Welcome to world’s first town with bat-friendly lights

WHAT'S BEING billed as the world’s first bat-friendly lighting installation in a town has been unveiled in the Netherlands.

Rare bats in Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop, in the Netherlands can now go about their nightly business undisturbed thanks to connected LED street lights specially designed to emit light that does not affect their natural senses and rhythms.

Normal street lights can affect a bat’s flight and overall night time behaviour as well as their insect prey which tend to congregate around the lights.

The street lights use a special light ‘recipe’ that is perceived by bats as darkness, yet which provides enough illumination for residents.

Zuidhoek-Nieuwkoop is home to many rare and vulnerable animal and plant specs. The town and its surrounding area is part of a network of nature protection areas across Europe comprising breeding and nesting sites for rare and threatened bat species.

‘Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats’, Nieuwkoop councillor Guus Elkhuizen told Lux.

‘When developing our unique housing program our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat.

‘We’ve managed to do this and kept our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum’.

So as not to disturb the nocturnal feeding and nighttime activity of the bats, a special light recipe was developed that involved extensive research by Signify, the University of Wageningen and NGO’s active in this field of conservation. The lights, also from Signify, emit a red colour and use a wavelength that doesn’t interfere with a bat’s internal compass. Normal street lights can affect a bat’s flight and overall night time behaviour as well as their insect prey which tend to congregate around the lights.

To further optimize light levels, the municipality installed Signify’s Interact City connected LED lighting systems and management software.

This lighting management system enables close to real-time, remote management of LED light points that together provide energy savings of up to 70 per cent compared to high pressure sodium street lighting.

By being connected, the system allows each light point to be controlled remotely, enabling the authorities to respond to a request from a resident to turn up or lower the brightness of the lighting outside their home and able to quickly raise the light levels in the area to aid emergency services.

And when the streets are empty very late at night, the authorities can dim the lights and cut unnecessary energy use.

Signify became the new company name of Philips Lighting in May 2018.


  • Outdoor and street lighting will be explored at the Safer Cities conference taking place at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition and conference at ExCeL London on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018. For more information, and to register, click HERE.

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