If you’ve ever walked or driven down a dark residential street and noticed that some houses just look nicer than others, you’ve probably noticed the benefits of outdoor lighting. A home with minimal lighting at night doesn’t look like much. But a home with elegant, well thought out and designed lighting is a sight to behold. If you want to reap the maximum benefits of outdoor lighting for your home, you need a plan. Many homeowners pick out a nice porch light or pop in some path lights. While they’re useful, they fail to provide the full benefits of outdoor lighting that homeowners might desire.
To get the full benefits of outdoor lighting, you will need to determine why you are lighting, where you are lighting, and how you are lighting. Once you know that, you will need high-quality fixtures and the know-how to install them all correctly. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting has been installing outdoor lighting systems for over 20 years. So if you want to experience the maximum benefits of outdoor lighting, we’ve got some tips.
The Key Benefits of Outdoor Lighting
Before you start planning the outdoor lighting system of your dreams, you should determine why you are installing it in the first place. Sure, we want our homes to look nice. But let’s explore the real benefits of outdoor lighting. Good outdoor lighting will:
- Increase security around your property and discourage visits from criminals and unwanted guests.
- Make it safer and easier to find your way around your property at night.
- Greet family and guests with a warm light as they approach your home.
- Create visual appeal by highlighting existing features and creating new features with shadow and light
- Increase your living space by making outdoor areas useful at night.
- Allow you to entertain outdoors even at night.
- Make special areas, like pools, backyards, basketball hoops, or other recreational spots, usable after dark.
- Increase curb appeal with a stunning first glance from the street.
These are just some of the great ways you can benefit from quality outdoor lighting. But not just any lighting will do. If you want to get the full benefits of outdoor lighting, you have to pay attention to design.
What Benefits of Outdoor Lighting Appeal to You
No single lighting design works for everybody. So to get the most out of your outdoor lighting, you need to determine which benefits are most important to you. Typically, outdoor lighting falls into three very broad categories: security, utility, and aesthetics. These are very general categories, and much of your lighting will fit into more than one category at a time. But it’s a good way to start thinking about your needs.
- What are your top security concerns? Are there parts of your home that are vulnerable? Does your home back up onto a wooded area, a school, an alleyway, or some other area where criminals could hide?
- Are there parts of your home that you really want to use at night? Do your kids like to play in the yard? Do you entertain a lot on your patio? Would you like to be able to sit in your garden at night and read a book?
- What do you want to see when you drive up to your home at night? Do you want to show off parts of your landscaping? Do you want a grand entrance or something more rustic? Are there any parts of your property you don’t want to show off?
Explore Your Property
One of the best ways to start thinking about how to use light around your property is to go outside on a dark night with a flashlight and start exploring. Look for areas of your property that you would like to light up. Try shining a flashlight from different angles. This is your chance to explore the possibilities of floodlighting, spotlighting, and uplighting. (Downlighting is important, too, but hard to simulate with a flashlight.)
Go up to a tree that you might want to illuminate and point the flashlight upwards from near its base. Take note of the way the tree is lit up and the types of shadows it creates. Move a bit farther away and try pointing to the same tree more head-on. Look at the shapes you create and the shadow cast on anything behind it.
Continue this way around your property. You can’t plan your whole lighting system like this, but it is a good way to get thinking creatively.
Maximizing Ambient Lighting Without Lighting Up the Neighborhood
There are certain areas of your home where you will need ambient lighting. These are areas where you want to be able to use a space pretty much the same way you would during the day. For example, a yard that kids love to play in or a patio where you love to grill should be fully functional at night. There are no tricks here, and you’re not trying to create any dramatic effect. You just want to be able to turn on the lights and play.
Even with such a simple sounding function, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to install ambient lighting. Most of all, you want to avoid overdoing it. Think about the stadium lights at your local high school baseball diamond. They’re great for playing at night, but you don’t want that in your backyard, and neither do your neighbors. Moderation is key.
With ambient lighting, the goal is to see the light, not the fixture. One of the best methods to achieve this effect is to use wide-angle downlighting. By hiding fixtures high up in trees, under soffits, or on other tall structures, you can create a large area of light with no visible fixture. Often, you can combine downlighting with other light sources to get more illumination in a particular area. For instance, if you will be grilling on a deck, you can add some rail lighting or post lighting. It’s a great way to tastefully turn up the light without lighting up the block. If you are lighting a patio or a pool deck, well lights along walls or bushes are another low-key light source. They allow you to brighten things up closer to the ground without shining light where you don’t need it.
Minimizing Environmental Impact
As important as it is to make sure that your lights shine where you want them, it is important to make sure that they don’t shine elsewhere. Light pollution is rampant across the globe and is almost entirely unregulated. Recently, some local governments have put limits on where, when, and how much you can light up the outdoors. These regulations are part of the dark skies movement. They attempt to limit the damage done by excessive, unnecessary artificial light that brightens the night sky. The damage ranges from the scientific (hard to observe the night sky) to the ecological (plants and animals suffer from a lack of darkness) to the distinctly human (When’s the last time you wondered at the Milky Way?).
Minimizing your output of light pollution isn’t hard. You just need to plan with it in mind. Choose light fixtures that are built to direct light only where you intend to use it. Many fixtures are available with guards that shield light from exiting out the sides and top. In addition to using the right fixtures, consider when it is really necessary to have your lights on. Some ambient lights are only really necessary when you’re using them. These lights should be separated off from your main system in zones that can be turned off when not in use. Security lights and even path lights can be set to motion sensors. Even your decorative lights don’t need to be on all night. A simple timer can make sure they go off each night once everyone is in bed.
(You can learn more about avoiding light pollution in this post.)
In addition to preventing light pollution, minimizing your use of outdoor lighting saves energy. That translates into cash savings on your utilities and a smaller carbon footprint.
That Professional Touch
Planning your own lighting system could be a DIY project, but not if you want professional results. At Night Vision Outdoor Lighting, we want you to have a lighting system you will love. To get the maximum benefits of outdoor lighting, contact us today to schedule your free no-obligation consultation. We’ll talk about all the benefits of outdoor lighting and come up with the plan that fits you best. With Night Vision Lighting, you can maximize the benefits of outdoor lighting for your home!