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Outdoor Lighting

Form + Function offers a large variety of unique Outdoor Lighting.

At your front door the outdoor lighting plays an important role in welcoming you and your guests to your home. The exterior light fixtures also satisfy the need for security by illuminating steps and letting you identify visitors as they approach.

Of course you want to choose lighting fixtures that fit the decor of your house. Most wall sconces or lanterns will do the job well. It's your decor and personal preference that determine the choice of style.

Wall mounted outdoor lanterns or wall sconces on either side of the door will light the door lock and front step. Recessed downlights will do the same, but if used alone they will not illuminate the faces of visitors very well, but can create unattractive shadows.

Mount the lanterns and sconces at least 66" above standing level.

If at all possible, use several low level light sources instead of just one bright lighting fixture. For one, the eyes adapt slower from bright light to darker areas, so you might create glare and even a trip hazard by over-illuminating your front steps.

Too bright outdoor lighting also invades your neighbor's space and adds to the overall "light pollution" reducing our ability to view the beauty of the night sky.

If you want bright lights for security, but warmth and no glare for the first impression of your home, consider putting your outdoor wall fixtures on a dimmer.

 Designing with Light Outdoors

Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your property, makes your home safer and more secure, and increases the number of pleasurable hours you spend outdoors. And it is an investment that pays off handsomely in the value it adds to your home.

A well-lighted front entrance enables you to greet guests and identify visitors. Wall lanterns on each side of the door will give your home a warm, welcoming look, while assuring the safety of those who enter. Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung, or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be lighted with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door. To conserve energy, consider post and wall lanterns that use new compact fluorescent or high-intensity discharge light sources such as mercury vapor or high pressure sodium (see light sources).

For the safety and security of family members using the garage at night, you can install a wall fixture on the face of the garage. Fixtures equipped with high-pressure sodium bulbs will deliver more light per watt and last many times longer than those with incandescent bulbs. In addition, photocells are available that will turn fixtures on at dusk and off at dawn, reducing energy consumption and providing security when you're away.

For added security, illuminate any side of the house that would otherwise be in shadow. To conserve energy, install a motion- or heat-sensitive control that will switch on the light only if someone approaches that side of the house. An automatic timer can control a portion of your outdoor lights to turn off at a certain hour, while basic security lights can be left on through the night. Another proven safety measure is to use timers on interior lights to make your home look occupied when you're away.

Steps, paths, and driveways should be illuminated to make sure family members and guests are able to move about easily and safely after dark. You can install path lights or post lanterns or attach lights to the side of the house. Low-level path lights, which spread circular patterns of light, will brighten your walkway, while highlighting nearby flower beds, shrubs, and ground cover. These close-to-the-ground lights are available in fixtures using energy-saving low-voltage current (see light sources). They are simple to install and can easily be moved to reflect changes in your landscaping. Low-level path lights can also be used to define the boundaries of long driveways. Bollards, which stand 30 to 36 inches off the ground, also work well. Use shielded fixtures to avoid glare.

Decks, porches, and patios can be converted into romantic evening retreats by concealing low-voltage mini-lights under steps, railing, or benches.

Another idea is to install a spotlight in the branches of a nearby tree.

Don't forget to add stronger light over the barbecue or serving area. To accomplish this, install a recessed spot-light on an adjacent roof overhang or mount spread lights on a railing behind the grill

Courtesy of American Lighting Association

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