Exterior Lighting for Hotels

exterior LED lighting hotel

Welcome back to Lighting for Hotels: An Introduction to Hotel Lighting for Hoteliers series. If you missed last week then don’t worry, we have the important points listed below. This lighting series will cover everything that hotel owners, management, and employees need to know about maximizing hotel lighting. If you want to make sure your guests get the most out of their stay and to get the most out of your bottom line then this hotel guide series is for you. Be sure to subscribe to this series to get notifications when a new post goes live.

Last week’s main points:

  • The first hotel to use modern lighting technology was The Edison Hotel in Times Square New York, NY on July 4, 1883.
  • Lighting technology is constantly advancing to become more energy-efficient.
  • There have been many different types of lightbulbs developed over the years but the ones you’re likely to find in your hotel are incandescent bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).
  • Light bulbs have different shapes and sizes, which one you use depends on its application.

  • View last week’s post here: Basics of Lighting for Hotels

    This week we’ll be covering aspects of exterior lighting for they are the first lights your guests will see as they arrive on property.  The time of day doesn’t matter because in the day they are looking at your exterior fixtures, landscaping, and your surroundings.  At night, they will notice how the light enhances your property. Exterior lighting is an opportunity to dazzle your guests and show them that you care about their experience, the property, and their safety. When exterior lighting is done right, your guests will be more comfortable upon entry to the hotel and they will feel safer. You will be setting a brand standard, and most importantly, you will see more smiles as you welcome each guest.  

    Let’s explore lighting these common areas found at every hotel.

    pathway led lighting solutions

    Hotel Pathway Lights

    Hotel path lighting includes areas like walkways, stairs, railing, and posts. Landscaping can be elaborate and attractive to the eye or it can be simple.  Each property is unique and every hotel is different but we all have the same goal.  Get customers in the door and when they leave, you want them looking forward to another visit.  If your guests are tripping on their way into your hotel because the lighting is wrong or they don’t feel safe because it is too dark then it is going to be much harder to see that smile. 

    Good path lighting illuminates the necessary areas gracefully without overflooding the area with light. The important thing about path lighting is providing enough light for your guests to safely travel from their current location to their next destination. As a hotel manager, you can encourage this behavior by lighting a clear path, highlighting any dangerous obstacles along with points of beauty while gently lighting destination points.  The fixtures and types of light used will vary depending on the complexity of the property.

    When it comes to pathway lighting, imagine each light as a stepping stone in the right direction.

    pathway led lighting solutions

    Pathway lighting should not be placed too closely together, nor too far apart, but a happy place in the middle. We recommend placing fixtures at the edge of the beam spread from fixture to fixture. Placing pathway lights too close together is energy and light inefficient, but it is also lumen overload. Placing pathway lighting too close together is called blotting, which can disrupt your guests from their path of travel. Placing them too far apart will leave sections of darkness. These dark sections could be areas where hazards lay such as an uneven step, a change in path direction, or materials blocking the trail. 

    When it comes to exterior ambiance we want to inspire a warm, welcoming, and safe feeling to your hotel guests. To accomplish this we regularly recommend 5000 kelvin LEDs. This kelvin temperature is great for bringing out the colors of your exterior property, especially at night. It is also the brightest, whitest light available and puts safety first.  White light keeps bad bulbs from hiding in the dark and safety trumps the warm cozy 3000 kelvin when considering outdoor lighting is select applications.  Common applications for path lighting and exterior lighting, in general, are the use of solar-powered lamps and low voltage wired lighting. Both of these options are great and which option you end up choosing depends on your landscape restraints, budget, and practical functionality. 

    Low voltage wired lighting is great as it poses no hazard to guests, should a guest be exposed to a wire. These applications reduce the main voltage line so it is just enough to power the lights, which won’t result in any serious injury. The solar-powered option is great for large open areas that receive a lot of sunlight.  These applications have large upfront costs but usually make up for these costs in less than two years with energy efficiency. 

    When it comes to any of your exterior lights, including the ones we’ll be covering below, the light position is an important aspect to consider. When it’s dark out and bright lights are beaming directly into your guests’ eyes then that creates an uninviting experience. So it’s important to keep in mind the light direction, whether or not the fixture height will be above or below eye level, and how bright each bulb should be.

    pathway led lighting solutions

    Common bulbs used for path lighting include:

  • LED Chandelier bulbs
  • LED A19 and Nostalgic Filament
  • LED HID retrofit bulbs
  • LED 12 volt flood lights

  • Stake Fixtures

    This is the easiest way to go for pathway lighting because it provides a quick install and is often found being used on residential properties. Another benefit to pathway lighting is they are cheap to purchase in large quantities, minimizing costs. Newer stake lighting leverages LED technology that averages 20,000 life hours making them a long-lasting option. A couple more reasons to like stake lighting is their auto on/off sensors that are common for stake lighting. The last benefit to stake lighting is that it can be easily removed during the colder months of the year, allowing pathways to be easily cleared in the winter.

    • This is the only fixture we recommend with an integrated LED design.  A fixture that does not have a light bulb to replace.  When upgrading to LED.... If you purchase an all in one unit.  A fixture that does not use a bulb, when that fixture goes bad, you will need to replace the entire fixture... not just a bulb.
    • Remember this information for of the information below and above.


    patio pathway led lights

    Inground Fixtures

    As the name suggests, inground lighting requires fixtures that are mounted flush with the ground. The benefit to these systems is that they are weather resistant so there’s no worry about retrieving them during colder months or inclement weather. Another advantage about these fixtures is that replacing the bulbs is easy. These fixtures offer a wide range of mounting options and are commonly used along pathways, stair lighting, and accent lighting purposes. 

    Surface Fixtures

    Like inground fixtures, surface fixtures mount onto a variety of places but will often be found mounted along walls, stairwells, and even on trees. Surface mounts can be a great option for guiding guests along a path gently while creating an open environment. Soft, warm light can create a dramatic lighting effect while at the same time providing comfort for your guests. One of the best benefits of surface fixtures is there slim profile that doesn’t disrupt the flow of traffic, staff, or maintenance staff.

    Post lights

    Hotel post lighting follows the same rules we’ve covered above, but with extra care to the height of each post. As we previously mentioned, no guest wants to be out and about to have an improperly set fixture shining light into their eyes. Apart from the height concern another main concern with post lighting is spacing. We recommend a distance of 10-15 feet for ground pathway lighting yet our recommendation changes based on the type of fixture and bulb used. This is because a standard post light is 10 feet tall, as this height increases so does the illuminated area. To compensate for this, we can choose a lower lumen bulb, take advantage of dimmers to decrease the luminosity of the bulb, and take advantage of light blocks. Light blocks can be useful as most post lighting covers a 360-degree area. Using a post-light blocker can help direct light to where it’s needed while blocking light to where it is not. 

    Common bulbs used for post lighting include:

  • LED Acorns
  • High wattage LED A21 Lamps
  • LED A19 Lamps
  • hotel exterior led lighting

    Hotel Patio Sconces

    What is a sconce, let alone a patio sconce?  You’ve seen them many times and most likely didn’t realize it. The lights on the support columns below are wall sconces. You’ve probably seen them at your hotel entryway, along walkways, and lighting the way along the interior hallways. They’re generally called wall sconces, but when used outside on a patio they become patio sconces. 

    Wall sconces can serve as a welcoming invitation to enter your hotel, help guide guests along a pathway, and function as security lighting to deter unwanted visitors and animals from entering your property. Patio sconces are more about feel and ambiance than interior sconces, as patio sconces can display the bulb being used more so than an interior wall sconce. Because of this exposed look often found on patio lighting, we recommend using a filament-style bulb to inspire a sense of nostalgia. Although we recommend going this direction, this is our general rule of thumb and your specific lighting needs should be based on the environment and atmosphere of your hotel. The Kelvin temperature for patio wall sconces will be the same as pathway lights (2700 Kelvin) to allow for a seamless transition from one area to the next without our hotel guests noticing. 

    Just as we mentioned about using filament style bulbs based on the environment and atmosphere of your hotel, the same applies to kelvin temperature. The Kelvin temperature you’ll use will be based on what you’re using for your pathway lighting and the specific ambiance you’re striving to achieve. 

    Common bulbs used for patio sconces include:

  • LED Filament bulbs
  • hotel exterior pennant lighting

    Hotel Patio Lights

    Often found within the hotel, outdoor pendant lighting can add a sense of playful-youthfulness or provide a sense of sophistication depending on the fixture of your choosing.

    Apart from the bulb shape, it’s going to be important to get the correct base size to match your socket. After that, the kelvin temperature will match the kelvin temperature of the other bulbs you’re using, for our example along with our recommendation are to go with a 2700 kelvin bulb for an inviting atmosphere. Lumens are an important consideration for pendant lighting for the same reason as post lighting – we don’t want to blind our guests. Special care should be taken to ensure these pendant fixtures are hanging at a proper height for walkways and outdoor dining areas. 

    Common bulbs used for patio lighting include:

  • LED ST18
  • LED A19/A15
  • LED S14
  • LED Chandelier Bulbs
  • pation led string light displays

    String Lighting

    It looks as if string lighting is here to stay, at least for another decade or so. We at GoodBulb love this look as string lighting inspires a sense of comfort, security, and warmth in just about any setting. If an old barn can transform itself from an old cattle stand to a wedding reception area with the magic of string lighting, then the possibilities for you are endless. 

    String lighting can also be a cost-effective way for providing overhead lighting in areas where traditional lighting fixtures (i.e. recessed cans) would not make sense, like gazebo-inspired areas. On top of their flexibility, they also have the benefit of being LED compatible for increased energy savings. We particularly like clear filament LED bulbs for string lighting to maintain the nostalgic vibe that we know and love, take advantage of energy savings, and improve your bottom line.

    hotel parking lot lighting

    Hotel Parking Lot Lighting 

    Parking lot lighting follows similar rules as post lighting with environmental considerations changing how we use them in this area. The light poles here are going to be taller than your post lights, and if they are not then you have a problem on your hands. The recommended height for parking lot lighting varies by application. For small parking lots, the recommended height is 15-20 feet high with 20-30 feet of spacing being ideal and a lumen output of 12,000-18,000 lumens. Note, this spacing is based on a 2-fixture pole. 

    For larger parking areas, a standard height is 20-25 feet high, with 30-40 feet of spacing between poles and a lumen output of around 20,000 to 30,000 lumens. There are taller parking lot lighting fixtures, called high mast poles that range between 25-35 feet high but these are not typically used in hotel parking lots. 

    As far as Kelvin temperature goes, you’ll usually find that these bulbs are at 5,000 kelvin. This is because the white light this Kelvin range produces is great for large spaces and outdoor settings. It’s a vibrant color temperature that promotes movement while rendering colors in its surroundings.

    hotel interior parking lot ramp led lighting

    Parking Lot Mounts

    We talked a lot about exterior lighting thus far but there is still just a little left to cover in the area of parking lot lighting. Similar to how we covered different fixture types throughout the space of exterior lighting there too are different mount types for parking lot lighting. So what are the different types of mounts for parking lot lighting? That’s a good question and we’ll start with the slip fit mount. 

    Slip Fit Mount

    The slip fit mount is the most common type of fixture found on light posts. They have a sharp look and an easy installation that is commonly bolted straight onto the post. The benefit of a slip fit mount is the adjustable mounting positions, each mounting position is able to remain in a fixed position with bolts. Going this route is a safe bet to ensure you’re able to replace mounts easily and when required as there is no indication that the lighting industry will be moving away from this mounting style anytime in the future.

    Flood Mount

    The next type of mount is the flood mount which as its name describes has a wide beam angle, which is great for illuminating a large space. The flood mount has the benefit of being adjustable to be tilted upwards or downwards depending on the application. Though these mounts are more often found on walls, roofs, or signage, they can be used for parking lot lighting as well. 

    Yoke Mount

    Unlike the most common slip fit mount, we have the least common type of mount, the Yoke mount. The reason why these mounts are less common comes down to their design where the lights are twisted onto the mount, which reduces the amount of weight these mounts can support. The other mount types, like the slip fit mount, allows for the light fixture to “slip” onto and over a sturdy frame that can support a great deal of weight. The weight consideration may be one thing but once incremental weather is added to the equation, having strong support becomes all the more important. 

    So what type of bulbs can you use to light your parking lot, well we recommend our LED Acorns as many of our clients have had great success with them. Though any acorn bulb could do in this application, we manufacture ours to be extremely durable to weather any condition thrown in its direction. If using an LED Acorn doesn’t make sense for your fixture type then we recommend using a shoebox light fixture or LED parking lot head that is compatible with slip-fit mount fixtures. You’ll get the best coverage, energy efficiency, and future compatibility with using these types of bulbs and mounts. 

    Tree Lighting

    There’s one more topic we should cover under the topic of exterior lighting for your hotel and that’s tree lighting. The reason for this is that just about any hotel, even in dense urban areas will often display trees on property grounds. Yet, these trees don’t have to idle in the night until the sun shines on them again the following day. Instead, hotel managers can leverage the natural beauty of nature by shining the appropriate light on them, and we’ll show you how. 

    When it comes to tree lighting you have two options to take advantage of, uplighting and downlighting. Uplighting creates a dramatic focal point for guests to observe whereas downlighting creates a subtle and inviting mood. Both can be used on the same tree to blend these two feelings or leverage them separately.

    Let’s take a look at how you’d light common trees found on hotel grounds. 

    Small Deciduous Trees

    While lighting small deciduous trees, it’s best to use a single accent 35-degree lighting fixture. As for positioning the light, we recommend the light to graze the trunk as the light illuminates the tree branches and leaves.

    Medium Deciduous Trees

    For these types of trees, we recommend cross-lighting by using two 35-degree light fixtures because it illuminates both the trunk and the canopy best. The position should focus more on illuminating the canopy than for the small deciduous trees and just slightly grace the trunk of the tree.

    Fir Trees

    Fir trees respond best to using two 60-degree accent lights that are positioned on opposing sides, fully illuminating the tree for a 360-degree enjoyable view. The special note about positioning your light fixtures for these types of trees to direct the beam directly onto the canopy, and not grazing the tree trunk.

    Though you may not handle tree lighting yourself, it’s important to familiarize yourself with its purpose and the impact tree lighting can have on the guest experience. Treat tree lighting like an art piece that can be observed and viewed by many. Passerbys, guests, and business executives will take notice of the little things. We all stop to observe the beautiful things in life and sometimes that beauty is right in front of us. It can be easy to spot in the daylight yet as night falls so does its beauty, by leveraging uplight and downlight on your trees you’ll leave a lasting impression on your hotel guests.

    gorgeous led landscape lighting

    Let’s wrap up.

    We covered a lot in this section but we want to make sure that we’re turning over every stone. Hotel lighting can be complicated but it doesn’t have to be, it’s our mission to demystify the world of lighting both outside and inside of your hotel. By now we know that lighting can have an impact on the guest’s experience and on your bottom line. In this second installment of our “Introduction to Hotel Lighting for Hoteliers”.

    We covered the following topics:

  • Hotel Path Lighting
  • Patio Sconces
  • Patio Pendant Lighting
  • String Lighting
  • Parking Lot Lighting
  • Tree Lighting

  • As you can see there’s a lot to lighting your hotel exterior other than the main entryway and getting each one right is important for your hotel. Exterior lighting sets the stage for your hotel, it delivers the impression and brand voice of your hotel to passersby and to your guests. Getting it right can be a frustrating necessity but you don’t have to go it alone. We at GoodBulb have years of industry experience in helping hotel management shape their visual perceptions, save on energy costs, and stay current with lighting best practices. Helping hoteliers like you is what we’re aiming to do and it’s why we’re delivering hotel lighting-specific content straight to your inbox.

    Subscribe below to stay up to date on our latest hotel lighting guide and take control of your expenses, brand perception, and guest experience.

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