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Some Not so Pretty Commercial Lighting Fixtures

Remember the old saying children should be seen, not heard? In the world of commercial outdoor lighting, the fixtures should neither be seen nor heard. What we’re looking for in outdoor lighting is illumination for 3 purposes:

  • To beautify the area being illuminated
  • To light the path and protect people walking around at night
  • To draw attention to the facility or sign for the purpose of being found at night

We want to be able to see the building better, see the house better, see the tree better, see the path better, see the sign better. But we don’t want to see the fixture. Some commercial fixtures are ok looking but for the most part, they’re not spectacular to look at. And even if they are, the reason for outdoor lighting is to see, illuminate and beautify what we already have.

Take a look at this picture. If you look closely it might look familiar. That’s because this is the commercial landscape lighting setting at a familiar national retail chain.

commercial lighting example

There are 4 problems with the design of this commercial landscape lighting:

1. Scale
2. Overkill
3. Visual distraction
4. Material/finish

Look at the scale of the size of the commercial lighting fixtures compared to the size of the tree. While there is nice balance in this design, the large size of the fixtures competes with the tree which should be not only the focal point of this design.

The physical size of these fixtures is overkill. This tree is small. The purpose of lighting commercial landscaping is for beautification. It is not for safety nor to direct people to a location. So the desired effect of lighting this tree in commercial outdoor landscape lighting design would be to illuminate the silhouette of the small trunk and to gently graze the leaves with soft romantic light. A very small fixture is necessary to accomplish this objective.

These oversized fixtures are a visual distraction. This is a gorgeous tree and deserves the spotlight in a figurative sense – not a literal sense.

I’m not sure of the material/finish coating of these fixtures. It is likely a paint. While that leads to consistency of color across all fixtures used in this design, they would be better served to use a natural metal which oxidizes and patinas over time such as copper. The other benefit of using a natural metal is that it doesn’t peel or scratch.

In short, if your commercial design emphasizes what it’s illuminating more than anything else, and if the nighttime effect is what you are looking for, then it’s a good design.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, our commercial lighting fixtures come in a variety of natural metals including cast brass and our most popular – copper.

Do you have any photos of the good, the bad and the ugly as it relates to commercial lighting fixtures?

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