Outdoor lighting is an integral part of a home and property. Nothing is more important in the evening and throughout the night. A great-looking house, landscaping, or yard can either disappear and be invisible at night or become a beautiful and practical feature. When it’s done right by a talented professional, lighting techniques and shadowing can bring out elements that would otherwise go unnoticed. One of those techniques is soffit lighting. There are different kinds and different techniques so let’s explore soffit lighting.
Soffit lighting can either be exclusive or part of a varied lighting system. It can be application specific, used for safety and security, or simply be used for aesthetic illumination. Often, it is used for certain applications out of necessity where no other lighting technique will do the job. This may be a walkway along a wall where there are only pavers or concrete. In these situations, soffit lights can illuminate walls and windows as well as walkways and landscaping. Let’s delve further into soffit lighting by exploring where it is appropriate and where it should be avoided.
Soffit lighting is often installed by electricians and handymen. Rarely are these electricians and handymen specialists in lighting. This can make for an unfortunate and expensive outcome. There are many factors that should be taken into consideration when planning to install soffit lighting. First, will the soffit lighting be a part of a larger and varied lighting system or is it going to be exclusive? This is important in determining how it may fit in with the architecture of the house or building we are trying to illuminate. Is there enough room for the types of soffit lights to fit and is there enough room to space them away from any wall? A crucial mistake made most often is the installation of soffit lights too close to a wall. For instance, it is often installed under the eaves of a house but the lights will be too close to the walls of the house under the eaves. The result is hot spots next to every light. Hot spots occur when the source of a light fixture is too close to a surface. It results in very bright spots of light that can be almost blinding, especially on light-colored and/or reflective/glossy surfaces. These are determining factors that are crucial. The last thing we want is for the lighting effect to be blinding, reflective, or uneven. If the surfaces are correct and it has been determined that properly installed soffit lights will be effective and attractive, the next step is to measure and determine if there is enough room to fit the lights in the eaves and if there is enough space to install them far enough from the wall. There should be a minimum of 4 inches for any soffit lights to be spaced away from the wall.
Bad Soffit Lighting
Next, we need to consider what kinds of soffit fixtures to install. There are integrated fixtures which have built-in LED diodes which cannot be altered. In short, the fixture and light source are one item and there is no replacing bulbs. If the fixture stops working, the entire fixture must be replaced. The other option is drop-in fixtures, which are more traditional and feature a socket where a lamp can be installed. Generally, all soffit fixtures are recessed. The advantage of an integrated soffit fixture is room. They are much shallower and can be installed into areas where there is only an inch of depth to work with. The drop-in style require room for the socket and lamp so they generally need 4-8 inches of room, depending on fixture type. Both fixtures can feature static light that does not change color or they can be setup to be color-changing. They can also be dimmable with a dimmer switch or via an app.
Lastly, we need to consider the context of the soffit lights. How will they fit in the big picture? If we are using them for a specific application, we may only install them along the side of a house where a walkway may lead from the front to the back of the house. Other times, we may be using soffit lighting for security purposes and we want both sides of the house to be illuminated so that we do not have 2 sides of a house that are in darkness. Lastly, some customers simply love the look and effect of soffit lighting exclusively. In this case, we would determine if it is practical to design the lighting system around soffit lighting exclusively. This would be determined by the architecture of the house itself as well as the features of the house immediately around the walls and eaves.
It is also worth mentioning that soffit lighting fixtures have other applications. For instance, soffit lighting is a great way to illuminate a pool deck, patio, or sitting area behind the house. It can be used to light an outdoor kitchen or a dock house. As long as the application makes sense and the installation is correct, soffit lighting can be very versatile.
In conclusion, it may seem like something as simple as soffit lighting may be more complicated or confusing than you thought. To someone handy, it may be simple enough and a weekend project can be more than enough time to get it installed and looking good. If it does seem like more than you want to do on your own or you simply don’t have time, it is a great idea to at least consult with a professional. Pro Lighting Outdoors will be more than happy to meet with you and go over your options and determine what will be best for your lighting needs. We can go over different design options and incorporate it into a lighting system or simply install it as a standalone lighting application.