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What are the Different Types of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures?

By B. Turner
Updated May 16, 2024
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Outdoor lighting fixtures provide extra light for recreation, safety, and security. These fixtures can be found in residential applications, where they are incorporated into the exterior home and landscaping design. Outdoor lighting fixtures are also widely used in commercial buildings, as well as parking lots and sports fields. By adding lights outdoors, people are able to enjoy extra living space and perform favorite activities at almost any time of day.

Flood lights are one of the most widely used types of outdoor lighting fixtures. These devices consist of wall- or pole-mounted bulbs designed to cast lots of light over the surrounding area. Flood lights help deter burglars and vandals, and also provide sufficient light for sports. Many stadiums include some form of flood lights, as do commercial buildings and some homes.

Other types of outdoor lighting fixtures are used primarily for decorative purposes, and tend to provide less light than flood lights. These include wall sconces, which feature decorative glass or other casing surrounding a standard-size light bulb. Spotlights may also serve as a form of decorative lighting. These fixtures generally sit on the ground and project light up onto the walls of the home or other exterior features.

Entry lights, such as wall-mounted lanterns, serve both a decorative and functional purpose. They tend to have aesthetically pleasing designs to contribute to the visual appeal of a home, but provide basic task lighting. Entrance lights such as these help homeowners locate keys and unlock the door at night, or identify visitors once the sun goes down.

Landscape and path lighting fixtures can improve the appearance of an outdoor space while also providing light for outdoor activities. Ground-mounted torches or dome lights illuminate walkways in the garden, or outline a patio or deck. Some outdoor lighting fixtures may even be mounted to the top of a fence post or pole to add light at eye level.

Manufacturers produce outdoor light fixtures from a wide variety of materials. Products made from copper, brass, or galvanized steel tend to hold up better against rust and corrosion than those made from untreated steel. Fixtures that will be used in coastal areas should be made from stainless steel to help protect against damage from salty sea air.

When choosing outdoor lighting fixtures, buyers should be aware of the potential for light pollution. Unshielded fixtures allow excess light to interfere with neighbors or nearby businesses, while shielded fixtures direct light only where it's needed. Many municipalities have laws designed to prevent light pollution from unshielded outdoor lighting fixtures.

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