Tips for Proper Lighting

Many of the outdoor lights we use around our homes and workplaces are poorly designed or improperly aimed. These lights are not cost effective, wasteful, and glary. These lights direct light uselessly above the horizon, causes the murky yellow glow seen around cities and towns that washes out our view of the stars. To combat the problems of bad lighting, while maintaining the positive aspects of outdoor lighting, such as security and safety, simply follow a few basic rules of thumb:

  • To combat Glare, use a light with a bulb that you can’t see from a distance. Glare is caused by light beams hitting your eye directly from the bulb. They hamper your vision. This is dangerous to walkers, bikers, and drivers.
  • To combat Trespassing Light choose lights and locations for lights so that they don’t shine into your neighbor’s yards or houses. Directing light downward often solves this problem. Haphazard lighting choices can cause light to spill into your neighbors’ bedrooms disrupting their sleep, and making for cranky neighbors.
  • To combat Energy Waste choose lighting which is effective using a low-wattage bulbs or energy efficient bulbs. If possible, install timers or motion-detectors to turn lights off when not needed.

Tips for choosing and installing good lighting:

  • Don’t over-light. Many homes and businesses illuminate areas 100 times more brightly then the full Moon, aggravating neighbors and star gazers. By choosing properly shielded lights in key areas you can meet your needs without annoying those around you.
  • Aim light down. Lights which send light uselessly up or sideways add significantly to light pollution and can cause light to trespass into your neighbor’s homes. Installing “cut-off shields” or directing lights down can eliminate these problems while directing light onto the target area.
  • Maximize efficiency. Install fixtures to maximize their effectiveness on the targeted areas and minimize their impact elsewhere. Try to install fixtures at night to see where the light actually goes. By improving the efficiency of a few lights you can avoid wasting money on unnecessary fixtures and energy output.