Lighting the exterior is a difficult task, especially if you want to achieve a result that lives up to expectations. It is one thing to place some rechargeable solar panel spotlights here and there, one thing is to design and create effective, safe, functional outdoor lighting for your needs and above all pleasant to live in. At stake there are many aspects that go beyond the quality of light alone. On the contrary, this parameter is relative: in many situations too strong light must be avoided, both because it would end up attracting too many insects (from moths to mosquitoes), and because it would further increase the problem of light pollution at the expense of the view of the stars and the celestial vault at night. In short, light must be managed and modulated with criteria, in order to avoid making trivial errors that would risk compromising the use of space: garden, porch or simple city terrace does not matter, what matters is configuring the lighting observing some common sense precautions .
In this guide, for obvious “non-definitive” reasons, we will try to provide a complete overview of the topic, taking into account the current legislation and the solutions that the market offers. In the individual chapters we will deal with the different areas to be illuminated: building facade, columns and porch, avenue, garden, plants and hedges and finally swimming pool. In this way we will discover how to deal with the main unknowns of an outdoor lighting project, such as rain, the contrast of criminal acts or the enhancement of a sculpture, a tree, or other elements, natural and not. In the last part we will also dedicate a few lines to the so-called “green bonus” and tax deductions to save on the purchase of lamps and lighting equipment. Let’s go inside!
LIGHTING OF AN OUTDOOR FACADE
To illuminate the external facade of a house, a B&B or a farm, it is necessary first of all to study the scenario carefully. It seems trivial to say it, but it is necessary to reiterate that the choice of the type of lamp must take place already in the planning phase: once the construction, renovation or arrangement of the garden has been completed, it will no longer be possible to intervene except by putting your hand back to the earth to spread the tracks or on the wall to install the light points.
Regarding the type of lamps, these can fall into the category of lamps with diffused light, with single emission, with double emission or with other scenography effects at will (we will see them shortly). You don’t need powerful lighting at all costs: it is better to focus on a targeted light, capable of giving prominence to the facade, especially if in the presence of particular walls such as exposed stone walls. An excellent idea could be this double emission wall lamp in quartz agglomerate, a versatile product with reduced consumption and compact dimensions.
In recent years, LED supports with “wall washer” effect have emerged, in the classic white or yellow color or in more original shades, from red to blue passing through green. Wall washer lights give softness and purity to the facade precisely because they seem to wash the surface of any dark spots, with the possibility of adjusting the inclination to be flush with the wall or to distance themselves a few degrees.
Floor spotlights are also very popular, perfect accessories for reflecting light upwards. Here is an example of many of the recessed outdoor LED spotlights.
We at outdoor led display supplier recommend using artificial light sparingly: let’s not forget that a light switched on all night consumes energy, requires maintenance and not least weighs on the bill. Therefore, use only quality products with the latest generation performance and above average durability.
OUTDOOR COLUMNS LIGHTING
The columns are architectural elements of great impact, which need specific and directed lighting as such. Wrong to point a spotlight could return a feeling of imbalance and disharmony, if not actually make the external appearance of the property grotesque. We therefore recommend using recessed spotlights to illuminate the columns. But be careful: not just any spotlights but spotlights with the right optics, able to convey the light over the entire column. The choice of the spotlight must fall on a product with power and optics consistent with the height and width of the column to be illuminated. Below we present an example of column lighting with Solo spotlights.
If the spotlight should be recessed in concrete or similar materials, it is very important to prepare a hole of adequate size BEFORE the cast or the closure of the floor. It should also be remembered that the spotlight must be positioned along the central axis of the column, at a distance that will be studied and verified by means of the lighting engineering calculation. An alternative to this configuration is the installation of the spotlight at the top, so that the light spreads towards the base of the column. Beyond the aesthetics (suspended spotlights), however, in this case there is a problem of visual comfort given by the fact that, looking upwards, one is disturbed by the light on. For those who do not find spotlights suitable for their needs, we recommend evaluating the purchase of projectors such as this from Linea Light: Pixar.
LIGHTING OF THE EXTERIOR PORCH
Compared to the garden and exteriors, the porch is the space that needs more lighting. It is in fact an environment to live and enjoy in company, for example for a dinner or an aperitif. Although in the height of summer, natural light may not be sufficient for adequate lighting of the porch, especially if we consider places in the hills or surrounded by mountains, where the sun sets first. Materials, style, aesthetic taste and size of the porch are parameters that greatly influence the decision of the lighting system.
In any case, we consider that we are talking about an area that can be used all year round, for example in the presence of closed windows (what is called a winter garden). For this reason, the porch cannot be compared to columns or façades (passive elements): its size is closer to the swimming pool, the garden or the avenue (active or passage elements). All this entails a certain flexibility in the choice of lamps, which can be simple LED strips, but also spotlights, wall lamps, ceiling lights or floor lamps like this in the photo, to be placed next to the wall or next to the table.
The latest generation high-efficiency LED strips are also excellent, valid for the numerous advantages they ensure, from the smallest footprint to the reduced consumption, not to mention the far lower cost compared to more sophisticated solutions, which however could be targeted by thieves and vandals during the night or when you go on vacation. We have talked about LED strips on our blog on several occasions, for the lighting of a portico with strips, we refer instead to the article written by us for the portal Tiriordino.com (How to illuminate a porch with LED strips). Here is an example photo of a portico illuminated with LED strips.
LIGHTING OF STREETS AND PATHS
Among the protagonists of the outdoor spaces are the avenues, intended as access roads, pedestrian walkways, suspended walkways or tree-lined streets. Here the most obvious variable is the passage of people, cars, motorcycles and other means. Planning must be much more accurate and far-sighted in this perspective. Placing a lamp near a point on the depressed avenue could force you to clean the lamp itself from the mud every time it rains and a puddle forms. Wrong the dislocation of the spotlights in correspondence with a curve of the avenue instead risks returning an incorrect perception of the point in which to turn. When you approach the light design of avenues and paths, it is therefore good to think about the many unknowns that could occur during the year, both in good weather conditions and in rain, snow and strong winds.
The ecological and safety issue is also important. On the one hand, the lighting of an avenue requires a certain amount of energy, which grows with increasing length and light points. On the other hand, it is clear that an avenue inserted in a garden, especially if of large size, should guarantee lighting on command, useful for signaling incursions of wildlife (wild boars, roe deer, etc.) and suspicious activities by intruders. In this case, the solution is spotlights, projectors or bollards with integrated or combined motion sensor: thanks to these products, it is possible to maximize energy savings without sacrificing safety and control of a fundamental external area such as the avenue.
LIGHTING THE GARDEN
To inexperienced eyes, the garden is seen as a place to be illuminated in the daytime or at the other extreme not to be illuminated at all. The truth as always lies in the right medium: the garden can be illuminated very well with lamps positioned in strategic points (trees, flower beds, walls, sculptures), such as to combine aesthetics and functionality. A lamp model that lends itself to decorative garden lighting is the Luna Out sphere, by far the best-selling and most requested lamp of its kind. There are various sizes, for an excellent result in various contexts such as private gardens, hotel gardens, parks of historic villas, etc…
If in addition to the garden you want to illuminate the avenues with a single fixture, then the answer is the bi-emission bollards and spotlights, developed to illuminate two opposite areas such as the avenue on one side and the garden on the other. Less effective in terms of control and aesthetics, but not less valid for those who prefer functionality to design.
LIGHTING OF PLANTS AND HEDGES
Plants and hedges are second-rate elements in the overall exterior, yet their role can become central when they are placed in a prominent place in the garden. An olive tree that stands in the middle of the lawn with a stone next to it, for example, deserves to be enhanced by a good quality projector. To get an idea of the best projectors on the market we suggest taking a look at the professional outdoor lighting section of Linea Light Design, and especially the family of projectors available for shipping throughout also through our ecommerce. Here an image of an outdoor lighting of a plant.
LIGHTING OF THE OUTDOOR SWIMMING POOL
We conclude this review of solutions for outdoor lighting with a brief examination of a valuable element: the swimming pool. An outdoor swimming pool is a status symbol that must be illuminated without compromise. Design and functionality are minimum requirements for a professional scenography effect. It is clear that here too we are faced with the choice to leave the lamp at the mercy of some petty thief or rather think of a versatile lighting system, to be organized according to the number and presence of guests. A good compromise could be the OH! Swim, an RGB LED model with induction charging and remote control, also suitable for outdoor use.