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Kunstlicht bei Nacht - Ansätze für eine naturbewusste Außenbeleuchtung

Artificial light at night - approaches to nature-conscious outdoor lighting

The nights are getting lighter

Since the invention of the first light bulb at the end of the 19th century, people have started to systematically brighten up their surroundings and the night sky. With every leap in technology, the brightening of the night sky has been intensified and today we are seeing LED technology becoming more and more popular and ensuring maximum light output for street lamps and outdoor lighting.

The effect of an absence of total darkness from artificial light is classified as light pollution. Because a lack of darkness brings numerous negative influences on nature and the environment. Nights that are too bright not only disrupt the biorhythms of mammals, but also harm many nocturnal insects, for which artificial light often becomes a deadly trap.

The Nature Conservation Act (§ 21 NatSchG) stipulates that new installations and street lighting renovations must be equipped with insect-friendly lighting in accordance with the generally recognized rules of technology. An exchange period runs until 2030. It has long been undisputed that street and outdoor lighting must not be used to kill insects and at the same time other light-sensitive animal species must also be protected.

LED technology can do much more than just save electricity

While LED technology has recently scored primarily with saving electricity in the municipalities, a rethink is beginning today. Environmentally friendly approaches in electronics development enable innovative lighting designs that can direct, switch, dim and adapt the light to the environmental conditions. In this way, the principle of illuminance "as much as necessary, as little as possible" can be optimally implemented from a technical perspective, as required in the introduction to DIN EN 13201 Part 2 Status 2016.

Light-emitting diodes enable great design flexibility in order to future-proof compliance with nature conservation regulations. Last but not least, the selection of the right LED component from an almost unmanageable variety available on the market can make a relevant contribution to making the light sources less harmful to the insect fauna.

The light color is important - Nichia is the first LED manufacturer to bring new options

As part of the technical design of light sources, the emission of which should be less harmful to insects and light-sensitive animals, yellowish to warm white LEDs with very low ultraviolet and blue components are used because this spectrum shows a lower attraction for nocturnal creatures.

The world's leading LED manufacturer, Nichia, has expanded its high-performance 219 series LEDs, which are already tried and tested in street and outdoor lighting, with new warm white light colours: 2,500K / 2,200K / 2,000K / 1,800K.

The 219F version with a color temperature of 1800K is a real alternative to high-pressure sodium vapor lamps, which have so far been indispensable in nostalgic landscape lighting. In addition to adjusting the color temperature, LED technology enables a light source without environmentally harmful mercury, which overall offers better color rendering compared to conventional technology. Depending on the individual requirements of the street lighting, the other light colors can also be used.

For nature-conscious light, care is required in practice

The artificial light offers us people security, creates a feel-good atmosphere and accompanies us in almost all life situations after sunset. A competent use of LED technologies in accordance with the applicable guidelines (cf. EU Ecodesign Directive 2021), standards and protective regulations brings great advantages overall.

LED technology is considered to be an environmentally friendly technology because it offers significant energy savings and does not emit any toxic substances (such as mercury) into the environment. The technical properties of LEDs also offer great flexibility in electronics development, which can be used in a targeted manner to produce nature-conscious light sources.

In general, artificial light should only be used selectively and not wasted. Not only street lighting is a reason for the ever brighter nights, but also the increase in outdoor lighting through shop windows, advertisements, office buildings and decoration as well as in private areas. Therefore, each individual is asked to exercise care with regard to nocturnal creatures when selecting and installing outdoor lighting.

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