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Exterior Lighting at Brickyard Creek – A Primer

Exterior lighting at BYC is a necessity for navigation and safety at night, but should be kept at a minimum in order to not interfere with everyone’s enjoyment of the dark night sky and should also not disrupt the natural cycles of the forest flora and fauna.

Decorative exterior lighting such as string lights are not allowed, save for their use within screened porch areas and in such cases should only be on when the porch is in use as a common courtesy. Exterior lights, regardless of their location, should not be left on indefinitely (i.e. all night). The ACC highly recommends that all exterior lighting be controlled by motion sensors. Pathway lights should be down-lit, not exceed 18 inches in height above adjacent grade, and preferably also be controlled by motion sensors.

BYC residents should familiarize themselves with the current BYC rules and regulations:

Excerpt from the Brickyard Creek Declarations:

Private yard lights mounted on a Unit shall not exceed ten (10) feet in height. Yard lights shall be located and directed so as not to unreasonably illuminate other Units.

Excerpt from the Brickyard Creek Common Expectations:

Exterior lighting, including motion detector security lighting, may not be attached to any cottage, home, or adjacent parking areas or grounds without the approval of the Architectural Control Committee. (Sensitivity to neighboring cottages, wildlife, and forest aesthetics will inform the Architectural Control Committee ACC’s review.)

The modest use of solar lights for safety along the cottage pathway is allowed.

Owners are to be sensitive to the natural character of the forest by avoiding showy light displays and brightly lit-up entrances.

Exterior string lights are not allowed to illuminate pathways, hang on trees, or light front porches.

Exterior wall fixtures originally supplied by the developer are allowed by the ACC guidelines, but any exterior light fixture change or addition by the owner, including landscape lighting, requires ACC review and approval.

A fixture’s location, design, light output and light color all have an impact on the environment. For most BYC cottages that have a typical wall-mounted exterior entrance light fixture, using a 5- watt LED bulb with a 2700k color temperature (soft white) will provide adequate illumination for access and exit from the cottage without attracting too many insects or emitting a distracting light.

Another option is to install a dimmer switch and use a higher wattage LED bulb. This gives the owner the flexibility to maintain a low light level the majority of the time but then be able to raise the light level when needed. The ACC does not condone using cool white, red or green light bulbs in exterior lighting.

The following are some key exterior lighting concepts that affect the apparent brightness of a fixture and its light distribution.

Location and Height of a Light Fixture

The higher a light fixture is located, the greater the area it will illuminate, which can spill onto an adjacent cottage or home. Its location can also create an unwanted distraction.

Color Temperature

Aside from the advantage of greater energy efficiency, LEDs also come in different color temperatures, which give the light either a “warmer”, “cooler” or more “natural” appearance. The lower the color temperature, the “warmer” the light appears. A standard incandescent bulb is 2400k while a CFL bulb labeled as “daylight” is approximately 5000k.

Light Output

With LEDs rapidly replacing incandescent and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs, the rating for their light output is typically given in lumens rather than wattage, which is an electrical power consumption rating. Sometimes an equivalency is provided, such as an 8 to 12 watt LED bulb is equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent or a 13 to 15 watt CFL. They all put out approximately 800 lumens of light but consume different amounts of energy. The 5-watt LED bulb mentioned earlier will emit 450 lumens of light, which should provide an average of 2 foot-candles. This type of bulb is fairly common and may be found in most local hardware stores.

Beam Spread

Another light bulb component that is often not considered is its beam spread. This is important for selecting the appropriate bulb to light certain areas, such as for flood lighting.

Commonly used pear-shaped A19 bulbs emit light in all directions, but specialty bulbs like PAR-30s and BR-30s are cone-shaped and thus focus their light in a narrower angle range or beam spread. This perhaps can be helpful in concentrating light on a horizontal surface without creating glare from an exposed bulb.

A diagram showing beam spread from a spotlight, a narrow floodlight, and a wide floodlight.

Click image to enlarge.

Cut-off Angle

Finally, the light fixture itself may be designed to have a specific cut-off angle, which becomes important in preventing light from emitting into undesirable directions.

Some city ordinances specify cut-off angle requirements for exterior light fixtures in order to avoid spilling light into adjacent properties.

Diagram showing lighting a cutoff of 90 and 45 degrees, as well as no cutoff angle.

Click image to enlarge.