Night Sky Friendly Lighting
Virtually every house in the country has exterior light fixtures at the doors and/or garage. Typically, very little thought goes into their selection. Builders and contractors have so many decisions to make in the process of building a home that the exterior lights are often chosen on a basis of price and availability. So, if a fixture is cheap and in-stock at the electrical supply house, its likely to be installed on your home. This makes lots of sense from the contractors point of view, but is absolutely silly from the homeowners perspective. The lights on the exterior of your home will be often be seen by an incredibly large number of passersby. If you leave your lights on at night (you don’t, do you), an even larger number of people can see these as light travels great distances with ease. If you’d like the night time look of your home to be as warm and inviting as you are, an upgrade of your outdoor lights just might do the trick.
Residential lights come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. The only ones you should even consider are the night sky friendly ones. Non-friendly fixtures should be banned from production…. just as many communities have banned their installation. Night sky friendly lights (as a refresher) put light on the ground where its needed to allow you to move about safely after dark. They don’t shine wastefully up into the night sky or thoughtlessly across property lines. These are two places where residential lights definitely don’t belong. Night sky friendly lights are generally classified as full cutoff fixtures. Don’t let this technical term scare you. It simply means that no light shines above the horizontal position. You can vary the throw or distance that a fixture casts light by varying the angle at which the light come out… or by varying the mounting height of the fixture. There is no need to light to the end of your property… or even to the end of your driveway. Cars have headlights. They can easily navigate the end of your driveway. Its when people get out of the car (typically near the house) that light becomes a requirement. Aim to light this area… and this area only and you’ll save money… save the environment… and make your neighbors much happier.
So, you’ve decided to choose some nice, sky friendly fixtures. Wonderful! Now, where do you start. At this point, its more of a personal preference. The look and materials used on the exterior of your home can offer suggestions… as can the surrounding environment. Natural materials like wood and stone often work well with metallic fixtures like brass, copper, aluminum or steel. Adobe or stucco homes very often combine nicely with ceramic fixtures. Dry climates are easy. Everything (except people) holds up well when its dry. Damp, salt climates, like those found in coastal area are much tougher. You’ll definitely want to make use of a durable material. Again, brass, copper and ceramics are virtually unaffected by mother nature.