What is Amber LED, and What is it Used For?
As lighting specialists, we receive many questions about the various types of LED light. One of these categories is what is known as amber LED. Amber LED may refer to several things. Although one might think it just describes any orange-colored light that’s easy on the eyes, there are so many more aspects of this versatile color than many people might assume. Amber LED is not a monolith, and although it may look uniform to the untrained eye, there are many different applications and wavelengths of this category of light.
Amber LED lights can be used for, but are not limited to, the following applications:
- Meeting Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission regulations (FWC)
- Other turtle and wildlife protection
- Decorative purposes & ambient lighting
- Military and astronomy
- Dark-sky friendly requirements
- Replacing high pressure and low pressure sodium lights
This list is far from all of the documented uses of different types of amber LED, but they are some of the most popular ones. What are the different kinds of amber LED and what are they used for? Read on to find out.
PC Amber (1700K)
PC Amber, or 1700K, is a specific type of amber LED light that is a suitable replacement for low pressure sodium lighting, which is an outdated style of induction lighting. It has a broader spectrum and as a result, a better color rendering index than LPS, which can be seen in the chart to the right indicating the difference
Replacing low pressure sodium is far from the only use for PC amber LED. In particular, PC amber is used for dark-sky applications such as in Hawaii or Flagstaff. Many states and jurisdictions now require the use of PC amber LED that is also fully shielded and under a certain lumen output in order to keep the night skies clear.
This is especially important to astronomers because certain wavelengths of UV light can obscure the stars and make telescope viewing impossible. PC amber is a perfect solution for this.
590 Nanometer Amber
The second major category of amber LED is 590 nanometer LED. This is also a specific wavelength of light that appears as a dim orange light to the human eye. However, 590 nanometer lighting has some unique properties that make it highly useful for certain outdoor applications.
590 nanometer amber LED is used for turtle and wildlife friendly applications that do not require shielding, but do require a specific type of lighting. Turtles and other types of wild animals cannot see light emitted from a 590 nanometer fixture, making it a great choice for lighting parks, trails, beachside areas, and other places where nature and wildlife should not be disturbed.
Although outdoor light fixtures in 590 nanometer amber are orange lights, they do not allow for good color rendering so this maybe an important factor to note in choosing what type of amber lighting you need.
FWC Certified Lighting
FWC certified lighting is a specific kind of 590 nanometer LED lighting that also makes use of shields to direct the light from a fixture downward. In order for a light fixture to be considered FWC compliant, it must be three things:
Long: The fixture must come in a long wavelength (which 590 nanometer is) so that sea turtles and other animals cannot see the light or be disturbed by it.
Low: FWC certified fixtures must be mounted low to the ground. The lower, the better, so as to prevent uplight or any similar light pollution.
Shielded: The fixture is surrounded by a metal shield, or baffle, which directs the light only downward and prevents backlight and uplight.
The full criteria list for whether or not a fixture is considered FWC compliant can be found here on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website.
2200K (HPS Color)
Why is 2200K on here, you might be asking? Because recently, LED lighting technicians and specialists are starting to refer to this Kelvin (color temperature) as HPS color because it replaces traditional high pressure sodium lights. It is also known as “amber white” because it is technically in the amber LED light family due to its warm orange glow. 2200K has the most broad and highest CRI rating of all amber LED types. 2200K can be used both indoors and outdoors, and it was created to replace high pressure sodium lighting for streetlights. The benefit of 2200K is that the LED version lasts a far longer time and usually has a higher lumen output than traditional high pressure sodium.
In addition, if you are looking for the aesthetics of amber light for your project but don’t need a specific nanometer, this would be your best bet as it’s versatile and has a better color rendering index than the aforementioned types of amber LED.