Post-top lighting globes: Polycarbonate vs Acrylic
In the late 19th century, more than 500 cities in the United States were lighting their city streets with gas-burning lantern-style fixtures attached to poles. Many of these post-tops were open-air with no material encapsulating the flame, while others used glass panes in the traditional lantern style. As lighting source technology progressed through carbon arc, incandescent, high-pressure sodium to the light-emitting diodes that are pervasive today, the materials and designs of globes also advanced.
As plastics technology has advanced, acrylic and polycarbonate are now the primary materials used in modern post-top globes. These materials offer advantages and disadvantages for the lighting specifier and designer. Streetlights in neighborhoods, city centers, and other designed streetscapes are an essential component of the security, functionality, and ambiance. Choosing the right globe material requires a knowledge of the attributes of each.
Acrylic globes are durable under normal conditions, but they are susceptible to breaking when dropped or struck by hard objects. Acrylic post-top globes are also more likely to chip or crack when impacted. Despite the potential for damage, acrylic light globes do not discolor over time – which is a desirable feature that makes acrylic a popular choice. In addition to color consistency, acrylic globes deliver the best light clarity and can be restored through polishing if the clarity is ever reduced.
Polycarbonate light globes deliver less clarity than acrylic, and they are susceptible to yellowing over time. Polycarbonate also cast a diffused light due to the reduction in clarity compared to acrylic globes. Despite the potential for discoloration, polycarbonate is extremely durable compared to acrylic. In applications where the globe may be subjected to strikes or other potential damage, polycarbonate is an excellent choice.
Acrylic and polycarbonate can be molded into beautiful globe shapes, many of which are referred to as “acorn globes”. Brandon Industries offers numerous globe options – in both acrylic and polycarbonate – for your post-top lighting projects. Learn more here.
Brandon Industries—Quality Streetscape Solutions™
Brandon Industries has produced high-quality streetscape solutions since 1987. They are proud to offer a wide selection of beautiful, high-performance streetlamps, decorative signage, and site amenities that will add finish and character to every outdoor space.