Here are my (ever hopeful) predictions about the future of outdoor lighting technology.
(1) Dusk-to-dawn lighting will soon become a thing of the past.
Ever see the irony that as outdoor lighting efficiency has greatly improved over the last several decades, we have moved from “light only when you need it” to “lights on all night long”? An incandescent light, if operated less than 3 hours per night, will use less energy than even the most efficient light source operated dusk to dawn. Yes, that’s right. Three hours of incandescent light (which is horribly inefficient) each night throughout the year uses less energy than an LPS, HPS, Metal Halide, or LED source of comparable lumen output operated dusk-to-dawn. Just think of the energy savings we could realize by using an efficient light source that is used only when it is needed!
Passive infrared (PIR) switches, which are rather prone to false triggering, will be replaced by image analysis software that will do a much better job of deciding when a light needs to be on and when it does not.
The HID (high intensity discharge) light sources in common use today such as HPS (high pressure sodium) and metal halide have two drawbacks. They prematurely age if you frequently turn them on and off, and they take a while to reach full brightness after having been off for a while. These drawbacks do not exist with efficient “instant on” sources such as LEDs, which are even dimmable.
These new technologies in lighting and control will make it both easy and affordable to have reliable light only when it is needed.
(2) Security lighting will soon be replaced by much better crime prevention technologies.
Soon, flooding a premises with light will be one of the WORST things you can do to deter and prevent crime. As security systems improve and become more sophisticated and affordable, security lighting will only be needed when an intrusion is detected, and maybe not even then if you want the perpetrator to be detected without them knowing they have been detected. Fixed visual recognition systems or even mobile peripheral devices (MPDs)—as Bill Gates likes to call “robots” to avoid all the anthropomorphic connotations—that operate with ambient light (visible, infrared, etc.) will soon obviate anything so primitive as security lighting. And, if the stationary or mobile sensing device is inactivated by a hostile (or non-hostile) event, its connection with the base station inside the home or business would be broken and appropriate action could be immediately taken.
As both lighting technology and lighting control technology improve, it is my hope that dusk-to-dawn lighting will be rendered obsolete.