Create A Glow Without The Glare

Outdoor lighting is important for safety, security, comfort, and aesthetics. Good lighting enhances building- and landscape-design features while providing security at night.

Here are some tips for creating beautiful outdoor lighting. Courtesy Of Architectural Engineering Design Group

Following are three important ideas to consider when designing lighting for outdoor areas:

Create Drama

Outdoor-space design incorporates colors, textures, reasonable way-finding, and a sense of space.

Lighting should complement and enhance architectural and landscape design as much as possible.

A good rule of thumb in exterior lighting: Carefully choose what you want to light. Lighting everything eliminates contrast. Providing light to only some objects, surfaces, or areas adds interest and drama.

Consider illuminating objects from various directions—up, down, back light, front light. Combining these lighting directional techniques adds variety, interest, and accent to architectural and landscape features.

Backlight landscape features to create silhouetting, or flood plant life from the front to create a pop of texture and color in a space.

Mount lighting fixtures close to stone or textured materials to create shadows, emphasizing depth on surfaces.

Know The Light Source

Consider different light sources for color and brightness. Low-level lighting creates a relaxed environment, while bright lighting gives more of a sense of security in public spaces.

Warm-color temperatures complement woods and stone, while cool-color temperatures bring out the colors on plants and metals.

Everything from using color-changing LED lighting to simply specifying different lamp types can enhance design when used appropriately.

Lighting Ordinances And Light Pollution

Most outdoor-lighting ordinances now require lighting fixtures to be “full cut-off,” meaning the luminaire is designed so that light is not distributed past 90 degrees from the vertical. Direction of illumination is limited to the area under a horizontal plane of the fixture.

In addition to requiring full cutoff, many city ordinances limit the light levels at pathways, parking lots, building entries, and building property lines. This type of assessment may require a lighting designer or electrical engineer to run photometric calculations and provide documentation of light levels.

Light pollution occurs when lighting is directed upward, interfering with the ability to see stars at night.

Light trespass is a form of light pollution that occurs when undesired light enters adjacent properties, blocking views, preventing sleep, or causing other intrusions.

Although exterior lighting at night is imperative for safety, limiting the amount and direction of light is essential and contributes to human health, security, and enjoyment of nature.

To avoid light pollution, light from fixtures should be aimed downward, or luminaires providing uplighting should be limited to low-light output.

Article provided by Architectural Engineering Design Group (AEDG) in Denver, which focuses on lighting design, electrical engineering, communication systems design, and A/V systems design. For more information, call (303) 296-3034, or visit .