The Value of Dark Sky Fixtures
Keeping the night sky as dark as nature intended it to be, while illuminating only what needs to be lit — and not any excess area outside of that target — is the objective of dark-sky lighting. In essence, to reduce light pollution. Light pollution is caused by outdoor lighting that isn't correctly or appropriately confined to the target area, resulting in unused, wasted light spilling out into either adjacent areas that don’t need it or up into the night sky.
What are the consequences of light pollution?
Light pollution can have many harmful effects. Besides simply wasting energy, it has a profound effect on our ability to view the night sky, essentially eliminating the "dark" from the Earth's natural rhythm of light and dark, day and night, that plants, animals, and entire ecosystems have relied on for billions of years. The disruption to these circadian rhythms is damaging to wildlife, having an impact on animal psychology and routines, as well as to the dynamics of a natural ecosystem. There are some studies to suggest that all this artificial light in the world is having an adverse effect on human health. The over abundance of artificial light also impedes astronomy efforts as light pollution and trespass creep into the world's sensitive telescopes, making it ever more difficult to see deep into the heavens.
Keeping the light you need confined only to your own defined space so it does not get wasted or affect those around you is the message that proponents of dark sky lighting are trying to spread.
How to reduce light pollution?
Following the values of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA)
, there are two key steps to cutting the amount of light you project into the sky:
- Not using any more light than you actually need. The IDA believes many homeowners and businesses use too many - and overly bright - lights. One needs only the right amount of light, in the right place, at the right time. More light often means wasted light and energy. Additionally, too much light drives up electricity bills and costs the consumer countless extra money that could otherwise be saved.
- Using proper light fixtures. Poorly designed lighting allows artificial light to shine outward and upward into the sky, where it's neither wanted nor needed, instead of aiming it downward. Dark-sky fixtures direct the light down, minimizing light pollution.
A dark-sky compliant fixture is one that has been designed with an understanding of the principles of the dark sky movement, and only throws its light onto a targeted area on the ground, and not up into the night sky. Many of these fixtures are also referred to as “full cut-off” fixtures, meaning that no light is emitted above the horizontal plane of the light source.
The benefits of using dark-sky compliant fixtures include: the ability to see the stars without the distortion from additional light, as well as the reduction of the effects of unnatural lighting on nocturnal animals.
The glow and glare from many miles of urban and coastal areas has increasingly lit up the night sky and changed what it used to look like. Only when we are many miles from population centers can the dark night sky in its natural, unaltered form be seen and enjoyed nowadays. Dark-sky compliant outdoor light fixtures are designed to reduce that unnatural glow.
Awareness of the presence of "light trespass" and Dark Sky issues has been on the increase. Appropriate dark-sky compliant light fixtures follow a standard set of protocols that have been developed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) to keep the night sky dark while keeping what you need illuminated properly lit up at night.
Fixtures are evaluated by the IDA on the basis of their Upward Light Output Ratio (ULOR), meaning the amount of upward flux a fixture produces. The IDA gives its approval only to fixtures they deem to be "full cutoff" and "fully shielded."
Dark-sky lighting is a key method to reduce light pollution by improving the quality and effectiveness of exterior illumination.
Saving money with dark sky fixtures
In addition to adhering to dark-sky principals and helping better our environment, a dark-sky compliant fixture can also save you money. By casting light exclusively downward, dark sky fixtures provide the precise amount of light needed, and only where it is needed. No more wasting lumens and watts (and therefore money) on light that is being emitting up into the sky where it does no good at all.
Contact us today to find out more about our dark-sky friendly lighting options.
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