The Astronomy Club of Augusta

courtesy of ACA Responsible Lighting Committee, 2007.05


Aiken County Outdoor Lighting Ordinance

010 General Provisions

A. Title

The ordinance codified in this Chapter together with the amendments codified in this Chapter, shall be known and may be cited as the Aiken County Outdoor Lighting Ordinance.

B. Intent and Purposes

It is the intent of this Chapter to encourage lighting practices and systems which will: minimize light pollution, glare, light trespass; conserve energy and resources while maintaining night-time safety, utility, security and productivity; and curtail the degradation of the night time visual environment. The general purpose of this Chapter is to protect and promote the public health, safety and welfare, the quality of life, and the ability to view the night sky, by establishing regulations and a process of review for exterior lighting.

C. Scope

All exterior lighting installed after the effective date of the ordinance shall be in conformance with the requirements established by this Title and any other applicable ordinances. All existing lighting installed prior to the effective date of this Chapter in any and all zoning districts in Aiken County shall be addressed as follows:

1. All existing lighting located on a subject property that is part of an application for an
Aiken County Commission design review, conditional use, or subdivision permit, or building permit is required to be brought into conformance with this Chapter. Conformity shall occur prior to issuance of certificate of occupancy, final inspection or final plat recordation, when applicable. For other permits, the applicant shall have a maximum of thirty (30) days from date of permit issuance to bring the lighting into conformance.

2. All other existing exterior lighting, not affected by Subsection C.1 above, that does not comply with
this Chapter is required to be brought into conformance with this Chapter when repaired or replaced, or with a change of use, or intensity of use, for example subsequent to abandonment, by January 1, 2015, whichever comes first.


D. Authority

1. The Commission shall have the authority to require new lighting, and existing lighting pursuant to Section 010.C.1, 2 to meet the recommendations and guidelines, in addition to the requirements, of this Chapter.


2. The provisions of this Chapter are not intended to prevent the use of any design, material or method of installation or operation not specifically prescribed herein, provided any such alternate has been approved by the Planning Director. The Planning Director may approve any such proposed alternate provided he/she finds that it:  Provides at least approximate equivalence to the applicable specific requirements of this Division; and is otherwise satisfactory and complies with the intent of this Chapter.

3. On projects where an engineer or architect is required, the developer shall verify in writing to the County Planning Department that all outdoor lighting was installed in accordance with the approved plans.



020 Definitions
Unless specifically defined below, words or phrases used in this Chapter shall be interpreted so as to give them the meaning they have in common usage and to give this Section its most reasonable application.

Abandonment is the relinquishment of a property, or the cessation of a use or activity by the owner or tenant for a period of six months, excluding temporary or short term interruptions for the purpose of remodeling, maintaining, or otherwise improving or rearranging a facility. A use shall be deemed abandoned when such use is suspended as evidenced by the cessation of activities or conditions which constitute the principle use of the property.

Acreage, Net is the remaining ground area after deleting all portions for proposed and existing streets

within a development or subdivision.

Class 1 Lighting: All outdoor lighting used for, but not limited to, outdoor sales or eating areas, assembly or repair areas, advertising and other signs, recreational facilities and other similar applications where COLOR RENDITION IS IMPORTANT to preserve the effectiveness of the activity.

Class 2 Lighting: All outdoor lighting used for, but not limited to, illumination for walkways, roadways, equipment yards, parking lots and outdoor security where GENERAL ILLUMINATION for safety or security of the grounds is the primary concern.

Class 3 Lighting: Any outdoor lighting used for DECORATIVE effects including, but not limited to, architectural illumination, flag and monument lighting, and illumination of trees, bushes, etc.

Development Project: Any residential, commercial, industrial or mixed use subdivision plan or development plan which is submitted to the County for approval.

Direct Illumination: Illumination resulting from light emitted directly from a lamp or luminaire, not light diffused through translucent signs or reflected from other surfaces such as the ground or building faces.

Filtered Light is light from a light source that is covered by a glass, acrylic or other cover that restricts the amount of non-visible radiation (infrared, ultraviolet) emitted by the luminaire. (Quartz glass does not meet this definition.)

Full cut-off fixtures are fixtures, as installed, that are designed or shielded in such a manner that all light rays emitted by the fixture are projected below a horizontal plane running through the lowest point on the fixture where light is emitted.
Glare is intense light that results in discomfort and/or a reduction of visual performance and visibility.

Installed Lighting is attached, or fixed in place, whether or not connected to a power source.

Light pollution means any adverse effect of manmade light including, but not limited to, light trespass, up lighting, the uncomfortable distraction to the eye, or any manmade light that diminishes the ability to view the night sky; often used to denote urban sky glow.
Light trespass means light falling where it is not wanted, generally caused by a light on a property that shines onto the property of others.

Lumen is the unit used to measure the actual amount of light which is produced by a lamp. It means unit of luminous flux; the flux emitted within a unit solid angle by a point source with a uniform luminous intensity of one Candela. One foot candle is one lumen per square foot. One lux is one lumen per square meter.

Luminaire means the complete lighting unit, including the lamp, the fixture, and other parts,
less the support assembly.  For purposes of determining total light output from a luminaire, lighting assemblies which include multiple unshielded or partially shielded lamps on a single pole or standard shall be considered as a single unit.
Multi-class Lighting is any outdoor lighting used for more than one purpose, such as security and decoration, such that its use falls under the definition of two or more classes as defined for Class 1, 2 and 3 lighting.

Opaque means that material must not transmit light from an internal illumination source.                            

Outdoor Light Fixtures are outdoor electrically powered illuminating devices, outdoor lighting or reflective surfaces, lamps and similar devices, either permanently installed or portable, which are used for illumination or advertisement. Such devices shall include, but are not limited to, search, spot and flood lights for:  a. buildings and structures, b. recreational areas, c. parking lot lighting, d. landscape and architectural lighting, e. billboards and other signs (advertising or other) f. street lighting, g. product display area lighting

Outdoor Recreation Facility is an area designed for active recreation, whether publicly or privately owned, including, but not limited to, baseball diamonds, soccer and football fields, golf courses, tennis courts and swimming pools.

Partially Shielded Fixture is an outdoor light fixture shielded in such a manner that more than zero (0) but less than ten (10) percent of the light emitted directly from the lamp or indirectly from the fixture is projected at angles above the horizontal, as determined by photometric test or certified by the manufacturer.

Person: Any individual, lessee, firm, partnership, association, joint venture, corporation, or agent of the aforementioned groups or the State of South Carolina or any agency or political subdivision thereof.

Planning Director is the Director of the Planning Department for Aiken County .

Shielded means blocking some aspect of the light emitted, such as upwards or side ways, or in one direction or another.  It is not the same as full cut-off or fully shielded.
Sign:  Any medium, including its structure and component parts, which is used or intended for advertising purposes other than the painting on the surface of a building.

Sign, Indirectly Illuminated:  Any sign the facing of which reflects light from a source intentionally directed upon it.

Sign, Internally Illuminated:  Any sign which has the source of light entirely enclosed within the sign and not directly visible to the eye.

Temporary Lighting:  Lighting which does not conform to the provisions of this ordinance and which will not be used for more than one thirty (30) day period within a calendar year, with one thirty (30) day extension. Temporary lighting is intended for uses which by their nature are of limited duration; e.g. holiday decorations, civic events, or construction projects.

Up-lighting is lighting that is directed in such a manner as to shine light rays above the horizontal plane.

Watt: The unit used to measure the electrical power consumption of a lamp.



030 Criteria / General Requirements

A. Type  

All exterior lighting shall be full cut-off fixtures with the light source fully shielded. It shall be installed in such a manner that the shielding is effective.


B. Preferred Source  

1. Low Pressure Sodium (LPS) lamps are the preferred illumination source throughout the County.  Their use is to be encouraged, when not required, for outdoor illumination whenever their use would not be detrimental to the use of the property.

2. Non-LPS lights are permitted if outdoor light fixtures are full cut-off and located under and five (5) or more feet from the nearest edge of a canopy, building overhang, or eave.


C.  Intensity

1. Total outdoor light output (excluding streetlights used for illumination of public rights-of-way) of any development project shall not exceed 100,000 lumens per net acre, averaged over the entire project.


2. Total Outdoor Light Output is the maximum total amount of light, measured in lumens, from all outdoor light fixtures. For lamp types that vary in their output as they age (such as high pressure sodium), the initial output, as defined by the manufacturer, is the value to be considered.  For determining compliance with sections of this Chapter, the light emitted from outdoor light fixtures is to be included in the total output as follows:

a.  Outdoor light fixtures installed on poles (such as parking lot luminaires) and light fixtures installed on the sides of buildings or other structures, when not shielded from above by the structure itself as defined in paragraphs 2 and 3 below, are to be included in the total outdoor light output by simply adding the lumen outputs of the lamps used;

b.  Outdoor light fixtures installed under canopies, building overhangs, or roof eaves where the center of the lamp or luminaire is located at least five (5) feet but less than ten (10) feet from the nearest edge of the canopy or overhang are to be included in the total outdoor light output as though they produced only one-quarter (1/4) of the lamp's rated lumen output;

c.  Outdoor light fixtures located under the canopy and ten (10) or more feet from the nearest edge of a canopy, building overhang, or eave are to be included in the total outdoor light output as though they produced only one-tenth (1/10) of the lamp's rated lumen output.


D.  Time

1.  Lighting may continue until 9:00 pm or for as long as the area is in active use.

2.  Non-Essential Lights. All non-essential exterior commercial and residential lighting is to be turned off after business hours and/or when not in use. Replacement of existing lighting that is desired for security purposes should be with 1. lights on a timer and/or 2. sensor activated lights.

3.  Uses that can turn off their outdoor lighting during night hours are to be encouraged; those which require all night illumination are to be discouraged.


E. Light Trespass

It is the intent of this Chapter to eliminate and prevent light trespass through the proper installation of lighting fixtures. All existing and/or new exterior lighting shall not cause light trespass and shall be such as to protect adjacent properties from glare and excessive lighting.

F. Area Lights

All area lights, including street lights and parking area lighting, shall be full cut-off fixtures. All freestanding area lights within a residential zone, except street lights, shall be mounted at a height equal to or less than the value 3 + (D/3), where D is the distance in feet to the nearest property boundary.

G. Up-lighting

Up-lighting is prohibited, except in cases where the fixture is shielded by a roof overhang or similar structural shield from the sky and a licensed architect or lighting engineer has stamped a prepared lighting plan that ensures that the light fixture(s) will not cause light to extend beyond the structural shield, and except as specifically permitted in this Chapter.

F. Service Stations

The average foot candle lighting level for new and existing service stations is required to be no greater than five (5) foot candles. All luminaires mounted on the under surface of service station canopies shall be full cut-off and utilize flat glass or flat plastic (acrylic or polycarbonate) covers.

G. Towers

All radio, communication and navigation towers that require lights shall have dual lighting capabilities. For daytime, the white strobe light may be used, and for nighttime, only red lights shall be used.

H. Prohibited Lighting.
The installation, sale, offering for sale, lease, or purchase of any of the following lighting systems is prohibited:

1.      Aerial lasers

2.      Searchlight style lights

3.      Other very intense lighting, defined as having a light source exceeding 100,000 lumens or  

      intensity in any direction of 2 million candelas or more
4.  Mercury vapor lamps, light fixtures, or
replacement bulbs

     5. Neon lights



040 Variances


A. Vehicular lights and all temporary emergency lighting needed by the Fire and Police Departments, or other emergency services shall be exempt from the requirements of this Chapter.

. Outdoor floodlighting by floodlight projection above the horizontal plane is prohibited. 

It may not cause glare or light to shine on adjacent property or public rights-of-way.

Floodlights with directional shielding are encouraged.

Photocells with timers that allow a floodlight to go on at dusk and off before or by (eleven) 11:00 pm are encouraged.


C. Outdoor recreational facilities

    1.  Outdoor recreational facilities shall not be illuminated after 11:00 pm except to conclude a scheduled recreational or sporting event in progress prior to 11:00 pm.

    2.  Illumination for outdoor recreation facilities must conform to the full cut-off shielding requirements, except when such shielding would interfere with the intended activity. For such facilities, partially-shielded luminaries are permitted. Examples of activities where partially-shielded luminaries are permitted include, but are not limited to, baseball, softball, and football. Specifically, tennis, volleyball, racquetball and handball courts and swimming pools must utilize fully-shielded luminaries. All light fixtures must conform to the requirements regarding light trespass.

D. Holiday lights

as defined in Section 020 are exempt from the requirements of this Chapter for the three week period from December 15th to January 6th, except that flashing holiday lights are prohibited on commercial properties. Flashing holiday lights on residential properties are discouraged. Holiday lights are to be turned off after bedtime and after close of businesses.

E. Sensor activated lighting may be unshielded provided

     1.  It is located in such a manner as to prevent direct glare and lighting into properties of others or

          into a public right-of-way. 

     2. The light is set to go on only when activated and to go off within five minutes after activation 

has ceased.

     3. The light shall not be triggered by activity off the property.


F. Signs

a. External illumination for signs shall conform to the provisions of this Chapter.
b. Internally illuminated signs shall conform to the provisions of this Chapter. They shall either be  

    constructed with an opaque background and translucent letters and symbols, or with a dark  

    colored (not white, cream, off-white or yellow) background and lighter letters and symbols.


G. Airport lighting

    1. Lighting which is required for the safe and efficient movement of aircraft during flight, takeoff,

        landing, and taxiing is exempt from the provisions of this Chapter.

    2. Lighting used for illumination of aircraft loading, unloading, and servicing areas is exempt from

        the lumens per acre limits, although it must conform to all other requirements of this Chapter.

    3. All other outdoor lighting at airport facilities shall comply with the provisions of this Chapter.

H. Any lamp type that has been determined to emit substantial non-visible radiation, as determined from manufacturer's specifications or photometric test, requires a filter that blocks this non-visible radiation.  Examples of such lamps include, but are not limited to, Quartz-Halogen and fluorescent.

Infrared lighting, used for remote security surveillance systems are exempt from the filtration requirements, but must be 1. fixed and full cut-off or 2.  moveable, but mounted such that the lights cannot be directed higher than twenty degrees below the horizontal, measured from the center of the light beam. 

050 The
Aiken County Role.

Aiken County will commit to changing all lighting within Aiken County rights-of-way and on Aiken County-owned property to meet the requirements of this Chapter through the franchise agreement with the power company and/or through the light conformance schedule adopted by resolution by the Commission.

060 Violations, Legal Actions and Penalties

A. Violations and Legal Actions: If, after investigation, the Aiken County Commission finds that any provision of this Chapter is being violated, the Commission shall give notice by hand delivery or by certified mail, return receipt requested, of such violation to the owner and/or to the occupant of such premises, demanding that the violation be abated within thirty (30) days of the date of hand delivery or of the date of mailing of the notice. The Commission shall be available to assist in working with the violator to correct said violation. If the violation is not abated within the thirty (30) day period, the Commission may institute actions and proceedings, either legal or equitable, to enjoin, restrain or abate any violations of this Chapter and to collect the penalties for such violations.

B. Penalty. A violation of this Chapter, or any provision thereof, shall be punishable by a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100.00) and each day of violation after the expiration of the thirty (30) day period provided in Subsection A of this Section above, shall constitute a separate offense for the purpose of calculating the civil penalty.









(Information from Sylvania #PL-150, General Electric #9200 and Phillips #SG-100 large lamp catalogs)
INCANCESCENT LAMP (FROSTED) (Syl.) 100                          1690
INCANCESCENT LAMP (FROSTED) (Syl.) 150                              2850
INCANCESCENT FLOOD OR SPOT (G.E.) 120                              1500

QUARTZ HALOGEN LAMP (FROSTED) (Syl.) 72                                1300
QUARTZ HALOGEN LAMP (FROSTED) (Syl.) 300                              6000
QUARTZ HALOGEN MINI FLOOD OR SPOT (G.E.) (12 volt MR-16 type) 20 260
QUARTZ HALOGEN MINI FLOOD OR SPOT (G.E.) (12 volt MR-16 type) 42 630
QUARTZ HALOGEN MINI FLOOD OR SPOT (G.E.) (12 volt MR-16 type) 50 895
QUARTZ HALOGEN MINI FLOOD OR SPOT (G.E.) (12 volt MR-16 type) 75                       1300

FLUORESCENT LAMP (Phillips) 7 400
FLUORESCENT LAMP (Phillips) 9 600
FLUORESCENT LAMP (Phillips) 13                              900
FLUORESCENT LAMP (Phillips) 22                            1200
FLUORESCENT LAMP (Phillips) 28                            1600
FLUORESCENT LAMP (G.E. cool white) 40                                       3150
LOW PRESSURE SODIUM LAMP (Phillips) 90                   13500

HIGH PRESSURE SODIUM LAMP (DIFFUSE) (G.E.) 100                                 9500
HIGH PRESSURE SODIUM LAMP (DIFFUSE) (G.E.) 150                              16000

METAL HALIDE LAMP (Coated) (G.E.) 32 2500
METAL HALIDE LAMP (Coated) (Venture) 50                           3400
METAL HALIDE LAMP (Coated) (G.E.) 100                              9000

METAL HALIDE LAMP (Coated) (G.E.) 175                            15750

Examples of lamp types of 4050 lumens and below are (the acceptability of a particular light is decided by its lumen output, not wattage; check manufacturer's specifications):

     1. 200 Watt Standard Incandescent

     2. 150 Watt Tungsten-Halogen (quartz)

     3.  50 Watt High Pressure Sodium

     4.  50 Watt Cool White Fluorescent

     5.  30 Watt Low Pressure Sodium