Modern Outdoor Lighting
11 Tips about the proper use of outdoor lighting
Vacation in your own backyard! With proper lighting you can relax in your green oasis at the end of every day!
With proper lighting arrangement you can turn your yard into an “open-air stage” every night. Plants and other objects can be taken in fully with the aid of well-placed lights. If there are areas that bother you, you can make them disappear by simply not lighting them. Depending on the kind of lights used you can create silhouettes, shadows, surfaces or depth. The transformation of nature guarantees persistent change. The days your yard looks exactly the same are few. Over the year, transmittance, size and color of the plants create a play of nature.
Tip 1: Use Light Consciously
Backyard lighting is not only representative, but it also creates magical moments and moods. Here, the drama of light and shade can be taken in much more deeply than inside the house, where matters of convenience usually dominate. Try taking objects out of their usual environment using light. Separate them from their background, focusing all attention on them. You could set up silhouettes using backlighting, and interesting surfaces by lighting walls from the side. Be aware that a space needs lighting, in order to be considered perceivable. After all, without light, there is nothing to be seen at night.
Tip 2: Lighting Expands Your Living Space to the Outside
Window spaces that serve as visual gates to the outside during the day become black mirrors acting as barriers at night. The interior space appears significantly smaller and you just can’t shake the feeling of being watched. Just a few light sources in the yard are enough to lift this barrier, and expand your space far beyond its walls. Lit up objects around your house give a sense of security and you won’t feel as exposed. Also remember, that at night, it is the lighting that gives off the first impression of a building. Therefore, the night lighting of your building is essentially its “business card”.
Tip 3: The Way to Illuminate Your Entryway
A well-lit sidewalk and entryway are inviting, and make you feel welcome every time you come home. The required illumination of sidewalks and the entryway are separate from decorative backyard lighting. The setup of your home’s entryways should give off a sense of security and avoid tripping hazards such as steps. Depending on the situation, ground or bollard lights might be appropriate, while the doorway itself can be lit from the porch, or from the inside through a glass window. Be sure to use no-glare lights that are energy efficient, such as LEDs. Motion sensors are also a great way to save on your electric bill.
Tip 4: How to Effectively Light Your Backyard
There are no simple formulas for lighting your yard, as the possibilities are endless. You alone can decide how to accentuate your outdoor space. Base your concept on the place, its usage and associated moods, before giving precedence to fancy technology. Of course, you don’t need flood lights to light up your whole yard. It is about the smart placement of a few lights and the play between light and shadow. Create magical spots by lighting water surfaces from below, or turn a dry stonewall into a night relief by lighting it from the side. You can also accentuate interesting areas by illuminating trees, bushes and other beautiful objects.
Tip 5: Experiment with Different Kinds of Lighting
Like interior spaces, your yard needs basic lighting for usability, and accent lighting to create focus and structure. This “light to look at” is the most important part of backyard lighting. Another one comes from visible objects emitting light themselves. Using patterns or creative placement, structure can be created. A balanced mix of lighting methods characterizes the concept of your backyard illumination. Keep transitions smooth, to create a harmonic picture. Keep in mind that different materials reflect more or less light (e.g. light sandstone vs. dark green hedges). When planning, also remember that a yard that is lit too brightly also shines into your house, making it uncomfortable. The reverse is true also. Too much light inside can ruin the mood outside.
Tip 6: Play with Different Light Intensities
Especially smaller yards have more optical depth when planting is done in an offset or staggered manner. Staggering your lights, as well, and varying their intensity can enhance this effect. Higher intensity accentuates things, and lower intensity makes objects fade into the background. Somewhat dim and scattered light can create the illusion of things being hidden and elusive. This makes your yard appear more spacious than it really is. Experiment, and treat every place differently! This leads to a nice variation of character ranging from dreamy to organized. Illuminating pathways can connect different areas in your yard. The lower the intensity of its lighting, the further away an area seems.
Tip 7: How to Illuminate Your Outdoor Lounge
When relaxing outside at night, it is all about comfort, and a nice view of your yard. How bright you like it, is up to you. Be it a mystical, dark little corner (to entertain your guests), or a warm reading area, anything is possible. With the exception of the latter, indirect lighting is usually the most comfortable, as it avoids hard shadows. The most flexible solution is to have several lamps that can be turned on and dimmed depending on the situation. Avoid glare and make use of reflective surfaces such as walls, awnings and big trees.
Tip 8: Choosing Appropriate Lights
For general and accent lighting you have a choice between lanterns or opaque light objects that emit soft light, and more technologically inspired spotlights such as floor-mounted lamps. Here the aspects “lots of light and little lamp” come together. Be aware that these lights are very maintenance intensive. Surface mounted lights are adapted to changing situations more easily, especially when they are stuck into the ground by hand using a simple ground spike. In contrast to solidly installed lights, design plays an important role here. For the patio behind the house, subtle down-lights or wall-mounted lamps work well, which are easily integrated into the building’s architecture. Installing a dimmer is always a good idea. Twilight switches, which turn on the lights automatically as daylight fades away, are also convenient. The most lively and atmospheric lighting is achieved with torches surrounding the seating area, complemented by candles.
Tip 9: Ensure Safe Passage
While it is fun to play with interesting lighting situations, pathways through your yard require good illumination. This, in part, can be accomplished using accent lights of trees or the pool. The difference in brightness to the darker and more mystical areas of your backyard does not have to be large, as our eyes adapt to the dim light fairly quickly. The 5 Lux that moonlight provides used to be enough for our ancestors to go hunt for treasure a long time ago. Steps, water surfaces and especially stairs, should be clearly visible with every single step being well lit. For this, small wall-mounted lamps or pollard lights close to the ground are especially convenient.
Tip 10: It’s All about the Details
Another playground for nighttime illumination is the exterior lighting of your house. Good facade lighting is concentrated on details. A system of floodlights illuminating everything is not recommended, as it flattens the structure of the architecture, and even messes with the interior feel. In this case less is more.
Tip 11: Use Only Designated Exterior Lights for Your Yard
No kind of interior light should be used outside, period! The reason is this: Exterior lights are constructed differently and are made out of weather proof materials, as they need to be guarded against moisture and dirt. There are several protection classes. Keep safety in mind when purchasing an exterior lamp, and seek expert advice regarding these classes. Backyard lights are marked with a two digit IP (Ingress Protection) number. The higher the digits, the better the protection. The first digit rates protection against particle penetration and touch, and the second one against water. Protection class IP 64, for example, is both dust proof (6), and protected against splashing water (4).
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