Municipalities across the United States have installed more than 5.7 million outdoor LED street and area lights. Amid this rush to adopt outdoor LEDs, the U.S. Department of Energy stressed energy efficiency as the biggest advantage of the new technology while cautioning cities to also consider light output and color quality.
But according to a recent report in the IEEE Spectrum from Jeff Hecht, early adopters of LED street lighting are struggling with glare and light pollution. The harsh glare of certain blue-rich designs is now thought to disrupt people’s sleep patterns and harm nocturnal animals, the article states. And these concerns have been heaped on the complaints of astronomers, who as far back as 2009 have criticized the new lights.
The author cites his hometown's installation of LED streetlights in 2014. He said that when he returned from a rural vacation in Maine, he was shocked to find his neighborhood "lit by a stark bluish blaze that washed out almost all of the stars in the night sky."
Lately, lighting companies have introduced LED streetlights with a warmer-hued output, and municipalities have begun to adopt them.
Hecht asks the question, however, how did an energy-saving technology that looked so promising wind up irritating so many people? He goes on to explain the LEDs' shades of color and attempts to answer the question....