Glare, a Problem in Outdoor Lighting

Glare is one of the most common and annoying lighting problems. Glare occurs when the contrast between dark and light is accentuated. A good example of glare would be outdoor flood lights above a garage door in the dark of night. They light the driveway but can blind a driver pulling into the garage, like the photo to the left. That is the kind of glare that should be avoided.

Lots of times this type of outdoor flood lighting is installed as a security measure. This works well if the homeowner is looking out a window from inside the house, but if the homeowner is outside the house the glare inhibits the eye’s ability to adjust and focus. The pupil can not contract fast enough. You will notice this especially if you drive into a driveway where the lights are on a motion sensor. It is dark one second and blindingly bright the next.

Glare is also produced by outdoor sconces and post lights that have clear or clear seedy glass and a too powerful light bulb. Most commercial and municipal parking lots have lights that produce glare as do most highway interchanges.

Glare is especially annoying and dangerous for older people because the ability of the eye to adjust to light and dark conditions is drastically reduced. When lighting your home’s exterior keep all this in mind. I recommend shielded light sources where you are not looking directly at a light bulb. The contrast between light and dark does not take as much lighting firepower as you might expect.

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