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Starry Starless Night

Outdoor lighting is one of the most rapidly growing areas of lighting design. More and more consumers and retail business are paying attention to their outside lighting, not only out of security and safety concerns, but also to enhance and beautify their property or business fronts.

Unfortunately, examples of bad lighting are rampant. Poor placement of lighting and the use of improper fixtures or products cause a variety of problems, from glare to "light trespass", where light from a source illuminates an adjacent property. Carelessly positioned lights also contribute to "sky glow", meaning that light goes upwards or is bounced up from a reflective surface.

In response, a growing number of communities are legislating "dark sky" ordinances to control so-called "light pollution". These regulations often specify the types of reflectors, shields, cut-off angles and bulb types that may be used on new or existing structures.

Even if you don't live in a community that has a dark sky ordinance, there are many sound reasons for applying the basic ideas to your home lighting scheme. For starters, buying fixtures which aim most of their light output down towards the ground reduces glare and actually improves visibility. This means you can reduce the wattage and number of lights necessary to light an area, saving you energy and money. Downlighting with efficient light fixtures can also improve the visual look of your property, creating a more subtle, eye-pleasing effect.

Some quick tips:
  • Consider using sensor controlled outdoor fixtures that turn on when you need the light and turn off when you don't.
  • Sometimes less is more. Reduce the wattage on your outdoor bulbs, say from 100 to 50 watts. Good outdoor lighting is not overly bright in relation to the surrounding area.
  • Fixtures for driveway areas, walkways and garden areas street lighting should direct all of their light to the ground.
  • Protect the visibility of the night sky, avoid uplighting.
  • Be considerate of neighbors-avoid light trespass and blinding glare.
  • Use the most efficient lamp suitable.

Not only does efficient lighting protect the environment and conserve our energy resources, it will save you money in the long run.

About Author: Mark Raissen. Director of Lighting Design for LAMPS PLUS, Mark Raissen has won numerous industry awards and is host of television's "The Lighting Chef".He is a member of the Illumination Engineering Society of North America and is an American Lighting Association certified lighting designer. Some of Mark's most notable projects include the Caesar's Casino Hotel and Forum Shops in South Africa, as well as Nelson Mandela's personal residence.


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