What Causes Light Pollution and How Can LED Streetlights Help?


Light pollution prevents city dwellers in the Bay Area and elsewhere from viewing the stars or other night-sky objects due to the high levels of light glow from homes, businesses and streets throughout the evening hours. Scientists have hypothesized that the widespread advent of upgraded LED outdoor lighting design could lessen this pollution.

New Fixtures

Current street lighting designs are inefficient, and they reflect nearly 50% of their light into the sky rather than onto the road. New LED roadway lighting fixtures are designed with clusters of LEDs, reflective lenses, and diffusers to provide more effective lighting with reduced energy costs and decreased light pollution. These new lights reflect a uniform rectangle of light onto the roadway and lose only 2% of their light.

Light Color Matters

Scientists have found that white light of any kind can increase light pollution due to its brightness. Yellow and amber lights are a great choice for dimmer lights, as they reduce sky glow yet continue to provide increased visibility. Though amber and yellow lights aren’t as bright, the poorly designed “cobrahead” fixtures scatter light outwards and even upwards–playing the largest role in light pollution. In comparison, newer outdoor lighting fixtures with “full cutoff” or “fully focused” designs reduce glare and improve viability, causing less wasted light or light pollution than its amber predecessors.


Some cities are now linking their LED streetlights to technologies that will turn them off or dim them when the streets are empty or when there are significantly decreased traffic patterns. The upgraded technology plays the largest part in reduced light pollution from outdoor and roadway lighting, regardless of color.

[See Also: Green Outdoor Lighting and Other Energy-Efficient Lighting Upgrades to Make in 2016]

Consult with Great Basin Lighting for Brighter Streets and Darker Skies

Great Basin Lighting is the Bay Area and Reno’s leader in outdoor LED lighting projects. We have worked with several communities to increase the safety of their citizens while reducing light pollution and energy costs. We offer fixture and lighting options to meet any outdoor, street, and road lighting needs. Contact our California office today at (925)240-1566, or our Reno, Nevada office at (775)333-0900. You can also fill out our online contact form 24/7.

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