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Outdoor Lighting In Rural Areas

Among the many advantages that electricity offers, lighting is one of the most visible, and valuable. A well illuminated home or business adds value for the consumer in three ways:

  • Safety - to avoid personal injury when working after dark, and damage to property when moving cars or machinery around buildings. Accidents can be prevented by illuminating uneven walkways or items left in the yard or driveway.
  • Security - to help deter vandalism, and discourage prowlers.
  • Productivity - lighting extends the workday beyond sundown. It also allows tasks to be completed more quickly after dark, and adds convenience in opening doors or checking around the property.

Outdoor lighting is a service that electric suppliers have a long history of providing to customers. The leased dusk-to-dawn area light, provided and maintained by the local electric supplier, still works for many single family home situations. But, for larger homes, or for businesses that have multiple outbuildings, special security needs or after-dark activities, a systems approach for proper lighting is often called for.

The following recommendations apply to not only the modern homesite, but also to farmsteads, and rural businesses such as warehouses, self-storage facilities, and greenhouses. Specific placement of lights will be different at any particular site, but here are some general guidelines.

  • To illuminate large areas around buildings, fuel storage, or parking lots, use high pressure sodium fixtures mounted 15 to 25 feet high, depending on the bulb wattage. Provide one to three foot-candles of light, and don't try to illuminate multiple areas with just one light.
  • Light entrance doors, gates, or other locked areas with motion-sensor lights. These motion-activated fixtures have two advantages. The first is security. The "instant on" feature startles trespassers, which can greatly reduce vandalism and theft. Secondly, the brighter, more concentrated light level helps in finding locks, and maneuvering oversized equipment through gates. The "automatic off" feature also saves energy.
  • Decorative yard lights, mounted atop 6 foot poles are good for walkways from the home to a garage or outbuilding. These fixtures also enhance the home's appearance after dark. Using compact fluorescent bulbs, suitable for outdoor temperatures, saves energy and reduces the number of bulb change outs.

Lighting systems that match the right fixture to the specific need for area, yard, and building illumination will add safety, security, and productivity to the rural home or business.

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Rural Electricity Resource Council (formerly National Food and Energy Council)
Wilmington, Ohio