Height of Exterior Lighting Fixtures

Posted on: May 29, 2018, by :

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If necessary for visual balance, lights may be placed higher when doors are very tall. A more harmonious and better-lit effect may be produced by increasing the size, rather than the height, of the fixtures. Occasionally, an overhead or pendant light is most effective for illuminating taller-than-average doors. With all high-mounted fixtures, your main concern should be that shades do not allow downward glare, which can make it hard to manage using keys or stepping over sills.

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Post or lantern-style lights can increase safety, especially in yards with stairs, stepping-stones or brick-paved walks. Fixtures at a height of 1 to 2 feet create illumination without the large shadows that may render taller light fixtures ineffective. Spacing lights between three and six feet apart along a path is more effective than a few brighter widely-spaced lights. Aim for even lighting along a path to reduce dangers of tripping.

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Carefully-placed exterior lighting makes your home safer and more welcoming.

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Beal, Janet. Height of Exterior Lighting Fixtures.

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Beal, Janet. Height of Exterior Lighting Fixtures accessed May 28, 2018.


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Keeping the porch light on is a traditional sign of a welcoming home. Correct positioning of exterior lighting fixtures can affect outdoor visibility, comfort and safety. Several factors determine placement of fixtures for maximum effects. Bigger and brighter are not always the solutions to outdoor lighting challenges. Be prepared to use several strategies to make the outside of your home as welcoming as the inside.

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Especially with front- and back-porch lighting, professionals note two consistent errors that make lighting less effective than desired. Glare is often a problem when homeowners try to increase the scope of a too-small fixture by adding too-bright bulbs. Replace small contractor-chosen fixtures with larger ones, and try out bulbs from 40 through 75 watts for exterior light that glows rather than blazes.

Lighting professionals generally agree that front and back porch lights work best when placed just above eye level, usually at between 65 and 67 inches above the ground or porch floor. This places fixtures at between 3/4 and 7/8 of the height of the door and lets those approaching the door knock or gain entry without glare in their eyes. Lights need to be high enough to illuminate the immediate porch area and steps within a few feet of the door. Most designers suggest two lights, one on each side, for a front door and a single fixture for a side or back door. Junction boxes for fixtures at either door are usually located within six inches to one foot of the door frame.

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Janet Beal has written for various websites, covering a variety of topics, including gardening, home, child development and cultural issues. Her work has appeared on early childhood education and consumer education websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University and a Master of Science in early childhood education from the College of New Rochelle.

Mount security lights at between 8 and 9 feet if necessary to keep them out of easy reach. If mounting floodlights rather than shaded or more focused spotlights, you may want to check with neighbors before doing final installation. The same good neighbor strategy applies to highly-placed exterior fixtures, such as a garage light that lets your kids play basketball in the driveway or a light on your deck that covers the entire patio below. While most municipal building codes regulate light-fixture height and location only in public spaces, such as parking lots or multifamily housing, like apartment buildings, the placement of outdoor lighting may be governed by local nuisance or environmental policies.

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Beal, Janet. (n.d.). Height of Exterior Lighting Fixtures.

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Height of Exterior Lighting Fixtures

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