A subtle yet significant revolution has been sweeping Britain’s roads under the cover of night. Drivers and pedestrians are now navigating their way in the crisp, white glow of LEDs, replacing the nostalgic dim orange illumination of the past.
The orange hue that once painted Britain’s nocturnal landscape came from the narrow spectrum emitted by high pressure sodium bulbs, which were popular due to their affordability and efficiency. These bulbs, introduced around the 70s, have been a common feature in UK’s streets. For those curious about the science behind the orange glow, you can explore more on the Georgia State University’s website.
However, the game-changer in outdoor lighting has arrived in the form of LED (light emitting diode) lights. Though LEDs have been around for decades, it’s only recently that they’ve been able to produce high-quality, pure white light at a reliable and cost-effective rate. LED streetlights outshine their sodium counterparts, consuming about 40-80% less electricity and boasting a life expectancy over five times longer. These advanced lamps emit instantaneous light, can be dimmed according to the time of night, and are designed to be directional to curb light pollution.
Moreover, the eco-friendly credentials of LEDs don’t end with energy efficiency. At the end of their lifecycle, these luminaries are recyclable and devoid of harmful substances like lead or mercury, common in other bulb types.
Hertfordshire County in the UK is a shining example of the LED revolution. Since 2014, the county has upgraded more than 12,600 streetlights on its A-roads to LED lighting. Although the initial expenditure hit £6.5m, the investment is expected to yield annual savings of £660,000 in energy and maintenance costs. For more about this glowing success, check out the Hertfordshire County Council website.
The main picture perfectly captures this change. Amid the fresh, white glow of efficient LED lights, you can spot a lone sodium bulb, an orange relic from a dimmer past, yet still a part of our illuminated history.