The Mystery of the Purple Street Lights

Around Bend when the street lights come on, not every light looks normal


 While driving—or even walking—around Bend at night, you probably have noticed the traditional white-tinted lights have turned purple.

 Interestingly enough, it’s not just happening in Bend, but in Vancouver, Wisconsin, California, New York, New Mexico, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida and internationally in Ireland and Canada.

In the past, people speculated that the change in color was for Halloween, a town’s sports team colors or even due to 5G radiation.

 “I’ve seen these driving around at night, but I never knew why they were purple,” said sophomore Rohan Bluemle.

Now, this isn’t some crazy ghost hunter type thing, it’s actually a manufacturing defect. The malfunctions in Bend date back to 2020. For the past few years, LED bulbs for street lights have been the new “thing,” as they are economical and climate friendly.

By the 2000s, cities began switching to these new modern LED light bulbs, but the lights that cities swapped for the old were the cheapest ones to manufacture.

The purple hue of the street lights are a result of the phosphor coating that divided from the LED packaging, damaging the bulb itself. On the light, there’s a coating of phosphor that gives it the white color. The phosphor layer in the LED package is very sensitive to temperature change, and heat damage is what likely has triggered the color change. As that coating begins to degrade, the white turns to a purple color.

 Pacific Power states they are in the process of fixing these faulty lights, and should be expected to finish by summer 2023.