Develop your home’s exterior to its greatest potential by adding beauty, charm, and security with outdoor and landscape lighting. We have installed exterior lighting for homes throughout Maryland.
- Create a warm, welcome environment for guests
- Add dramatic elegance to your landscaping and gardening
- Make areas of your yard more “user friendly” at night
- Make the exterior of your home a safer place to navigate (especially during weather events)
- Add to the ambiance of the interior of your home as the exterior lighting illuminates through the windows for a striking effect
- Add additional value to your home
- Exterior Lighting Maryland
Planning Your Landscape Lighting
STEP 1 – What to Light
Examine your home and its surroundings. Ask yourself: what favorite landscape features or views should have the extra brightness of accent lighting? Decide what you would like to illuminate (architectural features of the house, flowers, scrubs, trees, sculpture, deck, path or general areas). Determine if you want these elements to be prominent focal points with accent lighting or general features with background lighting.
STEP 2 – Choosing Landscape Lighting Systems
Before you can select landscape lighting fixtures, you must choose the type of voltage system you want to use: 120 volt (line voltage) or 12 volt (low voltage).
- 120 Volt System (Line Voltage)
- The power supply in must U.S.A. homes is 120V, and is usually recommended if the lighted subject is larger than 25 ft. or positioned more than 30 ft. from the fixture.
- Ground mounted 120V units require permanent installation with buried cable to meet safety standards and codes.
- 12 Volt System (Low Voltage)
- A low voltage system uses a transformer to reduce the usual 120V power supply down to 12V.
- The reduction from 120V to 12V means a lower amount of electrical current, reducing the risk of injury from electrical shock and eliminating the need to bury the cable deep underground.
- Voltage drop limits the distance and number of 12V fixtures powered by each transformer.
- 12V is preferable where lights might be moved due to plant growth or changing needs.
- The fixtures are generally smaller due to the lamp.
STEP 3 – Lighting Techniques
Path Lighting – Walkway Lighting
Path lights are mounted low to the ground for illuminating walks, driveways and steps.
When lighting long paths, position lights on alternate sides of the path for variety and even illumination. When lighting driveways, position lights approximately one foot from the edge, along one side or both sides, to better define the edges for safety. When used at steps, position lights to avoid shadows. Use in open areas where plants will not interfere with light distribution.
Path Lighting – Step Lighting
From a safety standpoint, steps are the most important candidate for proper lighting. It is critical to clearly define the contours of the step and avoid any confusing shadows. Path lights or recessed step lights can be used. If there is an overhang large enough to cover entry steps, recessed downlights can be used.
When mounted in the step riser, install one step light on every other riser. Use louvered face plates to avoid glare.
Shrub Flood Lighting – Using Spot or Floor Lights
This technique is used for larger shrubs or hedges where there is enough unobstructed space in front to locate the flood light fixture(s).
Fixtures should be mounted high enough to avoid any future growth of nearby plants that would interfere with the light output. Use light shields to keep stray light from viewer’s eyes.
Shrub Cross Lighting
Front lighting is one of the more commonly used techniques. One light on a dimensional area or object produces well defined shadows.
To display a larger area and soften the shadows, use cross lighting from two or more fixtures in different locations. Using flood lamps rather than spot versions is recommended for sizeable trees and other large objects.
Ground Cover/Flowerbed Lighting – Spread Lighting
Spread lights direct circular patterns of light downward over general areas such as drives, paths, steps, ground cover, low plantings and special landscape features. Spread lights often can be positioned to illuminate a path or drive, as well as plants.
Glare can be reduced with shielded units that reflect the light downward.
Tree Lighting – Large Leaf Dense Foliage Trees
Like footlights in a theater, spots or floods can be used to accent trees. Lights can be positioned near tree trunks to emphasize texture and form, or away from the trunk to dramatize dense foliage.
Position lights to allow for future growth of young plants. To prevent glare, aim the fixtures away from viewers. Conceal above-ground spotlights behind plants to maintain the natural look of the landscape.
Narrow (Cedar) or Tall Trunk (Palm) Trees
Positioning in-ground lights close to the object for uplight illumination also serves to enhance the dimensional texture of objects such as tree trunks. This uplighting technique is especially effective for accenting the shapes of slim trees such as palms.
Accent lights placed in leafy trees create enchanting moonlighting effects of foliage and ground shadows.
It is advisable to test the lighting effects of various fixture locations before permanently installing the fixtures. Also, consider the requirements of tree pruning and lamp replacement when locating the fixture.
Building Facades and Walls – Grazing
Grazing enhances the dimensional texture of surfaces such as stone, brick, climbing ivy or the bark of tree trunks.
Place the fixture just 6 to 12 inches from the surface, aiming the light along the surface to draw its dimensions with interesting interplays of light and shadow. Wider beam spreads cover more surface area.
Shadow (Front) – Lighting Plants
Shadows of interesting shapes can be intriguing. Front lighting creates them by projecting shadows of plants, trees, statues, rocks, etc. on a wall or other vertical surface.
The object should be close to the wall and, in most locations, the light should be on or near ground level, aimed up at the object. A wider beam spread creates a larger effect.
Silhouetting (Back Lighting)
A technique for enhancing the drama of distinctive shapes, topiary, other plants, small trees and rocks is to silhouette them against a lighted wall. The wall can be lit from above, but the dramatic effect usually is heightened when the wall is lit from below by a concealed fixture located directly behind the silhouetted object. In both cases, illumination on the wall contributes to security lighting.
Objects should be close to a wall and the fixture should be placed out of sight behind the object. Wider beams intensify the effect.
Statues/Points of Interest
Spotlighting uses a focused beam of light to accent the beauty of specific features – such as prized flowers, sculptures or ornamental trees.
Spotlights should be shielded with an accessory shield or louver to avoid glare. Distracting glare can be avoided by mounting spotlights high or by concealing ground mounted fixtures with shrubbery.
Security and Safety Lighting
It has been proven repeatedly that one of the most effective deterrents to unwanted intruders is perimeter lighting. Since no intruder wants to be seen, and uses darkness as his ally, this lighting technique is highly effective. The intensity does not have to be high, but enough to hide any concealment.
Use floor lighting on the front of commercial structures. Parabolic Aluminized Reflector (PAR) lampholders can be mounted on other walls of the building. On Residential homes, PAR lampholders on the corners aimed down each wall are effective.
Deck / Rails
Decks and outdoor porches are one of the most popular additions to homes, allowing the owner to enjoy the outdoor atmosphere for entertainment and meals. It is important to outline the perimeters of the deck and railings as well as providing safety for nighttime use.
Deck lights provide glare-free, low level lighting. Use low voltage (12V) fixtures for maximum electrical safety. Make sure the fixtures do not project into the space and create a hazard when moving about. A wall lantern or PAR lampholders are recommended for general lighting.
STEP 4 – Landscape Lighting Plans
Draw up a plan that indicates what you want to light, what lighting techniques to employ and whether the system will be 12 volt, 120 volt or a combination of both. Select the fixtures, lamps and the lighting techniques for the sizes and shapes of objects and areas you want to illuminate.
STEP 5 – Request a FREE Written Quote
Your written quote from Professional Electric Inc. will fully explain the extent of the work to be done, the projected timeline, and what you will pay for.
STEP 6 – Schedule the Beautification of Your Property
Master Electricians from Professional Electric Inc. will arrive as scheduled, competently install your new lighting system and GUARANTEED YOUR SATISFACTION!