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Outdoor lighting for security and entertaining

We need more outdoor lighting for entertaining and security. Do you have any tips for efficiency?—Randall C. 

With LED and CFL bulbs, it is much easier to light your house effectively and efficiently. When used at night, they can literally last your lifetime. 

Start with your lighting for entertaining, as it is straightforward: You know where you and your guests will be and the activities you’ll be doing. 

Bright, whiter LED bulbs or integral LED light fixtures are the best choice for what guests see first: the front door. CFLs are fine for lights that are on for a while. For general entertaining, use low-voltage landscaping fixtures around a deck or patio. They are easy and safe to install yourself. 

To plan security lighting, switch on the indoor lights you normally use. Walk around your house and look for unlit locations, especially windows or doors hidden by landscaping. Dim, efficient light fixtures are good for these areas. 

One of the most efficient and effective types of security light is a motion-sensing fixture. Two-level models keep a dim night light on until they brighten when detecting motion. 

Solar-powered LED motion-sensing models are the easiest to install yourself. Any type of floodlights should be located 9 feet up to be most effective. 

How bright? 

Brighter, more intense lighting is better for entertaining than for security. High-color- temperature LED bulbs, often called “daylight,” or integral fixtures produce a whiter light. This is great for entertaining and makes colors look more like they do in daylight. 

For security, a less bright light with a lower color temperature in the 2,700 degree K range is best. Brighter lights can cause your pupils to get smaller and keep you from seeing well in unlit or dimly lit areas where someone may be hiding. The more yellow light from lower- color-temperature bulbs also can hamper eyesight.

JAMES DULLEY is a nationally syndicated columnist who writes on energy efficiency and do-it-yourself energy topics.

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