Lumens vs. Energy

There is a group in the USA (and elsewhere) known as the International Dark Sky Association who, since 1988, have been advocating not carbon reduction, but lumen reduction. With over 11,000 members – over 1,500 in California – the International Dark Sky Association has some clout.

Nonetheless, “glare bombs” are still available in bulk and can still be easily and inexpensively purchased (by anyone with an exterior wall on their dwelling) at the nearest big box retail outlet, and when deployed these always-on security lights, especially using flourescents, consume minimal energy and produce extremely maximal lumens. In fact, in spite of their energy sipping ways, just one of these security lighting fixtures could, if placed on the surface of the moon, be visible with a 20x telescope from earth. At least in a sufficiently dark location on earth.


But dark skies are only part of the mission of the International Dark Sky Association. They also lobby for smarter lumen management on the part of cities and other entities. After all, if excessive lumens from a “glare bomb” actually creates dark shadows, where unauthorized intruders can hide while surveying in full light the night surroundings, why have more lumens? Why would anyone want side-mounted always-on visible-from-the-moon night security lighting – who knows how many lumens – when a 10 watt incandescent would be more than enough to light the way?

If excess lumens temporarily blinds the rods (night vision receptors) in our retina, and creates no real benefit other than countering other excess lumens, why not have smarter lumen related laws and ordinances in our cities? Such a perspective applied – and even if incandescent / fluorescent indifferent would still reduce energy usage – would also help in creating night spaces that are inviting as well as secure. Light pollution is here, it is real, it is now, and the International Dark Sky Association intends to continue to do something about it.


One Response to “Lumens vs. Energy”
  1. Colbs says:

    The IDA is a cool association, I have been a member for over a year. Their mission is part of common sensed light use that a lot of people don’t seem to have. There are many products that are dark sky friendly in many styles. I think everyone should try new LED, or CFL lighting coupled with dark sky rated fixtures to help our Earth with unnecessary light waste. Whether it is lumens or energy it shouldn’t be wasted.

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