Light pollution: What is it exactly and why it may be the insect apocalypse starter?

light pollution led billboards

Light pollution may not be the first type of pollution that springs to mind when we think of negative impact of human activity on the planet – after all, plastic pollution and the effects of global warming are much more widely documented issues. While many of us are already taking steps such as eliminating single use plastic from our daily lives and changing our diets to include more plant-based foods, we also need to consider how the way we use light in our daily lives can have an impact on the environment.

Unfortunately, light pollution can be a matter of life and death, and so we need to take action if we are to avoid the potentially disastrous effects that can occur. As we become more conscious of the issue, in theory, light pollution is a much simpler problem to tackle than global warming – so let’s take a look at what the issue really is, how insects are impacted, and how we can prevent the issue getting worse.

 

What is light pollution?

Our modern lifestyles demand being able to see what we’re doing at all hours of the day and night, and so we’re creating more light than ever before to facilitate this. That light pollution is pretty much what it sounds like – excessive artificial light that is made by humans, that has a detrimental effect on the area around it.

 

light pollution led billboards

 

While all light has the potential to be considered light pollution, scientists categorise light pollution into a few main types:

 

Glare is unshielded light that can be hazardous, particularly when driving. It can cause a loss of contrast, can dazzle, and cause temporary loss of vision.

 

Over-illumination is the excessive use of light. This is typically observed where timers and infrared sensors are not used, improper design or the incorrect use of lighting fixtures, or the wrong type of bulbs are in place. However, this type of light pollution is also seen in areas where ‘daylight lighting’ is demanded by people, or business owners, to reduce crime and to reassure locals that the area is safe – which reassures customers and encourages them to visit the store into the night.

 

Light trespass is where light creeps into spaces that it shouldn’t be – a good example is that of street lights shining into bedroom windows, but is observed where light goes up into the sky and obstructs the view of the natural night sky.

 

Skyglow can be observed when looking into the sky above populated areas, and occurs as a result of reflected light, and upward-directed, unshielded and unused light that escapes into the sky.

 

Light clutter is where there are excessive groupings of lights, such as where there are towns and cities close together, or on a smaller scale, where street lights and brightly lit roadside advertisements clash. Light clutter isn’t just a hazard for wildlife though – it can cause accidents, particularly where they are intended to divert the attention of drivers.

 

Satellites and planes are another cause of light pollution. Whereas moving lights in the night sky were once only shooting stars, there are now hundreds, if not thousands of lights in the night sky that should not be there, and thus are considered light pollution.

 

How bad is light pollution?

Approximately 80% of the world’s population lives under skyglow, and across the USA and Europe, around 99% of the human population are unable to experience a completely natural sky from their home. This has been the norm for a long time – in 1994, an earthquake in Los Angeles caused a city-wide power cut. As residents went outside to see what had happened, many of them reported a strange cloud in the sky above them – which turned out to simply be the Milky Way. For humans, the immediate issue with that is that we can’t see the beauty above us – but it is much bigger than that.

 

light pollution across the world

 

In particularly brightly lit cities across the world such as Las Vegas, artificial light pollution that is experienced directly overhead can be observed over 40 miles away. Scientists estimate that light pollution has increased by around 2% each year, which doesn’t sound like a huge amount, but that quickly adds up to a much bigger number as time goes on.

 

What effects does light pollution have?

Considering that it isn’t natural for the planet to be lit up through the night time hours, it stands to reason that all forms of life on land would be impacted by our artificial light. Any type of pollution is not good for our environment, but light pollution is a huge cause for concern for all species – and particularly when it comes to insects.

 

Light at night has serious health implications for humans

Our industrialised lifestyles require us to use light throughout the night time hours, but there is significant evidence to suggest that excessive use of light has a damaging impact on human health, contributing to sleep disorders and depression. There are even links with more serious illnesses such as obesity and cancer, although the exact links are yet unclear and demand more research.

Doctors are reporting more patients with insomnia than ever before – around 33% of adult patients report it. While light pollution may not be directly causing insomnia in each and every patient, it isn’t surprising that searches for terms like #insomnia and #cantsleep are increasing across social media channels, while searching for ‘insomnia treatment’ returns more than 69 million results on Google.

The different colours of the light spectrum are essential to understanding why our bodies are impacted so much by light pollution, and why the effects are increasing. Red and orange toned lights are more relaxing for the body, and typically throughout the UK, orange street lamps have been used – primarily because they are the cheapest to run. These are less intrusive for our sleep patterns too. However, since technology has evolved and cheaper to run, brighter LED lights available, many homes and cities are making the switch – but although they’re brighter, safer for driving and cheaper to run, they are generally problematic for our health.

That’s because the super-bright LEDs that are often used tend to be on the bright white, and blue-tinted end of the light spectrum. And, as anyone who has experienced difficulties sleeping after using their phone or laptop too long in the evening can tell you, that isn’t good. Blue light mimics natural daylight, and since our brains can’t distinguish between natural daylight and artificially created blue light, it has the effect of keeping us awake, since our brain receives the blue light as daytime.

 

the impact of light pollution on the health of humans

 

Energy wastage impacts upon the planet

In addition to blocking out the night sky, there’s an excessive amount of power wasted when inefficient artificial light is used unnecessarily. That alone should be a good reason to minimise the number of lights that we use wherever possible.

The impact of street lighting on the environment can be minimised simply by switching to LED lighting. When Los Angeles replaced 150,000 streetlights with LEDs, they saved 60% on energy costs – which added up to around $8 million every single year. But – of course – that isn’t the only issue that excess lighting can cause, otherwise we wouldn’t be writing this post.

Scientists believe that dimmer, warmer, and shielded LEDs could be the answer for both reducing pollution and decreasing lighting pollution – but we need to use them carefully.

Careless overuse of cool white, or blue toned LEDs will be even more problematic. In many areas, there is already an over-reliance on lighting up areas unnecessarily, and since LEDs are cheaper to run, there’s a risk that lights everywhere may become the norm. The more unnecessary lights that are put in place, the more insects and other animals are impacted by them, so no matter how much energy that is saved, it won’t stop the potentially disastrous effects on wildlife.

 

Light pollution has a huge impact on insects

We’re almost all familiar with seeing moths and other insects circling around lights, and mistaking it for the moon. Some of us might have even laughed, or thought that they are just stupid insects – but unfortunately, it is a serious issue. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is estimated that around a third of insects that get trapped in this cycle die from exhaustion, or by being eaten before the morning.

 

bright light impact of light pollution on insects

 

This is just the first of many issues that makes light pollution so problematic for insects, and different species experience different problems – here are a few more specific examples.

 

  • Many insects can have their sense of direction confused by light pollution
  • Car headlights draw insects towards them, killing billions every year
  • Insects that need to hide from the cold, or catch night pollination, may miss the cues that they would normally get from sunset
  • Warning colours of predator insects can be obscured, leading to over- or under- feeding
  • Fireflies use bioluminescent cues to find their mates – artificial light interferes with this, leading to lower numbers
  • Mayflies can be confused by light reflecting off tarmac and mistake it for water – and proceed to lay their eggs in the road instead of in a lake or river, which can decimate entire populations
  • Dung beetles are unable to navigate safely using the light from stars if they can’t see it because of skyglow
  • Corn earworm moths stop mating when lighting levels exceed that of a quarter moon at night
  • Artificial light can change the time that fruit flies hatch

 

Many species of insects are thought of as pests, particularly in agriculture where they feed on crops. Light has been used by farmers for many years as a weapon to intentionally suppress insect populations without needing to use damaging chemicals. And while that might be understandable where profits are impacted for small local farms, it becomes a huge issue when it becomes standard practice across the world.

But if insects are truly pests, why should we care that their numbers are declining? Unfortunately, almost every type of insect is essential for the ecosystem, since many are involved in breaking down faeces and returning the nutrients from waste to the earth, as well as being essential for pollinating plants and crops. Even losing even the insects that we hate – such as mosquitos and cockroaches – would mean that other animals wouldn’t be able to eat, so losing the bugs we don’t like would lead to extinction of species that we actually want.

These are just some of the problems that insects are likely to encounter – and unfortunately, we simply don’t know how many more issues insects may face at night as a result of light pollution. Many ecologists and entomologists prefer studying activity during the day, and so until research is carried out during the hours of darkness, we won’t know anywhere close to the full extent of how insect populations are suffering.

It isn’t just insects that are impacted by light pollution though – many birds are disoriented, or lured in by artificial lights and end up smashing into buildings. This issue is a much bigger problem during migrating season, and there are hundreds of other types of animals that find light pollution problematic, including bats, insects, primates, and even plants. It isn’t just plants and animals on land that feel the effects though – fish, turtles, and marine invertebrates including corals are impacted by excess light pollution – and so, in addition to tackling other types of pollution, we need to deal with it.

 

How can we reduce light pollution?

The good news is that light pollution is perhaps the easiest environmental threat to deal with – since in many cases, all that needs to happen is for the lights to be turned off, or to use them more thoughtfully.

 

light switch how we can reduce light pollution

 

Only use lights when they are necessary. This is an obvious thing to say, but it really will make a huge difference! Turning lights off when they are not needed, especially outside, will stop insects being impacted. Adding timers to ensure that lights aren’t accidentally on all night, and is an easy way to minimise light pollution. In work settings, lights should be switched off at the close of business.

 

Use PIR motion detector lights for security. There are many places where lights are essential for safety and security, but in places like gardens where light is required, but isn’t necessary to be on throughout the night, using lights that have motion detectors is the easiest way to cut light pollution. Since many models run on solar power – such as this solar LED outdoor wall light – installing these types of lighting can really lower the impact on the environment dramatically.

 

Use bulbs that are appropriate for the task. Use bulbs of 500 lumens and less, and avoid using bright white, or cool white LEDs – where possible, look for bulbs of 3000 Kelvins or less. (you can find out more about bulb brightness and warmth in this post) Getting the most efficient bulb, and that provides the right amount of light can also prevent the need for using additional lighting and minimise the use of electricity – which isn’t just better for the environment, it is also better for your electricity bill!

 

Shielding lights wherever possible. This means directing the area of light so that it is only lighting up the area that needs to be lit, rather than the light travelling further than it needs to. When you are positioning outside lights, be sure to angle them downwards, away from the horizontal. When you’re inside your home, be sure to cover windows with curtains or blinds when indoor lights are switched on. This is even more important when it comes to skylights, since the most damaging paths of light are those that shine upwards.

 

Use decorative lighting sparingly. Using festoons and fairy lights during celebrations is appropriate – but although they look pretty, use them only when you’re actually using your garden, and be sure to turn them off when you come in for the evening. If you’re intending to use lighting around the garden for decorative purposes, avoid blue-toned lights where possible.

 

Petition the government and local businesses. We can all take steps in our own homes to minimise the impact of our lighting on our local wildlife, but light pollution is a much bigger issue. There are already plenty of petitions online requesting that the government takes action, but you may be successful by contacting businesses that leave their lights on unnecessarily into the night. Consider requesting that they use a timer to switch lights off earlier, and in addition to pointing out the impact on the local ecosystem, you can note that they’ll be saving on their energy bills – money talks, after all.

 

Our final thoughts

Clearly, we’re huge fans of lighting here at Lyco – it is the focus of our business, after all. And while light pollution is something we should all be aware of, if we make use of our lighting carefully and considerately, we can continue to enjoy the light we need, when we need it, while minimising the impact on the environment. To discuss more about specific types of lighting solutions that we can offer your home or your business, get in touch.

 

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Speed of light explained in-depth

light caught in skyrise city

The speed of light is one of the most important measurements used by scientists today. Although most of us will have been taught about it at school, it is frequently forgotten about, since the measurements and the numbers are so incredible, and honestly, it really is pretty difficult to get our heads around. In this post, we’ll try and make it simple! We’ll be looking at how fast the speed of light really is, whether it is the same everywhere, whether anything can travel faster than the speed of light and what light years have to do with the speed of light.

 

light caught in skyrise city

 

Who discovered the speed of light?

Scientists have been concerned with the speed of light for years, and in ancient times, some believed that the speed of light was infinite and could travel any distance instantaneously. Galileo Galilei attempted to measure the speed of light with an experiment in the early 17th century that involved two people and covered lanterns standing a known distance apart. One person uncovered their lantern, and as soon as the other person saw their light, they uncovered their lantern. During the experiment, Galileo tried to record the time between each lantern signal, but as we now know, light simply moves too quickly to be able to measure it over such small distances in this way.

Ole Roemer was the first person to determine that light is not infinite, in 1676. He did this by studying Jupiter’s moons, establishing that when there was an eclipse, they took place sooner when Jupiter was closer to Earth in their orbits. This observation meant that light was moving at a finite speed, because when Jupiter was further away, it took longer for the light to travel.

French physicist Hippolyte Fizeau was the first person to measure the speed of light that wasn’t an astronomer. Working in 1849, his method used light that passed through a rotating wheel, which was then reflected back from a mirror that was situated a significant distance away.

Albert Einstein’s work on the theory of special relativity was published in 1905, which was important for scientists to help uncover the speed of light – since it helped to determine that an object approaches the speed of light, its mass becomes infinite and it is unable to go any faster than light travels.

 

albert einstein

 

Albert Michelson was one of the first to make a precise calculation about the speed of light. He calculated how Earth’s motion through space affected how the speed of light is measured, and found that the speed of light is the same no matter what Earth’s motion is. Michelson’s most accurate research was carried out in the 1920s, using an eight-sided rotating mirror apparatus. Interestingly, this work helped Michelson to win a Nobel Prize, and he is the only person in history that won for a non-discovery of anything. He was attempting to detect the ‘luminiferous aether’ – the medium that it was hypothesised that light travelled through – and the experiment proved this did not exist.

Since Roemer’s work in 1676, there have been countless numbers of calculations to show the speed of light, with varying degrees of accuracy:

Roemer – 214,000 km/s

Fizeau – 315,000 km/s

Michelson (1879) – 299,910 km/s

Michelson (1926) – 299,796 km/s

The speed of light in a vacuum (which space is considered, because it is nearly empty) wasn’t determined until as late as 1983, when an international commission on weights and measures set it officially, using the calculation still in use today – which is 299,792 kilometres per second.

 

Why is the speed of light important?

The speed of light is important for scientists because it is a fundamental constant of nature – it is never changing. It is the measure that limits velocity in the universe (as far as we know) and is an important factor for everything.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which is known best by the famous E = mc2 equation shows us that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. This suggests that nature sees energy and mass are different forms of the same thing, and so with the right conditions, energy can become mass, and mass can become energy.

Einstein’s work also showed that objects that travel at close to the speed of light can experience changes to length and time, and these changes depend on the relative motion of the observer and the object. Essentially, as we get closer to the speed of light, lengths look like they are getting shorter, and clocks seem to tick more slowly.

 

e=mc2

 

How fast is the speed of light?

The speed of light is simply how far light can travel in a straight line in a given amount of time. There are a number of different ways in which we can show the speed of light, depending on the unit of distance or time that we use. So, the speed of light can be shown using seconds, minutes, or hours, using metres, kilometres, or miles. It can look like:

299,792,458 metres per second

300,000 km per second

186,282 miles per second

1,080,000,000 kilometres per hour

671,000,000 miles per hour

If these numbers don’t mean anything to you because it is hard to visualise, then perhaps this might help. Assuming that there were no allowances required for the curve of the Earth, then a beam of light travels so fast that it could cover the distance around the equator (24,901 miles) seven and a half times in a single second.

Despite the journey being 150 million km, it takes light from our Sun just 8 minutes and 20 seconds to travel to Earth. For light to travel from the nearest star to our Sun (Proxima Centauri), it takes 4.2 years, which helps us to understand exactly how far away that star is. It also means that when we see light from other stars, we’re seeing light that started travelling a long time ago.

 

What is a light year?

A light year is a measure that is linked with the speed of light and is the distance that a beam of light travels in a straight line during one Earth year – that is, 365 Earth days. Rather than being a measure of time as the name might imply, it measures distance. To calculate the actual distance of a light year, you simply need to multiply the speed of light by the number of seconds in a year. If you want to do the calculations, you can follow along here. If maths isn’t your thing, then:

A light year is 6 trillion miles (that’s 6,000,000,000,000 miles), or 9 trillion kilometres.

To try and picture how far a light year is, you can use the circumference of the Earth (24,900 miles). Imagine this distance, if you can – and then lay out 7.5 more (this distance is a single light second – how far light travels in a straight line in a single second) and then add 31.6 million more of those lines end to end. It is a huge distance to try and imagine, and even with this visual, it is incredibly hard!

This measurement can help us to understand just how huge space is – the Milky Way galaxy is one hundred thousand light years across, and Earth is twenty six light years away from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. The space shuttle Discovery travels at around five miles per second, which means it takes around 37,200 years to cover just one light-year – so the reality is that with current technology, humans are unlikely to cover this distance any time soon.

 

speed of light explained galaxy

 

Is the speed of light the same everywhere?

The speed of light is measured in a vacuum. Through the vacuum of space, no matter how much energy a photon has, it always travels at the speed of light – 300,000 km per second. The highest-energy photon and the lowest-energy photon ever observed both travel at exactly the same speed in a vacuum.

When outside of a vacuum, or when travelling through a different material, light can be slowed down. Materials that are transparent to light allows photons to travel through it, including water, acrylic, crystals, glass, and air. But electrons in those materials interact with photons and slow them down. So, if light is in a material, it is being slowed down. Light travels through Earth’s atmosphere almost as fast as light travels in space (it is affected by anything that is in the atmosphere, but it is almost the same speed), while light passing through a diamond travels at around half the speed of light. But even half the speed of light is incredibly fast, around 124,000 km per second!

You’ve probably seen adverts from internet service providers that suggest that signals are travelling at the speed of light through their optical fibres. They’re implying that their service is the fastest possible, to encourage customers to sign up, but the reality is that as light travels through those cables, there is interference from other photons being released from the glass atoms. Since the speed of light is measured through a vacuum, the actual speed is 40% faster in a vacuum than it is through fibre optic cables.

That isn’t all though. Since different photons have different energies and their electric and magnetic fields oscillate at different rates, photons with different energies will slow at different rates. When shining white light (which is made up of all the colours of the spectrum) through a prism or water, the more energetic photons slow down more than less energetic ones, which causes the colours to separate – causing that rainbow effect that we all know so well.

However, as long as atoms remain the same, our definitions of time, length, and the speed of light will never change.

 

Can anything travel faster than the speed of light?

Science fiction has had humans imagining that we may be able to travel faster than the speed of light for decades – and it makes sense, since in order to get to, and explore other planets, we would need to travel that fast. Star Trek has facilitated this – with ‘warp speed’ being multiples of the speed of light.

However, despite the imaginations of science fiction writers, so far nothing built by humans has been able to go faster than the speed of light. One of the fastest objects made by humans is the New Horizons space probe, which launched in January 2006 and passed Pluto and Charon in July 2015. It has been travelling at a speed similar to that of the Earth, just over 16 km per second – which is nowhere near the speed of light (300,000 km per second).

While we haven’t yet been able to create anything that is able to travel as fast as light, it is possible to make some things travel at speeds close to the speed of light. As early as the 1960s, William Bertozzi established that it was possible to make electrons travel at increasing velocities. The more energy that was applied to repel the electrons, the faster the electrons were accelerated. While Bertozzi’s team were able to get close to the speed of light, they weren’t able to reach it.

To date, the only particles that have been observed travelling at the speed of light are photons – which are the particles that light is made up of. The reason that they can travel this fast is that they have no mass, meaning that – unlike electrons – they don’t get heavier as they accelerate. The second that photons are released; they are already travelling at the top speed they are able to achieve.

 

speed of light atom explained

 

Since the amount of energy that it would take to propel a small (10m x10m x 10m) spaceship to travel at speeds faster than light (and manipulating space-time in order to do so, using ‘warp bubbles’ – also known as the Alcubierre Warp Drive) would be similar to the entire mass of Jupiter – and that energy would need to be provided constantly – at present, there isn’t a solution to how travelling that fast will be possible.

Research is ongoing though, and visible light is just the start of it – because photons make up plenty of other types of waves. Radio waves, microwaves, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays from decaying atoms are all made up of photons – which make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

There is one thing that we know is travelling faster than the speed of light: the universe. The universe is expanding at a rate of roughly 68 kilometres per second per megaparsec, where a megaparsec is 3.26 million light-years. This is a whole other discussion though! You can read more about that here.

 

Why is light so important?

Light is important to humans (and many other mammals) for a number of reasons. Natural light sets the course of our days, ruling our circadian rhythms and determining when we fall asleep and when we rise. Of course, humans have been creating light using fire, and in ever brighter amounts since the discovery of electricity, and the invention of the electric motor.

Lighting doesn’t just make our modern life possible – allowing us to work around the clock, or create optimal ambience for the activities that we have planned – it is essential for us to thrive. Our bodies don’t just need light to see, we need it to keep us healthy – both physically and mentally. Particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, throughout the winter months when there is less daylight, doctors report a huge increase in the number of people with symptoms of depression, which tends to lift as the days get longer in the spring.

It isn’t just our health that light can have an effect on. Light can change our mood dramatically, making us more likely to make rational decisions, to concentrate or negotiate better, or even to make us more receptive to making a purchase decision in a shopping centre.

 

speed of light cityscape

 

Key takeaways

The speed of light is an essential concept for scientists to understand, since it is one of the physical constants – a fundamental invariant quantity observed in nature. For most of us outside of the world of science, it is also just that – a physical constant that we take for granted as never changing. Whether you’re studying the speed of light for the first time, or refreshing your memory, there’s a lot to get your head around. The main points to remember though are:

  • All types of light – whether high energy or low energy – always travel at the speed of light if it is travelling in a vacuum
  • You can’t change the speed of light with your own motion or the light’s motion
  • The speed of light can be changed while it is in a non-vacuum material (including air), for as long as it is in that material
  • When in a material, light of different energies will change speed by different amounts, depending on the properties of the material
  • When the light leaves the material and re-enters a vacuum, it continues at the speed of light
  • As far as we understand to date, the speed of light is exactly the same at all times throughout the Universe

 

Looking for more news, inspiration, or advice? Try our Lighting Advice section.

 

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

How Light Works: The Ultimate Guide

home lighting how lighting works blog

When you’re starting to choose lighting for your home, it can be tough to know where to begin, even if you’re certain of the style you’re looking to create in your home. With so many different lighting options available, and lots of variables between the different types of bulbs, it can be pretty mind blowing. Through this post, we’ll take you through the different categories of lighting that you need in a room, and the types of fixtures that you can use for each category. From there, we’ll cover the important issue of light bulbs, since they’re pretty complex, and understanding how they work makes buying them much simpler.

We’ve written this post with absolute beginners to lighting in mind – those who are setting out living on their own for the first time, new home owners, and those who have previously ‘made do’ but are now ready to create a stylish home that they can be proud of.

 

How light works a beginners guide light bulb sketch

 

What different types of lighting are there?

Where once we would have relied solely on the ceiling light to provide all the light in a room, today designers and lighting experts recommend having a range of different lighting available in a room – with at least one from each lighting category, to allow for optimal amounts of light for all the types of activities that may take place in the room. The main categories are ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting.

As an example, in a bedroom:

  • Ambient lighting allows for getting dressed and moving around
  • Task lighting would allow for reading or for applying makeup
  • Accent lighting may be used to illuminate wall accessories, behind a TV or an aspect of the room’s design

 

Ambient lighting

Ambient light completely fills the room with light, and allows you to use the room as if it is daytime. It is often provided by the ceiling light in the centre of the room, but there are other types of lighting that can contribute to ambient indoor lighting.

It may be the case that producing the optimal amount of lighting requires a number of lights to be used at the same time.

 

Task lighting

Task lighting does exactly what it sounds like – it produces light for specific purposes. This could be for reading, cooking or for studying. Task lighting can be provided by a range of lights, including:

The type of task lighting that may be required is likely to differ from room to room and between the type of activity that it is needed for. For example, a desk lamp that is only used with a PC, or under-counter lights in the kitchen may be able to be a fixed type, whereas for craft activities, a lamp with a moveable head may be desirable.

 

Accent lighting

Accent lighting can take many forms, but is primarily there to highlight an accessory such as artwork or an architectural feature. This can be provided by lots of different types of lights:

Since accent lighting is there to highlight, then simpler light fixtures can help to keep the focus on the feature.

 

scene accent highlight lighting example in an art gallery

 

What type of lighting fixtures should I use?

The decision about which lighting fixtures you prefer is a personal one, and should be based on the type of look you are aiming to achieve in the room – but having at least one (if not more) of each type of lighting means that you’ll have the flexibility, and will be able to create the brightness that you need at any given time.

 

Ceiling lighting

Ceiling lighting is often the first lights that get chosen when moving into a new home. They tend to provide the general illumination in a room, but also add to the styling of the room.

While your personal preference, and the style and visual weight will ultimately guide your choice of ceiling lighting fixture, there are approximate calculations that you can use to narrow down the type of fixture that will work best in the space.

Working with the dimensions of your room in feet (rather than centimetres), add the number of feet in the width to the number in the length. The answer will give you the number of inches that your light fitting diameter should be. For example, if your room is 6 foot by 10 foot, the optimal size of light fitting would be 16 inches – which is about 40cm.

If you’re choosing statement lighting such as pendants that hang from the ceiling, the first thing to do is to get your tape measure out. It should go without saying, but you will need sufficient clearance underneath the fixture to avoid breakage and potential injuries. When hanging feature lighting from the ceiling, it is essential to have a minimum of two metres clearance between the floor and the bottom of the fixture (and if some members of the household are particularly tall, maybe a little more). If you’re hanging pendant lighting above dining tables, there should be at least 65cm between the table and the lighting fixture.

 

Wall lights

Wall lights can be used for all kinds of purposes – either to add to ambient lighting, as task lighting or as accent lighting – as well as providing a decorative accessory in a room with simpler styling. The function of the wall lights will influence the type of fixtures that you choose, while the style of the room will influence the type of wall lights that are chosen.

Where wall lights are used for effect, there may be a number of wall lights used – either paired, or in a series – or they may be positioned in an unusual spot. Using wall lights with colourful shades, and matching them with ceiling lighting can help to tie the overall look and feel of the room together, particularly where other accessories in the room coordinate.

 

Lamps

Whether you are choosing floor lamps, table lamps or desk lamps, as with wall lights, you’ll make your decision based on the size of the room, what category of lighting it is providing, and what activity the lamp will be illuminating.

Depending on their size, table lamps may contribute to the ambient light in a room, or may be purely used as task lighting – for example, for reading, or as a portable lamp that can be used for sewing or other types of crafts. Since more of us are using electronic devices for reading today (and are attached to our phones too), many styles of lamp now include USB charging points as part of their design. Where lamps are used for reading, dimmer switches are desirable – since this allows for better lighting throughout the day and night, when different levels of lighting are appropriate.

When choosing a table lamp:

  • Be sure that the bottom of lamp shade is approximately at eye level when seated, so that the bulb doesn’t shine directly in your eyes
  • Situate the lamp close enough to illuminate the task sufficiently
  • If the room has people walking through it often, then ensure your lamp is stable, so to prevent it tipping over
  • Ensure that the relative proportion of the lamp is appropriate – it should be no more than one and a half times the height of the item furniture that it sits on

When choosing a floor lamp:

  • As with table lamps, ensure that the lower edge of the shade is at eye level when seated
  • Avoid obstructing the view of décor such as artwork, as well as between seating locations
  • The smaller the room, the smaller the lamp should be
  • Keep safety first – if the floor lamp is likely to become a trip hazard (especially for children or elderly residents) it isn’t the right one

 

table desk floor lamp lighting

 

What type of light bulb do I need?

Once you’ve established the type of light fittings that you’re going to use in a room, and you’ve decided on the exact ones that you’re going to buy, you’ll need to choose your light bulb. Not all light fittings will have bulbs sent with them, and where they are, the bulb may not be to your preference. Choosing a light bulb isn’t always easy or straightforward either – since there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider.

 

Choosing the right light bulb

If you’re replacing a bulb in an existing light fixture, the rule is to replace like with like – especially when it comes to the type of fitting. But the fitting isn’t the only thing you’ll need to consider. You’ll need to think about what the light is for (is it for ambient, accent or task lighting?), and what shape suits the fixture, as well as the cost both of the purchase, and in the longer term. Let’s take a look in more detail.

 

Fitting

While there are plenty of different types of light bulb fitting, when we’re looking at domestic light fittings, there are three main types that prevail: bayonet, screw cap, and pin and push-fit base bulbs. Generally, with these types of light fixtures, it should be easy to find a bulb that will suit.

When changing a bulb, you’ll need to find the same type of fitting for the replacement. Although adaptors are available, they should rarely be required, since different types of bulbs are so easily found today, especially from lighting specialists.

But establishing the fitting of the bulb is the easy part, since you don’t have to opt for the same colour or brightness – which is what we’ll come to next.

 

Function

As we’ve already determined, there are many different types of lighting fixtures, that can be used for different purposes. The function that the light fitting fulfils will determine the brightness, and the hue of the bulb that you choose.

 

Brightness

Newer types of bulbs use different amounts of watts to produce the same amount of brightness – and there are differences between types. Historically, light bulb manufacturers used the number of watts that were required to produce the amount of light to illustrate the brightness of a bulb.

Today, bulbs are much more efficient, and to produce the same amount of light as an old style incandescent 60 watt bulb, an LED bulb needs just 10 watts, while a halogen bulb requires around 42 watts. The differences in watts required for the same amount of light is the reason that light bulb manufacturers no longer use the measurement of watts to describe the brightness of a light bulb. So rather than measure the amount of power required, manufacturers now use Lumens to describe the levels of brightness that the bulb will provide. The higher the number, the brighter the light provided by the bulb.

 

Warmth

When choosing your light bulbs, you’ll also need to consider whether you want a cool toned, or a warm toned bulb. The decision will depend on several factors:

  • What type of fixture you’re using the bulb in
  • The space the light is being used in
  • What activities the light will illuminate
  • The time of day the room, and the light will be used

For rooms that require lighting levels that are near daylight, and that aren’t being used close to bedtime, then a cooler toned bulb can be used – bright white, or slightly blue-toned, will help to mimic natural daylight. Where being alert is not as desirable, such as for bedside table lamps, then warmer, yellow toned bulbs are preferable.

The measurement of bulb warmth is measured in Kelvins. The warmth of candle light is measured at approximately 1,500 Kelvin, while normal daylight (depending on whether it is a sunny or cloudy day) is measured at between 5,000 and 7,000 Kelvin. The higher the number on the Kelvin scale, the colder the light provided will appear, and cooler toned bulbs often appear to be brighter than warmer toned bulbs of the same Lumen measurement.

 

kelvin colour temperature scale infographic

 

Choosing the bulb

Although watts are no longer used as a measurement of light bulb brightness, most bulb manufacturers will display both the Lumen measurement, and the equivalent in watts in an older style incandescent bulb, as well as the Kelvin measurement on the packaging. Not only that, but there will also usually be a description in words to describe the type of light – such as ‘warm white’. That means that when you’re in a store picking a light bulb, if you’re used to choosing bulbs based on watts, you’ll be able to see the numbers that you need, and the description will help if you’re not sure.

 

Format

Once you’ve decided on the colour, brightness and you know the fitting that you need, you can narrow down the shape that you want. There are an incredible array of different shaped bulbs, from traditional ‘bulb’ shapes, to candle, golf ball, pear shape, spiral and stick bulbs – and once you’ve established that you have the correct cap fitting (either screw or bayonet, for example) and the correct brightness, it is up to you. In many cases, if the bulb is hidden, the choice of bulb will be simply down to personal preference and it won’t matter. However, if your lighting fixture intentionally exposes the light bulb, then it may be better choose a style with a decorative filament, or that complements the design of the fixture.

 

Cost

While the general rule of buying the best quality you can afford definitely comes into play here – since a better quality bulb is likely to last longer too. The longer-term cost of running a bulb will also be relevant, especially if you are in your ‘forever home’. The initial cost of LED bulbs are higher than other types, but they are much more energy efficient, and can last for up to 25 years. Not only does this provide much more convenience – you won’t need to replace it as often – but the energy savings can add up dramatically. Savings can add up to more than £180 over the product’s lifetime, which makes it well worth the investment.  ­

 

Final thoughts

We’ve covered the basics of lighting in this post, and yet we’ve barely touched on design. Understanding the basics of lighting is important though, and can help to guide your decisions when you’re designing, and shopping for the room of your dreams. Our key takeaways:

  • Ensure you have a range of lighting in each room, with at least one light from each category of ambient, task and accent lighting
  • Be careful to measure before making a purchase – having lighting that is in proportion to the room, and that allows sufficient clearance is essential
  • Choosing the best bulb for the purpose should be done carefully, with the correct brightness and colour taken into consideration

Our range of lighting covers all the types of fixtures mentioned in this post, and we stock an extensive range of bulbs. If you are looking for a particular item, or need technical advice, please get in touch – our team of experts are happy to help.

 

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Light Fittings Types – Traditional Light Bulbs

traditional light bulb gls

When we think of a light bulb, we used to refer to an incandescent or tungsten filament lamp with a round sphere at one end or a candle lamp that is long and thin. Nowadays we talk more about LEDs, since LED bulbs are more energy efficient, cheaper to run and better for the environment. Most light bulbs have round metal caps with either a screw or bayonet type fitting

At Lyco, we sell a wide range of traditional light bulbs as well as more specialist types, and we understand that knowing which type you need is not as simple as it once was. With this in mind, we have put together a quick guide to fitting types, and traditional light bulbs.

 

traditional light bulb gls

 

Standard Fittings & Effects

The types of lamp available with screw and bayonet caps have broadened greatly in recent years, and now include LED bulbs. With traditional cap fixtures, you get great flexibility and a wide choice of lighting effects.

 

Domestic Bulbs

In the UK, bayonet and screw caps are the most commonly used type of light bulb. When it comes to which type is better, there isn’t a huge amount of benefit in opting for one or the other – the only exception is that bayonets are less likely to work loose from their fixture unintentionally, and there are no threads to be accidentally stripped or removed.

 

Bayonet Bulbs

There are two different types of bayonet cap – standard and small. Standard bayonet is by far the most popular and is perhaps the most common light bulb of all in the UK.

The bayonet cap type fitting (BC) is perhaps the most well-known lamp fitting in the UK today. Invented towards the end of the nineteenth century and utilising a mechanism originally developed for bayonet rifles, the BC consists of a spring and two contacts with bayonet mounts on either side.

To fit a bayonet light bulb, simply depress the lamp into its holder, twist under the lugs and the bayonet mounts are retained by the springs, thus ensuring optimum contact. It is a simple push and twist motion that most of us are familiar with.

 

Size Variations

The most common sizes of bayonet cap fittings are BC or B22d, (where 22 refers to the diameter, in mm of the lamp base) and small bayonet cap – SBC (or B15d). For insulation and safety purposes, these types of fitting typically feature a plastic or metal skirt.

 

Common Uses

It is most common to find bayonet fittings in pendant lights, batten holders, wall and ceiling lights designed for domestic use. BC fittings can be enclosed in some very decorative luminaires and traditionally incandescent tungsten filament lamps are used. Nowadays, there are also low energy lamps with bayonet caps, which mean you can keep your existing fittings and reduce damage to the environment at the same time.

 

GU10 bulbs

This type of bulb has a twist and lock mechanism, and so tend to be classified as a type of bayonet bulb. G means that the bulb has a bi-pin, or double pin base, and the pins are 10mm apart, and protrude 7mm from the base of the bulb. GU10 bulbs tend to be found in spotlights, kitchens and bathrooms, directional downlights and recessed lighting.

 

Screw Cap Bulbs

Screw caps are available in four common sizes – Micro (MES), Small (SES), Standard (ES) and Goliath or Giant (GES).

Another very popular fitting type for domestic lighting purposes is the screw cap – invented by Thomas Edison in 1909 and trademarked under Mazda.

Using the metal screw as one contact and a single base as the other, the lamp simply screws into the fitting. Contact is made when the lamp screw is almost home, thus making the screw part both the physical and electrical contact that makes the circuit.

 

Screw Cap Reliability

The screw fitting is considered by some as easier to maintain, particularly as there are no springs involved which can fail over time. However, there is a small drawback in that it is possible to cross-thread, which can be a problem when the bulb needs to be replaced, or there may not be a secure flow of electricity.

 

Size Variations

The most common type of screw cap in the UK is the ES or Edison Screw E27, (where the number relates to the diameter of the screw). This size of screw cap bulb tends to be the one that is found in standard light fixtures in homes.

There are other, smaller sized screw light bulbs, such as SES or Small Edison Screw (E14), Giant or Goliath Edison Screw GES (E40) and MES or Miniature or Micro Edison Screw (E10). These tend to be used in decorative lighting where the bulb is exposed, and so needs to be smaller for aesthetic reasons.

To find your ideal bulb by shape or cap try our Light Bulb Finder

Although the Edison Screw is the most popular choice for domestic fittings, there are now many more Small Edison Screw lamps available. This is because retailers are sourcing light fittings from Europe and the US, where this type of fitting is far more common.

Giant Edison Screw fittings are generally not suitable for domestic use and more suited to specialist street lamps and industrial fittings. MES fittings are less common and ideal for use in very small or battery powered light fittings.

 

Pin & Push-Fit Base Bulbs

This type of bulb is fitted in the exact way that it sounds like it does – it gets pushed into the fixture, without needing to be screwed or twisted. The base on this type of bulb will have a number of pins, usually two, of a variety of lengths and types of pin. Incandescent, halogen or fluorescent lamps tend to have bi-pin fittings.

Pin and push-fit bulbs don’t have integrated control gear, which means that they need a ballast, transformer, or driver in order to regulate the bulb.

 

Halogen Bulbs

Halogen spotlights tend to have push-fit pin bases, and are often shaped in order to stop the wrong type of bulb being used in a fitting.

 

Fluorescent tubes

Fluorescent tubes tend to have two pins at either end of the tube, as do LED strip lights. Standard size T8 (25mm), and T12 (38mm) fluorescent tubes use the G13 fitting, while smaller fluorescent tubes like the T5 (16mm) use the G5 fitting.

 

Strip Lights

Strip lights are a form of incandescent lighting with unique double-ended sprung fittings. They are commonly used for picture lights, and this type usually has a 15mm diameter S15 fitting, while others have two S14 connectors at either end of the lamp. Other applications have tended to be superseded by linear fluorescent tubes as they are more reliable.

 

Wedge Base Bulbs

Wedge base bulbs can be thought of as similar to bi-pin bases, but rather than pins, they have wires that go from the inside of the bulb into the fixture. Care needs to be taken with this type of bulb, as it requires force to be inserted and removed. Their most common use is in Christmas tree lights and fairy lights, and today due to the fact they are so inexpensive to manufacture, customers tend to replace the whole set of lights rather than single bulbs.

 

light bulb types and fittings gls gla LED

 

Other Light Bulbs

In addition to the common bulb fitting types there are many other less common types available, typically for more specialist use. Whatever type of bulb you are replacing, it is important to remember that you should always replace like with like.

 

Heater & Catering Bulbs

Catering light bulbs come in variety of types, from doubled ended (strip light / linear halogen fittings) to Edison screw and bayonet fittings.

 

PAR Lamps

PAR (parabolic aluminized reflector) lamps are frequently used where directional beams are required and are common in many different types of setting. They tend to be of the sealed beam variety, with a curved mirror (the parabolic reflector) behind one or more filaments. With LED PAR bulbs, there is often a different type of optical system, or there may be individual LED reflectors.

Some PAR lamps have a screw terminal for better electrical contact, while others have a GX160 2 pin cap with ceramic base. The fittings are usually porcelain to take the high heat output. Retrofit equipment is sometimes available where LED bulbs are required to be used in place of PAR bulbs.

 

Professional Light Fittings

For high intensity luminaries (for film, stage, and TV use for example), professional fittings such as the T and A types are most commonly used. Caps are two pin, being either GY9.5 or P28S.

 

How To Choose The Best Light Bulb For Your Needs

Now we’ve gone through some need to know information about light bulbs, let’s talk about how to choose the best type for your needs. You might still be confused – and that’s OK, there are a lot of things to think about! Fitting, function, and format are the three things to consider, as well as finance – so let’s take a look.

 

Make Sure You Know The Type Of Fitting You Need

Most of us will have been there at some point – you get to the shops, with ‘light bulb for [room]’ on your list, and you realise that you have forgotten to check which type of fixture you need. The best way to ensure you get the right one is to take the old one with you – but sometimes that isn’t possible.

If it isn’t practical to take the old bulb to the shop with you, then take a couple of photos of the fittings, and any numbers printed on the bulb on your phone before you set out. Trust us – you’ll thank us when you’re stood in front of what seems like hundreds of different types of bulbs!

If you end up in that situation though, don’t get stressed – you can head home and order the exact bulb you need from us, with delivery direct to your door.

 

Know What The Function Of The Bulb Is

Light bulbs are just to produce light – right? Of course that is the primary thing, but there is a whole lot more to consider when choosing the best bulb. Aside from knowing whether the light is for functional, ambient or accent lighting, the brightness and the colour of the light being produced is really important when choosing a bulb for your home, since you’ll need the right type for different spaces.

 

Brightness

In the past, we used to simply buy bulbs according to how much power they used. That meant that the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb would be. With newer light bulbs, manufacturers no longer use watts to measure the brightness. That’s because it isn’t as accurate to measure the power according to the brightness – watts measure power, and modern bulbs use far less power than they used to, while providing the same amount of brightness. (That’s also the case for car bulbs!)

Today, bulb brightness is measured in Lumens, and the higher the number of Lumens, the brighter the light. Typically, a reading lamp on a bedside table will be around 400 Lumens, but lighting from a ceiling fixture might be from 1500 Lumens – which you’d get from more than one bulb.

 

Colour

The colour of the bulb that you want will depend on the fixture you’re installing it in, and the function of that light. Bright, or cool white light mimics natural daylight, which will help to increase alertness, while warmer yellow tones can aid with feelings of relaxation and cosiness. That means you’ll want bright white bulbs in spaces where you need to be alert – ideal in home offices – and definitely not in the bedroom, because bright white bulbs will keep you awake.

Bulb manufacturers use the Kelvin scale to measure the colour temperature on light bulbs. The warmth of candle light is around 1,500 Kelvin, with normal daylight somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 Kelvin. The higher the Kelvin measure, the cooler the light temperature – and a cooler tone can seem brighter than a warmer tone.

If you’re looking for a bulb that gives off about the same colour as an old incandescent bulb, then you’ll want a bulb at approximately 2,700 Kelvin.

 

kelvin colour rendering for light bulbs

 

How Does Colour Rendering Affect Light?

Colour rendering is a way of measuring how well a light accurately shows different colours. For the most part, that won’t be too much of an issue, but if you’re displaying a piece of art with accent lighting or photographing items that you don’t want to have to correct the colour on, then you’ll want a bulb that has a measurement on the Colour Rendering Index of as near to 100 as possible.

 

Decide What Shape Is Best

While as long as you buy a bulb with the correct fixture, it will work, getting the correct shape of the bulb is important aesthetically. The type of shade you’re putting your bulb into will strongly influence the shape of the bulb that you need, especially if the shade or lighting fixture intentionally exposes the bulb for effect, or if you want to avoid it being seen, then you’ll need a smaller bulb.

 

Know The Long-Term Costs

While quality LED bulbs seem like they’re an investment when you buy them, but they really are the most energy efficient type of bulb available at the moment. When you consider that LED bulbs can last up to 25 years, that investment is well worth making, even just for the convenience of not having to change the bulb alone! When you compare the performance of an LED bulb with the cost of a traditional bulb, you’ll save more than £180 in energy through the product’s life span, so it is well worth the investment.

 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this post has helped you to understand light bulbs a bit more clearly, but if you’re still feeling confused about different types of light bulbs, don’t worry – you are not alone! With so many different types, and decisions to be made, it is not surprising that so many people still find it tricky to get the right bulb. Remembering to think about fitting, function, and format is a good place to start – but if you’re replacing an existing bulb, try to replace like with like. Should you have a bulb that you’re absolutely stuck with how to replace, then you can call us on 0345 646 1133, or email the technical team on [email protected]

If you are looking for traditional bulbs, why not take a look at our extensive range of incandescent light bulbs? Alternatively, our full range of light bulbs includes energy saving and LED options to suit all your needs.

 

Looking for more news, inspiration, or advice? Try our Lighting Advice section.

 

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Business Continuity – COVID-19

COVID-19 Article

Updated June 16, 2020

Dear Customer

As a Company our family extends across the globe to our Customers and Suppliers in many European and Asian countries and we know that many people have already been impacted.

 

Therefore, even as we start to come out of Lockdown, we are continuing to take the utmost care to protect our Teams, as well as our Customers and Suppliers. We have adapted our working environment and many of our Teams who can work from home are still doing so.

 

Our main warehouse remains open. However, we are taking the strongest safeguards to ensure hygiene and social distancing is continued to be observed amongst our warehouse team. As part of this we have split our teams into two whilst ensuring all members are always wearing gloves and masks and everyone have their own sanitiser.

 

Furthermore, due to the high demand being experienced in the home delivery network we are aware of possible delays to deliveries in some areas. We and our courier partners are doing all we can to get your order to you at the expected time, but please bear with us if there are any delays.

 

We remain available for you to place orders online 24/7 at lyco.co.uk. We have also increased the level of support we are offering via our Live Chat service extending both into the evenings as well as at weekends. Please bear in mind that all our teams are working remotely so the speed of their response may vary depending on how busy they are helping other Customers.

 

We have experienced a surge in demand for our products. This has resulted in our Supply Chain team working tirelessly to replenish stocks as quickly as we can. We are continuing to update our website with the latest information available to us but if something you are looking for is not in stock please check with us when it’s expected to be back in stock.

 

Of course, this is a fast-changing and developing situation which we are constantly reviewing hour-by-hour, day-by day. As and when we have any further news to pass on, we will do so as quickly as we can.

 

Finally, to further assist our Customers during this period of lockdown we have extended the period for you to return any items to 12 weeks.

 

We continue with passion to support our teams, our Customers and our Suppliers with the same vision and values that we have had in place since we commenced trading 25 years ago.

 

We send our support to any affected family and ask you to take the precautions you need to stay healthy.

Thank you for your continuous support and loyalty

 

Charles Barnett
CEO and Founder

 

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Driveway Lighting Tips For Hospitality Venues

Driveway Lighting

A well-lit driveway can make guests feel truly welcome and safe as they arrive at your premises. As well as its practical benefits, lighting also has the ability to completely change the look and feel of a property’s entrance, delighting guests time after time. The following lighting tips can be applied to virtually any driveway or pathway.

Recessed ground lights

Ground lights by Lyco

Recessed ground lights are a popular choice for driveways because they are versatile, unobtrusive, and easy to install – they also look great too. Recessed ground lights can either be positioned at regular intervals around the perimeter of a space, or used to highlight a specific entry route or pathway. When choosing ground lights, look for lights with an IP68 rating: This means the lights are totally protected against dust and water, and generally hardy enough to handle the worst of the British weather.

Post and bollard lights

Post and bollard lights from Lyco

Post and pedestal lights are useful for marking out the perimeter of a driveway or path to highlight the entry and exit routes. They generally sit best when positioned asymmetrically so as to avoid creating a runway effect. The good news is that these fixtures don’t typically become blocked by snow or leaf debris in the same way that recessed ground lighting might, but a possible downside is that they inevitably take up more physical space.

For these reasons, post lights work best in wide open spaces rather than tightly walled boundaries. Try positioning them on top of a wall at either side of the entrance, set on bends to make obstacles visible, including trees, walls, boulders or outdoor seats, or blend into garden shrubs and rockery for a decorative appearance.

Hanging decorative lights

Outdoor decorative lights by Lyco

If the entrance walkway is sheltered by tree branches, a canopy, or a pergola, hanging light fittings are a practical yet attractive solution, creating a glowing pool of light on the pathway or patio area below, and adding a dramatic appearance to the area. Similarly, a string of fairy lights, lanterns, or festoons hung above or along the length of a driveway or entrance can create a magical effect.

Wall-mounted motion-sensor lights

PIR Security lights by LycoWall-mounted lights with motion sensors can serve as a convenient driveway and pathway lighting solution, particularly when space on the ground is limited. These lights are generally most suitable within car parks and entrance ways. They will automatically turn on as a visitor approaches, distributing light only when it is needed before automatically turning off afterwards – conserving energy and keeping unnecessary illumination to a minimum.

Choosing the right light source for your premises

Solar driveway lighting

Solar lighting from Lyco

Since solar lights draw their energy from the sunlight, they don’t require an electrical supply to operate, which removes any running costs. And because solar lights don’t need to be plugged into a mains source, they can be positioned anywhere, and without needing an electrician. While direct sunlight will provide the best source of energy, most solar powered lights will run efficiently even during overcast spells of weather, albeit to a slightly lesser degree.

Electrical driveway lighting

Garden24 24 volt lighting by Lyco
Compared to solar lighting, electrical lighting offers far brighter illumination, and is typically more durable. Electric lights will also stay illuminated for as long as they’re switched on, while solar lights will require charging between use. We offer a range of 24volt outdoor lighting that doesn’t require an electrician to install, saving you hundreds of pounds. These cables don’t need to be buried and can be extended to include wall lights, ground lights and much more.

Planning lights for your driveway entrance

When planning outdoor driveway and entrance lighting, it is essential to identify potential hazards beforehand. Fixtures should be set along the driveway wherever there are obstacles and obstructions including trees, fences, walls, boulders, dipped and raised land or changes of direction.

In addition, lighting can be used to illuminate ponds, statues, and plants, but be aware that some plants will not survive well in constant bright light so it may be necessary to point the beam away from the leaves to prevent unwanted damage.

For further advice on any product or lighting project, please contact the friendly Lyco sales team here.

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Lyco Awarded ‘Platinum Trusted Merchant’ Status from Feefo for Five Years of Gold Standard Customer Reviews

Award Winning Customer Service

Our award-winning level of customer care is a source of pride to us, and we constantly strive to maintain and improve it. The best way of assessing our performance is through customer service ratings.

With this in mind, we are delighted to announce that Lyco has been awarded ‘Platinum Trusted Merchant 2020’ status from Feefo. To achieve this, we have successfully achieved Gold Standard Customer Service for five years in a row – a rating of over 90% on reviews collected during 2019.

Feefo Platinum Award Customer Service

This award is testament to our strong customer focus.

To inspire confidence, we display the Feefo icon in the header of our website. Visiting our Feefo reviews page gives access to all customer service and product reviews from the current and previous years. The reviews are unedited, so positive and negative comments are visible alongside any responses from us. You can also quickly see reviews using the supplied tab on product pages.

Customer feedback: completing the cycle

Before we offer items for sale, they are sourced from worldwide manufacturers, evaluated, and either selected or rejected by our expert team of buyers. Various criteria affect the selection process, including build quality, design, packaging and presentation, price, and whether the product brings anything new to our existing ranges.

Once an item is added to our collection, it is carefully placed online with specifications and photos. Always ready to answer questions is our friendly and informed sales team.
The vital link in each transaction, however, is the buyer, who forms an unbiased view of the service we provide and the products we sell. A feedback system gives customers a voice and acts as a helpful guide for other shoppers. It has become an asset to us, too.

Responding to criticism

If our service falls short in any way, we try to improve and make the necessary changes to our operation. Any negative product-specific feedback is addressed and resolved directly with our suppliers. This ensures that products are amended or removed from the range as necessary to avoid multiple customers experiencing similar problems. By listening to our customers, we at Lyco can make more advised choices about the brands, products, and ranges we sell in the future.

Our guarantees

Despite our best efforts, we know there will be times when products do not quite meet the expectations of our customers. Our ‘change your mind guarantee’ is available with the vast majority of products and gives total peace of mind when shopping. You can return any item that fails to satisfy within 14 days for a full refund.

The change your mind guarantee does not apply to products made to order, though these are often covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee. In the rare event that no guarantee exists, any item found to be damaged or faulty on receipt is repaired or replaced without fuss.

Customer reviews inspire an open and honest relationship between retailers and shoppers. We hope our new Feefo status proves our commitment to high quality service and care. Our final promise is that we will endeavour to improve even further, based on all that you say.

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Celebrating 25 years of Lyco Group

Lyco 25 Logo

This year, we’re celebrating the 25th birthday of Lyco Group. What started out as just four enthusiastic employees, has grown over the past quarter of a century beyond our wildest imaginations. Many things have changed since then – new websites, offices, colleagues, and even new businesses have joined the Lyco Group since we first started out.

Today we thought we’d take a look back at Lyco Group’s transformation over the past 25 years, and remember some of the changes that have made us who we are today.

Welcomed new colleagues

Out of the four original members of staff, we’re so proud that one of them is still with us today – albeit with slightly less hair than when he first started.

25 years on, we’ve grown to become a team of over 50 wonderful lighting experts, buyers and customer service members – and some of our team now are even younger than Lyco Group itself!

We’ve welcomed new colleagues and said farewell to old ones, but one thing will never change. We are just as committed to providing our customers with the very best service today as we always have been, both online and offline.

Lyco Lighting Directories

Launched new businesses

Back in 2010, we acquired the Lighting Direct website, where we provide quality lighting directly to customers. Since we launched this part of our business, it has grown to become one of our biggest assets to our portfolio.

Recently in 2018, we purchased Online Lighting as well. The site already had a loyal customer base, but they were struggling to take the next step. We have brought it in-house and together, utilising the skills of our talented workforce, we’re growing this new side of the business into what we hope will become the UK’s leading lighting supplier for your home.

Lyco Group has grown considerably since we first started, and it continues to grow all the time. In fact, we already can’t wait to see how much further we can go over the next 25 years.

Lighting Direct and Online Lighting Logos

Moved home

There always comes a time in life when you outgrow your old digs. With two new businesses on board and a great deal more staff, we realised the time had come for us, so we packed up and moved out of our premises in Bletchley.

We found a fantastic new home for Lyco Group in Crownhill Milton Keynes. It has given us scope to continue growing and to increase the number of lights we can stock. This means we can now get products out to our customers the very next day.

Our new office space means we can keep growing over the next decade and continue to increase our range of products while offering the best service possible.

Lyco, Crownhill, MK8 0AB

Embraced the latest technology

Over the past 25 years we’ve seen a lighting revolution with the introduction of LED bulbs. Back when we first started, we were selling halogen bulbs that needed constantly replacing every 1,000 hours. The LED bulbs we stock now have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours – a dramatic step forward creating huge savings for our customers.

But it isn’t just lighting technology that’s changed over the past 25 years. When we first started we were a small mail order company with paper order forms. Now, you can simply place an order on our website in minutes.

As technology continues to progress, so will we. We have big plans for 2020, but we can’t let you in on those secrets just yet.

Smart Lighting

But some things never change…

Despite all the incredible, challenging and unexpected changes that have occurred over the years – there are some things that will never change.

We are still committed to our mission statement: to provide lighting products of supreme quality, from world-class suppliers, coupled with unbeatable customer service.

Despite the world moving online, we’ve maintained our fantastic in-house support team who are always available at the end of the phone to serve our customers and answer their questions. We also continue to offer an annual printed catalogue with our new and bestselling products. While many companies have forgotten the art of direct mail, we continue to hear powerful stories from our customers who treasure these printed publications. It is our hope that while we continue to improve our online offering, we also continue to offer the best-in-class service to our customers – whether that’s online, over the phone or face-to-face.

It’s certainly been a rollercoaster two and a half decades, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be slowing down any time soon.

Thank you

We’d like to thank you for all your custom and continued loyalty over the past 25 years. We hope we can continue to support your lighting requirements for the next 25 and beyond.

Please don’t hesitate to send us your feedback on our products or the service we provide. We’d love to hear from you – drop us an email at [email protected]

Very best wishes,

Charles Barnett, Managing Director.

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Buying Guides – Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Battens

Outdoor lighting has become popular in recent years, partly because of the great potential of LED technology. Exterior spaces can now be lit cheaply and effectively using a variety of products. This buying guide looks at the aims of outdoor lighting and how they are met to give you an idea of what may be best for you. Alternatively, feel free to browse our extensive outdoor lighting selection.

Designing a Lighting Scheme

To create an effective outdoor lighting scheme, you need to consider ambient, accent and task lighting requirements.

Ambient or background lighting

This type of lighting is needed for practical purposes, providing enough light for everyday activities such as walking, eating, drinking and socialising. There are several options available:

    • Small walkover lights installed around the edge of a patio or decking area look good and allow safe footing.
    • Freestanding fittings such as post or pedestal lights are ideal for creating pools of light. Modern indoor-style floor lamps like the Konstsmide Lucca are a chic form of outdoor lighting.

Lyco - Outdoor Floor Lamp

    • Floodlights can provide full strength illumination for building exteriors and surrounding areas. They are good for work or security purposes and might suit bustling social settings, but are less useful where intimate mood is the aim.
    • Wall lights usually create a functional and mood-enhancing background light without being overbearing.

Accent lighting

This type of outdoor lighting highlights statues, plants, trees, water features and signs. Install these lights a short distance from the feature and angle the beam to shine directly on or through it. Suggestions include:

    • Walkover lights or floodlights used as uplights dramatically highlight features from below.
    • Wall-mounted spotlights create a pool of light around features.
    • Staked spotlights like the Edit Leaf are effective in highlighting plants, flowers and ornaments.

edit leaf spotlight

 

    • Fairy lights are often draped around trellises, shrubs, or trees. Don’t forget festoons if you’re aiming for a party mood!
    • Business signage can be lit with specially designed sign lights, normally featuring long or curving arms and adjustable heads.

Task lights

Task lights are used to sufficiently light any area where demanding tasks or activities are performed. Usually, the light will be installed above head height in order to provide un-obscured coverage. Examples of task lighting might include:

    • A wall-mounted spotlight or floodlight is useful for potentially hazardous activities such as barbecue cooking.
    • Spotlights or floodlights can be positioned in trees for lighting garden amenities such as play areas, barbecues or car parks.
    • Floodlighting can be used to light outdoor sports areas. A tennis court would be a prime example, which might be well served by a 500W equivalent floodlight. Conversely, a swimming pool is usually lit from within to avoid glare, normally using a PAR lamp.

Lyco Amazing Value Floodlight

Dusk to dawn sensors

A “dusk to dawn” sensor is another term for a photocell. These are used in some outdoor fittings to automatically trigger overnight lighting, often for security purposes. The light switches off again at daybreak. Their sensitivity can sometimes be adjusted, allowing you to choose exactly how dark it needs to be before the light is activated. The sensor can be overridden in many cases for manual operation, though this should be checked prior to purchase.

Browse our Dusk to Dawn range

PIR sensors & security

The Nighthawk LED Security Floodlight is ideal for commercial premises

If security is a priority, floodlights with a PIR (Passive Infrared) sensor are a good option. The sensor triggers light when it detects movement within a preset range, deterring intruders without the need to keep lights permanently switched on.

PIR lights like the Nighthawk LED Security Floodlight can also be wired to trigger a chain of slave lights. This is useful for any large commercial premises. Advanced CCTV circuits can also be installed and monitored remotely through PCs, tablets, and smart phones.

PIR lights are also useful at residential entrances, as a practical measure to help locate keys and avoid stumbling on obstacles. The Lucide Claire Half Lantern serves as an example. Again, these avoid the need for a permanent light, so they’re an energy-saving product in many scenarios.

Browse our PIR lights range

IP Ratings – A brief guide to Waterproof Lighting

Outdoor light fittings always carry Ingress Protection ratings. This rating is marked by the letters “IP” followed by 2 digits. The first digit indicates the level of protection against ingress of solid objects and the second relates to waterproofing. This advice may help:

    • The minimum IP rating you should look for in a garden light is IPX3 (normally IP43), which protects against rain or spraying water at a 60° angle from vertical. Choose an IPX4 (normally IP44) rating for exposed areas.
    • Decking or patio lights are often jet-cleaned, which requires an IPX5 rating or above. IP65 is a good target, as it indicates a dust-tight housing as well as resistance to jets of water.
    • Lights to be installed in shallow water up to 1m deep require a rating of IPX7.
    • If installing lights at depths of over 1m in ponds or swimming pools, opt for a fitting with an IPX8 rating. (Always check manufacturer’s information before any underwater installation).

Light sources (Pros & Cons)

The light sources used in outdoor lighting each carry their own advantages and disadvantages. In recent years LED has become the main choice for lighting, both in commercial and residential buildings.

    • LED lighting is energy efficient and has an average lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. LED lamps produce a heatless beam of light, so they can be installed near plants without causing damage. They also emit little or no UV (ultraviolet) light, making them less attractive to insects. LED technology combines well with solar energy—many outdoor LED lights are free to run!
    • HID lamps are used to light large areas. They vary in type from a metal halide lamp for good colour recognition to a sodium lamp with poor colour rendering but incredible energy efficiency. These lights are mostly too powerful for homes or hospitality venues, but useful for applications such as car parks, access roads or sports areas.

Outdoor lighting styles

Lighting styles are diverse, but they can be boiled down to “traditional” and “contemporary” for outdoor purposes. Some designs are neutral enough to be used in any type of setting.

Traditional

Traditional outdoor lights often have a lantern design that dates back to 17th century England, though is most associated with Victorian times. Lanterns are still popular today and used in post lights, pedestal lights, wall lights and lamp posts. The Alex Post Lantern resembles a 19th century lamp post, for example.

Another form of traditional outdoor fitting is the nautically inspired “fisherman’s light”. This is used mostly in wall lights and porch pendants and involves a simple enclosed lamp design with a metal cover. The Nordlux Luxembourg Wall Light is an example. The austerity of this design makes it suitable for some modern settings, also.

Contemporary

There are many contemporary outdoor lighting products, with LED technology encouraging sleek designs. Often discreet, you can install modern products like the Searchlight Messina outside a traditional property without necessarily detracting from its character.

Bolder outdoor luminaires such as stainless steel post and pedestal lights suit only modern surroundings. The Edit Detroit, for instance, is distinctly up-to-date and capitalises on LED technology for long life and minimal maintenance.

Edit Detroit Stainless Steel Post Light

Extend those evenings

If you’re lucky enough to own a garden, enjoy what is already yours and let the forbidding night be a thing of the past! Installing outdoor lights needn’t be complicated, especially with a plug and play lighting system. If you’re a pub landlord, restaurateur, hotelier or other business owner, it’s never been easier than now to light up your outdoor space.

Feel free to browse our full range of outdoor lights for a clearer idea of what’s available.

For more advice and guidance take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

charles author bio

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.