What is Sustainable Outdoor Lighting?
Updated: Jun 1
We’re much more aware of our effect on our environment than we used to be. There was once a time when no one worried about sustainable outdoor lighting, or the impact on the natural world. But times have changed, and lights and lighting fixtures have evolved with the times. When designing an outdoor lighting scheme, we now take into account the effects on the world around us.
Outdoor lights can be:
Which power source you pick will depend on what your needs are and what conditions are most advantageous. Plug-in outlets will require being near a power outlet, or within reach with an extension cord. This can clearly limit the distance and type of light. Solar-powered lights are powered by the sun and have become much more popular in recent years because of their environmental benefits. Solar-powered lights can be more expensive to set up initially but can end up saving you on your electric bill. And hard-wired lights plug in directly to the electrical wiring of your home.
Lightbulbs are important for your fixture. Common types are:
· LED (light-emitting diode)
· Compact fluorescent or halogen bulbs
· HID (high-intensity discharge)
· Incandescent bulbs
Which type of bulb you pick will vary depending on the location and use of your light fixture. Incandescent bulbs, for example, can be used outside as long as they’re not exposed to snow, rain, etc. LEDs are very popular, but more expensive—they do, however, last longer than standard bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights contain mercury, which can be dangerous if they break or leak. Both compact fluorescent and halogen bulbs can also burn quite hot, which may prove a locational hazard.
A new movement for green lighting, or lighting tailored to the needs of the environment, has gained a lot of traction in the past few years. Solar-powered lights have really taken off. A consideration for any green lighting scheme is also reducing waste and costs. One problem with conventional incandescent bulbs is that very little of its energy goes into making light—only around five to ten percent of it. The rest of it is burned off as heat. Not only is this harmful to the environment—it’s wasteful.
From a use point of view, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are slightly more expensive than incandescent lights, but they also use around a quarter as much energy and last far longer (in the neighborhood of 10,000 hours). A CFL pays for its use after about 500 hours. Once you’ve hit 500 hours with your CFL, you begin to save money. It’s easy to find CFLs now, and they’re always getting cheaper with greater market expansion.
A great environmentally conscious choice is the LED (light emitting diode). These cost quite a bit more than compact fluorescent lights, but they also last far longer and use far less energy. An LED can reduce energy consumption by 80-90%; they are also estimated to last around 100,000 hours. They light up faster than regular lights and they’re becoming cheaper every day, a result of the market increase. They are an investment, but a great choice economically and environmentally.
In addition, here are some steps you can take to mitigate environmental damage due to lights and their effects:
· Properly dispose of bulbs
· Use recycled materials
· Unplug power strips
· Make use of the sun
· Be sure to turn lights off when not in use
· Use motion sensors and dimmers
All of these options make use of diligence. For those who pay attention to their lights and their power sources, the rewards are practically endless. For example, turning off lights when not in use can save hours of lighting time. Motion sensors and dimmers apply automatically to movement, which helps automate the process of lighting diligence. Disposing of bulbs properly is a must—CFLs contain small amounts of mercury, which can be harmful to the environment. Recycling is a necessity. LEDs are not known to contain mercury.
One lighting scheme to keep in mind is called daylighting. Daylighting is the purposeful design of spaces and buildings to take maximum advantage of sunlight. Not only is this environmentally and economically efficient, but it looks lovely and helps keep spaces open and vibrant for all.
At Tailored Lights, we offer every major kind of lighting for every environment. We are conscious of nature and the natural world, and we work hard to integrate our products into a sustainable ecosystem. Taking care of our backyards, our planet, and our homes are an essential step to making sure we have a beautiful planet for all in the years to come.