Exterior lighting enhances the beauty of your home. If you plan to add patio lights, outdoor solar lights, garden lights, or any type of exterior lighting, it's best to consider lighting design, functionality, and efficiency.
How to Find Outdoor Lighting That Works for Your Space
Well-planned outdoor lighting increases the safety, security, and enjoyment of your home. Where you plan to install the lighting is a significant factor for deciding the type of lighting you should choose. Similar to lighting within your home, outdoor lighting works best in layers. You will want to combine layers for security plus add accent lighting with spotlights, strip lights and water-feature lighting to enhance the features of your home.
Driveway and Path Lighting
A well-lit driveway and walking path provide safety and security for family and friends. Plus, path lights are a great way to boost your home's curb appeal. Path lights and floodlights work well for exterior stairs, walkways, paths, and backyard spaces.
A well-lit patio or deck lets you continue the party into the night.
Outdoor wall lights, lanterns, and landscape lighting work well for an open patio. Lighted ceiling fans, ceiling-mount lights, and pendant lights work well for a covered deck or porch.
Types of Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor wall lights cast a warm, welcoming glow and illuminate areas that would otherwise be in shadow, which helps guests safely move about. Outdoor wall lights are a type of accent lighting and require low-wattage bulbs.
Outdoor lanterns look great at night adding a touch of mystery to your porch or patio. Outdoor lanterns are available in a wide range of sizes and finishes. For intimate lighting, group small lanterns on an outdoor side table. Hang lanterns from pergolas or tree limbs for an exotic look.
Ceiling-mount and pendant lights light up covered porches, patios, decks, and gazebos from above. They work great to illuminate dining and seating areas.
Outdoor lighted ceiling fans illuminate and cool outdoor spaces and keep biting insects at bay. Choose a ceiling fan that is rated for outdoor use. Outdoor ceiling fans work great for covered outdoor areas such as decks, patios, porches, and gazebos.
A: Suitable for damp locations means that a fixture can be used indoors, but should not be used in areas where it would have direct contact with water. The primary indoor example would of course be the bathroom. Damp simply means it can be around water, but not directly exposed. In the context of using a damp rated fixture outdoors it means it cannot be exposed directly to water even during a storm so it needs to be in a covered patio or something similar. For more exterior lighting ideas and information, check out our Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide.
A: Ideal outdoor lighting should be a blend of security/safety and curb appeal. Just like lighting in the home, it works better when considered in layers. You want to combine several lighting layers for security or safety, plus incorporate accent lighting such as spotlights, strip lights and water-feature lighting. Outdoor lighting can enhance the features of your home, putting your landscaping, beautiful deck and more in the spotlight.
A: UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed is a rating based on the nationally recognized standards of safety for a the lighting product. There are three different UL listings -- Dry, Damp, Wet. Dry means the lighting can be in an indoor area that's not normally subject to dampness. Damp means is the product can be around moisture, but not directly exposed to it. Finally, a wet rating means it's suitable for outdoor locations that receive direct rain, snow or excessive moisture.
A: Yes! If a light can stand up to the rigors of the outdoors it can handle a more tame inside environment. In fact, there is something of a trend toward outdoor lighting being used indoors. This kind of lighting is often less expensive than a chandelier and it can be more in keeping with an industrial theme in the home.
A: A quick rule to keep in mind is that the height of your outdoor fixture should be based on the height of the door or opening. With one fixture the piece should be approximately a third of the height of the door. With two fixtures on either side of a door, you can go slightly smaller, about one quarter. People commonly underestimate the size of the fixture they need, so opt for oversized vs undersized.
Q: What are some of the differences between outlet powered and solar powered outdoor lighting?
A: Solar-powered outdoor lighting and outlet-powered lighting both offer unique benefits. Solar landscaping requires very little maintenance, and it’s an eco-friendly and cost-effective option for lighting your favorite outdoor spaces. Electric lighting, on the other hand, brightens outdoor areas best and is a better option for areas that lack the direct sunlight needed by LEDs. On a purely aesthetic level, solar-powered lighting tends to cast a bluish hue as opposed to electric’s bright white glow. Solar lights also do not have the longevity of electric powered outdoor lights.
Q: What’s the brightest outdoor lighting, and how bright should outdoor lighting be?
A: Outdoor lighting will vary depending on its use. For instance, when you are lighting for security purposes, perhaps by a front door or above a garage door, a 120-V is prefered. If you have an overhang on your home and are looking for them to be downloights as well as security, 120v is advisable. An outdoor hanging pendant light used for a porch should also be around 120-v. However, if you are using accent lights for paths and walkways, 12-15-V are the norm. If you are are using LED’s, Lumens will be your measurement. Consider a 700-1300 lumen bulb for security and well lit areas and 100 lumens for outdoor path lighting.For more exterior lighting ideas and information, check out our Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide.
Q: What is low voltage outdoor lighting and why is it used?
A: Line Voltage is standard in the US and Canada for outlet and junction boxes. Whereas Low-Voltage typically requires 12 Line Volts plus a transformer to lower the Line Voltage from 120 down to 12. For outdoor lighting, Low-voltage lighting is the most common form. The quality of light produced by low voltage light fixtures looks more natural than hight voltage and is usually preferred. These outdoor fixtures are easy to install, inexpensive and safe thanks to their low voltage levels, and they’re a great option for illuminating walkways, driveways and stairs.
A: Photocells are a light sensing cell that are either a part of a light fixture or a separate unit that you can be attached to the socket of an outdoor light fixture. Photocell outdoor lighting helps you reduce your energy costs by turning your exterior lights off and on based on the amount of light the photocells receive. Photocells are technically light sensors, so they only operate when there’s less available light. That means that these fixtures will only turn on from dusk to dawn or when movement is detected by the motion sensor. For more exterior lighting ideas and information, check out our Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide.
Q: What are some of the most popular styles of outdoor lighting?
A: Browse our popular outdoor lighting styles that range from contemporary to traditional and everything in between for the designs your exterior demands. From contemporary wall sconces and LED lights to adjustable pier/post mount fixtures, we have a wide range of options to suit your styling needs. Hanging pendants and lanterns offer the vintage look of gas lighting without the hassle of propane, while dimmable outdoor ceiling lights cast just the right amount of light on outdoor gathering spots. For more exterior lighting ideas and information, check out our Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide.
Q: Where are the best places to hang or install outdoor lighting?
A: Outdoor lights are a vital component of your home’s exterior. Motion sensor lights and strategically placed path fixtures can be placed along walkways and stairs to define edges and enhance your overall safety and security. Alternatively, outdoor light fixtures such as wall lights, post lights, hanging lanterns and pendants can add a decorative touch to entryways, porches, patios and decks. Well lights, spotlights, deck lights and other exterior fixtures can showcase your landscaping and draw attention to gardens, trees, shrubs and fountains with ease. Outdoor sconces are typically best placed at eye level, while pathway lights can be dotted along both sides of a trail or along a single edge, depending on your personal style preferences.
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