We live in an awfully big world with an awful lot of outdoors. No need to light the whole thing up at night, and in fact we need to be aware of light pollution and the impact outdoor lighting has on nature.
But there's still plenty we need to cast lights on for safety and mobility at night. Busy roadways, parking lots, parks, home and building exteriors ... outdoor lighting is a common and important part of modern living. And with the growing popularity of LED technology, we can do so with less need for energy production and maintenance too.
So we thought we'd review the different types of outdoor lighting available with a focus on the upgrade to LED lighting.
Damp Rated vs Wet Rated
Let's start with the obvious: any outdoor lighting will be exposed to the elements, but some will be more exposed than others. Bulbs (or lamps, in industry terms) with direct exposure must be wet rated in order to withstand any water they come in contact with. Otherwise those bulbs should be well protected within a fixture. If they are, then a damp rating will suffice, ensuring that the bulb can handle moisture from humidity, fog, etc. This rating information should be available on packaging or spec sheets.
We've reviewed LED lighting in depth here, if you want to learn more. But in short, LEDs are the most efficient and longest lasting type of lights commercially available today. This means they can stack up huge energy and maintenance savings despite their initial higher cost. They also offer instant on/off capability, unlike many of the outdoor lamps they replace like sodium and metal halide lamps. This opens up possibilities for lighting controls that can help save even more money by using lights only when they're needed.
Here's an example of one project developing roadways that provide lighting only when cars are present.
Now that we've covered the basic points above, let's discuss the different applications for outdoor LED lighting.
Pole or Bracket Mounted LED Lighting
One application for outdoor LED lighting is on poles or brackets. While the average person might not pay them much attention, we're all familiar with pole lighting in parking lots and along roadways.
At the top of a pole, you'll have a direct mount arm or, less commonly, a slipfitter. The direct mount arm extends the light source further from the pole and hosts a cobra head or shoebox LED fixture, directing light downward on a relatively specific area. This extension from the pole is important because sometimes you'll have more than one arm extending from the pole, allowing you to cover more area from a single pole. Even with just a single arm, however, this can help extend the light over the area where it's being used -- for instance some parking spots -- rather than in the grass where the pole is cemented in.
You can also use a slipfitter atop a pole, though these are more frequently used on brackets extending from the side of a building. In the case of a pole, you may need a pole adapter (sometimes called a tenon). The slipfitter slips over the top and is tightened against the pole or bracket with a screw. You can then mount some type of outdoor LED floodlight fixture onto the slipfitter for general lighting. Unlike a direct mount arm, the slipfitter can pivot to direct the light where needed.
Another option for outdoor LED lighting comes from LED wallpacks. These are mounted directly to a wall in areas where light is needed, and their design determines how that light is used. A traditional wallpack is used for general lighting, casting light in all directions from the fixture; this also means sending the light upwards, however, so this style is a source of light pollution.
Cutoff wallpacks, on the other hand, keep the light at or below the level of the fixture, addressing the problem of light pollution. These come in both full cutoff and partial cutoff options. A full cutoff wallpack keeps light close to the building, ideal for lighting a walkway alongside the building; a partial cutoff wallpack sends light further out and can complement other parking lot lighting, for instance. Depending on the proximity of a neighboring property, either one could be appropriate to keep light off someone else's property.
LED Canopy Lighting
Canopy lighting is found in outdoor settings with an overhead cover, like above a porch or covered walkway.
In these settings, it's possible to have recessed lighting as you would indoors. But often you'll find canopy fixtures being used. These hang down from the canopy rather than being inset, although as you can see with some of these LED canopy fixtures, the profile stays very close to the overhead covering and almost appears to be a recessed light when compared with older and larger canopy fixtures.
Landscape LED Lighting
Finally, we have LED lighting used in landscaping to highlight trees, buildings, and signs. These lights are usually mounted on a ground spike or other ground pole that accepts a knuckle mount. You would then thread on either a bullet LED fixture, a universal PAR lamp holder, or a small floodlight fixture. Of course the fixture needs to be wet rated; and if a PAR lamp is used inside a lamp holder, that lamp should be wet rated as well.
We hope this provides you with a useful look at the ways outdoor LED lighting can be used across different settings. As always, we are here to assist with answering your questions and helping with your order. And if you need them quickly, we ship in-stock orders the same business day.
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