A warm golden glow of incandescent lighting filters through the smoked glass of three Hooked Pendant lamps by London studio Vitamin*

Outdoor lighting is often the last design decision for most homeowners. Unfortunately, a hasty or ill-advised purchase can lead to a host of nasty problems, including bathing your home in a ghoulish glow, drastically increasing light trespass into your neighbor’s bedroom windows at night, and even negatively impacting the environment and your health. Today’s consumers have endless luminaire selections to suite even the tightest budget, but it doesn’t take money to light your outside correctly—you just need knowledge of the latest in LED light sources.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are the energy-efficient light sources that have quickly replaced traditional outdoor sources, such as incandescent lighting, high pressure sodium bulbs, and mercury vapor streetlights. LEDs come in a variety of colors but the most prevalent feature a blue-rich white light, which casts an eerie glow to all nearby surfaces, due to the high content of a cheap, but energy-efficient, short wavelength color spectrum.

What many don’t know is that the bluish-white color of most LED lights dramatically increases light pollution per lumen, from atmospheric scattering, causing increased glare, to worsened night vision for aging eyes, and the disruption of nature’s light cycles on all flora and fauna.

Lighting Facts chart showing unhealthy LED output

For these reasons alone, it’s recommended that before purchasing an outdoor luminare with an LED light source, you first check the photometric data for the LED inside. A health-and-environment-conscious warm golden appearance can be found in LED sources, but only when the color range is between 2400 – 2700 K, with a minimum of 80 CRI (Color Rendering Index). Most luminare manufacturers are now offering this information via an infographic printed on the luminare box.

The LIGHTING FACTS label (shown at right) is rated at 3100K, and although the CRI is a high-ranking 87, the fact remains that an LED color rated at 3100K is still too “blue white” to appear warm and inviting for most homeowners’ tastes or benefits.

Join me at Dwell on Design Los Angeles this weekend, as I discuss light and health, resolving issues with night lighting, as well as California’s Title 24 and its impact on residential design and lighting.

Originally submitted by Deborah Burnett

Deborah Burnett, ASID, CMG, LGC, AASM is an award-winning, internationally recognized registered interior designer, licensed general contractor, keynote presenter, and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Over a successful 30 year career, her practice has emerged as a leader in the embodiment of intent-driven, evidence-based architectural and interior design devoted to a working knowledge of how the body and brain are directly affected by the built environment. An early pioneer in the emerging practice of EPIGENETIC DESIGN, Burnett has been instrumental in disseminating important scientific and medical research examining the impact of built environmental ambient light on the process of sleep, cognition, and obesity. In addition to consulting on projects throughout the world, Burnett’s work includes clinical and academic research, public education and outreach, academic lectures, and presentations in the popular media.