Outdoor Lighting Tips for Reducing Light Pollution

Does your city government impose a lighting ordinance? Lighting ordinances, sometimes called dark sky ordinances, regulate when and how property owners can light their yard, landscape, structures, and property. Large U.S. cities that enforce lighting ordinances include San Diego; Flagstaff, Arizona; Dripping Springs, Texas; Boulder, Colorado, and Laguna Beach, California.

Why are lighting ordinances created?

City governments, citizens, and homeowners have become increasingly aware of the negative impacts that poorly placed or unshielded outdoor lighting can have on wildlife, our health, and enjoyment of the nighttime sky. A lighting ordinance is intended to minimize these impacts and to provide a safe, yet effective level of outdoor lighting. Lighting ordinances also promote eco-friendly goals of conserving energy and natural resources.

How to Find Dark Sky Friendly Light Fixtures

The International Dark-Sky Association certifies outdoor lighting fixtures that have been proven to minimize glare and to reduce light trespass and skyglow. All products accepted in the program must also be shielded to minimize the amount of blue light emitted at night.

At Bellacor, we carry Dark Sky approved light fixtures for countless needs. With our wide selection, you’ll find options for every style. So, no need to limit your options while appreciating the night’s sky!

What is the focus of a lighting (dark sky) ordinance?

The goal is to allow property owners and citizens a reasonable amount of nighttime light. City lighting ordinances spell out guidelines that are easy for property owners to understand and implement.

Types of Light Emissions – Kelvin and Lumens

Some lighting ordinances limit bulb color temperature (Kelvins) and bulb intensity (Lumens), as well.

Kelvins (Color Temperature)
Kelvins refer to the color temperature of the light emitted. The lower the Kelvin number, the warmer the color. The higher the Kelvin number, the bluer the color. Warm white (orange spectrum) lighting is often used in homes, libraries, and restaurants, while soft daylight (blue spectrum) lighting is used in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, and dental offices.

Check the light bulb’s packaging to determine the color temperature before you buy. All packaging for LED and CFL bulbs will provide color temperature information. It’s best to use low color temperature bulbs (warm white) for exterior lighting. A color temperature of 3000K or lower is recommended.

Lumens (Brightness)

Since the development of new, energy-efficient LED lighting, a homeowner can no longer refer to a bulb’s wattage only, to determine brightness. Lumens refer to the bulb’s brightness. The more lumens, the more light is emitted. A bulb’s brightness will vary depending on the bulb type – incandescent, halogen, CFL or LED, and its wattage.

Reduce brightness in the environment by choosing light fixtures that adequately shield the bulb(s) from above. Shielded light fixtures are best as they minimize glare and light trespass, and also make it easier for people to see at night.

To learn more about lighting ordinances and the Dark-Sky initiative visit here.

How to Simulate Moonlight With Downlighting

One of the newest trends in exterior lighting is creating a moonlight effect in outdoor spaces. Gentle, natural-looking light, reminiscent of the soft glow of the moon will create a calming, relaxing environment. The moonlight lighting trend can also improve security around your home and highlight trees and shrubs in a more natural, eye-pleasing manner.

When It’s the Neighborly Thing to Do…

To summarize, if you’re interested in minimizing the harmful effects of light pollution around the perimeter of your home, here are a few guidelines – Outdoor lighting should:

  • Be on only when needed
  • Only illuminate the area that’s required (no spillover)
  • Be no brighter than necessary. Some ordinances require motion sensor lights to be limited to 850 Lumens
  • Minimize blue light emissions – use warm white light (Kelvin range 2000K – 3000K)
  • Be fully shielded to prevent light from shining upward (the fixture should point downward)
  • Fully shielded light fixtures are the best choice as they prevent glare, light trespass, and skyglow.