Great driveway lighting design will succeed on many fronts. The primary purpose is to make your driveway easier to see and navigate in the dark. Beyond that practical goal, driveway lighting should set a peaceful mood, communicate security, and optimize the gentle border between the pavement and vegetative landscape. At the same time, it shouldn’t detract from the stars above. Trees and shrubs are often gently highlighted to create visual markers and create a balance from the downlighting effects. But, for the most part, we orient light along the driveway and its edges to lead you to your destination.
Design Approach to Driveway Lighting
Every driveway possesses unique characteristics we enhance through proper selection and placement of light fixtures. At Night Owl Landscape Lighting, we stage the driveway to your home with a lighting design that best suits the location and surrounding style. Achieving the best driveway lighting for your location involves a thorough on-site assessment.
Landscape lighting designers in Wisconsin have many modern outdoor driveway lighting strategies to call upon. On a technical level – low voltage, LED driveway lights allows us to install systems that place minimal demands on your power system. We choose from a variety of hardwired driveway lights to produce dramatic effects.
How Do You Install Lights Along a Driveway?
Before discussing the best practices for outdoor lighting for the driveway, you need to understand the basics of installing the lighting hardware. The process of installing hard wired driveway lights involves:
- Establishing a safe connection from the transformer to a GFCI breaker
- Installing an outdoor-rated, weatherproof outlet covers
- Choosing the correct style and placement of lights
- Using mostly hand tools to slit trench 6 or more inches down for placement of power cables
- Running power cables through the trenches and conduits
- Mounting light fixtures
- Connecting fixtures to power cables
- Testing lights
- Backfilling trenches
- Repairing the landscape for a zero-footprint installation
Types of Driveway Lighting
The climate in Wisconsin limits the effectiveness of recessed lights or small path lights for driveway applications. Not only can snow bury them, but given the necessary proximity to driveways, they’re vulnerable to damage from snow plows or snowblowers. To deal with this seasonal reality, Night Owl most often recommends bollards and/or downlighting fixtures. Depending on the landscape and driveway, we may choose to use all of one type of light or a combination of fixtures.
Bollards in Driveway Lighting
Bollards present a sturdy option when you choose to install driveway lights. A bollard takes the shape of a heavier duty post-style fixture with the light source embedded inside. Different bollard styles allow for light to be sent in specific directions instead of a general 360 degree, or omnidirectional, view. They vary in height but are generally between 24 and 48-inches tall. Specialty custom fixtures are certainly available that can go much taller. Bollards are strong and built to withstand snow load, and oftentimes act as a decorative piece during daylight hours.
Downlighting & Moonlighting from Trees
Downward pointing lights safely mounted to trees or the side of a building provide an alternative to bollards or lamp posts. Fixtures of this style are used to achieve downlighting or moonlighting effects that produce dabbled moonlight style shadows from branching and leaves as the light travels downward to its subject. They illuminate the surface without creating unnecessary light pollution. Night Owl Landscape Lighting only selects the best fixtures for this application, ones that will be durable, safely mounted to the trees to prevent long-term plant health issues, and have adjustable knuckles and shrouds to mitigate glare.
Drawbacks of Post Lights
For decades, basic 8 to 10-foot post lights have been a common sight along driveways. Although they get the job done in a general sense, they cast light in all directions creating unnecessary glare and light pollution. This diminishes the goal of artfully highlighting the driveway. Additionally, post lights typically have clear glass lenses. This issue fails to diffuse light and makes for distracting “glare bombs” for drivers or anyone around them. A very important consideration in residential landscape lighting is the ability to look at the light source without being blinded by the glare.
Fixtures that create these glaring effects are mostly suitable for commercial properties where the emphasis is often on casting as much light as possible. Specifying companies in charge of fixture selection for commercial buildings often overlook this issue. The science and technology of landscape lighting has come a long way to identify and prevent this problem. This is a topic of discussion for Night Owl’s commercial projects.
Control of Light Pollution
Many homeowners are interested in controlling the light pollution from their homes. If your neighbors are relatively close, you probably wouldn’t want a bright light beaming in your window from an unnecessarily bright driveway light.
For this reason, Night Owl will effectively design with driveway lights that are built to be dark sky friendly. As we mentioned, directing light downward keeps the glare out of the sky and your windows. Driveway lighting doesn’t need to be excessively bright. A subtle application of soft lighting is a great way to promote security, illuminate a travel corridor, and create a beautiful mood for your property.
Driveways Connect The Street To Your Home
The best driveway lighting adds a new dimension to your property after dark and achieves several goals like aesthetics, functionality, safety, and security. Your driveway is one of the first elements of your property, and an illuminated buffer between your home’s entrance and the street further promotes crime deterrence and home security.