The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

How to Light A Commercial Property

Intermountain_Primary_Childrens_Hospital-1When I get a call from a commercial property owner, it’s not because they don't have lights. They have lights — it’s required by city ordinances.

But are they pretty? Not usually.

A business may have street lights that illuminate the property in a functional way. Maybe they have big utilitarian bollards or basic lighting installed by electricians as part of the construction process.

But a commercial property’s outdoor lighting should go beyond basic. It’s the customer’s first clue to the environment inside.

It should impress. Outdoor lighting should reflect the care and attention to detail of the business owner inside.

That’s where a professional landscape lighting designer comes in. We provide the curb appeal, beauty, ambiance and artistry.

We provide the “aah.”

How? We’re glad you asked.

Lighting Beyond The Basics

When commercial properties such as shopping centers, country clubs, spas, insurance offices or boutiques are built, the architects design the lighting. Then the electricians come in and install it.

They typically take care of the practical lighting. They light the signage, the parking lot, the pathways or steps leading to the business. They handle the safety and security lighting, so customers don’t trip and vandals don’t see a nice, dark opportunity to cause trouble.

But details like curb appeal, ambiance and artistry are usually left in the dark. And those are exactly the elements that draw customers to a business.

A professional landscape lighting designer has the skill and techniques to light a commercial property so it’s not just functional, but beautiful.


First Things First

Sometimes we’re called in to light a commercial property several years after it opened. The first thing we do is make sure all that functional lighting still works. We may need to add some step lights if stairs seem dark. If existing pathlights have been damaged by lawn equipment, kids on skateboards or heavy foot traffic, we might install sturdy, upright bollard lighting. A bollard is a type of outdoor lighting encased in a vertical post. The light source is hidden inside the cap of the fixture, so there’s no glare. Bollards are sturdy and visible, so they’re perfect for commercial properties that experience heavy foot traffic and commercial maintenance equipment.

If any landscape lighting was installed years ago, it probably needs adjusting. Trees will be taller and plants more established.

Tricks Of The Trade

A professional landscape lighting designer is a stickler about detail. For instance, it’s important to take note of the color temperature of the commercial property’s existing lights before adding artistic landscape lighting. You don’t want a strong contrast between the two — you want the lighting to blend.

The existing outdoor lighting temperature at a commercial property is usually between 4500 and 5000 Kelvin. That’s high wattage, high output, high intensity.

Install landscape lighting in a lower wattage, with a warmer color temperature, and it will easily be overpowered. You have to compensate, so we match it. Where we might typically use a 2700 Kelvin temperature in a landscape lighting installation, we bump it up to 3000 or 4500 to match the existing commercial property’s lighting.

Composition is another huge part of the job. If we’re lighting a shopping center, we don’t just light the Williams-Sonoma and the Victoria’s Secret store fronts. We light the dark spaces in between, so the light directs your eye easily from one spot to the next.

We know that simply adding more light doesn’t make everything better. Too much light installed in the wrong spot can cause uncomfortable glare. We use glare shields and “eyelids” so the light goes where it’s supposed to go. These solid caps above the bulbs concentrate light where you want it.

Highlight Your Outdoor Landscaping

how to light a commercial property gazeboIf your commercial property includes trees, garden beds, sculptures, fountains or waterfalls, why not highlight their beauty at night?

A combination of uplighting, downlighting and moonlighting can beautifully accentuate your outdoor features and add automatic drama.

In uplighting, landscape lights are typically mounted below or at ground level, shining the light upward.

To downlight, you might place a fixture high up, inside the branches of a tree or beneath an eave on your building, so the light shines down.

Moonlighting is a type of downlighting that offers a specific look. You got it:  it looks like moonlight.

A light fixture is placed high up in a tree and angled downwards. The effect? Moonlight shining down through the branches. It feels natural and creates a lovely effect as the leaves and branches make shadow patterns on the ground.

Consider moonlighting for any commercial property that features evening entertaining. I love it for golf clubhouses and wedding reception centers. Not only does it set a romantic mood for weddings and proms, it also provides a stunning setting for photos.

Artistic uplighting or downlighting can provide just the right illumination to make your customers take as much notice of your landscape’s features at night as they do during the day. Professional lighting also provides a calm, soothing effect for commercial properties that cater to people when they’re at their most vulnerable, from hospitals to mortuaries and funeral homes.

Wash Lighting For Walls And Benches

If your commercial property includes structural walls to block out street noise, they can become part of the atmosphere when lit with soft washes of light.

If you spotlight statues, trees or other elements and there’s wall space in-between, washing the walls with soft light draws your eye across the scene, eliminating any hot spots you’d get by only lighting the landscape elements.

We often use downlighting under outdoor benches and seating walls to cast subtle lighting along pathways and patios. Not only does it cast a welcoming glow, it also offers an element of safety for your customers walking through.

Why Should You Call A Professional Landscape Lighting Designer?

Intermountain_Childrens_Hospital_Wall_WashMaybe you had commercial landscape lighting installed years ago when your business first opened. But landscapes change, plants and trees grow, and your original lighting may no longer do the best job of accenting your landscaping features.

The lighting outside your business is as important as the lighting inside. It should go beyond basic. Skillfully installed, artistic landscape lighting will draw customers to your door and show them you care about their first impression of your business.

A combination of uplighting, downlighting and moonlighting can beautifully accentuate your outdoor features and add automatic drama. Moonlighting can add an especially nice touch at venues that host evening events.

A professional landscape lighting designer is a stickler about detail. We pay attention to composition and glare. And we take note of the color temperature of a commercial property’s existing lights, so anything we add blends nicely with your existing lighting.

Leave Your Commercial Landscape Lighting To Us

If you decide your business needs artistic, professional commercial landscape lighting, we’d love to hear from you. Give us a call at (801) 440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or fill out our simple contact form.

Located in Sandy, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves customers throughout Utah’s residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper and Holladay. Our outdoor lighting portfolio includes projects from Salt Lake County and Utah County, to Davis County and Summit County — and beyond.

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