Beam Angle Best Practices for Landscape Lighting Design

Feb 19, 2018

Proper landscape lighting is fundamental on the quest for creating the desired outdoor mood. The term “beam angle” refers to the angle at which light extends out from a lightsource. In landscape design, this important concept can help you decide which types of lights will work best for different aspects of your outdoor space. By following some best practices when it comes to beam angles, you can light the outside of your Rock Valley, Iowa and Sioux Center, Iowa home with stunning results.

When Extra-Wide Beams Work Best
An extra-wide beam, or wash beam, has a beam angle of 85 to 120 degrees. To achieve this look, you might use spotlights, well lights, or rectangular wash lights. These angles work best for lighting hedges, bushes, or other foliage that is low to the ground. Extra-wide angles might also be used to light retaining walls, stone walls, and cultured walls that are textured, especially if the walls are very wide. A bonus to using extra-wide beams is that you can get more bang for your buck. That is, you can light a larger area with fewer fixtures.

When Wide Beams Work Best
A wide beam has a beam angle of about 50 to 65 degrees. Wide beams are commonly used to achieve an effect known a “moonlighting”, or the attempt to mimic the effects of the moon. This effect is achieved by letting light spill across objects. In most cases, tree lights are the preferred fixture for this purpose.

When Medium Beams Work Best
A medium beam has a beam angle of 28 to 45 degrees, and this size beam is used more than any other. Sometimes considered a one-size-fits-all beam, a medium beam is what you should use if you are not sure what will work best. Medium beams are especially effective at lighting two-story homes and trees up to 40 feet (12.19 meters) high. Numerous textures and lighting techniques can be used to create medium beams.

When Narrow Beams Work Best
A narrow beam has a beam angle of 12 to 24 degrees. Narrow beams work great for lighting stone columns, gables, and chimneys. They are commonly used to light a wrap-around porches, very tall trees (over 80 feet or 24.38 meters), and three-story houses. Some fixtures used to achieve narrow beams include spot lights and well lights.

The Bottom Line: Mix and Match
The important takeaway is this: effective landscape lighting will come from a harmony of different light fixtures and beam angles. There is no single right way to create a balanced look, but following these best practices with regard to beam angle is a good start. Select fixtures and brightness-levels that suit the mood of your outdoor space. From there, let your creativity shine as you determine the best way to illuminate your world. As always, if you find this process to be overwhelming, or if you’d simply appreciate some advice, landscape lighting experts are just a click away.