5 Types of Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor Lighting Orlando does more than transform your property; it helps your family and guests see the yard and home safely. Illuminated walkways prevent tripping hazards, and illuminated plants and flowers make them stand out.
Choose lighting fixtures based on your goals. Fixtures designed to improve safety differ from those meant to highlight architectural features.
Uplighting is one of the most versatile landscape lighting techniques. This technique involves illuminating objects from the ground upward, and it can be used on nearly any type of object or plant in your landscape. It’s especially effective on trees, highlighting their interesting branches and bark or their unique structure. Uplighting also works well for sculptures and fountains, bringing out their lovely texture.
Another common use of uplighting is for walls and fences, allowing them to become part of the landscape nightscape and adding a new dimension to your property. It can draw attention to a specific garden element, a stone or water feature wall, or even the entire property boundary for safety purposes. It’s important to note that when uplighting fences and walls, multiple lights are usually required in order to create a more pleasing effect. It’s also recommended that light fixtures be kept low and discreet in order to minimize the amount of lighting they cast on the surface of the house or fence.
In contrast, downlighting (also known as moonlighting) is a lighting technique that illuminates objects from below. This is often done by using fixture mounted high in a tree or in the eaves of your home. It can also be achieved by placing multiple fixtures lower in the yard, resulting in a more moonlight-like effect. This is also a great option for lighting stairs, walkways and driveways. When used in combination, uplighting and downlighting help to guide the eyes of onlookers toward specific focal points while still creating a warm, inviting space for your outdoor living spaces. For this reason, we like to use both uplighting and downlighting in our projects to create a balanced look.
Guide your guests safely through your outdoor spaces by lighting pathways that wind around gardens, driveways and other landscape features. Whether the lights are small stakes, decorative lanterns, or integrated into hardscape features like steps and benches, they create a warm, welcoming atmosphere for entertaining after dark.
Typically, path lighting is one of the first types of landscape lighting a homeowner installs. This is partially due to the relative ease of installation. Many of the self-contained, solar-powered path light fixtures can be purchased at your local hardware store and tossed into the ground without the need for wires and complicated connections.
The other reason is that many of the most popular path light designs are reminiscent of classic lighting elements, making them easy to match with nearly any design style. Path lights are a great way to highlight plant material or ornamental trees and shrubs on the landscape, especially those that can’t be reached by other light sources, such as down lighting from the eaves of the house.
Another type of path light is a bollard, which is similar to a standard lamp post but has a more directional light fixture that emits a wide beam of illumination. These are a good choice for wider paths, because they illuminate the entire space without the need to place as many fixtures on the landscape.
Lastly, flush mount path lights are the most subtle and often found built into structures, such as steps and walkways. These are ideal for illuminating narrower paths because they don’t require as much space and can be positioned closer together to avoid over-illumination.
A bit like the sparkly topper on a dessert, accent lighting makes the biggest visual impact and elevates the overall look of a space. Sometimes it’s just used to highlight a piece of artwork, other times it’s more a way of drawing attention to specific areas of the home or landscape. These fixtures are usually smaller than other types of lights, ranging from small wall-mounted sconces to adjustable recessed spotlights.
Aside from illuminating walking paths, stairs and the front or back doors of your home, accent lights are the perfect choice for adding personality to your outdoor living spaces. They can also bring a sense of warmth and hospitality when used in a front porch light or to showcase hanging artwork or objects in the entryway. Wall lights are great for this and come in a variety of styles, from sconces to lanterns that offer a vintage appeal. Other options are tube lights and smart downlights, which can work almost like individual spotlights when needed.
Accent lighting, or highlighting, emphasizes a specific area of the room by shining a focused beam on it. It can be used to draw attention to artwork, fireplaces, a textured wall or even plants in an outdoor layout. These fixtures are usually located close to the object they need to focus on, which helps avoid direct and reflected glare. Adjustable build-on spots and movable recessed spotlights are ideal for this, as they can be adjusted to match the desired focus and direction.
As a general rule, it’s recommended to install accent lighting three times as bright as ambient or task lighting to achieve the most visually appealing results. This ensures that there’s enough lighting to illuminate the object or area of interest and prevents glare in other areas of the home.
Flood lighting provides general illumination for areas on your property. It can highlight features of your landscaping or even architectural elements of your home. Unlike uplighting, which highlights smaller areas with a narrow beam, flood lights have a wider angle of illumination, making them better suited to large areas like a backyard or driveway.
When selecting a flood light, consider its wattage and color temperature. Wattage indicates how bright the fixture is and can have a direct impact on your energy costs. A higher wattage bulb will provide more light, but also consume more energy. Color temperature is measured in Kelvin and can have a big effect on the mood and ambiance of an illuminated area. Warmer colors (around 2700K) can have a relaxing, welcoming tone, while cooler colors (around 5000K) create a more alert atmosphere.
The fixture’s location rating is another important consideration. If you live near a body of water, for example, you may need a fixture that is waterproof. Those that aren’t can be susceptible to corrosion due to salt and water damage.
You should also pay attention to the IP rating, which stands for “ingress protection.” This number is made up of two numbers and will tell you how resistant the fixture is to environmental conditions. For instance, a flood light with a higher number will be more resistant to dust and debris. A lower number will indicate that the flood light is more sensitive to moisture.
Adding lighting to a gazebo or pergola is an easy way to extend the use of your outdoor spaces. Lights can be mounted in recessed areas to keep the ceiling clear for dining or relaxing, and they can also be placed in the beams above for a dramatic effect. If you want to hang a fixture from the ceiling, choose one with a damp location rating so it can safely be used in wet weather.
If you’re looking to add a little flair to your patio without a hardwired fixture, try a battery-powered lantern that will give you a romantic glow. Or, if you have the skills to do so, you can repurpose old candle holders or even lamps that no longer work for an ambiance that’s perfect for an intimate backyard dinner.
Lighting a focal point in your garden is a great way to create drama at night, whether it’s a topiary ball or a sculptural tree branch. However, lighting just one side of a feature can cause it to lose its depth. Instead, try lighting both sides of a plant or structure, like in this scheme from
Another fun and easy way to brighten up your outdoor space is with string lights, which can add a touch of whimsy to an area. You can string them in neat rows or crisscross them for a more eclectic look, and opt for brighter bulbs for a stronger glow.
When it comes to outdoor lighting ideas, you’re only limited by your imagination and budget. And remember, safety is always a concern, so be sure to follow the rules for your particular neighborhood and consult a professional for help with placement and timers.