After the clocks changed last week, so did the street light outside my house. I think I'd rather deal with the light setting sun.

Grand Rapids Has Slowly Been Converting Street Lights

When I came home the Monday after the time change last week, I saw some city crews working on the light poles in my neighborhood. At first, I thought the recent high winds had knocked out some power lines, but that night I realized, they had swapped out my street light, and the new one was WAY brighter. And it went straight into my bedroom window!

Thanks to some concerned listeners who turned me on to light blocking curtains, the new light has been mitigated from entering my room, but a quick glance around social media shows I'm not the only one who has noticed brighter lights popping up around town.

Ross Sneddon via Unsplash
Ross Sneddon via Unsplash

'New Lights Are INSANELY Bright'

A post to the Grand Rapids subreddit this week agreed with me, that the light change was a bit jarring. The post called the lights 'INSANELY bright':

I can’t recall when they were installed, but now that the leaves have fallen I cannot ignore how INSANELY bright these lights are. I’m two houses in off of Wealthy and it still feels like a lifted truck with white lights is blasting into my bedroom all night.

Any idea why they’d install these horrendously bright white lights instead of the usual orange-y mercury lights? I can guarantee the logic was to “”deter crime”” or something but it’s just crap for those of us who live here. Can’t imagine living in one of the houses right on Wealthy rn.

Most commenters tended to agree.

It’s blinding. There’s only one by me that’s been replaced and it’s not even right out front. I’m really worried when they switch over more. They don’t deter crime, they make me want to commit crime.

The Lights Are Part Of A Conversion To LED Lights

The City Commission approved a $9.46 million dollar contract back in February of 2021 to begin converting city street lights to LED. Currently most street lights are mercury vapor lights, which cast a kind of orange-ish glow when lit. When swapped out, the change can feel very abrupt. According to MLive:

The city’s current street lights are a mix of high-pressure sodium and mercury-vapor models.

The color temperature of the LED lights chosen by the city measure at 4000K (Kelvin), which is sometimes called “neutral white” and said to closely resemble natural light.

The city opted for that color over 3000K, which is a little warmer in tone, based in part on resident feedback, as well as slightly better energy efficiency and use in 314 other cities in the United States with 100,000 people or more.

Grooveland Designs via Unsplash
Grooveland Designs via Unsplash

By early next year, the goal is to have half of the city street lights converted to LED, so they must just be getting to my Northeast neighborhood now.

Here's a guy who explains the difference between mercury vapor or sodium lamps and LEDs. Apparently the big thing is that LEDs give off blue light, similar to your phone screen, which may not be the greatest thing to be beamed in your house.

The Good News? The City  May Dim The Light, If Requested

The city will listen to your complaint if you feel the light is to bright, and may adjust it. You can contact the Energy, Lighting and Communications Department on the 311 information line, or by e-mailing them at

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