Open Accessibility Menu

If the Light Blinds You, Then It's Incorrectly Placed or Angled

Last night we were walking to the fireworks in town. This big old house on a corner right near the center of town has the most amazing old magnolia tree. It’s huge. Magnolia blooms are fascinating to watch.

magnolia tree

They start out as this fascinating bud with this gorgeous purple color and pineapple-shaped bud, to a perfectly goblet-shaped early bloom to a flower with these bright white perfect petals in a matter of days. And then so quickly after, the petals whither to brown and it’s gone. But at any time, looking at a mature magnolia tree, you can see buds in every part of this blooming process.

Magnolia trees are unlike so many other flowering trees that seem to bloom all at once and then fade. Magnolia trees, when flowering, seem to constantly have crops of buds in various stages of bloom.

This tree in town is huge. I can stand and count the various blooms for a long time. So when we walked by the tree, I looked over at my favorite tree only to be blinded by what seemed a spotlight.

magnolia tree light at night

The well intended tree lighting was pointed toward the street, thus blinding the passers-by at night. To make it worse, this was also blinding to motorists.

The reason for tree lighting is to be able to enjoy the grandeur of the trunk as well as a gentle wash of lighting on the underside of the canopy. But, if the light is sitting far from the trunk and pointed at about a 90 – 130 degree angle, the purpose will be defeated. Even worse, it can be blinding to the home’s residents and to motorists.

As I went to take a picture of this light, I noticed a similarly poorly adjusted light.

This particular light was installed to illuminate the driveway. Unfortunately, it was also sitting at less than a 90-degree angle causing an utterly blinding light to the owners who used the driveway leaving the home.

driveway light at night

The next problem with this approach to driveway lighting was they also used the wrong fixture. With this particular fixture, they were not going to be able to accomplish the objective of driveway lighting. This particular fixture – the bullet light – is designed to uplight. It serves the purpose of things like small sign lighting. It needs to have a destination for the light source and that destination cannot be in the eyes of people.

In order to illuminate a drive or path, you need a fixture where the light source not only casts a down shadow, but that shadow also needs to be protected by a dome hood to avoid light blinding.

As you can see in this picture, a path light with a covered dome adequately illuminates the path for walking or driving. At the same time, there is no blinding.

copper fixture

Do you have pictures of effective driveway or magnolia lighting to share?