The most common reasons that people choose outdoor lighting solutions are for security, home amenity, work, recreation and marketing. Home amenity would include adding accents to garden spaces or lighting a pathway for you and your guests. Recreation is all about having fun and enjoying our nighttime environment well past dark. When the weather is nice our outdoor spaces become an extra room of the house where we eat, play and entertain.

Whatever reason we have for lighting up our outdoors, the following guidelines will help in determining which types of fixtures to buy. These guidelines are recommended by the International Dark-Sky Association or IDA.

According to the IDA, only use light where and when needed and avoid obtrusive light. Do not waste light and energy and use good transition lighting for the eye to adapt.

The IDA was founded in 1988 in Tucson, Arizona. Learn more about their goals and mission here.

Quality lighting enhances vision and night ambiance, while minimizing glare, light trespass, energy waste and sky glow. To accomplish this shine the light down, don’t overlight, avoid glare and use energy efficient light sources.

Shielded fixtures minimize glare, direct up-light and light trespass while controlling light output. An example of an unshielded fixture is a globe light.

Thanks largely to the efforts of the IDA, many communities around the US are enacting outdoor lighting ordinances. According to the IDA, some outcomes of such ordinances include:

  • Citizen education
  • Promotion of good lighting
  • Community standards
  • When needed, it’s the law

The purpose of a lighting code is:

  • Limit obtrusive lighting
  • Promote good business
  • Promote the community
  • Help everyone see better
  • Save energy
  • and preserve the night skies for all

The dark skies initiative seeks to end light pollution and banish urban sky glare. As awareness increases and more people become educated about preserving dark skies, we may yet be able to see the stars twinkling in the sky over our large cities again.