There are numerous ways outdoor path lighting design can be approached and categorized. The key to understanding which path light categories will work well for you is learning how to recognize what will work best for the way you intend to use your pathway at night. There are positive and negative aspects to each pathway light design concept. Our hope is that this brief guide will help you understand how artistic pathway lighting isn’t about fixtures, it’s about design.
Your typical low voltage path light is made up of two parts: a post and a top hat. While there are countless variations of this fixture, from contemporary bollards to whimsically sculpted fixtures in the shape of flowers, these fixtures all perform similarly in that they are used along pathways to direct light downward onto the path for people to see their way at night. You’ve likely seen these fixtures lining people’s driveways or the path leading up to their front door.
Traditional path lights are one of the most abused and misused fixtures in the landscape. By misused, I simply mean they are used in ways that don’t make sense. It makes sense to use path lights in a planter bed next to a pathway. It doesn’t make sense to use a path light in a flowerbed where there isn’t a path. The trick to good lighting design is lighting with purpose, not at random.
Moon lighting, also referred to as down lighting, is used to bathe an area in the landscape with a soft light from above. Essentially, a down light is a fixture mounted up high, in a tree or from the soffit of someone’s home, and aimed downward to cast a soft light over the target that creates an effect similar to moonlight. Down lights make for a great path lighting approach because they allow you to cover a large area of the path, potentially use less fixtures, and create a beautiful effect.
A directional path light is similar to a traditional path light with one exception: a directional path light can be adjusted to change the direction the light is being directed. As where a traditional path light has a top hat, a directional path light has a directional head that can be swiveled and adjusted.
There are numerous ways a path way can be illuminated. The biggest factors are the location of the path and the surrounding terrain. For instance, what do you do when a path runs straight through the middle of a turfed area (where traditional path lights should be avoided) and there are no established trees or tall structures near by for moon lighting? These situations are where lighting designers have the most fun getting creative with their design.
Like we just said, there are numerous ways a path can be lit effectively. For this example of a non traditional path light, we are going to discuss recessed path lights. But remember, there are countless ways a path could be lit non traditionally. This is just one example.
As you can imagine, the fixtures in the picture above are not simple to install. Expensive equipment and a real understanding of how to use that equipment are required to install something like this. But that is besides the point. The reason this design approach is included here isn’t because it’s ‘fancy lighting’. We included it because it demonstrates creative lighting design.
When it comes to low voltage path lights, consider these three things: Design with light rather than fixtures; consider the variables involved around the path; don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun.
At Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people’s homes and businesses across the Wasatch Front and beyond.
Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah’s residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis, and Utah Counties.
If you have an upcoming project you’d like help with, call us at (801) 440-7647 for more information, schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form.