Glare Is A Common Outdoor Lighting Design Flaw

outdoor lights on garage and front door of residence

With darkness coming earlier in the day it is worth thinking about the quality of light coming from your outdoor lighting. Most of us have experienced the annoying porch or landscape light with so much light coming directly in the field of vision, that the intense light actually makes it more difficult to navigate the walkway or steps to the front door.

Glare is the most common problem with outdoor lighting, both for homes and commercial buildings. Glare is caused by direct view of an unshielded light source and by high contrast between light coming from a fixture and the exterior darkness.

It is better to use multiple, low light level fixtures that are shielded so they produce indirect light rather than one high brightness fixture. This basic design principle applies to all outdoor entries and walkways. For situations where the fixtures are already in place, experiment with lower light output bulbs or frosted bulbs and use the one that provides just enough light for safety. The brighter bulbs may actually be more of a hazard.

If you decide to upgrade your porch or outside wall fixtures, look for one that is rated “full cutoff.” These fixtures direct all the light downward to provide both safety on the porch or walkway and effective security lighting, without glare. Full cutoff fixtures also help reduce night sky light pollution.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.