Outdoor Lighting Fixtures Classifications

In the previous topic “Indoor Lighting Fixtures Classifications – Part Two, I explain the lighting fixture classification according to the Building type. Today I will explain the Outdoor Lighting Fixtures Types and Classifications as follows. 

You can review the following previous topics for more information and good following.

We mentioned previously that the Artificial lighting has two main forms as follows:

  1. Indoor lighting 
  2. Outdoor lighting 

And in the above list of previous Topics, I explain the first one “indoor lighting” and I am going to explain the second form as follows.

Outdoor lighting:

Outdoor lighting is usually accomplished using light fixtures, and is a key part of outdoor/site/landscape design, these light fixtures or light luminaires can be defined as follows:

Luminaire definition:

it is a device that distributes filters or transforms the light emitted from one or more lamps. The luminaire includes all the parts necessary for fixing and protecting the lamps, except the lamps themselves. In some cases, luminaires also include the necessary circuit auxiliaries, together with the means for connecting them to the electric supply. The basic physical principles used in optical luminaire are reflection, absorption, transmission and refraction.

Classifications of outdoor Light fixtures/luminaires:

Outdoor Light fixtures/luminaires are classified according to the following:

  1. The light location and function. 
  2. Lamp type. 

1- Types of Light fixtures according to light location and function 

Outdoor Lighting fixtures will be categorized according to the location where it can be installed or its function which make it suitable to this location as follows:

  1. Floodlight.
  2. Sports Lighting.
  3. Street and Roadway.
  4. Pathway.
  5. Parking Lot and Garage.
  6. Security.
  7. Landscape.
  8. Signage.

1- Floodlight:

  • Often used for building lighting and other special application such as billboard lighting. 
  • Most types of HID lamps are used in floodlight luminaires. 
  • Exterior building lighting use luminaries with narrow and wide distributions, depending on the portion of the building being illuminated and its distance from the luminaire mounting location. 
  • Floodlights can be used to illuminate outdoor playing fields or work zones during nighttime hours. The most common type of floodlights are metal halide and high pressure sodium lights. 

2- Sports Lighting:

  • Have very narrow luminous intensity distributions and typically mounted to the side and well above the playing area. 
  • High wattage Metal halide lamps are common from 1000-3500W. 
  • Usually provided with special aiming and locking gear( goniometer). 
  • Internal or external louvers also may be provided to control glare and light trespass and to improve observer comfort. 

3- Street and Roadway:

  • Usually mounted on arms on a pole, or are post-top mounted. 
  • All types of HID lamps are used; High Pressure Sodium Lamps commonly used for roadway application. 
  • Luminaires with drop dish, or ovate, refractors are commonly used in roadway applications. Because of their appearance, they are referred to as “cobra head” luminaires.
  • Street Lights are used to light roadways and walkways at night. Some manufacturers are designing LED and photovoltaic luminaires to provide an energy-efficient alternative to traditional street light fixtures. 

4- Pathway:

  • Walkway and grounds lighting are often done with bollards. 
  • Mounted in the ground and have the form of a short thick post similar to that found on a ship or wharf. They are used for localized lighting. 
  • Lights placed just above grade level along sidewalks, driveways, or informal paths in the landscape to safely lead a person from one location to another. Path light fixtures are generally low to the ground and cast a spreading light 

5- Parking Lot and Garage:

  • Often uses cut-off or semi-cut-off luminaries with flat bottomed lenses. 
  • Mounted on post-top brackets or on short arms and can be arranged in single, twin, or quad configurations. 
  • Wall mounted luminaries are often used in for small parking lots immediately adjacent to a building or in parking structures, often referred to as “wall packs” wall-mounted luminaries. 

6- Security:

Typically outdoor luminaries designed to help visually secure an area.

Provides sufficient illuminance for visual surveillance or security camera surveillance.

These luminaries are typically mounted in inaccessible places and have sturdy housings and lenses to help them make vandal proof.

Security lights can be used along roadways in urban areas, or behind homes or commercial facilities. These are extremely bright lights used to deter crime. Security lights may include floodlights.

7- Landscape:

Facade Lighting

Under Water Lights

Step Lighting

Canopy Lights


Landscape Lights

Drive Up Lights

Landscape Lighting Example

  • Designed to light buildings, planting, water features (fountains, swimming pools and the like), and walkways. 
  • They can be mounted in the ground, on poles, on trees, or underwater. 
  • Have special housing, gasketting, lenses, and electrical wiring hardware that protects against the effects of water and corrosion. 

8- Signage:

  • Signage luminaires specifically designed for signs are equipped with asymmetric reflectors to evenly light the sign surface. 
  • Signage luminaires must be rated for outdoor use in the position they will be oriented. They should be designed to shed water and resist ice buildup.Externally mounted signage luminaires should be mounted at the top of the sign. By aiming downward onto the sign, light pollution is reduced. 

The following Tables can be considered is a basic guide of Outdoor luminaires selections for different Locations and Functions:


2- Types of Outdoor Light fixtures according to lamp type
Please review the paragraph “Artificial light sources” in the previous topic “Artificial lighting types and design” for knowing the most common lamp types , of course there are many other types of lamps but we usually didn’t utilize them in design of electrical lighting for construction industry.

And review also the paragraph “Types of Light fixtures according to lamp type” in the previous topic “Indoor Lighting Fixtures Classifications – Part one” for the used criteria when choosing which light Lamp to use.

in the next topic, I will explain an Introduction to Artificial lighting Design. so, please keep following.

Note: these topics about lighting in this course EE-1: Beginner's electrical design course is an introduction only for beginners to know general basic information about electrical lighting loads. but in other levels of our electrical design courses, we will show and explain in detail the lighting design calculations with examples for different types of buildings.