Barn Lighting

  • Keep lights out of reach from horses. Think about where you are putting the lights so you have good lighting in stalls but the horses can’t get to them. “It’s good to have the lights high, with covers on them. Some of the new LED lights are very illuminating. They are not cheap, but last a long time and are very energy-efficient. You might be able to place them out of reach of the horses where they could light the alley as well as the stalls,” says Dr. Bob Coleman (State Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky).
  • Make sure lights are cobweb-free. “In earlier days we had jars that screwed over a light bulb. These work, but you have to clean them. They get dusty and collect cobwebs. Barn dust and cobwebs are flammable.”
  • Think about location. Figure out where to put your lights, and it’s often best to have them on separate circuits. If you need to go in the barn at night to take care of things, it’s nice to have the lights on separate switches so you don’t have to turn all the lights on when you only need one area lit. “You can turn on just what you need. This can be something to plan for, in your renovation. The switches could be in a central location so that when you come into the barn you don’t have to go all the way down the alley and can just turn on what you need,” he explains.

[Read more: Renovating an Older Barn]
[Read more: Stall Improvements and Safety Issues]

  • Choose non-disruptive lighting for mares with foals. Some barns that foal out mares have lights in the stalls on dimmers. “You can still see the mares but not be very disruptive while checking on them. Then if you need more light during foaling you can just turn up the lights,” he says.

    If you want mares under lights, have the electrician put in lights for those stalls and put them on a timer. “This could be built right into the set-up so that when you turn the timer on it is connected to the light and does exactly what you want it to do. If you don’t have to light horses for breeding or to keep their hair sleek for horse shows, you wouldn’t worry about it, but some people might want a few stalls with lights in them. It all comes down to making a plan at the beginning, to decide what you want to do—in the short term and long-term,” he says.

  • Consider opaque building materials to let in more light. Putting opaque material in as part of the roofing or siding can also be a way to get more light into a barn. “Some of the older barns don’t have enough wall height to do this, but there may be places you could do some of that,” he says.

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