Outdoor Lighting Glossary

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A collection of common terms and definitions associated with outdoor lighting.

Accent Lighting

A type of lighting associated with decorative lighting. Accent lighting is used to highlight a point of interest rather than a main source of (ambient) light.

Aesthetic Light

Light that has been implemented as an art form.


A source of light that is meant for general use. Excellent ambient light can be achieved outdoors by placing soft down-lighting in tall trees (in this example, it is called moonlighting).

Cross Lighting

A decorative lighting effect that used two or more lights to illuminate an object from numerous angles. This can result in adding dramatic depth to an object.

Dimmer Switch

A device that allows a variation of brightness in the lights that it is connected to. Dimmer switches are also useful for limiting the amount of energy expended by one or more lights.

Grazing – By placing a parallel light source very close to an object, its textures are emphasized by highlighting high points.

Halogen – An incandescent bulb with a higher than average efficiency.

Incandescent Bulb – A type of light bulb which relies on the principle of heating an object (usually a filament) to produce light.

Moonlighting – A lighting technique used to cast soft ambient light and shadows onto the ground. It is achieved by placing a light source in a tall tree.

Path Lighting – Used for both safety and decorative purposed, path lighting illuminates sidewalks, driveways, steps and promenades.

Shadowing – A decorative accent achieved by placing a strong light source near an object to cast a well-formed shadow on a nearby wall or fence.

Silhouetting – A lighting technique that accents an objects profile. This is done by placing a light source between a wall or fence and the object your wish to silhouette.

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