Public outdoor lighting allows people to extend their leisure time into the evening, something that is particularly important during the autumn and winter months. Ensuring you light your space in a way that serves the public, the environment, and your bottom line is important if your space is to be a success. With a multitude of different lighting options out there, it can be tricky to understand which is right for your particular situation.
Solareye are a family run supplier of outdoor solar lighting. Our lights are purpose built, high performing, and fully IP68 certified, allowing local authorities, organisations, and businesses to enhance the safety, comfort, and aesthetic of their outdoor space or pathway. Low maintenance, cost effective, and good for the environment too, solar lights come with many benefits.
In this blog, we explain the advantages of public outdoor lighting and outline some of the best options for your space.
Benefits of public outdoor lighting
Providing adequate lighting is essential for public confidence, health, and wellbeing, as well as economic development. Below, we explore some of the benefits of outdoor public lighting in more detail.
Increases visibility for motorists
Better illumination at night gives motorists improved visibility. This not only reduces the number of avoidable road traffic accidents that take place, but it also means drivers are more likely to notice pedestrians and cyclists, as well as avoid any hazards. From puddles to debris in the road to crossing animals, night time obstacles can be easily avoided with the correct street lighting.
Improves feeling of safety at night
Well lit outdoor spaces make people feel safer, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Attention must be paid to the way spaces are lit including the colour temperature and spacing of light sources. It has been suggested that women in particular feel safer moving around at night in spaces with ‘layered’ lighting (i.e., multiple different light sources) and warm rather than white light.
Other evidence suggests that well lit areas don’t actually make people feel safer at all. Lighting around entrances and exits can draw attention to you at a vulnerable moment, and the dip in lighting when moving from a floodlit area to a lower lit area can create disorientation and glare, meaning you don’t spot potential threats. This is because our eyes need to adjust to light levels and sudden changes in illumination do not give our eyes enough time to switch from photopic to scotopic or low light vision.
These phenomena show that it’s not just about putting some lights in and saying ‘job done’. Instead, you need to choose the best option for your particular outdoor space, and implement the lights in the best way.
With proper planning, you can create an outdoor space that maximises feelings of safety at night. And if people feel safer, the space is going to be seen as more accessible and inclusive, dramatically increasing footfall. This increased footfall is likely to further increase feelings of safety, accelerating the effect.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Ground Lighting
Encourages use of public space and amenities
Effective lighting plays a crucial role in encouraging people to use public spaces. It’s clear that the success of a public space is not just about design, facilities, or location; lighting is also a key factor. If the space is bright and inviting and amenities are well illuminated, people are more likely to make use of them. Proper outdoor public lighting therefore boosts economic development, and may even draw tourism from outside the community.
Reduces isolation and improves health and wellbeing
Lighting a space in a way that reduces people’s perceptions of fear will have a positive impact on wellbeing and health. People who feel comfortable moving around in the dark are more likely to use their leisure time to walk, cycle, or exercise outdoors in some way, boosting physical health. And, of course, spending time outside in nature does wonders for mental health too.
Feeling afraid after dark and remaining indoors as a result can intensify social isolation, so effective lighting is a great way to combat this issue. Instead of staying inside alone, people can go out, interact with others, and even make friends. A well illuminated space can therefore make all the difference to people’s perceptions of their belonging, and can create a real sense of community identity.
Helps with geographical orientation
Lighting can be a great way to help people move through a space and find their way, whether through visual signposting or by illuminating prominent landmarks. And, of course, if people know where they are going, their confidence moving about outdoors is likely to increase even further. For cycle paths and walkways, installing solar ground lights, for example, can be a great way to delineate the route and make it easy for people to see where they are going. This, in turn, will make the path much more likely to see frequent use.
Can boost aesthetic of space
Often discussions of public lighting can get caught up in the practicalities, but outdoor lighting can also be used for decorative effect. Designing an attractive outdoor lighting scheme can combine flair and function, increasing footfall and enhancing the character of a space either through illuminating architectural features or accentuating natural beauty.
Choosing public outdoor lighting – things to consider
Seeing as public lighting can have such far reaching social implications, it’s important to choose the right products. Below, we have listed some key things to consider when making your choice.
Depending on your space, it may be important that your lighting is independent of the grid. In this instance, solar lighting can make a great option. Solar lights have zero carbon footprint because they harness all their power from the sun, a totally renewable resource. Electricity generated by the National Grid on the other hand, is created using 49.3% fossil fuels at the time of writing. As well as this, solar lights are easy to install and don’t require as much maintenance as other options.
LED lights tend to be more cost effective because they require a lower wattage to reach the same level of illumination as standard bulbs. Installing LED outdoor lighting is an energy efficient choice and will save you money down the line. More than that, choosing solar LEDs means you won’t even have to pay utility bills. If you’re watching your budget, this may be the route for you!
Find out more: Benefits of Outdoor Solar Lighting
Not only has it been suggested that people feel safer in environments that are lit with warm light, but warm colour temperatures are better for the environment too. White LED light has high levels of blue light which is more disruptive to insects and other wildlife. In order to light your space in a way that balances community wellbeing with environmental credentials, it might be a good idea to opt for warm white LEDs instead.
How frequently your lights need maintenance should be a key factor when making your decision. A product that has a long life and low maintenance requirements is likely to save you money in the long run and reduce the time you have to spend sorting out any issues. For that reason, solar LED lights make the perfect solution because they are incredibly durable and easy to install in the first place!
Deciding how to space your outdoor lighting will depend on various factors. You need to avoid unnecessary lighting whilst ensuring there are no ‘blind spots’ or dark gaps in the lighting scheme where users might feel unsafe. When it comes to paths, slower ones should have five metre spacing, whereas faster, straighter paths might find 10 metres is acceptable. Essentially, you should ensure users are comfortably within a field of light every two seconds.
As we have mentioned, outdoor lighting can have a detrimental effect on local wildlife, so it’s important to take this into account when lighting your space. Ensure your lights have precise directionality in order to reduce upwards light spillage which can disrupt the behaviour of bats and other nocturnal animals, or consider using shields. A great way to do this is by using our Bat Hat. This handy device fits onto our standard solar ground lights to prevent their presence from disturbing local ecosystems – they’ve even been given the green light by the Bat Conservation Trust!
You could consider installing motion sensors to prevent lighting a space unnecessarily when it is not in use, or have timers fitted to dim the lights at times of low footfall.
Best options for public outdoor lighting
When it comes to public outdoor lighting, there are many options on the market. The best choice for your project will be the product that balances the considerations listed above. So, what are these products?
- – Solar Bollards – Light a pathway while simultaneously marking a boundary with solar bollard lights.
- – Solar Ground Lights – Solar ground lights are a great way to delineate a pathway and improve the illumination of a space without having to install streetlights or bollards.
- – LED Streetlights – When it comes to streetlights, LEDs are the future. Many local authorities are already replacing traditional streetlights with LED equivalents.
- – Solar Roof Light – From portable conveniences to outdoor facilities like bicycle storage sheds or even bus stops, solar roof lights can increase the use of public amenities by making them appear safer.
Solar power your public space
Solareye are a leading supplier of high quality outdoor solar lighting, passionate about making roads, pathways, and public spaces safer for everyone. We’re family run, forward thinking, and founded in the pedestrian and road safety industry.
See more: A Beginner’s Guide to Solar Roof Lights