Lighting Installation Tips
As you go about installing your outdoor lighting, here are three quick tips and thoughts to consider:
Spend Time Planning
The best way to get good effects is to think about what you're doing first. Don't just buy a bunch of lights because they look pretty. Start by walking around your yard and deciding what you would like to light. Use a flashlight at dusk to get a feel for how the lighting will look. Write down your plans. Then you'll be able to go to the lighting store and select what you need.
Avoid Over Lighting
This is rule number one and it's frequently broken. You can often achieve much better effects simply by taking a 100 watt bulb and replacing it with a 50 watt. You'll see the savings in your electric bill as well.
Even for applications where security is the goal, too much lighting can be a minus rather than a plus. Glaring security lights may dazzle a would be intruder. But the intruder can walk in under them and be protected from sight by that selfsame glare. The temptation to use a 500 watt fixture to light a simple driveway should be avoided. 100 watts is more than sufficient to keep any activity from taking place in the shadows.
Direct Light Downward
With properly shielded lighting, 100% of the light will go downward toward the portion of landscape that's being lit. Whether it's the paving stones of a path, the steps of a staircase, or the surface of a deck, this is almost always where you want light to go. Directing all the light in the desire direction means you won't have to spend as much on electricity. There won't be any waste light. More importantly, it means the light won't dazzle or glare up into your eyes or the house next door or a passing car. Even lighted lawn ornaments can incorporate shields that keep the light from going in all directions.
This is a general rule and it can be broken. But you should always know why you're breaking the rule and be sure that it's safe to do so. Lighting up a wall, a chimney, or a tree may require you to send the light up rather than down; but you want to be extra careful that this doesn't create a dangerous or irritating glare.