Outdoor lighting can make a home look warm and inviting or majestic and regal depending on the type and placement of the lights. At the same time outdoor lighting can light driveways and pathways for guests while providing security and a deterrent to intruders. Choosing the right outdoor lighting for your home is easier to do when you have a basic understanding of the different types of outdoor lighting fixtures available. Then you can decide what lights will work best for your purpose.
There are five different types of outdoor lighting options to choose from. Each creates a certain effect and will work best in particular types of situations. The most important thing to remember when choosing outdoor lights is that light is fluid and the way it is encased and directed will have a major impact on the way the light is diffused and therefore how well it realizes your goals.
Path Lights or Spot Lights: Path lights are the most commonly used outdoor lights. Placed along the sides of a walkway, path or driveway, path lights are low to the ground and spread the light down and out so that you can see where you are walking and not stray off the path. You don't need as many lights as you might think and using too many can make your driveway look like the local airport.
Path lights work as well in the back yard as they do in the front yard and provide a warm, soft light without producing glare. Solar powered path lights are a popular option as they do not require any additional wiring or power to operate which can save on your power bill.
Downlights or Flood Lights: motion detector lights that are placed on the house or garage are downlights. They are placed high and pointed down toward the ground and are most often used for security purposes. Downlights are very bright and create a glare so if you are using them to create natural lighting you may want to place the lights in a tree or in some other way shield them so the light is diffused and you can't see the bulb.
Up Lights or Accent Lights: up lights are most often spot lights that are placed on the ground and pointed upward toward a tree or fountain or anything you wish to use as a focal point with your outdoor lighting. The ambient light of up lights create can also be useful for patios and walkways as well depending on how they are placed.
Backlights or Accent Lights: backlights are an outdoor lighting option and are used to enhance your landscape in some artistic manner. For example, a backlight might be placed behind a plant in such a way as to cast a shadow on a wall while bringing attention to the plant. Backlights create drama and are usually placed behind an object and out of sight.
Specialty Lights: specialty lights have become a popular option in outdoor lighting when creating an outdoor living space on a deck or patio. They include string lights, torches, underwater lights, lanterns and the like and are used to create mood and ambiance wherever they are placed.
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