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Your Neighbors and Outdoor LightingLight Trespass

One of the many things homeowners overlook when designing an outdoor lighting system for their property is how their beautiful new lights may affect their neighbors. Preventing light trespass or glare typically depends on the location of the fixture, the angle the light is projected and the fixtures ability to shield from glare. Choosing the right fixture, installing it properly and having the right lighting design are all critical for preventing glare and light trespass.

What is Light Trespass?

Light trespass is a term used to describe the light that originates from one lighting system and adversely affects an adjacent property. It is often a concern in areas of high growth where commercial developments are constructed near residential or suburban areas. It can also occur if your neighbor adds a poorly planned outdoor lighting system.

The best landscape lighting designs all incorporate one fundamental principal that is strongly linked to preventing glare: See the beautiful effect of light and NOT the source of the light.

Remember this and incorporate it into all of your designs and installations. You want to enjoy the beauty of what you are illuminating.  Glare and light trespass kill both the functionality and beauty of lighting installations.

When uncontrolled lighting occurs, the calmness of night can be disturbed which ultimately lowers the quality of life in the area. 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 and examine the effect of the light from all viewing angles. Light trespass is typically caused by either the wrong type of light, lights that are too bright or how the lights of a structure are tilted or aimed.

How to Prevent Light Trespass

Fortunately, light trespass can be controlled easily by your outdoor lighting designer by using dark sky friendly lighting, full cut-off fixtures, practical brightness levels and most importantly proper placement and aiming. Full cut-off light fixtures have glare guards that block glare from the sides. Dark sky friendly lighting products keep the illumination facing toward the ground, where it can be used, instead of being misdirected to areas where it is wasted.

Additional measures for reducing light trespass include:

  • Minimized reflected light by carefully selecting light wattage, type, and placement.
  • The correct reflector selection as well as correctly aiming and shielding certain types of light to keep it within property boundaries.
  • Check fixtures from all normal viewing angles.
  • Limit the use of floodlights in areas that are close to residential properties.
  • Use full cut-off lighting.
  • Use auto shut-off lighting.

Understanding light trespass is critical to understanding the techniques used to address it. Issues caused by your overall outdoor lighting design may have an adverse effect on the people around you. Effective outdoor lighting design requires an understanding of the elements necessary to combat this issue while still allowing for a comfortable and properly illuminated outdoor environment.

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