Outdoor lighting is a necessity for anyone who wishes to move their living space into the beauty of the outdoors. While outdoor lighting can vary as widely as any type of lighting, all electric fixtures must be capable of withstanding the elements and operating properly despite rain, wind, or other inclement weather. For this reason, most types of outdoor lighting are either impermanent or extra-duty to prevent corrosion, rust, and malfunction.
Types of Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can be classified by its primary function. For example,
1. Up Lights or Accent Lights
These are small spotlights that are designed for use in spotlighting, floodlighting, backlighting, and other types of accent lighting in outdoor settings.
2. In-ground or Well Lights
These lights are recessed to lie flush with the ground to achieve many of the same effects as up lights, but with a much lower profile.
3. Path and Spread Outdoor Lighting
Path and spread outdoor lighting usually consists of a taller support with a downward-facing bulb, which casts a soft glow of light on a wide area.
4. Step Lights
Step lights are fixtures mounted onto a wall that perform a similar function to path lights, but are smaller in the area covered to provide a more precise illumination of steps and other walking areas.
In addition to these basic types of outdoor lighting, there are many specialty types of outdoor lighting that perform very specific functions, both utilitarian in their ability to make walking areas safer at night and decorative in their achieving of special effects, from romantic moonlighting to the backlighting of trees and shrubs.
Safety Outdoor Lighting
Some types of lighting fixtures are extremely specialized in their function. When outdoor lighting is intended to be used as a safety feature, homeowners and property owners may find themselves needing to find a balance between the electricity costs and visual irritation of an always-on light with the negligible crime deterrent potential of a light that is off.
For this reason, many outdoor lights are triggered by motion sensors and stay on for a set amount of time before automatically cutting off again. These lights are usually quite bright and are effective in deterring home burglars and prowlers, and alerting the neighborhood that motion has been detected, which would not be possible if the light was always on. These motion-detecting lights may also be connected to a camera, alarm, or other security device to further protect the property monitored.
Special Outdoor Lighting Problems - Light Pollution
In recent years, people have become increasingly aware of the problems presented by over-lighting their homes and neighborhoods. In addition to being visually irritating, this phenomenon known as light pollution can actually have detrimental effects on the environment and people.
Unshielded light can reduce vision and has proven to be dangerous for motorists and pedestrians. Outdoor lighting that needlessly shines up into the sky is not only a waste of electricity and resources, but decreases the effectiveness of astronomical equipment and can deprive people of the stargazing experience.
Very simple steps can be taken to reduce light pollution, and many neighborhoods have taken it upon themselves to take precautions even before required to do so by state and local governments. To help reduce light pollution while maintaining the beautiful effects that well-planned outdoor lighting can produce, one can:
- Install necessary outdoor lighting only
- Install downward-facing outdoor lighting fixtures
- Limit the brightness of lighting
- Always turn lights off when not in use.