Most elementary is a valuation of the size of the lighting fixtures required. While there are no general rules that one could reference here, I do strongly recommend that when unsure about whether a fixture will be too big or too small, rig up make shift product of similar size and hold it up against the face of the building, A simple box can be easily folded into the right proportions to simulate the height, width and projection of a particular lighting fixture. Remember, when visualizing the appropriateness of a particular size, stand back from the home and make your observation from the street and not from your front yard. In assessing the sizes of other exterior fixtures on the perimeter and in your back yard, remember that most lighting lines offer numerous sizes per line and that many offer pocket lanterns that butt up against the building as to minimize their projection.
While the question of proper illumination for exterior lighting routinely comes up, the great majority of cases our clients do not want harsh glaring lights in these decorative outdoor fixtures. What most want is a soft but functional lighting source that will enable them to walk and see in a limited surrounding area. For those individuals that require more functional illumination, I generally steer them to other sources of lighting that are intended to light up larger areas during evening hours. A good lighting consultant can assist individuals in achieving this task. The fact remains that for decorative lighting, most lighting fixtures come supplied with a minimum of 100 watt capacity either as a single base socket or as a combination of several sockets. For the eye of most individuals, 100 watts of light at night coming from one fixture is more than enough.
Outdoor lighting fixtures for the most part are constructed from five different materials. These are, iron, brass, cast aluminum, copper, and composites. For the sake of this article I will dwell on the first three, because most outdoor lighting fixtures are made out of these three materials.
Iron fixtures while not in great numbers. are used in many cases to achieve a heavy, hand-forged look. In order to prevent these fixtures from rusting, these fixtures should be zinc coated. This process allows for this coating to act as basis to consume any rust that might take hold and penetrate the fixture. Once the fixture has been appropriately zinc coated, ideally it should be subjected to thorough powder coat. The powder coat process involves the baking of paint utilizing an electrolytic process that bonds paint to metal utilizing high heat and electrical charge.
Cast aluminum outdoor fixtures that are creating by casting this material into various shapes and forms. Aluminum by its nature is resistant to rusting and is therefore desirous in many instances. Many cast aluminum fixtures are also powder coated to provide a long lasting uniform finish for years to come. If you are considering cast aluminum fixtures for a project, ascertain that your fixtures have indeed been powder coated as opposed to painted. Also make sure fixtures are not going to be subjected with salt air as one would experience by being in the vicinity of a coastal marine environment. Salt air is very corrosive and will attack cast aluminum fixtures in a short time regardless of its finish.
Solid brass fixtures hold up extremely well in all sorts of environments, they will not rust or degrade in the course of time. Because of their intolerance to the high heat required in powder coating, coloration in solid brass outdoor fixtures is achieved by subjecting the fixtures to a variety of color rendering oxidations. Solid brass outdoor fixtures will because of the lack of a protective paint or powder coat process will undergo further oxidation in the environment and will “patina” over time.
Last but certainly not least in choosing a fixture that works is the element of design. Here it helps tremendously to have a reasonable understanding of different designs, and to have an eye for what is visually appealing. If need be, consult individuals with such skills or talents such as an interior designer or lighting consultant.