Outdoor lighting principles: Area lighting

March 13, 2018

When it comes to outdoor lighting there are few elements that can be handled as creatively as area lighting. Outdoor area lighting encompasses pathway lighting, moonlighting (commonly referred to as down lighting), patio and deck lighting, stairway lighting and can be used in a variety of ways for landscape lighting design as well.

The most common area lighting requests we get are for pathway lighting. As far as low voltage lighting solutions, this is usually accomplished by using a ground-stake, fixed position light fixture like a path light. Path lights are typically around 18 to 24 inches tall, from the base of the fixture to the top or “hat” of the fixture. This allows for an area lighting radius of approximately three to five feet. These fixtures are usually more ornate than other outdoor lighting fixtures, as they are typically highly visible.

Other area lights that can be used for pathways, but are also ideal for stairwells and other egresses are ground-stake, directional area light fixtures. These fixtures are similar in size to traditional pathway lights, but can be adjusted for directional lighting. The slight drawback of having more glare than a traditional pathway light is typically offset by the ability to shine a more focused beam of light in any direction you desire. If being used for a walkway you can typically reduce the amount of fixtures needed by doubling them up and directing the light in opposite directions.

For large area lighting there are several options as well. Moonlighting is a practice where downlights are affixed at a substantial height, above the lower level of branches on trees. This effect allows the fixture to bathe an area with indirect light that is glare-free and has some shadows that will move with the wind. It is a very low-key and relaxing effect.

Pendant lights can also be installed in a large tree with a large canopy. The fixtures are hung from individual branches and create a fantastic effect as the wind blows through the tree and moves the fixtures and branches.

Long-stem area lights are another option for lighting large areas. These fixtures typically stand between four and seven feet tall and allow for a much greater spread of light. Glare can be an issue if the spacing and installation is not done perfectly, but when installed correctly these fixtures are attractive and effective.

Bistro lighting is an effective and attractive way to light an area that has been gaining popularity in recent years. The low-voltage solution makes it appear that dozens of floating light bulbs are swaying in the wind above you. It’s a great option if you like to entertain often or want to define an outdoor space.

The above are some examples of area lighting and there are many more ways that areas can be lit creatively and attractively if you use a professional outdoor lighting design company like S&M Landscape Lighting. To learn more you can call us at (908) 369-7791 or submit a contact form here.