Benefits of Outdoor Lighting
Today’s outdoor spaces are extensions of our homes with kitchen equipment, dining spaces, lounging areas and more. Here are a few of our favorite lighting tips to help you enjoy these spaces -day into night.
Outdoor lighting enhances the natural beauty and energy of your home. It highlights charming features, illuminates pathways and creates an alluring ambiance. As you think about outdoor lighting, consider all of the features worthy of attention. Do you have a beautiful tree in your backyard? Spotlight it. Are there attractive architectural details on your patio? Call attention to them with outdoor accent lights. Did you work hard on a gorgeous garden? Lead the way with path lights.
You can also capture the nighttime loveliness of a pool or water feature with underwater LEDs. Or use lighting as its own feature: flood lights positioned at angles to silhouette trees create depth and interest.
Increased Safety and Security
Safety is always a priority. When you’re home, evenings are prime time for outdoor entertainment so key pathways need to be well-lit. When you’re not home, outdoor lighting can help protect it.
At night, the right outdoor lights allow you and others to move around safely in the dark. Outdoor post-mounted lanterns are perfect for driveways and stair railings. Outdoor wall lights help you identify doorways and exits and brighten entrances. Step lights and path lights illuminate stairs and walkways, while address lights make it easy for people to find your home.
Outdoor lighting triggered by timers helps protect your home against intruders. They look great, too. Our outdoor wall lights are elegantly designed to enhance security without sacrificing style.
Take Your Yard to the Next Level
Enhanced Home Value
Professional outdoor and landscape lighting adds value in more ways than one. It can highlight design elements or make an area appear larger. It adds beauty and increases usability to in-demand outdoor living spaces after dark. And, of course, security is always valuable. One of the easiest, most affordable strategies to impact property value is to boost curb appeal with an entryway upgrade. A quick coat of paint, updated lights and an accent piece or two are all you need. With this information as a guide, you can complete the project with minimal time and effort.
Enjoy Your Yard
Above all else, good lighting makes every step outside even better. There’s no greater place than your own front or backyard to relax, entertain and explore. Whether your ideal evening includes a meal under the stars, a bonfire with friends or a warm welcome, when you reach the front door, a well-lit exterior sets the tone for extraordinary experiences.
Energy Saving Outdoor Lighting
Leaving incandescent pathway or exterior lights on all night can waste energy and money. Fortunately, today we have many options to help illuminate the outside of our homes–increasing security, visibility, and nighttime curb appeal–while still keeping our energy usage and budget in check.
Solar-powered and low-voltage systems are perfect ways to light up paths, patios, decks, and garden spaces.
Low-voltage lighting kits
Come with a power pack, lamps, and cables. An individual fixture can typically output anywhere from 4 watts to 50 watts of illumination. To install these systems, you simply run the cables in trenches and then position lamps where you need them, inserting them into the ground on stakes. They attach to the cable with connectors, which are included in your kit.
The power pack, which often comes with a built-in timer, is plugged into a standard outdoor outlet. Low-voltage lighting usually uses halogen or LED bulbs; LED technology consumes as much as 80 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
Solar outdoor lights
Have photovoltaic cells that convert energy from the sun into illumination at night. These have a reputation for being a bit dimmer than low-voltage systems, but some manufacturers have claimed improved performance in recent years (there are even some who offer solar-powered security lights).
Solar garden lights
Cannot be beat for ease of use–simply stick them in the ground in a sunny location during daylight hours, and let them power up. Do note that it may take a few days for them to drink in enough sunlight and store up enough energy to achieve their maximum output. For more, see Solar Outdoor Lighting.
If a more intense illumination source is what you need–such as a spotlight or floodlight–consider fluorescent or high-intensity discharge (HID) lights. Just as with interior fluorescents, exterior fluorescent lights use considerably less energy than their incandescent counterparts and have longer life spans.
Likewise, HID lamps turn a small amount of power into a large amount of illumination. These use gases–metal halide, sodium, and mercury vapor–to radiate light. Lights equipped with sensors are another way to save energy–these power on only when you need them and turn off when you don’t.
Lights with motion detectors turn on when they sense movement. When placed where potential intruders are most likely to pass, these can greatly enhance security. You can install a new motion-sensor light fixture (see Motion-Sensor Light Switches) or add a motion detector to an existing light (lamp-base motion sensors, which simply screw into your fixture, are the easiest to install).
Daylight sensors have a photocell that detects the presence or absence of light, automatically turning your lamp on at night and off during the day. You can purchase a light fixture with a daylight sensor built in or install a sensor that will control existing lights.
Finally, outdoor lighting timers, made with a heavy-duty metal casing to protect the unit from the elements, let you program lights or other outdoor electrical appliances to turn on and off automatically. There are also units that combine sensor and timer technologies to give you the greatest flexibility in control.
Lighting Ideas for Outdoor Living
- String Lights
Outdoor string lights are synonymous with party lights. Use string lights to illuminate food and drink areas, or to light an open space for dancing. They also look cool wrapped around tree trunks, deck railings or even trellises for an unexpected focal point. Add a bit of vintage flair with Edison bulb string lights or mercury ball string lights draped from a gazebo or pergola.
Outdoor lanterns add a pop of color against a greenery backdrop and are available in a variety of finishes. Mix different sizes to create a lighted centerpiece for your dining or buffet table. Group smaller lanterns on a side table next to conversation chairs for more intimate lighting, and place larger lanterns on the floor. Check out LED lanterns, too, if you’re looking for warm lighting without the heat.
Don’t feel limited to surfaces, though; outdoor lanterns are also fun to hang from shepherd’s hooks in key locations around your patio. Also, hang lanterns from tree limbs, pergolas or gazebos. Stagger the hanging height to add dimension to the space.
- Landscape Lighting
Landscape lighting illuminates the trees, shrubs and flowerbeds you’ve been planting and grooming. Show off your hard work with path lights sprinkled throughout the garden. Floodlights and spotlights are best for trees and larger areas of your yard. Most landscape lights are available in low-voltage, solar and LED; they also come in kits with everything you need to light your outdoor space. They’re available in a variety of finishes and glass types, so you can select a style that is right your patio. For more information on landscape lighting, check out Landscape Lighting Ideas.
- Fire Pits
Fire pits are a fun place to gather around in spring, summer, fall or winter. And the crackling sound of a fire always brings people together. Set a few Adirondack chairs around one, and you have an alternative seating area, too. A simple wood-burning fire pit is perfect for entertaining, but feel free to go fancy with a stone-design gas fire pit too. Plan to have marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers tucked away – any season is a good season for s’mores.
- Candles and Torches
Candles provide accent light with a soft glow. Arrange candles together on a dining table or side table for a more dramatic effect. Look for LED flameless candles if you have small children or pets with active tails; flameless versions provide the same effect without the safety concern.
Decorative metal or split bamboo “tiki” torches add an inexpensive decorative effect to your outdoor event. As with any open flame, avoiding overhanging eaves, trees and areas of activity where they could be knocked over.
- Sketch Out a Plan
It’s always good to have a game plan. Think about the activities you enjoy and how you’d like to use your outdoor space. For a smaller area, create an intimate setting by grouping lanterns and candles. Add landscape lights to the patio perimeter and any pathways from the patio to the house. If your yard gets direct sunlight, try solar landscape lights; otherwise look into low-voltage or LED. Deck or stair lights also add ground lights while adding extra safety.
If you have a larger space, use lighting to define the different areas. Outdoor string lights work great draped from a pergola or gazebo and create a fun party vibe. A fire pit provides warmth on a chilly night and a secondary place to gather. Use spotlights or floodlights to illuminate trees and shrubs, and to put the finishing touches on your outdoor retreat.
Redefining efficiency for outdoor lighting
Improvements in the luminous efficiency of outdoor lamps might not result in energy savings or reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The reason for this is a rebound effect: when light becomes cheaper, many users will increase illumination, and some previously unlit areas may become lit. We present three policy recommendations that work together to guarantee major energy reductions in street lighting systems. First, taking advantage of new technologies to use light only when and where it is needed. Second, defining maximum permitted illuminances for roadway lighting. Third, defining street lighting system efficiency in terms of kilowatt hours per kilometer per year. Adoption of these policies would not only save energy, but would greatly reduce the amount of light pollution produced by cities. The goal of lighting policy should be to provide the light needed for any given task while minimizing both the energy use and negative environmental side effects of the light.
Outdoor Track Lighting
Outdoor track lighting is becoming a popular choice for illuminating outdoor areas like covered patios, decks, screened-in porches and backyard pergolas. While homeowners select outdoor furniture and garden plants with care, they often overlook the many design possibilities well-planned outdoor lighting can provide. Security flood lights are commonly used to light exteriors and backyard spaces without much thought to their overall negative effect on ambience.
Just as a cozy living room comes from well-controlled lighting, an inviting outdoor area should be dimly lit with pools of localized light that illuminate seating areas and highlight key visual features. Outdoor track lighting is the perfect solution for lighting outdoor areas. It beautifully highlights architecture, detailed landscapes, outdoor sculptures and more.
Flexibility and adjustability are the two most valuable aspects of outdoor track lighting; as your outdoor space evolves, the location of tables, grills, furniture and plants is bound to change, but track lighting is more than willing to adjust. Easy to install and highly customizable, outdoor track lighting allows you to build unforgettable outdoor areas that invite friends and family to a relaxing evening.