Skip to content

Small solutions for light pollution

The new LED fixture, aimed in such a way as to limit its coverage to 180 degrees.

Acorn Abbey is near the end of an unpaved private road. The abbey feels remote and isolated, but there are other homes on the road. Luckily the other places are closer to the nearest paved road than I am, so there is no daily traffic past the abbey. The closest house is across the road, though that place is out of sight down a steep hill. But I have been bedeviled for as long as I’ve lived here by a so-called security light by the roadside across from me. Its light washed into the abbey’s bedroom windows, lit my house so starkly that the only real shadow was behind the house, ruined the night sky, and all too often tricked a mockingbird into singing in the dead of night.

It’s a vacation home over there; the owner lives in Florida. I’ve tried over the years to persuade her to get the light removed, but she wouldn’t do it. She believes that so-called security lights actually provide security, though some studies have found that increased lighting actually increases crime.

Not until a week ago did I learn that electric companies actually have reflector shields that can contain at least some of this light when neighbors complain. Also, electric companies are in the process of replacing the old mercury vapor lights with LED lights. The LED lights are much more directional. The direct light from them can be limited to 180 degrees.

As soon as I learned that reflectors existed, I called our electric company. The electric company here is Energy United, a small (and very friendly) co-op company. They sent an engineer to see what could be done. The engineer proposed an LED fixture mounted on a S-arm aimed across the road, away from my place.

What a huge difference that has made! Now no direct light falls on my side of the road. I can’t see the neighbor’s place anyway, because it’s down a steep hill. So all I see now is light falling on an oak tree across the road. The oak tree glows a little and shimmers like the ghost of an oak tree. But I don’t mind that, because I don’t get any direct light anymore. The sky is dark again. No light glows through the abbey’s front windows.

If more people complained about light pollution from those infernal “security” lights that can’t be turned off, then electric companies would be forced to come up with even better solutions to keep the light from trespassing.





  1. Jo wrote:

    Wonderful your co-op was able to do this for you. At night, the only outside light I enjoy comes from the moon and it so nice to see stars.

    Friday, April 29, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink
  2. Henry wrote:

    Good for you…sour old lady

    Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 2:22 pm | Permalink
  3. DCS wrote:

    Thank you, Jesus. I thought I was going to have to shoot that thing out with a BB gun.

    This is the very first I’ve heard of this technology. Why isn’t it more widely known?

    The reason that surprises me is because Duke Energy (I know, boo, hiss) has been doing an incredible job — counter-intuitive and unbelievable, really — of promoting low-energy-use bulbs. They just sent us yet another free box of six CFLs two weeks ago. I think it’s the third box we’ve gotten. Plus, they’ve sent out God-knows-how-expensive glossy flyers and pamphlets extolling the virtues of switching to CFLs. It’s like they’re begging us to use less energy.

    Anyway, I would love to see a cost-benefit analysis of this new system compared to the traditional security lights. Those things are the aesthetic bane of every neighborhood!


    Monday, May 2, 2016 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *