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Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting varies widely according to aesthetic concerns and intended usage.

Security globe fixtures are a common type of exterior lighting. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Security globe fixtures are a common type of exterior lighting.

Exterior Lighting

Exterior lighting not only enhances the look of a home and yard, it also increases safety and security. Homeowners should survey their yard when it is dark to identify what areas would benefit from additional lighting. Areas that are too dark near walkways or entrances could pose a safety threat. Additionally, there may be architectural and landscaping features, such as pools, stonework, trees or shrubs that could be highlighted with accent lighting. Homeowners should also consider the placement of exterior lighting to make sure lawnmowers, weed eaters and edgers do not damage the light fixtures. Homeowners can develop an exterior lighting plan on their own, enlist the help of a professional landscaper or get advice from a local home improvement store.

Security Lighting

One of the most important aspects of an exterior lighting plan is security and safety lighting. These lights ensure that walkways and steps are well-lit so as not to pose tripping hazards, and also discourage intruders. According to Bob Vila, research shows that simply lighting an area helps deter crime. Installing exterior lights is an effective way to eliminate dark areas in the yard where intruders can hide.

Flood lights are a good choice for exterior security lighting. They should be placed around the garage, backyard, and near any side or back entrances to the home. Flood lights should be placed at least 9 feet from the ground so that an intruder cannot easily disable them. In order to provide the best visibility, flood lights should be aimed as close to a straight down angle as possible rather than at an outward angle. When a flood light shines outward, the eye is drawn towards the light rather than to what the light is shining on.

Flood lights equipped with a motion detector not only provide better security, they are more economical to operate. Motion detector lights only come on when the sensor detects movement, and then turn off after a certain period of time. This sudden illumination is often more effective at scaring off trespassers than a light that stays on all night long.

Finally, positioning the light on the front porch in a way that provides sufficient light to see the lock allows homeowners to quickly unlock the door and enter the house at night.

Decorative Lighting

Decorative exterior lighting helps homeowners showcase the architectural detail of their home. It can also highlight specific features, such as a swimming pool, fountain, front door, patio or walkway. According to HGTV, homeowners should avoid over-lighting when planning exterior lighting. The desired effect will look as though moonlight was shining on it.

Homeowners can use lampposts, lanterns and underwater lights to add decorative exterior lighting. Lampposts work well as an accent along driveways or pathways. Lanterns have the versatility of hanging nearly anywhere, such as from a porch, from small poles near patios or on the side of the house. Underwater lighting enhances the look of a swimming pool, fountain or spa. Using colored light bulbs in underwater lights creates a unique look.

Homeowners can also use floodlights pointed up at the home to add a decorative touch to the exterior of the home. This technique, called uplighting, allows homeowners to place a floodlight on the ground and position the beam of light upwards so that it highlights an archway, house number or outdoor decoration. It can also create an interesting effect of light and shadow over brick or stone siding.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting adds dimension to flower beds, bushes, trees and lawns surrounding the home. When it comes to landscape lighting, there are a wide variety of choices for homeowners, including well lights, mushroom lights, ground or path lighting, tier lights and low profile lights.

Uplighting from well lights is a good way to showcase trees, shrubs and flowers. Well lights shine light upward and outward and are low-maintenance, making them a good choice for landscape lighting. Well lights are submerged into the ground so they do not pose a tripping or mowing hazard.

Tier lights can be used with the covers on or removed, depending on what effect is desired. Removing the top of the tier lights allows light to shoot straight up and down, which is a good way to illuminate hedges. Tier lights can be used to line the perimeters of flower beds, steps and walkways. Low profile lights also work well to line driveways and walkways.

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