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According to the US Flag Code, hoisting the flag at sunrise and lowering it at sunset is customary. However, if you wish to display the American flag in your nightscape, proper illumination is crucial. The code does not prescribe specific types of lighting or fixtures but mandates that the flag must be illuminated. 

While many people understand general flag etiquette, such as not letting the flag touch the ground and displaying it on holidays, the rules for flying the flag at night have become somewhat ambiguous. The acceptance of nighttime flag displays came with the condition of adequate illumination. The US flag code explicitly states that the American flag must be illuminated during darker hours.

Fortunately, there are several options available for illuminating your flag, catering to different flagpole locations and personal preferences.

Types of Flagpole Lighting

When it comes to lighting a flag, you have various options and techniques to choose from: Whether you opt for wall-mounted lighting, ground-based spotlights, or top-mounted fixtures on the flagpole itself.

Below are some options and considerations:

  • Above-Ground LED Light – Maximizes upward light with controlled narrow spot beam distributions. 1 to 3 fixtures mounted in the flagpost can effectively light up your flag. Sometimes the fixtures can be mounted higher on the flagpost to focus more on the flag rather than the pole.
  • Ground-Level Fixtures – Installed at the base of the flagpole. Placing three lights around the pole, about one-third of the flag’s length from the pole, provides optimal results.
  • Inground Lights – Inground lights provide upward light on the flag. Ideal for high-traffic areas like parks and memorials.
  • Top-Mounted Down Light – The best option IMO, with innovative downlight technology that beautifully illuminates the flag and surrounding walkways.

The quantity of fixtures needed depends on the pole height and flag size. At least two (preferably three) fixtures are required to ensure even illumination.

Also, consider the brightness level to make the flag stand out. A narrow beam spread will focus the light on the flag but should be wide enough to fully illuminate the flag regardless of wind conditions.

Solar light may not be reliable or bright enough. Instead, use standard low-voltage fixtures.

Use LED fixtures

Opt for LED lighting fixtures. They are energy efficient and robust, boasting an impressive lifespan of up to 100,000 hours.

LED bulbs in different colors can create striking red, white, and blue themes, allowing you to express your patriotism through creative and dynamic lighting choices.

If you opt for integrated LED fixtures, ensure they have a light output of at least 300 lumens to guarantee ample brightness. For taller flagpoles, spotlight fixtures are a fantastic choice.

Lighting considerations

When illuminating a flagpole, several factors need to be considered, including the size of the flag and fixture selection.

Take into account the height of the flagpole and the spread of the flag to ensure it receives adequate and appropriate lighting. If the flag is intended to be the focal point of the landscape, let it stand out with bright illumination. Nonetheless, care must be taken to avoid overpowering the nightscape.

Install the fixture 2 to 5 feet from the base of the flagpole. Two or three fixtures are recommended to properly light the flag. Position one fixture as close to the ground as possible to effectively illuminate both the flag and the pole. 

In general, it is better to mount light fixtures in the ground rather than directly on the flagpole itself. Inground fixtures should be set back from the pole at a distance of 1/3 to 1/2 the length of the flag, while floodlights can be positioned 1/2 to the full length of the flag.

When using two fixtures, position them 180° apart, and for three fixtures, place them at 120° intervals around the flagpole. Aim the fixtures at the ball at the top of the flagpole. Ensure their beams overlap to achieve even illumination.

With an extensive variety of styles and sizes available, you can choose the perfect lighting solution that suits your specific requirements. Rest assured, your American flag will proudly shine, honoring its significance throughout the night.

George Gitau

Meet George, an advocate for traditional craftsmanship. I will provide you with educational content, techniques and ideas for your next garden and home improvement project. Together, let's create beautiful spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional

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