LED lighting concerns

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by goblinuser, 28 Jan 2018.

  1. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    Now I know this is not something unique to the railways, in fact every area in the world seems to be adopting LED lighting systems at the moment.

    However, I want to discuss the use of LED lighting systems on the railway. When I was waiting for a train on a recently refurbished London Overground station, as darkness fell it became quite uncomfortable. The LED street lamps were very dazzling and everywhere I looked apart from down at my feet there were multiple harsh lamps imprinting my retinas.

    Questions are starting to be asked about the safety of harsh LED lighting around the globe, with the US advising public LED lighting should be shielded and below 3000k. Others have noted how they lack the red spectrum and have too much blue, so can disrupt humans internal clock, potentially damage eyes and affect wildlife. Then there is the flicker rate which is said to perhaps cause headaches. However as the technology is so new, it's hard to find much information. But at this stage, the advice seems to be LEDs are not a problem, it's simply that they are specced by people who don't know enough about them, and that is why they can become health and safety risks.

    Personally, I prefer the old orange glow of sodium lights, they feel more comfortable than harsh LEDs. But preference aside, I also have concerns about the safety of LED lights and their use. I am interested in hearing what your preferences are, and why.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jan 2018
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  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The only issue I have with LED lighting is that cheap lamps use cheap driver circuitry that flickers the LEDs, giving longer life, but that flicker is visible to me if it's below about 100Hz. This I find very distracting and unpleasant. Such lamps are less common these days but they do still exist - particularly on aftermarket car tail lamps which I find really distracting.

    Other than that I have no issue with them, I prefer the directional nature of the light (no longer any streetlamps shining in my bedroom window, for example, they light the street like they're meant to), it's a dimmer white which I find a bit less intense than the bright yellow, and it's of lower power consumption. Indeed, my whole home lighting setup is LED and provided you spend out on quality fittings and lamps it is barely distinguishable from tungsten/halogen yet costs a fraction of the amount to run.
     
  4. tom1649

    tom1649 Member

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    Indeed, you can now get 2700k LED lamps that give out warm white light that's just as good as the old incandescent lamps. The Osram ones I bought for my flat use LED filament technology and are the exact same size as incandescent lamps of old. LED technology has come a long way over the last few years, just a shame that cool white is often used where warm white would be more suitable.
     
  5. chubs

    chubs Member

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    LED has been around for a very long time, it most certainly is not a recent technology! What is recent is the huge rate of technological advancement, they become obsolete pretty much as soon as they are manufactured. The latest versions address the issues with the colour spectrum and provide light as good as any traditional bulb.

    I much prefer them to the old style bulbs and replaced everything that I could with LEDs in my home years ago.

    The issues are there is a lot of choice and you need to spec the right type of LED for the right purpose, and some of the cheaper ones aren't very good and can flicker and have very dodgy electrical circuitry.
     
  6. Ediswan

    Ediswan Member

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    White LEDs have plenty of red. Do red things look red or black under them? They do have more blue than types used before. The 'blue light causes retinal damage' trial was at far higher levels of illumination, not applicable here. All artficial light affects wildlife to some extent. There does appear to evidence that blue light late in the day can upset the body clock, but I have not looked into the exact circumstances when this applies.

    Flicker? There is some terrible control gear about that does flicker. The decent gear not will not flicker at a rate that causes headaches.
     
  7. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Sodium lights are fantastic for accountants but terrible for human vision. If you have a large area to provide basic safety lighting then they are perfect, but don't expect people to be able to do anything fancy like being able to distinguish colours. LED lights are perfectly safe, and as others have already posted available in a wide range of colours (and colour temperatures).
     
  8. klambert

    klambert Established Member

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    Can definitely see the benefits of LED lights as far as energy consumption and maintenance is concerned.

    However my issue is I find they tend to emit a very harsh white light which gets quite straining, particularly when driving at night, I find they often cause glare when compared to the older bulbs, obstructing my view of the road which can get quite dangerous. I'm sure it wouldn't be too much for car manufacturers to tint the lights slightly yellow.

    It's been proven that harsh white light can damage your eyes, hence why many software designers are going for darker colour schemes.
     
  9. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    The LED street lights my council have installed (primarily to save money) actually seem slightly dimmer than the old ones they replaced and I know someone who's had cataract surgery who says they are an improvement over the old ones as they produce less glare. However, the LED traffic lights seem very bright in the dark and due to complaints from nearby residents some pelican crossings (with flashing amber) have been replaced by puffin crossings (which have no flashing amber.)
     
  10. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That's a gross generalisation, especially considering that LEDs started with red and only latterly have we been able to make blue LEDs of any significant power.

    Cheap LEDs have poor colour balance, but I'm willing to bet you have experience better ones without even knowing.
     
  11. klambert

    klambert Established Member

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    Hence why I said the word 'tend' at the start, to avoid such a generalisation. Would you like me to pull up English dictionary definition for your reference?

    However I do find modern car LED headlamps to be very glaring. when compared to the older sorts.

    Driving in front of a modern car is like being followed by a small sun.
     
  12. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    You're missing the point: you only notice the harsh white LEDs and then assume that anything harsh white is one. Not that many cars have LED headlights, it's much more common for then to be Xenon than LED.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jan 2018
  13. Crossover

    Crossover Established Member

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    We have a few LED lights in our bathroom which are cool white, and I had pondered how much blue they gave out.

    I drive daily on the M62 and over the Pennines, they have recently changed all lamps to LED. They seem to give out a much nicer light and I find the light spread is better, meaning you don't seem to get such a noticeable bright, dark, bright, dark effect
     
  14. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Have a look on the box (or the base of the lamp), there's usually a colour temperature listed (e.g. 5000K), that'll tell you. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature
     
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Very few cars have LED headlamps. Most are tungsten xenon, I suspect it’s these the OP is complaining about.
     
  16. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    Thank you for all the interesting responses to this topic.

    No, I am referring to LED street lighting systems.

    I too have seen recently replaced LED street lamps which are perfectly fine as they are not too bright. The ones on London Overground are incredibly bright and completely dazzle you if you look anywhere but the ground.

    In the AMA report it describes how the higher levels of blue from 4000k leds causes 'disability glare' which is dangerous for drivers. The blue light is also known to disrupt sleep and studies have shown it has increased tiredness in areas where bright LED lighting has been installed.
     
  17. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    The important thing to note is that it's no the fact that they're LEDs that's the problem, it's the fact that they are 4000K. You'd get exactly the same results from non-LED sources (plus a whole lot of UV to boot).
     
  18. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    Yes, the specification, order and installation is to blame. It's why I posted this thread in the railway forum although someone moved it to general discussion.
     
    Last edited: 28 Jan 2018
  19. Ediswan

    Ediswan Member

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    The only light sources which emit UV are those which are intended to. Filtering out UV within the lamp is straightforward. (Properly made of course.)
     
  20. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I have come across poorly made lamps, unfortunately.
     
  21. cjmillsnun

    cjmillsnun Established Member

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    They have been around a relatively short time in terms of lighting. Fluorescent, sodium, mercury vapour and incandescent have been around much longer.

    The problem I have with LED is the colour temperature normally chosen for white. Incandescent lights give a yellowish ‘warm white’ that is relatively comfortable on the eyes and there is no problem with making LEDs that can emit this type of light. Instead the cold white option (which has a definite blue tinge) is used. I find this light very harsh particularly when used in car headlamps.
     
  22. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Again, a vanishingly small numbers of cars have LED headlights. The vast majority of 'dazzling white headlights' are Xenon-halogen. LED headlights aren't (for the most part) even legal in the UK.
     
  23. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    They are legal and car manufacturers are using them. However, if the lamp breaks the entire headlamp or tail lamp cluster needs to be replaced in one unit.
     
  24. Aussie_Rail

    Aussie_Rail Member

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    Interesting discussion. I have found that here in Melbourne, when they replaced the old destination blinds in trams with LED desto's, they are much harder to read from a distance. the same goes for LED destos on trains and to an extent on buses, but mainly trams are the hardest to read.

    LED lights are also used on trains as marker lights, don't have any issues with those.
     
  25. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    They are not however common other than on bicycles. Most excessively bright headlamps are tungsten xenon.
     
  26. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    Of course bright lights shone at near horizontal into your eyes are going to dazzle.
    But back to the original topic, I don't think we should have to accept being dazzled as pedestrians or passengers by overly blue, bright LED street lighting.
     
  27. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    That assumes you feel dazzled by it. I don't, I find it much more pleasant than the old sodium lighting, both when out on the streets and by the fact that it doesn't shine into my bedroom window so I sleep better.

    Do you stare directly at them or something?
     
  28. goblinuser

    goblinuser Member

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    Not all LED street lighting is bad, in fact the ones installed by the local council are a big improvement as they are not overly bright.
    The ones on some recently refurbished Overground stations are however, very bright and are located in positions where they shine into your field of vision.
     
  29. bramling

    bramling Established Member

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    I've redone some of my house with LEDs which purport to approximate filament bulbs.

    Whilst, to be fair, they're not bad (and have a big benefit that one doesn't have to worry about putting overrated bulbs in fittings), I've put a few back to filament bulbs because the light colour in some applications just doesn't look quite right - it's a dull flat yellowish light compared to the sparkle of filament bulbs. It's a bit like replacing old handmade glass in sash windows with modern float glass - just doesn't look right.

    Also I'm sure LED bulbs dim as they age.

    There are some benefits though - a 500W halogen floodlight replaced with 50W LED can't be bad!

    I agree with the comments elsewhere about the unpleasantness of cool white LED bulbs. I find them horrible in virtually every application.
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Daylight white (the bluish white) works well as a very dim background light, such as on the newish Irish DMUs. It's utterly horrible in applications like GWR HSTs where it is far, far too bright.
     
  31. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Which is why I said 'for the most part' - LED headlights aren't legal (since they aren't listed as approved lamp types), but a car with type approval can use them due to the whole car being approved. Strange, I know.
     

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