New Options for Illuminating the Great Outdoors

Exterior luminaires often are treated as the workhorses of the lighting 
industry. With a need to withstand what can be harsh operating 
conditions, through winter storms and summer heat, design emphasis often
 focuses on durability and basic lighting functions, over more versatile
 applications. That’s beginning to change, however, as manufacturers 
have begun adding new capabilities to a range of outdoor fixture types. Hubbell Lighting

Chuck Ross

Exterior luminaires often are treated as the workhorses of the lighting industry. With a need to withstand what can be harsh operating conditions, through winter storms and summer heat, design emphasis often focuses on durability and basic lighting functions, over more versatile applications. That’s beginning to change, however, as manufacturers have begun adding new capabilities to a range of outdoor fixture types.

This expansion in functionality is a result of the recognition that outdoor fixtures bring more than illumination to exterior spaces – they also bring a power source and mounting options for other equipment and devices, including sensors and speakers. And, thanks to rapidly developing LED lighting and controls technologies, these luminaires can help create outdoor lighting plans that are more responsive and interactive than ever before.

In corporate office parks and college campuses, added functions can include built-in outlet boxes with both standard AC and USB receptacles that enable users to recharge mobile devices – and so encourage use of the surrounding spaces as gathering areas. And, with that box in place, facility owners also have the ability to easily integrate security devices, such as proximity card readers, as well as convenience options, like push buttons to operate nearby automatic doors. Some of these fixtures can even be configured to house speakers, for both standard entertainment and public address systems and to meet emergency-management requirements.

But even with all these new capabilities, owners can expect lower electricity bills when upgrading to these new exterior offerings. Almost all manufacturers have switched their illumination sources from high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps to LED versions. Not only are LEDs inherently much more efficient, they also are easier to control, as they can be switched on and off instantly, without any restrike period. So, many of today’s exterior fixtures feature standard or optional integrated pedestrian sensors that ensure the lights only operate at full power when needed.


Photo courtesy of Hubbell Lighting