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Best Techniques for Lighting the Exterior of a Home

Best Techniques for Lighting the Exterior of a Home

When you think about lighting the exterior of your home, different images may come to mind. There are brightly lit, Vegas-style mansions the shine like a blazing light in the dark of night. Then there are romantic resorts with elegant, subtle lighting that creates a mood without adding much ambient light. And of course everything in between. What you want your house to look like is up to you. But the best techniques for lighting the exterior of a home usually aim for a happy medium. You want enough light to provide safe passage for guests and security against uninvited visitors. Your lights should also highlight the architecture of your home without overwhelming it. You can also preserve some subtlety and even use shadow as another design element. However you choose to light your home, knowing what techniques are available will guide your design.

Best Techniques for Lighting the Exterior of a Home [infographic]

Lighting Design

When you first meet with a lighting professional from Night Vision Outdoor Lighting, we will talk about your goals. To create any lighting design, we need to talk about what you want, what your budget is, and how to achieve the best look for your home. In general, we recommend against over-lighting your home. This is a common mistake among do-it-yourselfers. You can line up a few bright floodlights facing your home and light it up like broad daylight. But no professional would ever design a lighting system like that. The reason is simple. To get a truly stunning effect from outdoor lighting, you need different types of lights all working together to wash your home in light without flooding it.

Goals for Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting, in general, has several goals. One goal is simply to extend the beauty and curb appeal of your home past sundown and show it off well into the night. For that, you will need well thought out lighting to highlight the unique aspects of your home. However, you also need enough wash lighting to make your whole home visible and avoid dark patches or stark shadows. The key is experienced intentional design.

Another goal of outdoor lighting is security. One aspect of security is just ensuring that you, your family, and your guests can safely navigate their way to and from your home. That may extend to path lighting and other types of lighting to keep people safe. The other part of security lighting is creating a light scheme that discourages unwanted visitors. A dark home is an invitation the burglars and home intruders. A home that is well-lit and offers few dark hiding spots will deter thieves and anyone who doesn’t want to be seen. If you use any kind of video security, lights will also allow you to get full use of your security cameras even when it’s dark outside.

Another goal of outdoor lighting is to make spaces usable at night. Lighting for utility is more often associated with gardens, patios, and other outdoor living spaces. But even the facade of your home can be lit for utility. This is especially true if you have a front porch or large front lawn area. Creating an inviting atmosphere is a goal of any lighting, whether it is in a traditional recreation area of just the entryway of your home.

Floodlighting a Home

First of all, let’s define what we mean by floodlighting. When we talk about floodlighting a home, we don’t just mean pointing a giant floodlight at the front of your house. Instead, we are talking about the basic wash of light over your home that creates the canvas for all other lighting techniques.

When the sun is shining, your whole home is visible from any angle. But at night, any part of your house that isn’t lit will be left in dark shadow. If you only light from one angle, you can create unattractive shadows on the opposite side from the light source. Floodlighting, or as it is often called, wash lighting, is the solution to this problem. By giving a soft, even light to the entire facade of your home, wash lighting ensure that no area will be lost in shadow. Other lights can be layered on top to highlight specific features without worrying about silhouetting or creating shadows opposite the light source.

Wash lighting is usually done with a few floodlights placed in front of your home, a small distance from the house. With wide-angle bulbs and fixtures, the combined light from the floodlights covers almost all of the home. Wash lighting is usually done with a soft white light in the 3000K range. Whatever lighting temperature you choose, it will need to be used throughout your lighting for the facade of your home. Mixing lights of varying temperatures on a single surface can look sloppy at best and quite possibly downright ugly. The key to exterior lighting for a home is layering and blending, so sticking to a single color temperature is non-negotiable.

Adding Layers of Light

Once you have a warm, even light across the facade of your home, you can start adding layers on top of it. The most common way to do this is with bullet lights. Bullet lights are a type of directional light with a fixture shaped, not surprisingly, somewhat like a bullet. The narrower-angle bulbs, in combination with the bullet-shaped fixture direct light in a very specific area and direction. Typical bullet lighting might highlight columns, exposed beams, dormers, or other architectural features that you want to stand out.

Another type of layering can come from soffit lights. Unlike bullet lights, which are usually installed at ground level, soffit lights are “downlights”. That simply means that the light comes from above. Soffit lights can be placed over a garage to light the garage door and immediate entryway. They may also be used in dormers as an alternative to bullet lighting. Another way they can replace bullet lighting is to place them at the top of a pillar and light is from above instead of below.

The opposite of the soffit light is the well light. Well lights are fixtures that are partially or completely buried in the ground. Well lights are usually a little more wide-angled than bullet lights and provide direct up-lighting. They can be placed very close to the base of a wall, a column, or another feature to light it from below. They are often used against stone or other textured surfaces to highlight the texture and create a unique blend of light and shadow.

Installing Outdoor Lighting for a Home

When it comes to designing and installing outdoor lighting, experience can make a big difference in your results. While it is possible to learn the technical process of digging ditches, running wires, and placing lights, real outdoor lighting design is just as much art as it is technical. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting has designed and installed thousands of lighting systems throughout the Atlanta Metro Area. We can help make your dreams a reality. We listen to what you want and take into account your budget, then come up with the perfect design for you. There is no job too large or too small. Whatever you need, we have the experience and the skill to make it look fantastic.

To schedule your free consultation, contact us today. We’ll come to your home and discuss your options and what best suits your home. Once the design is complete and you’re ready to install, we can have a technician there in 7-10 days, and often even sooner. With thousands of jobs and satisfied customers, we take each project seriously. We know that your home is special and we want to make it even more so.