A bizarre phenomenon is sweeping across cities in the United States and elsewhere around the world. Perhaps you’ve seen it as you drove by in your car. Street lights are mysteriously turning purple. Why is this happening?
Street lights are spontaneously turning purple: Is it the ghost of Prince?
Dating back to 2020, there are reports of street lights in cities turning to purple. This reported purpling comes from states such as Wisconsin, California, New York, New Mexico, Maryland, North Carolina, and Florida. Internationally, this phenomenon has hit Ireland and Vancouver, Canada.
How do you explain the purple street lights? Is the ghost of Prince wreaking havoc with his “Purple Reign?” Is Barney the Dinosaur or Grimace from McDonald’s rampaging across the land? Are fans of sports teams with purple uniforms, such as the Los Angeles Lakers or Minnesota Vikings, trolling fans from other teams? Are hippies “peacing out” with their black lights?
Insider spoke with Jeff Brooks, a representative for Duke Power. The company handles street lights in parts of Florida and the Midwest, as well as the Carolinas. He said, “I’ve had people call and ask if this was because it’s Halloween, or because their football team in that area wears purple.”
However, the street lights spontaneously turning purple are not because of the ghost of Prince, a sports team, Halloween, black light-loving hippies, or Barney and Grimace. It’s due to a more mundane reason, but no less concerning.
Defective LED lights are the cause of the problem
In recent years, LED lights have become ubiquitous — in homes, headlights and taillights cars, and street lights. The market for LEDs is massive — garnering $20 billion in revenue each year. One reason for their rising popularity is that they don’t overheat. They are also more efficient, climate-friendly, and economical. While most other types of lights require intermediate steps to function, LED lights have a direct electron-to-photon swap.
The reason why street lights are turning purple in cities is because of defective LED lights. For Duke Power, the defective LED lights affect only 1% of the total street lights. However, that percentage amounts to around 5,000 street lights, resulting in a purpling in many cities.
The problem is due to the packaging that surrounds the LED street lights. LED lights come in a variety of colors, but most modern ones have wavelengths that combine to create a blue hue as seen by the human eye. However, the packaging surrounding the lights typically results in the appearance of a white light. And for the defective LED street lights, the phosphorous laminate in the packaging degrades after the initial installation. When the laminate degrades, the color tint of the street light turns purple.