The right outdoor lighting is crucial to complete any property. Outdoor lighting not only serves as an important safety measure, but it can also enhance the appearance of the house and accentuate the depth and features of the yard. These benefits can significantly increase the home’s curb appeal and value.
To get started with selecting the perfect outdoor lighting ideas for your property, it’s important to understand the basics. We’ve compiled some information to help illuminate the possibilities of an outdoor lighting system that can complement your entire property.
There are three primary types of outdoor lighting to consider, depending on the size of your property. By focusing on the main function of each type of outdoor light, it becomes easier to plan the best lighting layout for your property. The three most important types of outdoor lighting are:
- Security lighting
- Accent lighting
- Landscape lighting
Irrespective of the locality, prioritizing security lighting is crucial. These lights offer bright and targeted illumination to the exterior of the house, enhancing safety by facilitating easier navigation and deterring wildlife. Additionally, when integrated with security cameras, they can alert homeowners of potential dangers. Outdoor lighting is essential for the safety and functionality of a property, and security lighting options like porch, patio, garage, and path lights provide bright lighting that can be paired with security cameras to alert homeowners of potential security threats.
GARAGE DOOR LIGHTING & DRIVEWAY LIGHTING
You can position the lights for your garage area in a couple of ways. You can place them in the center above the garage door, or install them high on either side of the door and angle them to overlap the illumination, covering a larger area. However, it is important to be mindful of the placement to avoid creating excessive glare for drivers approaching the garage in their vehicles.
PORCH AND PATIO LIGHTING
Whether looking for the house keys in the dark, or waiting for guests who might not be familiar with the layout of the front walkway, overhead porch lights help ensure the safety of everyone who approaches the house. Look for porch lights that match or set the design of the rest of the porch decor, as long as the light provides clear illumination over the whole area.
STAIRS & STAIRWAY LIGHTING
Stairway lighting can be achieved through general overhead lighting or low-placed lights that reduce the fall of shadows on the steps. Lights with louvered shields can direct the light downward and prevent glare for people walking by. When looking for lighting solutions for stairs, porch steps, or even slight grade changes, consider stair lights to keep the lighting low. You can also look for post lights that can be installed onto hand railings and decks to keep the light below eye-level.
SIDEWALKS & PATH LIGHTING
For walking paths and sidewalks, use low to the ground security lighting. Fixtures that cast light directly down and out, from a low angle, are especially useful for leading from the driveway to the door, or around a pool or patio.
Path lights are often found as stakes and are easily installed in any landscape design. Pathway lighting looks best when arranged at staggered angles along each edge of the path or driveway so the light can overlap and avoid leaving shadows.
To light driveways, paths, sidewalks, or walkways, look for a favorite path light, or add the sturdy and classic style of bollard lights.
Strategic placement of high-intensity, overhead lights at a height of 9 feet or higher can effectively disperse light across various outdoor areas, such as yards, side yards, and driveways. For larger spaces like sheds and extensive side yards, security flood lights are recommended to maximize light coverage and ensure visibility in areas of high traffic.
In terms of outdoor lighting, security lighting holds utmost importance in enhancing safety and functionality of your property. It is crucial to prioritize placement of security lighting before considering more ornamental lighting options such as outdoor accent lighting or landscape lighting projects.
When it comes to security lighting, function should take precedence over form, as the primary goal is to ensure the safety of everyone on the property. The appearance of the fixture is secondary to its ability to perform its task effectively.
In contrast, when choosing accent lighting fixtures, the priority can be reversed. Emphasize form over function and select an outdoor light fixture that complements the design theme of the area where it will be installed and enhances the ambiance.
Some outdoor lighting ideas can serve as both security and accent lighting, providing more flexibility to create a cohesive lighting plan for your backyard, side yards, and front entryways. As you explore different outdoor lighting options, consider incorporating accent lighting in various locations around your property.
The fence may seem like an overlooked detail, but with the proper lighting a fence line can help make a yard seem larger. The right decorative lighting can even discourage the local wildlife from climbing on the fence.
FRONT PORCH AND DOORWAY LIGHTING
The entrance to your home is the first impression people will have, and the right outdoor lighting can make all the difference. Consider the size and shape of your front door, porch, and surrounding area when selecting the perfect entryway light fixture.
There are various ways to arrange outdoor doorway lighting, including:
- A single light fixture placed directly above the door.
- A high-mounted fixture positioned off to one side of the door.
- Two fixtures, one on each side of the door, to cover a wider area.
- Ceiling fixtures installed above the door and along the porch.
There are many accent lighting fixtures to choose from for your front door and porch, such as lanterns, wall sconces, outdoor pendant lights, and even outdoor chandeliers. Select a style that complements the design theme of your home and creates a warm and welcoming ambiance.
When it comes to the back patio, it’s important to have lighting that meets both safety and aesthetic needs. The lighting should be bright enough to ensure safety while still being gentle on the eyes. Outdoor string lights are a popular choice for adding a decorative element to a patio, and can be hung in a variety of ways, such as crisscrossed or along the fence line.
Multiple lanterns or wall lights can be used to set a consistent style for larger patio spaces, while outdoor chandeliers or ceiling fans can be added to patios with a sturdy roof or awning. Additionally, incorporating different types of light sources in various colors can create a fun and lively atmosphere for parties and gatherings.
PERGOLA AND DECK LIGHTING
Outdoor lighting can enhance the enjoyment of shaded relaxation spots such as open decks, pergolas, or solid gazebos. To ensure safety and style, consider path lights to illuminate the way to the pergola and step lighting for raised floors. Deck lights can add an elegant touch to the feature and improve visibility. To create a cozy atmosphere, string lights can be used to accentuate the beams overhead. Additionally, outdoor ceiling fans can help maintain a pleasant airflow day and night.
For a gazebo or pagoda, hanging string lights in the center of the roof can create a unique and inviting statement. Lanterns along the posts can provide indoor and outdoor lighting, while outdoor pendant lights or chandeliers can add a touch of sophistication to the cozy cross beams of a pergola.
Apart from the functional aspect of illuminating pathways, landscape lighting primarily serves a decorative purpose. It enhances the texture and dimension of the outdoor space by highlighting landscape features that would otherwise be lost in the darkness.
Several outdoor landscape lighting ideas propose the use of path lights and post lights to accentuate the horizon line layers and create a sense of depth, highlighting the distance from the patio to the fence. Spotlights can also be strategically placed to create dramatic statements, such as illuminating trees or shrubs, or emphasizing specific architectural features of the house.
In addition to its aesthetic value, landscape lighting can also provide some security benefits. Reflecting light off windows can prevent outsiders from seeing into the house, and lighting around columns, posts, or statuary can prevent tripping hazards at night.
LOW VOLTAGE VS SOLAR
Without going into too much detail here, GB Electric recommends and only installs low voltage and/or hard-wired landscape lighting.
Spotlights and floodlights are the two most common types of landscape lighting. Spotlights are used to highlight a specific area of the landscape, while floodlights provide ambient light to the entire area. Both require sufficient illumination. Solar energy lighting, while simple to install, still use a battery to store the charge from the sun. Over time this battery will wear out, producing less illumination. Even brand new, solar lights typically lack the brightness that low voltage landscape lighting fixtures provide. In addition, they are limited to the amount of exposure to the sun.
Low voltage landscape lighting uses electricity and a transformer, which reduces the 120 volt output to 12 volt. They are wired using low voltage wiring and splicing connectors for each fixture. This type of lighting option allows you to turn your lights on and off at any time, so if a low light day has you needing illumination, you can provide it. You also can easily hook them into timers or even self-operating photocells to turn on at specific times of the day and night. In addition, some light manufacturers produce smart landscape lighting, so you can control them from your smart phone or voice device.
Low Voltage Landscape Lights are designed for all-weather use and are dependable no matter what the weather. Their lights will be consistent as well without worry of a dimming bulb due to a low power source or cloudy Pennsylvania winter day.
In terms of cost, 20 lights is a typical, moderately sized landscape lighting setup. Running 20, 8-watt LEDs for 5 hours per day takes under 18 kilowatts of electricity per month, costing you under $5 per month.
In our opinion, although the initial outlay is more than solar, the aethetic quality and reliability factors far outway the benefits of solar lighting.