When outdoor lighting is planned well, it can be enchanting. Brilliantly designed Christmas light displays, for example, never fail to draw a crowd.
Having good exterior lighting can help you feel more safe and secure, allow you to relax outdoors after dark during the warmer months, and can also help make your home more beautiful as well.
When to use bright lighting
Bright lights provide a decent amount of spread. This simply means they will flood an area with light, helping you to see clearly when that is important.
A bright overhead light placed in an alcove at the entrance to the home, for example, provides light to help you make sure you can unlock your door quickly and safely upon arrival. It also discourages loitering, because those who would loiter don't usually wish to be seen doing so.
If you have an outdoor barbecue area or food preparation area, bright light is essential for safety and hygiene. It can also be helpful if you have an outdoor dish washing station.
Bright light, placed suitably high off the ground, is also very suitable for lighting paths, and of course it's perfect for security lighting.
When to avoid bright lights
You should not use bright lights in areas where people will be looking directly. At night, bright lights can create glare, and they can also temporarily "blind" people, causing extreme discomfort, fatigue, and sometimes even nausea.
This is why brighter lights are best placed at some considerable height – certainly not eye level – and preferably shining down rather than out.
Outdoor dining areas are another place where it's better to have more subdued lighting. This may seem like a strange instruction until you consider that bright light tends to attract insects, and in general most people in the UK prefer not to eat bugs that they didn't specifically ask for!
Some low key wall sconces backed up by small candle bowls on the table will often prove to provide enough light for the dining area, while insects will congregate around the brighter lights elsewhere.
If you're having a party, it's okay to be creative
Lighting up your party is one of those times when it's definitely a good idea to think creatively and try to have some fun with your lighting design.
If you have set up an outdoor bar area, decorating it with a string of low intensity coloured lights can give it some added charm, and also help people locate it, even after they've already visited it a few times too many.
You can also set up lights decoratively, for different kinds of themes. Chinese lanterns, for example, are popular for New Year festivals (and obviously Chinese New Year is a strong candidate in this category). There are all kinds of other options to explore as well.
Tiki torches, fairy lights, and even outdoor chandeliers are all potential possibilities. Of course you may need to check local council regulations to make sure your ideas won't get you into any trouble, as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Don't forget about the power
Another rather obvious thing is that all electric lighting requires power to operate. Your plans need to take that into account. For permanent lighting installations, you'll need the help of a qualified electrician to set it all up.
For the more temporary installations, you won't always need an electrician, but you will need to make sure you have enough power getting to where you need to get it to go (safely), and you'll also need to consider the aesthetics.
Planning your outdoor lighting scenario isn't rocket science, but it isn't always the easiest thing in the world either. If you'd like some help with your planning, come in to Christopher Wray Lighting and talk with one of our lighting consultants. They are experts in lighting, and always happy to provide whatever lighting advice you may need.