Design Spotlight – Path Lighting

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In the next part of our design spotlight series, we will be focusing on Path Lighting. Path Lighting can be achieved in various different fashions with various different light sources.

What Is Path Lighting?

Path lighting is exactly what is sounds like, illuminating ones walk way or “Path”. Typically pathways are lit by “stemmed” fixtures that are under 36″ in height, however in the last few years this has changed. Also, due to the height of path lights it is important to ensure there is minimal to no glare – the last thing a lighting designer wants is to cause someone to trip or fall because they were blinded by the light!

Using Path Lights

As mentioned above, path lights are typically a “stemmed” fixture no taller than 36″. These styles are still the prominent style used, however there are other options and styles to select from. A lighting designer should always take the customers tastes and style into account when selecting a path light – or the method to light a path way. Down lighting is always an option, especially if there are large tress in the area or a large open space needs to be lit and there is no clear “path”.

When using ground installed path lights – either stemmed, low profile, or in ground, it is important to ensure there is no glare. The goal is to see the path and the light, but to not have the light shine into ones eyes. This is a key element that is often over looked, and will immidialaty kill a great design. Your customer does not want to step out and be blinded by a very bright light – it is key the light is shielded in some manner. Taller path lights should have tops, low profile should have the light source covered by either a shield or a frosted lens that dissipates some of the glare.

Along with knocking the glare out, the lighting designer needs to know how the area around the path lighting will be used, is it just a casual low use area, or will kids and dogs be running all over. If it is the later, then ensuring the lights are installed away from that area, or possibly within something like concrete will increase the life span of the fixtures.

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Path Light Options

Shall we start with the traditional – the stemmed path light. These are the path lights that you see the most, the stick up out of flower beds, around pool, and of course guide you down the walkway. There are hundreds of options of path lights like this, most tend to look the same, however there are some that look like bells or lily pads. Customers tend to describe their path lights as “The lights with the China Hats”, and they do look just like that. The most common have “hats” that shield the light and help spread the light over the area.

                        HPL9 Serengeti                                  fl5-nat


One option for illuminating a path in a more decorative or artsy way is using a bollard. Bollards are becoming more common in residential lighting designs than they were in the past. In the past, bollards were mostly reserved for commercial applications, like Hotels and Business Parks. Bollards, depending on the design, can tailor to the modern style palate or the contemporary.

   Ivy6(NoWatermark)            Ivy2(NoWatermark)


For the modern palate we have seen an increase in options tailored to them. These fixtures tend to have stronger lines, more defined direction, and look a bit utilitarian. Modern path lights do not have the soft flows like the stemmed fixtures we see the most, however they do fit perfectly with in the new modern home designs that we are seeing build up. Fixtures like Aurora Lights Qube and Quadrant, as well as Pathmark Innovation Lighting are great examples of the new modern style that we are seeing.

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Then there is always down lighting a path way. If you are attempting to light wide open spaces and there are large tree in the area, down lighting may be your best option. Also, some clients may not be a fan of path lights and prefer the look and feel that down lighting provides – there is no rule stating a path way HAS to be lit from the ground, it CAN be lit from above as well. Usually a good spot or directional fixture will be the go to choice in these situations.

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There is no one right way to light the way, play around with all the options and see which feels right and achieves your ultimate goal – illuminating the path.




Design Spotlight – Path Lighting