Outdoor lighting is a huge factor in making your home not only look better but feel safer. In this article, we’ll go over thirty-three tips to help you choose and plan outdoor lighting for your home. We’ll cover topics like the best types of lights to use, where they should be placed, how much light is needed, and more!
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There is so much more to lighting than putting up a security floodlight that deluges your property in light. Sure looks bright so you can put the bins out and scare the local cat as it walks through your garden, but proper lighting design using our following tips will truly transform your space into a place you can enjoy being in after dark and will look incredible even in the winter as you look out from indoors. You do not have to pay for a designer and it does not necessarily have to be costly … read on!
Fundamentally good design is about finding a fresh solution that works well for you. That’s why fashion has so much choice, we’re all different. So do not be timid about pushing yourself a little harder and aim for a lighting solution that you could only dream of and let’s see if if can be done. Do not be limited by whether you can supply electricity to every position you may want light to be in, there are some clever ways to illuminate spaces without a cable in sight!
The very best outdoor lighting is more under lit than over lit. As we discuss in all our lighting how to articles, we believe lit areas around the home and garden need dark spaces around them to look at their best.
This means you need to be selective and we do this by categorising spaces by activity and then choosing the appropriate source of light for its purpose. You need to light up a combination of activities and architecture, so that means illuminating spaces where you need to see at night and also things that would look good being lit like planting, garden structures and trees.
Many people are now building an outdoor entertaining area of the house, or adding a garden room that is climate controlled and can be used all year round. Al fresco dining and late evening chats with friends on the deck are one of life’s pleasures that the right mood lighting will enhance. You need warm subtle lighting as if surrounded by a dozen candles, so choose string lights or festoon lighting near seating areas to cast a subtle and warming glow around a table area.
Whether seated on the deck or patio in the summer or sitting indoors watching TV in the winter, an essential ingredient to an exterior lighting scheme is a lit focal point. Choose a point in your garden or yard that is either the furthest away or a dominant feature that deserves to be lit – and light them up. This simple but effective technique draws the eye to it and through the space creating depth and character.
We all know the answer to this one: pavements, pathways, side alleyways, driveways, garages and entrances, everywhere somebody will arrive to or want to travel through to get somewhere.
Where there is no risk of over lighting a whole area and therefore spoiling the building up of pockets of light, you can install more luminaires that provide a general illumination, like a wall lantern or floodlight.
However, where we want to limit the spread of light and retain the darker spaces we know will make your overall lighting scheme look great, like up a garden path, use a daisy chain technique.
Plan a brighter pool of light along the pathway every 10 steps or so or wherever convenient and link each highlight along the path with the light reflected and spilt from the overall exterior lighting scheme. This subtle assistance in gently illuminating these thoroughfares ensures safe passage without over lighting.
These popular locations are proven places to light up around the home:
If you live in the northern hemisphere then the amount of time spent actually outdoors at night to enjoy your beautifully lit garden is a disappointing fraction of the year. However, this is not a reason to not bother as your surrounding exterior spaces at night hold an opportunity to visually enhance the inside of you home if lit well.
At night the glass in your windows become a black curtain that we prefer to hide behind curtains and blinds. When you light up the garden this disappears as your eye is drawn through the glass to the light features you have chosen outside.
So be mindful of where you mostly see into the exterior spaces from indoors and ensure these views have focal points to draw the eye to.
You may be surprised at what is available now to fulfil the types of lighting you want to create. Do not be limited by the practicality of whether you can provide electrical power to every one as many can be successfully solar powered these days.
Decorative lighting adds that extra flair to your outdoor space. This could be in the form of a chandelier, wall lanterns, or even something like solar can lights which are perfect for those who want an area lit up without obtrusive wires and unsightly lamp posts. Arguably every outdoor area deserves a decorative light or two.
Decorative lighting introduces an accent lighting layer into the garden.
A practical advantage of using choosing outdoor wall lighting is their positioning higher up a wall and out of the way, providing a more generalised light. This vantage point will create a brighter feel to your outdoor lighting.
Wall Lights can introduce an ambient and accent lighting layer.
The wall mounted up and down light efficiently pushes light upwards and downwards from the same fixture, creating a visually stunning lighting effect that not only lights the floor below but grazes light up the wall too. Perfect for entrances and the back of house.
The best outdoor wall lantern has a simplified design with an old-fashioned twist. Modern classic lanterns are the most popular choice in outdoor wall lighting, as they combine practicality and retro chicness to create a delicate effect that is hard to replicate elsewhere.
Lanterns can bring character into your garden whilst providing ambient light too!
Traditional lanterns are not reserved for the old house at the end of your street but a great way to highlight your outdoor space with a strong statement. They provide a beautiful and elegant feel when lit with the final effect being soft, warm lighting that will illuminate any area of your garden or yard superbly well.
Lanterns provide ambient and accent lighting layers.
Consider a PIR Motion Sensor to trigger your lights when movement is detected. This motion sensing feature is usually incorporated within a security flood light light and typically mounted on the house’s outer wall to provide security lighting at night as somebody walks past.
However, PIR sensors can also be integrated into many types of exterior lighting including the decorative, particularly within wall lights. The sensitivity of each sensor and how far it will go to pick up movement will depend on the specification chosen by each manufacturer.
Motion sensor’s can also be installed at the beginning of a lighting circuit to control all the fixtures on the same circuit after it.
Dusk to Dawn Lights are fitted with a photocell sensor which turns them on and off automatically. They’re the hassle-free way to ensure your outdoor lighting is activated only when you need it. Much of solar lighting use sensors to bring the lighting on.
The convenience of dawn to dusk fixtures always turning on your lighting also ensures your property feels a little more secure.
Ground lights are perfect for illuminating paths or other areas you may want to light up, without affecting your neighbours or blocking any of that natural beauty. If choosing ground lights make sure it’s a type which is solar powered as there won’t be an unsightly electric cable running across the planting or have to bury in the ground.
Adjustable landscape spotlighting is typically spiked so it can be pushed into the ground and tilted up into planting creating the perfect pocket of light as the surrounding greenery is lit up. A must for any garden as they can be repositioned at anytime throughout the year as the seasons grow the planting and potentially obscure the light.
Fairy lighting and mini globe lights have progressed out of the restraints of Christmas time and into the garden throughout the whole year, especially now solar lighting has become a serious contender for your money.
Create an enchanting environment and use a set of string lights anywhere but how about around a shed or along a fence instead of a floodlight? This will provide enough light and retain the overall beauty of an under lit stunning garden scheme.
LED lighting has emancipated the outdoor light fixture from the constraints of cabled electrical power with rechargeable and solar panels. Solar powered outdoor spotlights are the perfect way to light up a decking area or create an ambient mood in your garden with little fuss as they’re not reliant on any power supply other than their own batteries.
Wherever possible, avoid choosing decorative outdoor light fixtures that are too small. A major tip for choosing a great product is upscale where you can, choose it like you mean it! So many people don’t and miss out as lighting products always benefit from having a commanding presence when hung or on the wall.
If in any doubt your favored choice could be too small then create a cut out of it’s size and place it in the intended position. Such a simple 10 minute job could save you from selecting an inferior choice, so invest in mocking up a product size and trial it place.
Choosing a color can be difficult as there are so many options available, but when choosing an exterior light fixture you’ll want one that complements your home or garden design. When choosing the style of light fixture for your space it’s always a very personal choice but there are some considerations that can assist you in your search.
If you have a more traditional home, you are not necessarily locked into having to using similar styled products. A highly contemporary fixture can look very good in a more traditional home as long as the statement you are making is very clear and not confused by other visual factors.
Conversely, if your home is neutral or modern in style then think about choosing a modern classic fixture that refines traditional designs with a clean lined contemporary look, like the modern wall lantern
You’ll want to choose outdoor lights that are made out of materials like copper, brass, or aluminium. These will be far less susceptible to rusting and corrosion in the elements.
If choosing a lantern for your home, make sure it’s constructed with durable glass. The best choice is tempered glass which can withstand accidental bumps and falls.
If choosing a lamp, ensure it’s outdoor rated or at least weather resistant. This will help extend its life span and protect the fixture from damage caused by moisture in the air which can cause corrosion over time.”
When choosing, it’s important to find the correct wet rating for what you need or want in order to prolong the life expectancy of any exterior light fixture comply with local standards.
In the EU ensure you have the IP Rating:
In the USA outdoor fixtures should be either UL Wet Rated or Damp rated products.
You now have the opportunity to choose your color of light from a a few options. White LED light for outdoors broadly speaking comes in three main color ranges; cool white (4000K) , 3000K natural white and 2700K warm white.
Security and more functional lighting benefits from the cooler tones of white as it feels brighter, the 3000K and 2700K warm whites are ideal for relaxing and using within planting and within string lighting.
Glare to your eyes is a particular problem when you come close to the source of light, so always remember that at night artificial lighting feels a lot brighter so be aware that you may not need it as bright as you think. Porch and deck lighting needs this consideration and always avoid directing spotlighting and security flood lights into welcoming spaces, like walking up a garden patch or relaxing on a deck at night.
Choose appropriate types of lamps for different areas your home by following this simple guide. If you have a frosted diffuser of some kind and that can be anything that hides the source but allows the light through, then the bulb or lamp can be very bright and probably needs to be to allow for some light losses that always happens when light is sent through a material.
If you have a clear glass design where the bulb is seen then it must be selected in the knowledge that a high output will become distracting to the design of the light fixture as it will be too bright to look at. Yes it will provide lots of light but at the cost of comfort to your eyes and a disappointing solution.
Very few options are not LED these days but nonetheless there are still opportunities to use inefficient light sources so be aware. LED is supremely efficient and durable to the extremes of hot and cold temperatures.
Solar powered outdoor lighting is a great option if you have an area that requires light on a regular basis. Solar panels are becoming more and higher quality so choosing solar lighting is now a serious contender and the savings on not having to install cabling are highly appealing!
Despite the benefits of LED as a source of light, it’s efficiencies and low cost have increased it’s use outdoors. The has exacerbated a problem with too much light or fixtures used incorrectly creating light pollution.
Be aware of the effect that outdoor lighting can have on your plant life, animals and insects. If you are choosing lights for ornamental purposes then ensure they are not too bright so as to be intrusive to wildlife.
As with all lighting installations, do check with your local authorities to ensure local codes and practises are being adhered and always use a qualified installer.
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