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Calgary Exterior Lighting: How Much Light Is Too Much Light

Our experienced Calgary lighting consultants explain lighting trespass and light pollution, as well as how to avoid them.

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Lighting?

Anyone who has ever walked down a dimly lit road or attended an evening outdoor gathering where it’s too shadowy to see other guests knows that lighting  is key for safety, visibility, and creating a pleasant atmosphere.

However, sometimes, in their eagerness to avoid the pitfalls that come with insufficient exterior lighting, Calgary homeowners go too far in the other direction and over-light their property.

At a certain point, extremely bright outdoor lighting brings problems of its own. Lighting that is too bright or harsh can:

  • Overlap onto someone else’s property, disrupting their sleep habits or privacy
  • Create stark pools of light that contrast with the surrounding darkness, creating a visually unappealing “zebra-stripe” effect
  • Create glare that is too harsh for pedestrians or drivers
  • Create shadows that allow wrongdoers to hide from sight
  • Disrupt the natural habits of nocturnal birds and animals
  • Waste energy and lead to a high energy bill

Enlisting a lighting consultant from Fluorescent Man Lighting can help Calgary homeowners save time and avoid hassle by ensuring their exterior lighting fixtures and bulbs are set in the “Goldilocks zone”: not too dim, not too bright, but just right.



Lighting Trespass

Lighting trespass is, in brief, when lights shine brighter and farther than they should. For example, those new floodlights might beautifully illuminate your yard…while also shining directly into your neighbour’s bedroom window. This can cause tension between neighbours, while also wasting energy.

How To Avoid Lighting Trespass:

  • Ensure that your exterior lighting fixtures are placed no higher than your home’s eaves.
  • Pay attention to your floodlight or yard lamp’s beam width: you want to light your own yard, nothing more!
  • For garden lighting, ensure that the light is seen but the fixture itself is not visible.
    • This rule of thumb results in a subtle, pretty "glow" that offers visibility (and showcases your landscaping) without having the light appear as a harsh, glaring beam.
  • Whenever possible, light pathways from below rather than from above.
  • For patios, opt for exterior lighting fixtures that create diffused light for a soft yet effective “wash” of brightness.
    • Lightly shaded lanterns can be ideal for larger decks and verandahs: they are ideal for warm-weather outdoor gatherings, and gently illuminate hazards like ice in the winter without reflecting off of it.
  • Avoid directional floodlights or spotlights when possible.
    • If you must use a floodlight or spotlight, using a motion sensor can ensure that you have the lighting when you need it, while conserving energy and cutting down on over-lighting when you don't.


Light Pollution

Light pollution occurs when artificial light is shone into the sky. The light is then reflected back from dust, water vapour, or pollution. Moisture or dust in the air can also make the situation worse. Light pollution has been shown to have negative effects on people’s sleep patterns, and can also cause trouble for nocturnal wildlife.

While light pollution is a phenomenon that goes beyond residential lighting, you can avoid contributing to light pollution by:

  • Shading omnidirectional lighting (such as round lamps or bulbs) at an angle that ensures there no light shines up into the sky or horizontally.
  • Enlisting a Calgary lighting consultant to help you choose the correct brightness for your lights.
  • Opt for "Dark Sky Friendly" exterior lighting fixtures. Calgary homeowners can easily find IDA-Approved fixtures for their homes.


Check Your Exterior Lighting Seasonally

Checking your lights seasonally can be incredibly helpful in cutting down on light trespass and pollution. This is because:

  • In the winter, it gets dark earlier.  Any problems with your exterior lighting will be more noticeable compared to the summer, when outdoor lights aren’t required until much later at night.
  • Snow on the ground can reflect harsh outdoor lighting and create more glare.


Contact Us

Want to have an exterior lighting setup that strikes the right balance between bright, considerate and eco-friendly? Contact one of our Calgary lighting consultants today. To schedule a consultation or simply to learn more, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by phone at 403-863-8529, or through our online contact form.

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