Is your property too dark at night? Do you need something that showcases the beauty of the house, yard, and surrounding fixtures? Take a look at these ten outdoor lighting tips.
10 Outdoor Lighting Tips
The right lights on the outside of your house can really bring everything together. A beautiful piece of property will go to waste when the sun goes down if you don’t properly light it.
Outdoor lights serve both a practical and aesthetic purpose. These lights illuminate your property and highlight the unique features of your yard, plants, and house. They also provide security and help people see as they approach.
Since there are multiple uses for outdoor lights, it’s important to get things right when you’re creating your setup. Ahead, we’ll give you ten tips you can use to create a beautiful and practical outdoor lighting arrangement.
Find the Right Placement
It’s important that you don’t go overboard with your outdoor lighting. The right outdoor lighting will serve both an aesthetic and practical purpose. You’ll want to illuminate some key areas while avoiding polluting the scene with too many exterior lights.
You should pick your places carefully, and make sure some of the necessary areas remain lit. One of the first places you’ll probably want to start is near the entries since these will be getting the most traffic.
Poper entry lighting is welcoming to see, along with the added benefit of allowing visitors to see the front door clearly. You’ll probably want these lights to be brighter than some of the others you install.
Lights that guide visitors down the walkway will be equally important if you have them. Without these, your guests will likely be walking through the lawn more often than you want them to. These should be about medium illumination, so they don’t glare or obstruct vision. These kinds of outdoor lights are called task lighting. We’ll get into this a bit more ahead.
Other Lighting Options
Although the areas we mentioned above include some of the necessary areas that need additional light, there are probably a few others that will look nice and help you see when you’re outside.
Lights on your deck and patio are nearly a must and will enable you to sit outdoors after dark. These lights are especially important if you’re grilling later in the evening. Try setting up lights near the busy areas or on the railings.
Driveway lights can be very helpful when people are visiting your house for the first time. Even those coming home from a long day might miss their house if they aren’t paying attention. A driveway light can fix that issue.
You’ll also want to illuminate any gazebo or trellis you might have in your yard, along with any architecture of the house you want to highlight.
Ambient, Task, and Accent Lighting
Proper outdoor lighting setups should utilize all three areas of lighting: task, ambient, and accent. We discussed task lighting above. These are the lights that will direct visitors through pathways and to your door. These lights are usually the brightest of the two types.
Ambient lighting is often supplemental. These lights will be hanging, on poles, or suspended in other ways. They are often dimmer than task lighting. Accent lighting refers to things like strings lighting or even Christmas lights during the holiday season. They bring a nice ambiance to the area, adding a bit more character to your patio, deck, or other areas.
High Lights Vs. Low Lights
High lights – meaning lights that are elevated or suspended over the target area – are usually more common than lights that are closer to the ground. Most people who design their own outdoor lighting setups opt for higher lights since they seem more natural.
Natural lights come from above, so it makes sense that more people have outdoor lights that illuminate what’s below. You can always mix it up, however, and opt for some lights at ground-level. Lighting a pathway is a good place to put low lights, which can be an attractive and different way to light your desired area.
Choosing the Area to Light
What do you want to draw people’s attention to? Are there newly renovated areas of your property you want to light? You should ask yourself these questions before settling on a fixture and designing your outdoor lights.
Picking the right elements to light is just as important as the quantity and quality of your lights. You want to make the right parts of your property pop and eliminate anything that might seem odd.
Take a look at the lights you’ve added after you set them up. What does the light draw the eye to? If it’s something that seems strange or out of place, put the light fixture somewhere else.
What Kind of Lights?
We’ve already talked about several lighting styles you’ll likely want to implement in your own home, but you have even more options when it comes to the types of lights to install in your home.
Floodlights and spotlights will be the most common and apply to most of the outdoor lighting designs you’ll encounter. Floodlights cast light over a large area which is great for those who want to be able to see their whole backyard at night.
At the same time, you only need a couple of floodlights in your home. Too many will add to the light pollution in the area, and become a distraction to those around you. Spotlights are a bit more controlled, and focus the light on a single area rather than spread it out.
You will have the option of path lights as well, should you want to go this route. As we’ve discussed, you can put these above the path or closer to the ground.
LED vs. Halogen vs. Fluorescent
The three lightbulb options you have are LED halogen, and fluorescent. Each has their own benefits and reasons you might want to pick one over the other. Halogen lights, for instance, are whiter and brighter than fluorescent lights. At the same time, they burn hotter and use more energy. Fluorescent bulbs have trace amounts of mercury in them, however. This probably isn’t enough to cause you harm if one breaks, but it makes properly disposing of them a chore.
We recommend using LED lights for the best of both worlds options. They can rival halogen lights with their brightness for a fraction of the wattage. LED lights cost more, but that doesn’t mean they’re always more expensive. You have to consider how long these bulbs last along with their energy efficiency when comparing cost. Over time, LED lights can actually work out to be cheaper than halogen bulbs.
Selecting Your Fixtures
Fixtures are a large percentage of the outdoor lighting setup since they can cast light in different directions, block some light, and add dimmers to certain bulbs. You should outline the placement of your light fixtures as one of the first steps in choosing a layout because these will be the baseline of how your house is lit. Take some measurements of your doors for the entryway lights. As a rule, these lights should be about a third of the door’s
You can even buy some kits to make things easier on yourself. Kits come with multiple lights in a single connection and work well for path lighting, landscape lighting, and other uses on your lawn. Most of the sites will come with different light settings as well, and some have color options. This is a great way to change your lights with the season, and don’t require much work to add to a lawn, patio, or gazebo.
Selecting Your Fixtures
Most people will only look at how their outdoor lights brighten the area, but you should take things a step further. A proper outdoor lighting setup should expand the view from inside your house as well, making it appear a bit larger than it really is. You can use these external lights to add a view to your home when the sun goes down. Light aesthetically pleasing areas and make sure you can see them from inside your home.
After all, you won’t always be lounging on the porch when you have people over – especially in the colder months. These lights serve a practical purpose, but they should also expand the view you have from inside.
Make Sure Your Lighting Isn’t Intrusive
You should always make sure your lights have proper fixtures and that they aren’t intrusive. Test your lights before you call the job finished. Make sure there aren’t any glare spots that will reflect into a neighbor’s window. This kind of lighting is not only extremely annoying for them, but can net you a citation from the town if they complain.
The same is true for lights that blind those who are driving by. Lights near the street should be dim enough to see past, and should always have a shield that protects drivers. Choosing the right lighting for your house is all about balance. Lights that are too bright or