Keep the peace – Avoid light trespass and keep the neighbors happy

On occasion we’ll see a landscape lighting installation that is beautiful and does a great job of showing off the home and landscape. But the installers overlooked (or didn’t consider) light trespass.

Light Trespass Example

Office building illuminated by high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps shining upward, of which much light goes into the sky and neighboring apartment blocks and causes light trespass. Photo courtesy of Skatebiker.

Consider how your outdoor lighting system affects your neighbors. Many communities have rules regulating light trespass (or light pollution).

Choosing the optimum location for fixtures and using the correct beam angles will not only make your installation look better but it will keep you out of hot water with the neighbors.

What is Light Trespass?

Light trespass is a term used to describe spill light that is cast where it is not wanted. Most light trespass occurs in urban, high growth or commercial development areas but it also can occur in residential areas if a poorly planned outdoor lighting system is installed.

If you’ve ever had a light shine into your hotel room window or had a streetlight shine into your room then you’ve been a victim of light trespass. Glare and light trespass kill both the functionality and beauty of lighting installations.

The most common type of light trespass is known as spill light. It is the light that reaches objects beyond the property line of your home. Be sure to walk around your property to examine the effect of your lighting from all viewing angles. The wrong type of light, lights that are too bright or poorly aimed are common causes of light trespass.

How to Prevent Light Trespass

Use the lighting to enhance your home and landscape. You’re trying to improve the look of your home, not showing off your new fixtures.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid light trespass:

Watch where you place your eve floodlights.

Try to install as few of these as possible. If you do install them, put them in a separate circuit so they can be turned off when not needed.

Look at your installation from neighboring properties

There is no substitute for getting a view of your system from the adjoining properties. Not only will you see your property from their perspective, you’ll see first hand if you’ve created light spill  onto their property.

Match the fixture to the task

If you’re lighting a path be sure that your fixture shade keeps the light down and does not allow spillover or glare. If you’re using up-lights on a house or tree, be sure the fixture has shielding so the light is directed only toward the subject.

Watch your wattage

Don’t over illuminate areas. Not only does this look stark and harsh on your subject but reflection can wash over to unwanted areas. Plus you’re only wasting money by burning more wattage than you need.

As long as you’re careful about your design and you consider light trespass from the beginning, you should come out on top. But if you are unsure or need help give us a call. We’ll be happy to come see you and give you a no commitment consultation.

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