Down Lighting vs Up Lighting: What You Should Know

Feb 9, 2018

During the daylight hours, all the hard work your put into your exterior spaces is on full display. Your landscaping and hardscaping features provide the gorgeous curb appeal that makes your property the crown jewel of the neighborhood, and the outdoor kitchen and lounge areas in the backyard create a relaxing entertaining space for family and friends.

What happens when the sun sets? Are you willing to give up enjoyment of your spectacular Sioux Falls yard just because it’s dark outside? Of course not. With the right landscape lighting, you can keep your summer socials and fall festivities going long into the evening hours.

The only trick is choosing the lighting that will provide the practical illumination and the stylish ambience you crave. Before you start scratching your head over the differences between down lighting and up lighting, here are a few things you should know.

Ambient Light

Up lights and down lights are not always the best choice when it comes to ambient lighting since they can be directional, so you’ll want to choose fixtures that offer a wider swath of lighting. When properly layered so that illumination overlaps, they can provide a relatively even wash of lighting for practical purposes. This will simply require some planning with your design and install team to make sure the fixtures, bulbs, and layout you choose provide the level of illumination you desire.

Task Lighting

Where down lights really shine is when it comes to task lighting. If you want to illuminate pathways in order to show safe footing as people traverse your outdoor spaces, down lights are the way to go. Well lights that are flush with the ground could also be used along pathways, like lighting strips along aisles of airplanes or theaters, to mark the boundaries of the path, but they might blind anyone walking by and actually make it harder to see the ground.

Down lights are also preferable over entryways for buildings and they serve to light seating, eating, and cooking areas, like patios, dinette sets, and kitchen surfaces under awnings or in pavilions, just for example. Down lights are often the better choice for functional purposes, although they can certainly provide aesthetic appeal, as well.

Dramatic Accents

Both up lighting and down lighting can be used to dramatic effect when it comes to highlighting the features of your yard. If you have large wall spaces on your home, up lights and down light could both throw a dramatic splash of light on your architectural features.

Up lighting is a great way to draw attention to landscaping. Placing well lights or directional lights under trees can make them pop from your otherwise darkened yard, adding a gorgeous focal point. You could also create a moonlighting effect by placing a downlight high in your tree so that it shines down through the leaves like the actual moon.

There is some overlap between the purposes of down lighting and up lighting, but you’ll find that one often works better than the other in specific areas. However, with the right combination of landscape lighting elements, you can create the functional, stylish, and unique outdoor illumination that transforms your Sioux Falls oasis after dark.