Residential lighting solutions

Homeowners have many ways to reduce their lighting footprint. From full cutoff shielded fixtures to timers and motion sensors to shielded bulbs, more and more choices are becoming available every day.

Lowe’s home centers have put up IDA information displays and have begun carrying a selection of IDA-approved full cutoff fixtures.

IDA display at Lowe's 1111, Boynton Beach, FL. (Photo by Bryan Bodie)

IDA display at Lowe’s 1111, Boynton Beach, FL. (Photo by Bryan Bodie)

Here is an example from a recent installation at a private residence in Boca Raton:

Left: original unshielded fixture. Note that the light extends up and sideways. Right: full cutoff fixture. The light glows down.

Left: original unshielded fixture. Note that the light extends up and sideways. Right: full cutoff fixture. The light glows down.

 

 

The bulbs that you put inside the fixture are important as well. The energy-inefficient and sky-glow-causing incandescent bulbs are being phased out by law nationally, so they are not a good option for new or replacement bulbs. The simplest choice for homeowners in warm climates like south Florida is the compact fluorescent. While these bulbs do contain mercury, the amount is minuscule compared to, for example, the standard thermometer bulb.

LEDs are not yet a good option, as too many of them emit strongly in the blue range of the spectrum, harmful to astronomers and nocturnal animals alike. According to a recent report from the IDA,

As an outdoor light source, LEDs hold considerable promise for dark sky restoration and preservation, providing one hurdle is overcome: the relatively high emission of blue (short wavelength) light. The refractive properties of short wavelength light implicate it in contributing to increased sky glow and disrupting circadian cycles in wildlife and humans to a greater extent than light of other wavelengths.†

If you’re not sure what bulb to install, look at the label and try to choose one with “warm” light; if the manufacturer has included the color temperature, it should be between 2700 and 3000 K. (Incandescent bulbs, despite having the “right” color temperature, have the “wrong” energy usage and emit too broad a spectrum of light.)

Color temperature chart from Wikipedia

Color temperature chart from Wikipedia

If installing a replacement fixture is too difficult or expensive, another option available now it to simply install a shielded light bulb in an existing “glare bomb” fixture. Here are two examples that might work:IDA-approved dark sky CFL bulbs

IDA-approved dark sky CFL bulbs

Many fixtures don’t have enough room for these shielded bulbs, but if yours does, you might consider giving it a try.

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