Lights Out: A tale of light versus dark

Imagine living with any form of artificial lighting.

Think of how black the night sky would have been and how difficult to do anything after sunset. Roads would have been treacherous, not just from potholes, ditches and mud but also sewage, dead animals and those lying in wait for unsuspecting travellers.

In the twenty-first century, the real problem is exactly the opposite.

How do we eliminate excess lighting and conserve energy without plunging people into shadow? It’s only when you get away from it all can you appreciate the beauty of a black sky and the milky way. We may well be spoiled but lights out can be just as frightening and problematic depending on where you are. Communal lighting is an expectation.

But that doesn’t happen all by itself.

Poor design can actually lead to dark areas and those dark areas can lead to accidents and criminal or anti-social behaviours.

Under the cover of darkness and with the element of surprise on their side actions can happen swiftly with devastating consequences. This isn’t just a matter of circumstance or ‘wrong place, wrong time.’ Block managers can play their part in increasing the potential for undesirable behaviour too. How is this possible?

Vulnerability can be exploited in a second. It’s a matter of programming sensors correctly and making sure all areas are covered by light. If there is a delay between one light going off and another coming on or it happens too quickly people can be caught in a vulnerable position. Their eyes do not adjust quickly enough to the change in light levels and their vulnerability can be exploited in a second.

Many suffer from fear of the dark.

Fear of the dark is not something that we leave behind in our childhood. As we age our attitude towards darkness can alter. Good community lighting can really make a psychological difference to residents in a block or out on the street

Is your lighting contributing to dark areas and expensive burn out?

Compact fluorescent lamps are common. They are the workhorses of the lighting world. In fact they are used within 90%+ of communal areas. There is juts one major problem. Fluorescent tubes do not like being switched on and off too often. This is especially true when they light up from cold. Depending how the PR sensor is set the lighting can suffer from an overload of strikes every day. Some are set as frequently as every 2 minutes. Within weeks or months the bulb will have failed. Any block manager that fails to notice might well be putting tenants and owners at increased risk of an accident, a crime, or the fear of crime, which is a very real and unpleasant feeling.

Emergency lighting is something we have all come to rely on.

We don’t notice it but expect the exit to be clear as day in an emergency.. It’s an expectation and more importantly it’s a regulation. Emergency lights need to cover all escape routes and switch on during power failures.

They should be routinely tested and data logged and held in on-site log books.

It’s not something lighting operatives see very often in their travels.

Therefore it’s worth making sure lighting is checked more than just regularly.

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