Direct Lighting vs. Indirect Lighting
There are a variety of lighting decisions that occur when selecting the correct outdoor landscape lighting intensity, in fact, as many as the indoors. When lighting a piece of art or a kitchen countertop there are many things to consider such as: purpose, fixture options, fixture positions, esthetics, ambiance, mood, type of light, color of light, angle of light, reflective beam/range, reflective impact, down lighting, up lighting and many more.
I will start with wattage or reflective intensity concerning your outdoor lighting. I use reflective intensity because that is what you, the homeowner, experience when we installed your lights. It is the result of the indirect light that we specialize in, not the direct lighting itself. It’s important to NOT see the light just the effect of it! A common example of direct lighting in an outdoor environment is the typical carriage lamp found on a garage or at the front door of a home. The problem with direct light is that it’s usually in your eyes and blinding.
As you look at the front of your home, in the dark of evening, you will see your lamps. These typically have very bright bulbs in them. The bulbs were selected to overcome the extreme darkness of the evening so that visitors can find your door or to keep danger at bay. This is a theory that is not matched with science. Your bright carriage lamp actually reduces your ability to see because your iris closes reducing the amount of light you can take in when you remove your eye’s focus from the lamp. This is a result from too much wattage. Your eyes have the ability to manage with lower light wattage than you would expect.
As a result, we at Northwest Outdoor total the accumulated light existing on the property prior to our lighting design. If the existing light wattage is what our client wants, we then design to a higher wattage total. If they even mention that it is too bright or offensive, the design changes to a comprehensive lighting design factoring the accumulated light total which reduces the total wattage per fixture. This total then provides a subtle lighting result. The design is more appealing and impacts your senses with soothing results.
Try it out…. Check your existing outdoor lighting and then look around your property… what can you see? If nothing but black, then you could have too high wattage bulbs. Dimmer switches work great on carriage lamps as well as reduced wattage bulbs.