Red Flashing Lights On Wind Turbines

Regardless of whether you can appreciate the fact that wind turbines provide a valuable source of renewable resource electricity or you simply hate the look of them because they destroy your idea of what a landscape should look like, the fact is that wind power plants are popping up all over the country. Some people may have been wondering why there are red flashing lights mounted on top of the wind turbines that they see powering wind farms around the country.

The reason is because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements state that all structures that are more than 200 feet tall must have aircraft warning lights. Due to the fact that a wind farm can comprise more than 200 wind turbines, lighting every single one of them is not only impractical it can also present a distinct annoyance to neighbours in the area. For this reason the FAA has considered an alternative to placing a light on every single wind turbine tower.

The compromise is to place lights on the perimeter wind turbines at a distance of no more than half a statute mile from the next. The flashing red lights are then synchronised so that they all flash on and off at the same time. These lights are only to be required at night and they are affixed to the nacelles of the wind turbines which is at the top of the tower, rather than at the highest point of the turbine.

Depending on whom you choose to listen to, red aviation lighting either does or does not attract migrating native birds. According to the FAA the flashing red lights that are used as aviation warnings do not have any noticeable effect on the birds in the area. However those who are in opposition to wind farms and the turbines that power them cite the possibility that birds will be more attracted to red flashing lights than they will to a white light.

No matter what the structure – radio tower, lighthouse or wind turbine – there will be the risk of bird strike. The question still to be answered is whether the number of bird and bat strikes is higher as a result of the presence of red flashing lights.

A constant concern that is voiced from local residents is the disruption the red blinking lights will cause to the surrounding area. It is not clear whether those who are opposed envisage that the lights are going to shine into the windows of their homes or simply disrupt their outlook at night.

6 Responses to “Red Flashing Lights On Wind Turbines”

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  1. Peter Bristow says:

    I wonder whether the author has ever himself lived oppposite continuous, regularly flashing lights, every night, in order to be able to give an authoritative opinion. While there is understandable concern about birdswhich leads to studies, I think that we should also understand possible effects on humans, and not just be dismissive.

  2. sandcanyongal says:

    I’ve never heard of a single person mentioning the red beacons attract birds at night. Migrating birds flying in fog can’t see turbines any better than a human. Night birds like owls or burrowing owls have no idea what a turbine or light mean. Bats can be attracted to the vibration of turbines. Maybe the author is referring to bats, not birds.

  3. Chris says:

    I live 25 miles from Groton Wind . I can clearly see 15 red lights blinking across the mountain ridge. I also live across from an airport and there are minimal red blinking lights for safety. There is NO comparison. The decision made by those in the Groton area did not include all of us in the surrounding areas who see these towers when hiking, driving the backroads of NH or trying to enjoy the night view from property we paid more for because of the view!

    • Breck says:

      There aren’t many red lights at the airport because they only light towers taller than 200′. Those obstacles at the airport are mostly lower than that.

  4. Stef says:

    I live in the middle of a wind farm, the ones closest to my house don’t blink….I don’t see what all the drama about the red blinking lights is about. Plus I love the white noise they put off. I think my landscape is beautiful with the windmills on them. It’s clean energy

  5. windmills says:

    i live in the middle of a wind farm and the light does not affect me when i try to sleep you cant even hardly notice it when shades up at night so how about we ease up with the hate on the windmill when we are making an alternative power that in decreasing the amount of fossil fuels burned

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