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2023 Top Ten LED Exterior Lighting Trends

2023 Top Ten LED Exterior Lighting Trends

1. Dark sky lighting ordinances will become more the rule and less the exception

Dark sky lighting ordinances are being adopted by states, counties, and cities, at an increasing rate due to the growing awareness of the harmful effects of artificial light pollution on biodiversity and quality of life. Excessive or misused artificial light can interfere with nighttime wildlife activities, disrupt natural cycles such as migration, and block the ability to view the stars at night. Dark sky legislation reduces light pollution by encouraging the use of full cutoff lighting fixtures that direct light downward instead of up into the sky. Dark sky compliant light fixtures are full cutoff light fixtures that emit a Kelvin of 3000K or less, with even lower Kelvin preferred or required. While businesses and communities may have previously claimed that requiring dark sky compliant light fixtures was a burden, today the cost is close to that of other LED light fixtures and LED optics have advanced to be able to light an area with lower wattage, while being dark sky compliant.


2. EXTREME-LIFE, LED lifespan of over 100,000 hours will become more available

While the lighting fixture industry standard has been L70 @ 50,000 hours, LED lifespans of over 100,000 hours are becoming far more common. L70@ 50,000 hours means that after 50,000 hours of use, the LEDs in a light fixture will still emit 70% of the original light output. With technology advances including superior heat sinking, LEDs are lasting longer for a greater period-of-time. Access Fixtures lists any LED fixture with EXTREME-LIFE as being L70 @ 100,000 hours or more, and most of the new Access Fixtures LED light fixtures exceed this standard, with some having L70 @ over 600,000 hours. While the initial cost of an EXTREME-LIFE LED wall pack, area light, sports light, or bollard light may be more, the benefits are consistent light levels for a longer period-of-time, and the LED light fixture lasting 2 to 12 times longer than an L70 @ 50,000-hour fixture.

3. Dark sky compliant sports lighting can be achieved with advanced LED optics

We have all seen sports facilities where the lighting is blasted across a large area illuminating the sports field and the night sky. This has been tolerated and communities even have ordinance carve outs so the sports facilities can be illuminated. The only limit imposed by the community might be the lights need to be shut off by 1 A.M. in the morning. Now carve outs and exemptions are no longer required. LED fixtures, using next generation optics, can illuminate sports complexes using full cutoff LED light fixtures and to be dark sky compliant when the fixtures have 3000K LEDs. This includes football fields, soccer fields, horse racetracks and other large sporting venues.

4. Save the Lizards! More communities will require wildlife friendly lighting to protect nature

Southern USA coastal areas with sea turtle nesting habitats have adopted lighting ordinances that require 590 nanometer LEDs to protect the hatchlings. Hatchlings when born follow moon light to go out to sea. Artificial white light causes the hatchlings to go inland, causing imminent death. Turtles can’t see 590nm light, so using 590nm light for illumination solves the problem. This is just the beginning. Communities are beginning to understand the effect artificial light has on birds, mammals, amphibians, insects, and other creatures and are beginning to require wildlife friendly lighting to reduce the impact of artificial light.

5. Microwave lighting controls will become more common

Microwave lighting controls are used for occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting, and step-down dimming when some light is needed but not full power. Microwave lighting controls are becoming so common that many LED light fixtures are now being manufactured with plug and play interfaces that enable the microwave light controller to snap in without wiring. Previous limitations to adoption were the requirement of 0-10v or 1-10v dimming drivers, but today most LED drivers are dimming drivers so that is no longer an issue. Other factors increasing adoption are energy ordinances requiring controls, lower cost of microwave lighting controls, and ease of programming microwave controllers from the ground using an inexpensive handheld remote device.

6. Complex lighting controls will still be limited to mainly very large applications

The claim is DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) lighting controls, are suitable for all types of applications, as DALI provides more control over fixtures to allow for dimming, daylight harvesting, and other advanced features. While true, DALI and other lighting control systems are complex to setup, frequently requiring a commissioning team. If there is an issue in the system, solving the problem can be complex and may require an expert to fix the issue. Large facilities may see benefits by using DALI and other facility lighting control interfaces, but most of us want lights-on, lights-off, no drama.

7. Illuminated courts in back yards for sports will increase in sales

Illuminated courts for sports in back yards are becoming more and more common. Installing a backyard sports area is far less expensive than purchasing a waterfront home, and back yard courts for sports provide many of the same benefits as a waterfront property. Simply put, back yard courts for sports are a great way to create fun outdoor living spaces that blend both recreational and social functions. Illumination enables the games to continue into the evening. Additionally, as lighting technology advances, LED lighting has come down in cost, reduces energy use/expense, and renders maintenance to virtually nothing.

8. Light trespass will continue to be a contentious issue in many communities

The basic definition of light trespass is the unwanted or undesired light that enters private premises or public spaces. The three primary forms of light trespass are light from a light fixture spilling onto someone else’s property, being able to see a light source from a property other than the one being illuminated, and up-light light pollution restricting view of the night sky. While it is usually possible to light an area without causing light trespass, many people don’t stop to think about the implications of their lighting. Consequently, communities make ordinances, so people must consider light trespass, or neighbors and communities fight about light trespass after an installation. The best remedy would be communities making reasonable ordinances. For example, a reasonable light ordinance may include light trespass of no more than 0.5fc over the property line as opposed to 0.01fc at the property light. With reasonable light trespass ordinances, people can install lighting now and not fight later.

9. Selectable Kelvin and Selectable Wattage LED fixture sales will increase

LED fixtures with selectable Kelvin and selectable wattage are LED light fixtures that have the option of choosing between two or three different Kelvins and/or choosing between two of three different wattages, as prices for this technology go down. Selectable Kelvin / selectable wattage LED light fixtures are extremely versatile as they can adjust not just their brightness, but also the temperature of the white light that is being produced. Selectable Kelvin enables the facility manager to select the preferred Kelvin at the time of installation. With selectable wattage, the facility manager can determine the amount of light emitted from the fixture once the LED light fixture is on site. Negatives of selectable Kelvin and selectable wattage are the cost and permitting if required. The cost is a little more than with basic fixtures as the fixture requires a full set of LEDs for each Kelvin option. The cost for selectable wattage is higher as selectable wattage requires a more advanced LED driver. Selectable Kelvin and selectable wattage may affect permitting as the local governing body may not want a fixture that can change Kelvin and/or brightness with the flick of a switch after an inspection.

10. LED will be virtually the only lighting technology available

What ever happened to fluorescent lighting, Xenon lighting, Metal Halide lighting, High Pressure Sodium lighting, Low Pressure Sodium Lighting, Halogen lighting, incandescent lighting, Plasma lighting, or Induction lighting? They became relics of the past, dinosaurs, as LED lighting became complete ubiquitous. Today LED light fixtures can perform virtually every task that the legacy lighting technology performed and do so better than the legacy technology. By better that means lower energy use, low to no maintenance, superior lighting optics, almost infinite instant on/off cycles, no hazardous materials such as Mercury, and lower cost of acquisition. The size of the win and the market share is so large that there is virtually no other lighting technology on the market or on the horizon.

About Access Fixtures

Access Fixtures is your factory-direct source for commercial, industrial, hospitality and sports high-performance lighting solutions. With custom manufacturing capabilities, Access Fixtures builds durable, long-life LED luminaires for general lighting applications and specialty markets including transportation, freight terminals, sports fields and arenas, clean rooms, power plants, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. Luminaire types include wall packs, area lights, bollard lights, sports lights, post top and high bays. For more information, visit Access Fixtures at