Lighting Research Center Lighting Research Center

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting provides safety, security, aesthetics, and economic development opportunities. There are many valid reasons to light the outdoors. However, it is important to understand how much outdoor lighting is enough and how to balance the need for light while minimizing light pollution and increasing energy efficiency.

The LRC investigates effective outdoor lighting techniques and equipment that provide cost-effective energy improvements and minimize wasted light, light pollution, glare, and trespass.


The Potential for Outdoor Lighting for Stimulating the Human Circadian System - An ASSIST technical paper evaluates the potential for outdoor lighting systems to stimulate the circadian system in humans. After evaluating four light sources, researchers determined that three of the four would not meaningfully stimulate the circadian system after one hour of exposure under two typical street lighting conditions.

Parking Lot Luminaire Evaluation and Calculator - ASSIST's parking lot luminaire evaluation method allows for comparison and rank ordering of products during the luminaire selection process, based on standard application requirements. An accompanying calculator performs all the calculations following ASSIST's method using the luminaire's intesity distribution file (e.g., IES file).

ASSIST recommends: Outdoor Lighting: Visual Efficacy - This issue by ASSIST discusses a new, unified system of photometry that would more accurately characterize different light sources at any light level, facilitating the specification of effective lighting systems for different applications, including those used outdoors at night.

OSP Methodology Glow and Trespass pdf icon - For those interested in using OSP to evaluate glow and trespass for their outdoor lighting installations, the following instructions explain the calculation procedure.

NLPIP Lighting Answers: Light Pollution - A general guide that discusses the three elements of light pollution (sky glow, light trespass, and glare) and gives examples and recommendations for minimizing or eliminating the undesirable effects of each element when designing and using outdoor lighting.

View more Outdoor Lighting publications

Related Programs


Metal Halide and High-Pressure Sodium Lighting for Outdoor Applications - Metal halide lighting is gaining acceptance for many nighttime applications. Researchers at the LRC investigated the "quality" issues associated with two lighting systems: high-pressure sodium and metal halide. The installations were compared in terms of perceptions of brightness and safety.

LRC Develops Framework for Assessing Light Pollution - Scientists at the LRC have developed the first-ever comprehensive method for predicting and measuring various aspects of light pollution.

Light at Night - There is a growing interest in the role that light plays on human health, particularly nighttime exposure to short-wavelength (blue) light. The interest in short-wavelength light is that it might reduce melatonin production at night or disrupt the internal body clock and, perhaps thereby, increase the incidence of disease. Although a logical link may exist between light at night and diseases, it is important to point out that an empirical, scientific link between light at night of a given amount and spectral composition, and an increased risk of disease in humans has not yet been made.

Decision-making Tools Address Light Pollution for Localities Planning Street Lighting pdf icon - The LRC developed a series of documents to provide municipalities, specifiers, designers, and other lighting decision-makers about street lighting and light pollution.

Revising the Lighting Requirements of the New York State ATM Safety Act pdf icon - The LRC proposed modifications to the lighting requirements of the NYS ATM Safety Act that maintain a perceived level of safety at ATMs while minimizing visual discomfort and light trespass.

Smart Luminaire for Roadway Lighting pdf icon - The LRC designed a new roadway luminaire that combines energy efficiency with light control.

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