Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: Setting Up Non-Obnoxious Outdoor Lighting?

timothy posted 1 year,27 days | from the just-a-nice-wan-glow dept.

Earth 445

An anonymous reader writes "My neighbor recently complained about my outdoor floodlight shining in her window. While trying to address this problem, I read an essay about the tragedy of light pollution, and started to think that this is a much broader issue. With all the new lighting technologies out there, this may be the right time to rethink lighting — both indoor and outdoor; public and private. I solved my problem by replacing the floodlight with a spotlight, but I also considered installing a colored light. What are some strategies for illuminating what we need to without casting excess light everywhere and inadvertently blinding our neighbors or keeping them awake?"

cancel ×


Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

But why? (4, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361535)

What do you need a floodlight for?

IMHO there is way too much lighting - residential areas just plain don't need outdoor lighting at all; what's wrong with just carrying a torch?

Re:But why? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361615)

what's wrong with just carrying a torch?

Too much danger of starting a fire.

let me translate that into slashdotese: (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361703)

if (FireFury03 == 'Brit'){
      torch = 'flashlight';

Re:let me translate that into slashdotese: (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361747)


Re:let me translate that into slashdotese: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361951)

you'd be surprised at how many people are totally unaware of that particular idiom.

Small correction (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361877)

if (FireFury03.Speaks(Languages.English)) {
            torch = 'flashlight';

Re:Small correction (2)

bondsbw (888959) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361967)

Go up to an American cop, standing outside a blazing building, and tell them you were there before the fire and brought a torch to light the place up. See how well that goes for you.

Re:Small correction (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361979)

if (FireFury03.penis >= 6) {
                        English.language = American.language;

Re:But why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361637)

personally, it's hard to walk my dog at night (so it poops/ pee before bedtime). I have one hand on the leash, another on the flashlight, and then somehow manage to scoop the poop....especially in the rain while trying to balance an umbrella.

My floodlights are on motion sensor, however. It helps cut down on the obnoxiousness.

Re:But why? (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361687)

I have one hand on the leash, another on the flashlight, and then somehow manage to scoop the poop....especially in the rain while trying to balance an umbrella.

My floodlights are on motion sensor, however. It helps cut down on the obnoxiousness.

You should purchase my patent pending "pooper-scooper with a light" in one handy device. It has gun style mounts so you can change from light, to laser sighting, to scope... just in case the dog poops out of range.

Re:But why? (4, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361735)

Ever tried a head- or shoulder-lamp? They're made to solve *exactly* this problem and are extremely effective.

>My floodlights are on motion sensor, however. It helps cut down on the obnoxiousness.
Only if well configured. I can't tell you how many floodlights I've seen that get triggered by somebody walking past outside the yard, or by neighborhood animals passing through, or even wind blowing through a bush. The only thing more annoying than a floodlight constantly shining in my window is a having it turning on and off all night long.

Re:But why? (3, Informative)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361759)

Please make sure that motion sensor isn't too sensitive. Having people's floodlights pop on while you're trying to take a quiet walk (on the street, not their property) and look at the sky is obnoxious. Floodlights winking on and off when the wind blows is obnoxious as well.

You might consider a light on a headband. I sometimes use a 'grill light' around my neck when I need my hands free.

If you really need the flood lighting on a motion sensor, perhaps a red light is in order so it doesn't mess with night vision so much?

Re:But why? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361997)

'light on a headband' aka gyno-light.

Re:But why? (4, Informative)

tom17 (659054) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361767)

Try one of these, they are great for this kind of stuff. []

I may look a tool wearing one, but since discovering it, i'll never turn back to handheld torches for poking around the garden.

Re:But why? (2)

rjune (123157) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361863)

I used one of these replacing the radio in my wife's van. You are supposed to disconnect the battery, so extra light is needed. Having the light on you head, gives you a "third" hand. I don't care if I do look silly wearing it, it made the job much easier.

Re:But why? (1)

tom17 (659054) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361969)

Yep, I also use mine (Not the one I linked to) for working on the car. Gone are the days of propping up a torch. Love it!

Re:But why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361871)

God, no, those are fucking terrible. Get a REAL headlamp. Like a Zebralight [] , for example.

Re:But why? (2)

tom17 (659054) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361957)

That was just a cheap example, in case OP responded with "Not paying that much". I have others, but that would suffice for taking the dog out for a crap.

LED safety glasses (2)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361909)

I use led safety glasses [] which are a lot less dorky looking and work pretty well.

Re:But why? (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361921)

personally, it's hard to walk my dog at night (so it poops/ pee before bedtime). I have one hand on the leash, another on the flashlight, and then somehow manage to scoop the poop....especially in the rain while trying to balance an umbrella.

Allow me to introduce you to a revolutionary new concept [] .

My floodlights are on motion sensor, however. It helps cut down on the obnoxiousness.

In my experience, motion sensors on external floodlights are perpetually triggered by wildlife.

Re:But why? (5, Informative)

Adam Ricketson (2821631) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361645)

I am the OP: Short answer, my landlord installed the floodlight and the motion detector that runs in. I think she was partly concerned with security, which I don't really think is an issue. Longer answer, my wife has MS which gives her both vision problems and balance problems. She also walks with a cane which would make it hard to carry a torch. I think that a lot of older people have similar issues.

Re:But why? (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361791)

Low voltage lighting along the walking path might be an answer then. For most people, that will light the path well enough, but in the worst case you can at least tell where the path is because of the lights at the edge.

Re:But why? (4, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361875)

Short answer, my landlord installed the floodlight and the motion detector that runs in. I think she was partly concerned with security, which I don't really think is an issue.

Its fairly well documented that whilst lighting provides an increased sense of security, it frequently decreases security in real terms by creating deep shadows.

Longer answer, my wife has MS which gives her both vision problems and balance problems. She also walks with a cane which would make it hard to carry a torch. I think that a lot of older people have similar issues.

Fair enough - I understand that people with disabilities may need additional lighting, etc. Although I can recommend keeping a head torch handy - the modern LED ones are light, bright, and last a long time. Another possibility is to have a remote controlled light (rather than a motion detector), which would avoid mis-triggering by wildlife.

My local council made a decision to turn off some of the street lighting between 1am and 5am a few years ago, saving several tens of millions of pounds in energy charges. This was met with lots of complaints along the lines of "this is endangering the elderly and school children!" (who are obviously always walking to and from school at 1 in the morning(!)). Eventually a new council was voted in and undid all that.

Re:But why? (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361663)

Outdoor lighting is nice to have, we're not really creatures of the dark. You could solve 90% of the light pollution issue with proper reflectors and shades though. I don't understand why people let all those lovely photons go upwards where they're not needed.

Re:But why? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361777)

And rope lights and other small, usually LED lights. Put the light where you need it.

After fiddling around with a bunch of solutions, I ended up buying some Chinese motion sensor LED spots that were run off D batteries. After a bit more aggressive weatherproofing involving a touch of WD 40 and some duct tape (true story - the WD 40 gets a spot sprayed inside on the contacts, the tape surrounds the one external opening), they''ve lasted an entire SE Alaska winter. They are all at just about ground level, just light up the path to the house and shut off after a few moments. I had originally planned to run some low voltage wiring to them to avoid the battery swaps, but the batts seem to last 6- 8 months so I doubt I will bother.

I've only had one unit fail so far - they're standard Chinese modest quality - so I doubt they will last for years, but I'm sure I'll want to try something else by then. Maybe some lasers.

Most outdoor lights are a waste (1)

sjbe (173966) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361965)

Outdoor lighting is nice to have, we're not really creatures of the dark.

Sometimes but mostly it seems to just be a waste of energy and just obscured the night sky. If you are actively doing something outside then sure, use whatever lights you need. But most lights seem to be just wasteful and unnecessary.

Re:But why? (1)

GodInHell (258915) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361745)

I need floodlights to keep the scavengers (as in metal recyclers) from coming into my yard to steal my table and chairs -- ah the joys of urban living.

Re:But why? (1)

thej1nx (763573) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361787)

what's wrong with just carrying a torch?

His neighbor might think that he was carrying it for her.

Re:But why? (4, Insightful)

avelldiroll (813074) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361811)

All the studies i checked (sorry no ref, that was 15 years ago) on the subject correlated closely drops of burglary with increase of outdoor lightning in the same area.

But why not explore other sources of lighting? glowing plants [] for example (they had some success with kickstarter [] a few months ago)

Re:But why? (2)

pla (258480) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361905)

I would buy pallets (as in, the big wooden kind, not the little one-dozen-seedling kind) of those in a frickin' heartbeat...

Except, at present it looks like complete vaporware. Lots of neat pictures, and you can buy swag with those same pictures on it, but no actual plants.

If I've missed the link to the real product, please call me a moron and send me to the right spot!

Re:But why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361879)

I thought like this when readying my outdoor lighting solution, but considering the price of torch oil these days, I just got torch shaped solar powered lights and ensconced them. They're dimly lit but well enough for my needs, free to operate, and available for free 2 day shipping on the internet. WIN

Re:But why? (1)

Arker (91948) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361991)

There are very good reasons to want a flood light around the house at night - so that if you need to move around you can see well enough not to hurt yourself, so that if something is moving you can see whether it's a raccoon or a burglar, for instance.

But for these purposes I would always use a relatively dim, diffuse red light. These are great for allowing you to see shape and movement without simultaneously blinding anyone and shouldnt be as big a problem with close neighbors.

Mandatory Reading (5, Funny)

PktLoss (647983) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361537)

Watch out, they may respond with poisonous gas! []

Re:Mandatory Reading (2)

stewsters (1406737) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361623)

You beat me to it. Comedic gold.

Re:Mandatory Reading (1)

tom17 (659054) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361657)

Me too. I came here to post this :)


Ground lighting (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361539)

Your first thought might be "boy this would be easily solved by one massive bright light affixed somewhere high up" but you'd get better results with less neighbor-annoyance (since the light is close to the ground, your fence/the bushes in your front yard will stop it.

Sure it's more work and admittedly can be a pain to wire your yard (if you go that route, there are solar powered designs out there) but it looks a hell of a lot more attractive than floodlights.

Re:Ground lighting (2)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361723)

What's the obsession people have with turning everything into daylight?

Humans can see quite well in low light. You miss out on a lot of stuff if you're constantly worrying about where the nearest light switch is.

all the maddest scientists have one... (4, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361917)

screw that noise, build a moonlight tower [] and show Mother Nature who's BOSS!

Re:Ground lighting (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361727)

Your first thought might be "boy this would be easily solved by one massive bright light affixed somewhere high up"

During my limited time spent outdoors I think I've seen what you speak of. Except it was a blinking light with a period of about 24 hours. Also, it hurt my pale skin...

LED (1)

Xicor (2738029) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361541)

use smaller LED lights possitioned around where you need lit. you can get waterproof ones and run them on the outside of your driveways and whatnot

Re:LED (1)

Adam Ricketson (2821631) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361707)

Thanks. This is one of the things I like about LEDs... that they can provide low-intestity, dispersed lighting. This is something I'll look into at my next home.

Check out the International Dark Sky Assn (5, Informative)

g01d4 (888748) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361549)

The [] has several resources. Better yet, become a member.

Re:Check out the International Dark Sky Assn (2)

CBung (1572609) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361743)

One of their approved products which my family uses is the glare buster, []

is your neighbor hot? (2)

alen (225700) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361551)

why else would you shine a floodlight into a woman's window?

Sigh (-1)

Guspaz (556486) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361559)

There is no such thing as "light pollution". That's not to say that shining a floodlight through a neighbours window isn't inconsiderate, but it's not "pollution".

The proper solution to the OP's problem is to:

1) Stop shining your lights in the direction of your neighbour
2) Use a motion-sensing light so that it at least only turns on when it needs to be

Re:Sigh (5, Informative)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361583)

You're obviously not an astronomer. See this photo for a good example: [] (from [] )

Re:Sigh (0, Flamebait)

Guspaz (556486) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361775)

Except that "light pollution" isn't pollution by definition, and the safety benefits of illumination in cities far outweighs any potential inconvenience to astronomers.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361993)

If you put safety first, then nothing will ever meet your criteria of being too 'inconvenient'. Too bad for the astronomers that are only trying to figure out what the universe is made of. In the meantime, how's TSA working for you?

Re:Sigh (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361899)

Hoax!! Photoshop!

Re:Sigh (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361613)

If you're an astronomer pro or amateur, or even if you merely enjoy the night sky, there most certainly is light pollution.

I've lived in both the middle of nowhere and in urban areas. The difference is staggering. (To air quality, too.)

Re:Sigh (0)

alen (225700) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361655)

no, pollution is something that damages life. gives people cancer, kills fish and other animals, kills trees, etc

light doesn't kill or hurt anyone. unless you are shining a light into the jungle where night time animals rely on cover to survive

Re:Sigh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361753)

Nope. Pollution is merely a contaiminant introduced into an environment that causes adverse change. Light pollution can have adverse effects on the environment beyond making astronomers cranky. There are also medical studies showing that excessive light has adverse effects on the health on both humans and other animals.

You're simply misinformed and bashing a strawman.

Re:Sigh (1)

Fishchip (1203964) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361769)

It's a term that's come into use to describe an effect. If you go by the dictionary term of pollution, no, you are correct, taken literally 'light pollution' does not exist. But the phenomena the term is associated with does. So call it whatever you like, if it makes you feel better about the dictionary's feelings.

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361789)

What is noise pollution?

Re:Sigh (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361813)

Preventing someone from practicing their hobby is surely damaging their quality of life.

Light pollution has been a common phrase for a long time.

Re:Sigh (2)

Immerman (2627577) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361883)

Actually excessive light can severely interfere with both plants and animals natural cycles, damaging health and possibly even survival, especially in the long term. One of the most extreme examples are undersea oil pumping rigs - big brightly lit towers standing above a black seascape. The "pillars of light" memorial in New York had the same problem: birds apparently get disoriented by the light and "orbit" it rather than continuing on their journey. Over land it may be immediately survivable but still comes at the cost of a lot of wasted calories and time, which may reduce long-term survival. At sea it's a lot more likely to be fatal when they run out of energy with no land within reach.

Re:Sigh (1)

Rhacman (1528815) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361963)

Besides wasting energy casting light where it is not needed there are many real and well studied effects on the health of both humans and animals attributed to light pollution [] .

Re:Sigh (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361971)

So a big pile of garbage on your lawn is cool? Sure it'll stink horribly, but stink doesn't kill or cause cancer. Boom box across the street going 24/7 keeping you awake is cool?

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361689)

There is no such thing as "god" but light pollution is real.

Re:Sigh (1)

kimvette (919543) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361901)

Come to the Epping/Lee New Hampshire area sometime on a clear night other than a Friday. Then, come back when there are races going on. You'll see what light pollution does - you go from having Magnitude 6-7 visibility to having a night sky resembling Boston's, all because the lights throw >70% of the light into the sky rather than on the ground, because they are improperly aimed.

Submitter's problem is that the neighbor's light was installed by an incompetent asshole, so much of the light she is paying for is being wasted - shined on the neighbor's property and into the sky. If aimed properly not only do you preserve night viewing, and NOT piss your neighbors off, you get more for your money by concentrating all those lumens where it is actually needed- on the ground.

Re:Sigh (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361939)

It most certainly IS pollution. It's unwanted, degrades the environment, and provides no benefit in return.

Re:Sigh (2)

An dochasac (591582) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361975)

There is no such thing as "light pollution". That's not to say that shining a floodlight through a neighbours window isn't inconsiderate, but it's not "pollution".

I don't know what your definition of pollution is, but excess outdoor lighting is ugly, it's unwanted, it can cause adverse change (everything from sleepness nights to wildlife deaths [] to increased [] levels of vandalism and other crime. And it has detrimental effects on health including a carcinogenic effect. [] I call it pollution, you call it light trespass or whatever you like but I suspect there is a level of excess light that you would call pollution. Can your neighbor shine floodlights into your window? How about stroboscopic flashing lights tuned to disorient and possibly trigger seizures? How about lasers? I'm not joking, given the fact that running a laser advertisement is now practically free, expect to see the night sky filled with McDonalds ads [] and other annoyances. If we continue to treat light pollution as a non-issue, our beautiful night sky will be replaced with pop-up ads.

The proper solution to the OP's problem is to:

1) Stop shining your lights in the direction of your neighbour 2) Use a motion-sensing light so that it at least only turns on when it needs to be

I agree with you here. This is a very good start. Ask yourself, "Is the light necessary? Is it necessary to run continuously? Would I like it if all of my neighbors had the same light? What if millions of people did exactly what you are doing, would the environmental impact be worth it? Does it provide even and useful illumination of an important area or does it provide glare and deepen shadows?"

If you do need lights, LED lights provide many advantages over older outdoor lighting technology. They are smaller than discharge tubes so can be focused better. They can be placed where you need them and they consume far less power than incandescent lights. They can be PWM dimmed, they can be cycled instantaneously (opposed to the 10-20 minute warm-up of sodium/mercury discharge lights) without significant reduction in life. Rural areas could turn off streetlights unless they detect someone (a car or a mobile phone) in the area.

Only use lighting when needed... (3, Insightful)

knarf (34928) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361563)

The simple solution to this problem is to only use lighting when it is really needed, ie. when there is a human within range who wants to have some extra light. As soon as the human is gone, switch of the light. Use a motion sensor adjusted to human-sized objects so it does not trigger every time the neighbour's cat comes wandering by. Aim it so it does not get triggered by passers-by who have no intention of entering the designated area.

Night time is supposed to be dark. Make it so. Turn it off!

Re:Only use lighting when needed... (1)

Adam Ricketson (2821631) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361809)

That's part of the solution. Our floodlight in on a motion detector (directly connected to the house's wires), but not a very good one -- it turns on when we don't need it, and not always when we do need it. It's a rental property so there's only so much time/expense that I want to put into replacing this with a good motion detector. Are there better ways to set up motion detectors than having a single point right next to the lamp itself? Even if lights are only on when needed, there's still a lot to gain from containing the light better. For instance, can lights turn on/off slowly so that they aren't so startling? I think the big benefit would be from finding a better way to implement car headlights.

DIY solutions are the only way to have CONTROL (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361569)

I did this in my back yard. 10 "old" 60W Edison bulbs with nice large filaments, strung up between two corners of the roof line, and a dimmer switch rated for 1000W.

It's quite nice and it's no brighter than you need it to be.

Rope lighting (1)

randomErr (172078) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361581)

My father in-law has a large backyard. To keep the light where he wants it he by using rope lighting. For the flood prone areas he'll use clear plastic tubes on some custom made stakes to elevate the lights and keep rope straight. The stakes aren't 3d printed. They're just rob iron bent into the shapes wanted and painted black to stop the rust.

Re:Rope lighting (1)

Adam Ricketson (2821631) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361823)

Thanks for the details on how to implement this.

White Spandex (1)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361585)

Do what makes the difference between amateur event lighting designers at crappy small festivals and professional high-quality lighting designers. Crappy ones will point bright lights into people's faces and it hurts. Good designers will put up white fabric and sails everywhere and point lights into the sails and sometimes up into the sky.

While it might not be exactly applicable to your backyard lighting application, it's something to think about.

A few tips... (1)

ebunga (95613) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361587)

1) Burglars like to see where they are going
2) turn off your goddamned lights when not needed

Neighbors? (2)

morari (1080535) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361589)

Wouldn't know, I don't have any neighbors within viewing distance. With that comes a beautiful view of the night sky. Get out of the suburbs and live a little! ;)

Re:Neighbors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361741)

If you really think its feasible for everyone in the world to live with a 3 acre buffer, your delusional.

"Off" works for me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361603)

Of the five or six houses on my street, we all have an unspoken rule of leaving our outdoor lights off when we're not outside.

But one neighbor has a motion sensing light that is set so wide that it turns on when I walk out my front door, which is very annoying.

Are you one of them? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361629)

I have seen numerous home owners bathing their homes in light from a floodlight shining at an upward angle from the lawn. These lights are 500W halogens and some of them use two of them, 1 cool kW. Are you one of them? Do you have to do it? Of course, it is your money, how you spend it is your right. But it is also my right call such a spending idiotic, and draw inferences about the intellect and self confidence of such people.

Re:Are you one of them? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361793)

Typically those homes are poorly built or not built correctly by the contractor. PROPER lighting is can lights in the sofett that way you can use low wattage lamps to achieve the same lighting without pollution or spill but have a higher level of security. Because someone creeping around a sofett lit home is very east to sport from the road.

It all comes down to two things. Dumb homeowners that don't know what to buy or would rather spend it on useless crap like trendy color Granite counter tops, and a contractor that is very low quality that will not bring in anyone with any real experience in outdoor lighting on the project.

It's all relative (4, Funny)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361633)

It's all relative - replace your light with a carbon-arc searchlight, the sort they used to light up bombers during the War. After a couple of weeks of that making her bedroom look like a film set, she'll be thrilled when you put the original one back. Alternatively, put the light on a strobe circuit. Then you can claim with perfect accuracy that you have reduced the light output to half of what it was previously, and as a bonus her room will look really cool.

Re:It's all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361717)

And if she has epilepsy, she'll stop complaining really soon.

Re:It's all relative (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361839)

Didn't get invited to the Christmas party again?

Goggles (4, Funny)

pr0nbot (313417) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361639)

Surely this is the excuse you've been waiting for to buy night vision goggles?

Bug zappers... (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361643)

...hundreds of them. Keep you occasionally illuminated and entertained at the same time.

Dramatic outdoor lighting. (2)

wcrowe (94389) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361651)

Google "dramatic outdoor lighting". With a little work, and not too much expense, you can add some nice lighting to your property that will give you more security without irritating your neighbors. It will also enhance the look of your home. I wish more people would do this instead of installing glaring flood lights that come on every time the wind changes direction.

Astronomy Guy Here (4, Informative)

hodet (620484) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361665)

As a long time stargazer I can sympathize with your neighbor and its pretty much the reason I moved out to the country. Floodlights are the worst, they illuminate every which way. Good lighting uses something to shield the light from going up and sideways and focuses the beam down toward the ground. We installed pot lights outside and use colored lights in them that are softer but are still plenty bright enough to see if you go outside. Also, there is no substitute for simply turning them off when you are in the house, although that is easy for me to say where I live. In the city some see them as a deterrent to people sneaking around their yard. You could always put your lights on a motion sensor as well I guess. You can google for outdoor residential lighting that minimizes light pollution. Check out a few astronomy forums, there are plenty of militant anti-light folks there that could advise you as well.

Re:Astronomy Guy Here (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361859)

I think the perfect device for scaring people out of your backyard would be some low power red lasers hooked to a motion sensor. Bonus points for a tracking setup.

Solar lights (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361941)

I went to small solar lights, the kind used for garden walkways, to be the only lighting on my back porch. For the price of one annoying regular floodlight with cranky movement sensor, I put up several solar lights in the spots I wanted. Now I have soft, unintrusive light that allows me to see my dogs and any obstacles on the porch easily. You just don't need as much light power as you are probably used to - try going with less, and your eyes will adjust. Bonus: No bugs seem to be drawn to this kind of light, here in the San Bernardino Mountains in CA. So no more invasion of moths each time I open the door.

Why do you need lights? (1)

ArcadeX (866171) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361673)

Ambient light covers moving around at dark is most places, or just get a torch / flashlight. For cameras / security use IPcams with IR sources, or other lowlight solutions.

This is easy (2)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361677)

Use lenses and reflectors to make sure the light does not go anywhere but where you want it to. Very easy to do, but not the cheapest thing to do. Most people care about cheap not correct.

Once you stop being cheap and design your outdoor lighting correctly, all these problems go away.

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361701)

but I also considered installing a colored light.


Re:Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361807)

No, you are the racist for only accepting white light.

You don't need it (probably) (0)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361713)

Most of what is viewed as "needed" outdoor lighting isn't. Separating need from emotional desires would go a long way to stopping light pollution.

Google "full cut-off lighting" (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361715)

Light fixtures that shine the light where you want it (typically down) and block it from shining where it's not needed. Many communities that have building codes are requiring these where people can still see the stars at night.

They can be used in combination with motion sensors or stand-alone.

But if you live in one of those communities where everybody has a spotlight on the front of their McMansion to show the stone façade work off to passers-by ... well, some things just can't be fixed.

Really Slashdot?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361731)

Now Ask Slashdot has replaced visits to Home Depot or Lowe's, in addition to consulting firms?? WTF???

Be coherent (3, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361739)

Using a laser you will light exactly the point you need

Re:Be coherent (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#44361985)

For coloured light, yes.

What about WHITE light?

the *only* way (1)

goffster (1104287) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361785)

Invest in infrared lighting and infrared goggles.

You can then turn it up *full blast* and put on your goggles
anytime you need to view the resplendent glory of your yard.

There's little point (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361833)

Seriously - until outdoor lighting is revamped on a large scale, there's no point in trying to "cut down" on light pollution of your residential dwelling. Everyone else on your street, along with the city, is just going to keep doing what they always been doing.

The better question is "What can I do to get a government mandate rolling to limit the types of outdoor lighting in order to restore visibility of the night sky?"


What are the requirements? (1)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361847)

What do you need to light up? Why?

I second the suggestion for full-cutoff lighting. If you need lighting at all.


The real problem (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361865)

The real problem with outdoor lighting is that fixtures are installed incorrectly probably 99% of the time. is there ANY reason that >50% of the light escaping the fixture should be going skyward? Aim the things properly and > 90% of the light pollution problem will go away (what remains is incidental reflection from the ground or scattering by water vapor). I have been in well-lighted gated communities where careful design went into outdoor lighting, and despite the ground being well lit, you still get a great view of the sky.

I am finishing a move to Lee, NH and in my backyard I can see the Milky Way very clearly, and for the first time I can actually spot the Andromeda Galaxy clearly without resorted to averted viewing.

Near me I have two NASCAR tracks and one drag track nearby (Lee Speedway, Star Speedway, and one New England Dragway). Lee Speedway is a short jog through the woods and Friday nights, sky viewing is crap; driving by I checked out the lights, and they're aimed at about a 30 angle, throwing 70%+ of the light up to the sky. I don't mind the noise at all from the track, but the light pollution is very annoying, because when those stupid lights are on I can't see much more in the sky than I can see in Boston. The problem can be solved very easily by aiming the lights correctly. It would still create a light dome from reflected and refracted light, but it would be very minimal.

Most of the problem is due to installer incompetence. There is no reason - no need for these lights to not be aimed properly. In fact, IMHO, it should be part of NEC to require outdoor lighting to be aimed as well as wired and sealed properly.

Best solution: natural starlight (4, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361889)

I live in a wood in Scotland three miles from the nearest streetlight, half a mile from the nearest other house. I don't have any exterior lights, because I don't need them. There's no more than two nights a year when it's murky enough - usually because of fog - to need a torch. The human eye is extremely good at adapting to low light, if you give yourself a couple of minutes to adjust. And out of doors, on planet Earth, it is literally never dark.

Starlight is a free natural service offered you by the planet which doesn't run up your energy bill or cause light pollution. Use it.

What about headlights? (1)

Adam Ricketson (2821631) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361935)

Hi, I'm the anonymous coward who asked the question. I forgot to add one issue to the post -- what about car headlights? As a bicyclist, I feel like I'm trying to compete with cars for attention at night, and the brightness of their lights is unnecessary (especially in an urban area with other lights). Also, I sometimes get headlights in my window. I see two functions for the headlights: the visibility of the car, and visibility for the driver. The visibility of the car could be achieved with much less light -- perhaps distributed over the body of the car. Achieving visibility for the driver is harder without a bright source (or some sort of smart lighting system along the road). Any thoughts? My only thought is that a non-white color may be just as effective without being as obnoxious... but I'm not too optimistic about that.

Anyone live where the streetlights go off at night (1)

gQuigs (913879) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361945)

I proposed turning the streetlights off at midnight in my town but I don't have any US based examples of that working. The fear is that it will be less "secure".

I'd recommend LED Strips (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | 1 year,27 days | (#44361999)

You can get LED lighting fairly simply these days, and I think it's a lot better for outdoor use. Basically, think christmas tree lights but more subtle. You can get tubes or flatter strips that you can put pretty tastefully wherever you actually need to see. Consider lining walkways with dim LED strips rather than blasting everything with an obnoxious bright light. It's easy to attach them to deck rails or gutter lines. On a dark night they're enough to see what you're doing and where you're going and on a well moonlit night, well, you shouldn't need them. :-) You can light up a pergola well enough that you can sit and hold conversations quite comfortably... to me the softer lighter light feels more natural than a single bright beacon on a pole.

They also have the advantage of being long-living and low cost (typically as they're overall lower wattage than huge floods).

Search amazon for "rope light" or "led strip light". Pre-strung ropes with plugs are the simplest, but you can get long strips of light that you can daisy-chain which require special ballasts (AC adapters).

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>