but it seems to me now that there is a clear increase in the light spilling around the houses (reflected off walls - I have no direct line of sight view of the lights when I'm observing). We have also noticed more light coming into our bedroom.

I have read reports, from other forum members, of successful applications to local councils for the installation of shielding, so I tried it myself. I thought hard about whether to mention the effect on our observing, but decided instead to lead on the amount of light coming through the bedroom window, since this seems to have been the most successful tactic in other cases. I did also say, though, that I thought the colour balance was wrong and the intensity was higher than necessary.

Today, only 8 working days after my request, a van appeared across the road and work commenced.



In my submission I had identified two lamps in particular that were most likely to be the source of the reflected light (and of the direct bedroom illumination). One of these was oriented "sideways" to us and the other "lengthways". An exacerbating factor for all the lamps in our road is that the bulbs were just swapped out for new ones, but the existing fittings were situated two or three inches beneath the reflector (I think you can see this in some of the photos). The inevitable result is that light can spill out horizontally, and even slightly above.

I was pleased to see that the shields fitted to the two lights were selected and positioned to block the light coming towards us, affixed at the near end of the one cover, and at the side of the other:



It would be interesting to see what would happen if all my neighbours also decided to make similar requests from their own perspectives - how much of each lamp would be left uncovered?

After dark, this was how it now looks from upstairs:
The "sideways" lamp is now noticeably less bright ...


(compare it with the unshielded light on the right, which is further away). It's interesting to note that, even though the shield was obscuring all of the bulb from this viewpoint, there is still a fair amount of light escaping around it. I assume this is scattering due to the LEDs' brightness.


The other lamp that is lengthways on to us has been attenuated less by its new shield:



I've not been able to see what effect this has had on the light getting through to my back garden, as it's currently raining and blowing a gale. I suspect it will be some improvement, but won't return it to the levels it was with the sodium lights.

So, my local authority and its contractor have been responsive to my request, for which I am grateful. The remedies seem to have made some difference, but not enough to make up for the LED brightness/spectrum. And of course, this remedial action does nothing to deal with the other light being projected into the sky by the other lamps in the neighbourhood, which is now broad spectrum. Perhaps if more people request shields for nearby lamps, it will raise the profile of the overall issue with the authorities.

Meanwhile, I have had some success with my neighbour's new motion-activated searchlight (mentioned in some other post - it was impossible for me to walk to the end of the garden without it coming on). I had a word with him and he has redirected it so that I don't set it off now.

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It's clear here just now, I'm not observing but I just went out back to see if the shields are having any effect on the light reflecting off the sides of the houses.

It is noticeably better, so it was worth putting in the request.

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