LED street lighting has been a common fixture throughout much of Europe and South American since 2006, and North America in 2010. They are a number of LED’s (light emitting diodes) on a single panel that provides an integrated light source that is generally brighter and more energy efficient than previous, more traditional designs of street lights. Since their first production in 1962, cheap LED lights have been used in the manufacturing of many different products due to their affordability, brightness and energy efficiency. With all the positive features LED street lights in mind, it might not be long until we see them widespread across the UK.
LED’s have much lower energy consumption than most other light bulbs, they also last a lot longer, making them less likely to burn out and they don’t need to be changed as often. They have an expected life of 10-15 years, which is almost four times the lifespan of standard HPS lights, and means less maintenance is required. LED’s are also available in a variety of colours, and even the standard lights are better at reproducing the colours of objects in comparison to a natural light source, this can make it easier for oncoming drivers to recognise objects.
In some cases, the natural light from LED Street lighting is very white which many people have likened to zombie or prison lighting. Widespread lighting that reflects into the sky has also led to abnormal nocturnal animal behaviours. There have also been scientific studies that show exposure to LED bulbs for too long has suppressed melatonin levels in human beings. Most LED street lights have focus panels that direct the light to the road, while this perverts drivers and pedestrians from being dazzled, it also directs most of the light onto the road, whilst footpaths remain darker.
Early Trials In UK
Hounslow in Chiswick became the first area in the UK to try LED streetlights after the local council upgraded the areas lights to LED’s in an attempt to improve the area’s roads. As with most trials, there were some early teething problems, mainly due to the extreme brightness levels. Some residents likened the brightness to living under the floodlights of a football pitch, and had to resort to blackout curtains in order to get a good night’s sleep. Since then, the council have adjusted the brightness, it can be controlled centrally and residents are said to be much happier with them now. Since the installation of the lights, crime in the area has reduced, the area has saved energy and taxpayer money.