Bright Ideas

Types of Outdoor Wall Lights

Posted by Joe Lightman on Jun 10, 2016 1:40 PM


There are 5 main types of wall lights, each of which serve specific purposes: traditional, semi-cutoff, full cutoff, adjustable and architectural. Standard or traditional wall packs distribute light out and down. Semi cutoff and adjustable wall packs limit the light to mostly down. Full cutoff wall packs distribute light only down. Architectural fixtures use light in different ways to accent, highlight features or add nuance to a structure.

1. Traditional Wall Lights

Traditional wall packs are the most frequently used as they are able to emit light farther out from the wall than other wall lights. They are often used as area lights that are wall mounted as opposed to being on a pole. As with most designs of wall packs, they come in different sizes to accommodate a range of wattages. Traditional wall packs are available with various types of light sources. SomeTraditional_Wall_Light_RAB_Design-1.jpg common issues with standard type wall packs are they are not dark sky compliant and the light emitted can be seen from relatively long distances and is uncontrolled, going in various directions.

2. Semi-cutoff Wall Packs 

Semi-cutoff type wall packs are a balance between a standard wall pack and a full cutoff wall pack. The lamp in the luminaire is somewhat shielded by a top that comes down in front of the luminaire. The effect is to limits light pollution, but it still does not make it dark sky compliant. Light is emitted Semi-Cutoff_Wall_Light_Rab_Design.jpgeverywhere, but less of the light goes up. Similar to a standard wall pack, it is still effective as a wall mounted area light. Semi-cutoff wall packs are available with various types of light sources.

3. Full Cutoff Wall Packs

As described, full cutoff type wall packs are fully covered except at the bottom of the luminaire, forcing the light down.  This tight control of the light makes it dark sky compliant. Full cutoff also means the light trespass is reduced if not eliminated in most instances. The lamp can’t be seen other than from below the luminaire. The wall where the luminaire is mounted on is washed and only the area under the wall pack is illuminated. Typically, full cut off wall packs have visible conduit entries on the side and bottom.

4. Adjustable Wall Packs

Adjustable wall packs are those that offer some level of flexibility and adjustment of the fixture through a swivel like movement which is embedded in the fixture. These can be both full cutoff and semi-cutoff. Available in various sizes and light sources, including LED, these fixtures have adjustableAdjustable_Wall_Light_RAB_Design.jpg heads and may include a photocell; they are often used to replace traditional wall packs and flood lights. The head may aimed straight for dark sky compliance, or aimed out if more light is required.

5. Architectural Wall Packs

Architectural wall packs are wall packs that don’t fit typical categories. Instead of being built with a specific purpose, such as to be dark sky compliant, architectural wall packs are stylized to highlight or complement the architecture of a building or area. Many architectural wall packs are still dark sky compliant or can project light out, but are purchased for more than just a functional purpose. Typically, conduit and power entries are notArchitectural_Wall_Light_RAB_Design.png visible so power cables enter from the back.

We have recently completed a full eBook covering the various types of wall lights and how to select the right one for your project. Get the eBook through the button below.

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Topics: Wall Lights