There is no doubt that outdoor lighting can add that elusive “wow” factor to your home. And well placed and planned out lighting on the exterior of your home can be a major plus for curb appeal.
Look closely the next time you see an evening shot of a resort or fancy home. That outstanding look is the result of the right outdoor lighting in the right places.
No matter how stunning your home is during the day, without proper lighting your house will literally disappear at night. No one ever “ooh’ed and ah’ed” at a darkened house with nothing more than a porch light.
Think About What Your Lights Are Doing
Where to place your lights depends on what they are doing. There are a number of reasons you may be adding light to the exterior of your home. In many cases, there is more than one reason to light a particular part of your home’s exterior.
Any lighting plan begins with a list of needs and wants. An example of a need would be safe passage to the front entryway. An example of a want would be illumination of outstanding features in a front lawn. Ultimately, both are important for a final lighting plan.
The Best Places to Put Your Outdoor Lighting
There are some areas you should never overlook when planning your outdoor lighting:
- Pathways, Stairs, and Front Entrances. Light these areas to ensure safe passage for family and guests. Safety is the number one reason to light your home’s exteriror.
- Driveways. These are just as important as your pathways, stairs, and entrances, both for safe passage and security. A well lit driveway is a strong deterrent to anyone trying to clandestinely enter your home or your property.
- Porches and Patios. Outdoor lighting should make your outdoor spaces more usable. Lighting porches and patios brings these outdoor living spaces to life at night, giving you extra space to enjoy with family and friends.
- Trees. This is less about safety or utility than it is about beauty and curb appeal. Do you have an especially magnificent or beautiful tree in your yard? Proper lighting will turn it into an outstanding focal point at night. Don’t overlook these opportunities for an added sparkle.
- Water Features. If you have gone to the trouble of installing a pond, fountain, or other water feature in your garden, you should make sure to light it up at night. Lighting it from the outside can create a dramatic effect. Underwater lighting can create an inviting glow that will add a touch of magic to your outdoor landscape.
- Swimming Pools. Lighting a swimming pool is necessary for safety, utility, and beauty. Your first duty with lighting a pool is to keep people from literally falling into the water. Some basic lighting around the pool area should do the trick. Good patio lighting as well as underwater lighting will make your pool more enjoyable to use at night. Finally, the right lighting around a pool can make it especially attractive at night.
The Different Kinds of Outdoor Lighting
There are three general type of outdoor lighting: overall lighting, task/utility lighting, and accent lighting. By mixing up these types of lighting, you can create a fuller feel to your overall outdoor lighting design.
Overall lighting casts a wide glow over a large area, either of your home’s facade or another outdoor area like a garden or patio. This is usually done with a combination of wash lights, flood lights, and downlighting. Wash lights are best for shining a warm, even glow across your home’s facade. Flood lights cover large areas that need brighter light. Downlighting will give the appearance of even illumination from moonlight. It is often placed high up in trees to give the area below a romantic glow like a clear night with a full moon.
Task or utility lighting serves a particular function. Pathway and entryway lighting falls into this category. Pool lighting, porch lighting, and patio lighting also fall into this category. In all of these cases, the lighting is filling a function, whether it is safety or just making an outdoor space usable at night. Depending on the specific function, a wide variety of lighting types may be employed.
Accent lighting is there to show off. You can use it to accent a beautiful tree, unique garden feature, or outstanding architectural detail. The most common lights for this purpose are bullet lights and flood lights, depending on the size of the area being accented. These features can be “cross lit” from two directions, giving a more even light and eliminating harsh shadows.
Tips for “Getting it Right”
While a well thought out plan goes a long way toward creating your unique and beautiful lighting design, there are some key tips to remember:
First of all, lay out your lighting at night. It may seem obvious, but too often homeowners used to working on their homes during daylight, will spend hours on a lighting design only to find flaws at night. Laying out lighting at night ensure you won’t accidentally shine a light into a bedroom, your neighbor’s lawn, or a visitors eyes.
Think about the unintended effects of your light. Your lighting scheme may be laid out to highlight all the finest features of your home and garden. But if it is too bright, it may wash out a beautiful night sky, or simply overwhelm the eye. A serious problem in many populated areas is light pollution. There are ways to avoid it, with special fixtures made to reduce glare and avoid unplanned “leaking” of light out toward the night sky. Some locations have unique needs, such as “turtle safe” lighting in places where turtles nest and lay eggs. Do a little research to find out what issues your location may face from improper lighting.
Stay away from solar lighting. It may seems like a relatively cheap and easy way to light a pathway, but it won’t give you the effect you want out of a serious outdoor lighting design. For energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, consider a low-voltage LED system. LED is quickly becoming the standard for outdoor lighting. It is incredibly energy efficient compared to other types of lighting. It also has a very long lifecycle, typically lasting at least 40,000 hours. NightVision Outdoor Lighting uses LED in all of their installations.
Use a timer. You don’t want to rely on your memory and availability to turn on the lights every night at just the right time. A good timer will do all the work for you, turning lights on at dusk and turning them off as the day begins to brighten. There really is no reason you should be doing it on your own.
Don’t Be Afraid to Call in Backup
Like any kind of home design, there is a limit to what a DIY approach can accomplish. Even the best do-it-yourselfers don’t have the experience and expertise of professionals like the ones at NightVision Outdoor Lighting. So don’t hesitate to call in the pros.
When you work with NightVision Outdoor Lighting, everything flows from that first phone call or contact, as explained in our FAQs.
Expect a return call within the next couple of business days. Often we’ll even get back to you the same day! On that call we will set up a consultation appointment for sometime in the next few days.
The consultation is your chance to tell us what you need and our chance to listen. We want to know what’s important to you, what your design interests are, and of course what budget you are working with. Then we’ll set about creating a unique outdoor or landscape lighting design.
Once we have a design and we’ve signed off on a contract. We should be able to installation get started in a week to 10 days, but it could often be even earlier. Your final payment won’t be due until the work is complete and you are completely satisfied.