As any patriotic American knows, the flag is a serious matter. If you are flying the flag, there are a few rules you need to know. While most of us are perfectly familiar with matters such as the flag should never touch the ground, or the flag being flown at half-staff during times of declared national mourning, the matter of lighting is also important and needs to be addressed. The general rule stands that the flag should be flown from sun up to sun down, but many Americans, as well as businesses and official government offices, choose to fly the flag 24 hours a day. With this constant flying at full staff comes the matter of proper flag lighting. The rule is that if the flag is flown at night it must be properly lit at all times. To avoid the disrespect of a flag flown in darkness, here are a few tips on the matter.
The most important thing to remember is that you must light the flag at night with adequate illumination. If the light only travels part way up the pole, but the flag itself is in darkness, it is unacceptable. Likewise, if the light reaches the flag, but leaves it shadowy instead of well lit, it is disrespectful.
The rule of thumb is to use more than one light fixture for a flagpole. While two is the bare minimum, three is the ideal number. The best way to ensure you get the right amount of light is to do flag lighting in a traditional triangle pattern. You want to place the light fixtures in a triangle placement around the base of the flagpole to ensure adequate light from each angle. You can’t light just the front of the flag. It has to be completely illuminated from all sides regardless of which way the wind may blow it. When placing the lights, it is best to use inground fixtures if possible and place them about one half of the flag length away from the pole. When working with floodlights not placed in the ground, you will want to place them around one pole length away because of the intensity.
The final matter with flag lighting is the color temperature. Since the flag should be treated with respect and deserves to be noticed, most choose to light it with cooler temperatures on the white scale as opposed to the warmer tones. This is also helpful since the cooler the temperature, the better the color rendering tends to be to pick up instead of wash out the colors of the American flag.
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