Mastering the Art of Commercial Outdoor Lighting Design

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Outdoor lighting is a strategic blend of functionality and aesthetics. In this guide, we’ll break down the essentials of some main types of outdoor lighting to understand the key considerations that go into their design and implementation that contribute to the efficient and purposeful elements of exterior commercial design.

Architectural Lighting – Crafting Impressions with Light for Exteriors:

Image courtesy of The Smart Lighting Company

Building Façade Lighting:

Façade lighting design is a deliberate process of using light to bring out the best in a building’s exterior creating a dynamic and memorable impression. This involves a thoughtful process that considers the building’s architecture, surroundings, and the desired effect. By highlighting key architectural features, a visually engaging effect is achieved, enhancing the overall appearance. Brighter hues can be employed to draw attention to focal points, adding visual interest without overpowering brightness. The choice of color temperature, whether warm white at 3000K for comfort or cooler shades around 5000K for contrast, significantly influences the overall look.

Accent Lighting for Architectural Features:

Image courtesy of Metalumen

Accent lighting focuses on specific design features, architectural details, entranceways, or signage. The strategic use of accent lighting, in conjunction with general wash lighting, creates a sense of hierarchy and draws attention to the key points. Fixtures with adjustable heads or beams offer precision in highlighting crucial areas, allowing designers to sculpt the visual narrative of a building. By employing these techniques, accent lighting becomes a powerful tool for enhancing the overall architectural appeal.

Monument and Bridge Lighting:

Image courtesy of Anolis

Monuments and bridges often serve as gathering points or landmarks and require not only visibility but also a touch of artistry in their illumination. The integration of outdoor LED fixtures with smart controls facilitates the application of light through programmed settings. This combined effect allows for dynamic features such as color-changing, dimming, and time-of-day options, ensuring a captivating display at any hour. However, in the pursuit of awe-inspiring illumination, it’s essential to select fixtures that minimize glare, thus combating light pollution. By doing so, well-lit monuments and architectural elements become beacons of inspiration, contributing to the charm of their surroundings.

Landscape Lighting – Practicality Meets Aesthetics for the Outdoors:

Image courtesy of Lumascape

Landscape lighting serves multiple purposes, addressing safety, security, and aesthetics in private or public outdoor spaces. The design involves strategically placing fixtures that shape light beams to turn important features into focal points, making vegetation or buildings truly stand out. Efficiency is key, and less is often more as the instinct to illuminate every detail may lead to inefficiency and a washed-out landscape. Properly installed landscape lighting highlights key features, allowing the natural beauty to shine even after the sun has set.

Area Lighting – Efficient Illumination for Vast Spaces:

Image courtesy of Schréder

Area lights are specialized fixtures designed for large outdoor spaces, providing a wider spread of light compared to landscape lighting. This is ideal for areas like parking lots, playgrounds, or parks where a uniform distribution of light is desired. Designed to withstand the elements and resist damage, these lights are integral to urban planning and public infrastructure. Additionally, bollard and column lighting is an important element to consider for these spaces. Typically, these fixtures are installed along pathways or around the perimeter, enhancing visibility and safety in pedestrian areas. With their combination of design versatility, energy efficiency, and long-lasting properties coupled with various lighting effects and flexible light distributions, bollard and column lighting play pivotal roles in lighting a path effectively.

Image courtesy of Lumca

Together, these lighting solutions ensure that outdoor spaces are not only well-lit but also safe, visually appealing, and seamlessly integrated into the surrounding urban landscape. They play a crucial role in accentuating outdoor spaces with optimal illumination levels.

Industrial Lighting – Creating Safe and Efficient Facilities:

Industrial lighting plays a vital role in maintaining optimal working conditions. Choosing fixtures that are high in energy savings but reduced in maintenance costs is important. Floodlights, capable of providing uplighting, not only enhance visibility but also contribute to overall security. Wall Packs offer a dual advantage by not only enhancing the building’s architecture but also providing energy savings and added security. Meanwhile, High/Low Bay lights, designed for spaces with high ceilings, offer intense illumination. The optional motion sensor integration further optimizes energy usage, ensuring precise and efficient lighting based on occupancy. Striking the right balance with industrial lighting contributes to fostering safety, enhancing productivity, and ensuring the overall functionality of facilities.

Solar Lighting – Harnessing Sustainability for Any Location:

Image courtesy of Soltech

Solar lighting emerges as a beacon of sustainable technology, harnessing energy from the sun to illuminate spaces, particularly where connecting to the power grid proves challenging or costly. A key advantage lies in its off-grid independence, making it ideal for remote or rural locations. Solar lights are self-contained, which offers flexibility in installation virtually anywhere. However, for optimal performance, it’s crucial to install them in areas abundant with sunlight and least likely to be enveloped in shade to maximize energy absorption.

Outdoor lighting is a practical and purposeful endeavor. Whether it’s highlighting architectural features, balancing functionality and aesthetics, or efficiently illuminating large spaces, each element plays a crucial role in shaping our outdoor environments. By understanding these principles, we can create commercial outdoor spaces that are not only well-lit but also visually appealing and safe.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next month’s blog post!

About Western Lighting and Energy Controls

Western Lighting and Energy Controls is one of the leading Lighting, Controls, and Energy Management manufacturers’ representative agency in Southern California.

In business for over two decades, Western Lighting and Energy Controls offers an unparalleled level of service and support through dedicated teams. These teams work to ensure that project requirements and unique business needs are delivered on time and within budget. With its uniquely proactive approach, Western can serve customers in a way that achieves maximum growth and success. Western Lighting and Energy Controls has been an employee-owned company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) Trust since 2019. To learn more about Western Lighting and Energy Controls, visit

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