The Outdoor Lighting Metrics Every Contractor Should Know: The Spotlight’s On Design (Part 2)

December 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm  •  Posted in Construction  •  0 Comments

To deliver a superior lighting experience that enhances the intended use of a building—and to win bigger, better business—lighting designers and contractors must work together as a cohesive team.

Article Contents

In a previous blog post, we had a fireside (or should I say computer-side) chat with Lisa J. Reed, Founding Principal of Envision Lighting Design, about lighting appearance and performance. We talked about a few lighting metrics every contractor should be aware of, with specific retail examples. In this blog post, we’ll dig into a few more metrics around lighting performance and design, especially outdoor lighting.

BUG & Outdoor Lighting

What Is It?

BUG is short for “backlight, uplight, and glare.” (No, it’s not that pesky creature buzzing around your head.) In short, uplight addresses dark sky concerns, backlight refers to light trespass —a form of “light pollution” that infringes on other people’s personal space—and glare is related to viewer comfort and safety.

Why It’s Important

BUG has completely replaced cut-off ratings for outdoor lighting. In fact, it’s the only current metric for describing how light comes out of outdoor fixtures. In outdoor applications, there are certain requirements around dark sky, light trespass, and glare concerns.

A Practical Example:

Let’s say you’re working with a local city to install streetlights. Homeowners don’t want blinding lights shining through their windows at all hours. And there are rules around what each municipality will allow.

Or maybe you’re installing outdoor lighting for a big box retail client. When bright light shines in our eyes, it’s hard to adjust to shadows and dark areas. If you’ve ever looked directly into a bright light, you know what I mean. For viewer comfort and safety, lighting shouldn’t blind customers with too much glare. Because a crash in the IKEA parking lot isn’t a fun way to spend Sunday. And you don’t need that kind of disaster on your hands.

BUG & Dark Sky Concerns

Light pollution blocks our view of the night sky, and is even thought by some to cause health and ecological problems. When nighttime lighting isn’t needed, the result is light trespass, contrast, reduced visibility, and wasted energy. Glare, light trespass, and dark sky concerns are important for another interesting reason. Across America, there are lighting ordinances and regulations designed to protect the night sky for citizen’s enjoyment. Every contractor should be aware of the regulations within their area of business.

Just For Fun

Lisa J. Reed isn’t into design for aesthetic purposes only—she also enjoys learning about the cosmos. In fact, she met Neil deGrasse Tyson, famed astrophysicist and host of COSMOS and The Inexplicable Universe, at a conference recently.

Here’s the photo to prove it:

Lisa J Reed and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Which Lighting Should You Choose?

When it comes to selecting the right lighting for outdoor applications, you should be up to speed on backlight, uplight, and glare (BUG) concerns. If you’re working on indoor retail lighting, you should take a peek at this article for more metrics that matter. Finally, use your eyeballs to gauge how the lighting performs in its natural environment. If you follow these steps, you should be in good shape.

Over To You

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, or connecting with us on Twitter @GraybarESP or on Facebook.

Todd Reed, National Market ManagerAbout The Author
Todd Reed, National Market Manager

Husband to a professionally licensed architectural engineer and lighting designer (a.k.a. Lisa J. Reed) and son-in-law to an electrician, Todd knows the importance of efficiency, safety, and productivity for electrical contractors. Todd is a seasoned professional, with 5 years’ experience within a family-owned distribution business and 10 years as a Graybar employee. As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.

Sources & Credits
Shedding Light on LED Lighting
LEEDuser: Light Pollution Reduction
International Dark-Sky Association: Directory of Lighting Ordinances

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