(NewsUSA) - By following proven principles of outdoor lighting design, homeowners can pursue one of the fastest-growing trends in home decorating, resulting in beautiful neighborhoods and safer, more secure homes.
Knowledgeable homeowners select outdoor lighting systems that use a series of energy-efficient, low-voltage lights strategically placed around a home.
Positioning lights on the ground to shine up onto homes or landscaping is called "uplighting." Lights should be positioned no more than four feet away from the area they are lighting and positioned less than 30 degrees from vertical. This approach provides security because lights are placed in areas where an intruder might hide.
Uplighting also allows homeowners to highlight the most attractive features of a home, such as the texture of brick or stucco or interesting architectural details.
"Ten years ago, virtually no one was doing outdoor lighting in a pleasing, effective manner," said Winston Edwards, a lighting specialist with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives. "Today, the practice of outdoor lighting is more sophisticated and effective, resulting in systems that not only are practical but also add to the beauty of a home as seen at night."
The most common error that homeowners make with outdoor lighting is emphasizing the use of floodlights. While floodlights may give a sense of well-being, they actually can create safety and security problems, limiting the ability to see intruders or blinding visitors who risk a fall.
Floodlights with 500 watts of power also are unflattering to most home exteriors, making it difficult to appreciate texture or fine details.
In addition to lighting home exteriors, low-voltage outdoor lighting also is ideal for landscaping, allowing homeowners to accent ornamental shrubs and trees.
"For patios, consider using path lights around the perimeter, which will reflect light onto the patio," Edwards said. "With decks, use lights with a shielded light source underneath the handrails. These lights provide just the right light for conversation and are much more pleasant than typical deck lighting with a bright light shining from the side of a home."
The newest generation of outdoor lights uses halogen bulbs, which are energy-efficient and brighter than traditional incandescent lights. Paired with stainless-steel sockets, quality outdoor lights provide years of carefree operation.
"When it comes to creating beautiful outdoor lighting, homeowners should look for interesting architectural elements and distinctive landscaping, and they should never place lights so that anyone is looking directly into a bulb," Edwards said.
"Follow these basic principles, and outdoor lighting will be an investment that you, and your neighbors, will enjoy for years to come."