The battle of LED versus traditional debate has raged for some time. We’ve seen everything from LED headlights on cars to LED screens on televisions and washing machines. At the moment, however, there is a rather more widespread issue.
Councils around the UK have been implementing the replacement of traditional street lamps with LED versions, some without even undertaking a trial run or public conference. Of course with any project there are going to be pros and cons and objections, and here are the considerations so for:
Pros: energy efficiency and financial savings. LED lights are known to use far less energy than traditional bulbs, some figures stating that they use 60%less energy and last up to 8 times longer. With the European drive to switch to energy efficient bulbs, this is a big step in the right direction.
They warm up quicker, shine brighter, and modern appliances are capable of being dimmed. This means that instead of turning off streetlights at might as many councils are doing now, they could merely be dimmed.
They come with remote controls. Each street lamp can be communicated with individually from a central hub, and so would be easier to control should the need arise.
They also have less parts that are likely to wear out, and so bring a lower maintenance bill.
However, here are the rather worrying cons:
The lights emit a very direct beam of light, unlike traditional streetlights which would diffuse the light evenly. This means the new lights are leaving large patches of street and road unlit, and the new lamps have simply been erected where the old ones stood. As such, public safety has to be taken into account as does the reality that installing more streetlights to rectify the issue would wipe out the cost savings.
Talking of cost savings, replacing traditional lamps costs around £500 a unit and overall costs could take up to 20 years to reap back, meaning that councils would more than likely put up council tax to cover it. In fact our council, Essex County Council, recently halted a scheme to install LED streetlights as it would cost around £31million.
There are also the health effects to consider. Where televisions are concerned, we’ve been warned for years oft he dangers of sitting to close or watching too long. This warning was reinforced when LED screens became more common. Research has shown that LED lighting can disrupt our sleeping patterns. In simple terms, this is because are ours are used to registering a fairly balanced spectrum of colours that we can’t even see. The new LED lights, however, are overwhelming with the blue spectrum which halts the sleep chemicals in the brain in favour of waking us up.
Chiswick was the first council to install such lights, and have temporarily dimmed them after an overwhelmingly negative response from residents claiming lack of safety in the roads and streets and sleep deprivation due to the overbearingly bright LED lights illuminating their bedrooms. In fact, councillor Colin Ellar states that he was not aware of any negative issues with LED lamps, nor was he aware there had been any research into LED lighting.
This appears to be a subject that will set people at logger-heads for some time. Perhaps with some research this could become a fantastic step towards energy efficiency, but it seems the new “UFO” LED lights would have to be more like a traditional lamp before it would solve more problems than it would cause.
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