Lighting Research Center

Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment

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How can I see better while approaching my front door at night?

You want to be able to see the steps and railing and be able to insert your key into the lock quickly. You will be able to see better around your front door if you:

  • Use contrasting colors to help you see steps and railing. If your stair treads are dark, paint the vertical portion of the stair a light color; if your wall is dark, paint the railing a light color.
  • Shield your view of a bare bulb as you approach the door by selecting porch lights with opaque surfaces on the outward-facing surface. Be sure, however, that enough light is bounced forward so that you will be able to identify callers to your door from inside the house. Light-colored doors and walls will help bounce light forward.
  • Place your porch lights on both sides of the door. If you have just one light, locate it on the keyhole side of the door. A porch light with an opening on the bottom will direct light downward so you can find the lock more easily.
  • Aim your floodlights so they don't shine in your eyes as you approach or leave your home.

Be sure your fixture directs light to the doorknob, not directly to your face as you walk up the stairs.

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