What You Can Do About Bad Outdoor Lighting

FIRST: Understand the Problem

Outdoor Lighting is something about which most people have not given much thought. But most people know bad lighting when they see it, primarily because of glare. Many of us have experienced problems with bad light fixtures installed by neigbors and have encountered glare from unshielded lights when driving. Even if they can't define it, most people recognize good lighting when they see it, because it puts their eyes at ease.

Bad Lighting causes:

GLARE: The sensation produced by an excessively bright source of light that hampers vision, causes an annoyance or creates an unsafe condition.

LIGHT TRESPASS: Nuisance light from poorly aimed sources, which goes where it is not wanted, such as onto neighboring properties or into other peoples' windows.

ENERGY WASTE: The result of excessive lighting, lighting that is on when it is not needed and lighting that goes beyond where it is intended.

SKY GLOW: Reflected light seen in the night sky from moisture and particulate matter in the sky, which results from poorly aimed and excessive lighting. It prevents us from seeing all but a handful of stars in the sky at night.

All of these problems can be solved by the proper use of widely available shielded light fixtures, using the right amount of light, and intelligent control of when lights are on.

SECOND: Lighting Ordinances

Check if your community has a lighting ordinance or lighting requirements in its subdivision/land development or zoning regulations. CLICK HERE for an online source where your municipality's ordinances may be listed, if not, a call or visit to the municipality's office should be made.

If there are existing lighting requirements, ask the local government to review and update these requirements if necessary. If not, ask the local government to adopt a lighting ordinance. Model lighting ordinances are available on this site and from the POLC.

See: Initiating a Lighting Ordinance in Your Municipality .....by POLC

Also: Outdoor Lighting Ordinances and Community Standards.....by IDA

And: Getting Started With an Outdoor Lighting Ordinance.....by IDA

THIRD: Be Persistent

The problem of light pollution can appear to be overwhelming and insurmountable. Like other forms of pollution, it took decades for the problem to develop to its present state. Much has been done to address the problem across the world since the formation of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). In Pennsylvania, local governments have begun to update and enact lighting ordinances to address the problem. But improvement will not come to your area unless you or someone in your area takes the initiative to act. See Initiating a Lighting Ordinance in Your Municipality.

FOURTH: Be Sure Your Own Lights are Friendly to Neighbors and the Environment

Avoid Dusk-to-Dawn lights, use motion sensors.

Any floodlights should be aimed downwards at least 45 degrees below horizontal and controlled by a motion sensor.

All of your outdoor lights should be shielded or aimed so that, from normal viewing angles, no direct glare is visible to neighbors or visitors.

Use the right amount of light, not too little and not too much.

For more information, see POLC Outdoor Lighting Toolkit for Homeowners

FIFTH: Join the International Dark-Sky Association and the Pennsylvania Outdoor Lighting Council

CLICK HERE to join the IDA.

CLICK HERE to Donate to the POLC.

To join the POLC, send an email to polcouncil@polcouncil.org