Outdoor Lighting Regulations

Updated July 19, 2017

Outdoor lighting regulations are put into effect for several reasons. They attempt to reduce the amount of glare and obtrusive light from unnecessary light sources. Conservation of energy is becoming more prominent. Also, the natural nighttime environment can be disrupted by unnatural night lights.


The maximum wattage for outdoor lights cannot go above 250 watts for commercial lighting, 100 watts incandescent and 26 watts compact fluorescent for residential lighting.


The actual lamp cannot be visible outside the perimeter of the property. The light must be blocked, or fully shielded, with exceptions. These exceptions are listed below.


A light cannot be place anywhere above the eave of a residential single-family home. Anything higher can create obtrusive light, which is spill light that creates glare, annoyance or obstructs visual ability.

State Laws

There are many states with individual laws regarding outdoor light restrictions. Make sure to become aware of any lighting regulations before installing outdoor lights.


Exceptions to regulations include: swimming pool lights, temporary holiday lights, sports arenas, exit signs, stairwell lighting and low-voltage landscape lighting. Holiday lights are considered lights put out for less than thirty days.

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About the Author

Rebecca Sundt began writing in 2009. She won first place in the Story Institute's 2009 Short Story Contest and has self-published two novels, "Class of ..." and "The Manuscript." Sundt received her Bachelor of Arts in writing from Ramapo College of New Jersey. She works as a manufacturing coordinator at John Wiley and Sons, Inc., in Hoboken, N.J.