New LED streetlamp design could virtually eliminate light pollution

By on April 25, 2013, 9:30 AM

Researchers from Mexico and Taiwan have co-developed a new design for streetlamps that will greatly reduce the amount of light pollution they emit. Existing solutions waste as much as 20 percent of their light by shining onto nearby objects or drifting off into the night sky.

The new LED streetlamps are said to get that figure down to just two percent by shining light only in areas that need illumination. Additionally, LED lamps could reduce power consumption by 40 to 60 percent according to Ching-Cherng Sun of the National Central University in Taiwan.

Light pollution may not sound like a major concern but it can have far reaching implications. An estimated 30 percent of electricity generated for outdoor use is wasted according to the New Jersey Astronomical Association not to mention the fact that stray light from streetlamps can be a nuisance if your bedroom window happens to be facing one.

Wasted light can also have adverse effects on nature. Stray light can cause birds in migration to fly off course while newly-hatched turtles that need a dark sky to orient toward the ocean have been found wandering aimlessly down the beach shore or even worse, on busy boardwalks. Scientists have even observed that the sleeping patterns of other animals have been disrupted thanks to artificially lengthened days.

A prototype for the new design is expected within the next three to six months. What’s more, we could see practical installations of LED streetlamps as early as next year.




User Comments: 24

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6 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Growing up my wife had a street light that shone in her bedroom window. The easy solution was her brother's BB gun. 100% reduction in light pollution.

2 people like this | Guest said:

Now maybe ill finally get to use my telescope without moving to the middle of nowhere.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Give it another 10 years, all cars will have high quality night vision driving systems that will cut on road illumination needs.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

"the new LED streetlamps are said to get that figure down to just two percent by shining light only in areas that need illumination."

This will give new meaning to the term, "hiding in the shadows". Im all for lights using less power. But trying to make more of a contrast between light and dark spots from a lamp seems like a waste of time. Think of the time and money involved replacing all street lamps with these(im sure more expensive) street lamps just to see a few extra stars.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Give it another 10 years, all cars will have high quality night vision driving systems that will cut on road illumination needs.

That said I wonder if they'll ever discover another technology to replace the windscreen/windshield wipers as we know them.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Growing up my wife had a street light that shone in her bedroom window. The easy solution was her brother's BB gun. 100% reduction in light pollution.

I dunno. I would've closed the curtains/drapes rather than risk the wrath of the authorities.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

That said I wonder if they'll ever discover another technology to replace the windscreen/windshield wipers as we know them.

Mercedes, for example, is already selling 2013 cars with new windscreen wipers that are way better than the classic ones, injecting water under the blade. Not sure about the range of cars that got it for now, but 2013 SL has it.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Mercedes, for example, is already selling 2013 cars with new windscreen wipers that are way better than the classic ones, injecting water under the blade. Not sure about the range of cars that got it for now, but 2013 SL has it.

Probably be like ABS braking which took decades to filter down to all new vehicles.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That said I wonder if they'll ever discover another technology to replace the windscreen/windshield wipers as we know them.
Sure! They will eventually have cams and monitors, eliminating the need for windshields. We already have the tech, it simply needs to be implemented. But as long as police/authorities want to be able to see inside the vehicle, eliminating the glass will be frowned upon. So in all honesty, this topic will also include a privacy discussion. As long as you are not allowed to blackout your windows, you will not be allowed to remove them completely either.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Give it another 10 years, all cars will have high quality night vision driving systems that will cut on road illumination needs.

Street lights are needed as a crime deterrent as much as for helping to drive. Almost all the petty crime in my neighborhood is in the allies where there is less light and it's easier to hide.

Think of the time and money involved replacing all street lamps with these(im sure more expensive) street lamps just to see a few extra stars.

It may cost a little more, but they won't spend any extra time on it. They'll just replace the bulbs with LED bulbs when they get around to replacing them. I've heard that in cases where street light bulbs have been switched over to energy efficient bulbs the city's union contracts still require they be replaced every 2 years or whatever it is, so they'll just use that opportunity to use the LED bulbs. It's accurate to say it'll cut down on light 'pollution' and energy, but it's hard to say it'll reduce cost because they last longer if the unions replace them regularly regardless of whether they need it.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I don't think we will see windscreen wipers replaced with anything completely. Even if cars start driving themselves someday, you still need your windscreen kept clean, don't you? It accumulates dirt from the road real quick, and nobody wants to look through a dirty window. And I haven't seen any futuristic car prototype that comes without windscreen at all, as it wouldn't be practical.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Sure! They will eventually have cams and monitors, eliminating the need for windshields. We already have the tech, it simply needs to be implemented. But as long as police/authorities want to be able to see inside the vehicle, eliminating the glass will be frowned upon. So in all honesty, this topic will also include a privacy discussion. As long as you are not allowed to blackout your windows, you will not be allowed to remove them completely either.

Think about it... if today we were using cameras and screens to show us what was outside our cars and some genius came along and invented auto glass, we'd all be praising how great it is. Clear, cheap, goes up and down, easy to clean, strong enough, but not too strong. If you had a metal plate instead of a windshield there would be far more accident deaths. It's why Gorilla Glass never got popular before smartphones. It was too strong for cars and made them less safe.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Street lights are needed as a crime deterrent

I was talking about inter-city and highway illumination

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've heard that in cases where street light bulbs have been switched over to energy efficient bulbs the city's union contracts still require they be replaced every 2 years or whatever it is
Thats a negative aspect of falling under a contract, if the life span of the light bulb changes then so should the contract. The Cell Phone distributors know this which is why they force you into a new contract when hardware changes. I see know reason for upholding a contract when the bulb design is being changed.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is pretty cool. I think we really should be focusing on air pollution rather than light pollution though.

Classified1 said:

Please implement this everywhere. All I can see in the sky is the moon.

Ravik Ravik said:

Give it another 10 years, all cars will have high quality night vision driving systems that will cut on road illumination needs.

Can anyone else hear "Maximum...Illumination!" from this?

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Can anyone actually explain what this is about? Replacing the bulb will make no difference - light is still light.

Are they going to couple it with a stricter light shade? This will make the lit up areas smaller.

So, what exactly is suggested here?? :S

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

LED's are directional lighting. However this could have been done with traditional lighting if they had attempted to direct light. The article makes it sound as if this light pollution could not have been eliminated until now, and that is not true.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

LED's are directional lighting. However this could have been done with traditional lighting if they had attempted to direct light. The article makes it sound as if this light pollution could not have been eliminated until now, and that is not true.

So basically have tighter lamp shades as I said? This will mean there's either lots of places where light doesn't shine, or lots more lamp poles. Either way, not a solution.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So basically have tighter lamp shades as I said?
Using LED's they don't need shades for shading because they are already directional, but shades would have been the solution to light pollution with traditional lighting.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Using LED's they don't need shades for shading because they are already directional, but shades would have been the solution to light pollution with traditional lighting.
Well, they still could be. I like to be the salesman who closes the deal for LED streetlights to NYC.

That said, photographers have been using all sorts of light control strategies for decades.

All things considered, having "light puddles" in a larger "sea of darkness" is possibly more dangerous than light dispersion. You eyes tend to react to light levels changes slowly in dark environments, and you'd also be asking them to resolve high contrast situations. I think you might have more difficulty with dangerous situations "hiding in plain sight".

You need light bleed in the target area, and the only thing to control back spill is low reflectivity of the illuminated surfaces. In other words, you don't need more directional lights, you need blacker streets.

Dustyn Dustyn said:

Growing up my wife had a street light that shone in her bedroom window. The easy solution was her brother's BB gun. 100% reduction in light pollution.

What's even worse is when you have one of those street lights that reach maximum light intensity only to suddenly burn out. Then it slowly powers back up to full light intensity then it's dark again. All night every night!

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

What's even worse is when you have one of those street lights that reach maximum light intensity only to suddenly burn out. Then it slowly powers back up to full light intensity then it's dark again. All night every night!
Dude, that's why on the 8th day, God taught man how to make hand guns.

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