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How to Choose the Right Lighting for Your Outdoor Space

by Reyna Thomas

Your home’s exterior lighting is essential to finishing your outdoor space. It not only creates a lovely and lit environment outside, but it also offers much-needed safety. So we’ve put together this handy guide full of tips and basic rules of thumb to consider as you embark on your outdoor lighting shopping journey!

It takes effort and research to figure out what type of outdoor lighting to choose. There are numerous lighting solutions and devices available on the market. So, you want to make sure you put in enough research to determine what will best satisfy your home needs.

Types of Lighting

Before getting into anything else, you’ll want to determine which type of lighting you need for your home: wall lighting, landscape lighting, or security lights.

Wall Lighting 

These modern outdoor wall lights flank doorways and can be mounted anywhere there is a wall and wiring. Others integrate into your home’s exterior or have style features to accent your space. Some produce ambient light, while others provide more directed light. Most outdoor wall lights will be rated for their particular exposure to the elements, so make sure you pay attention to the UL rating. An outdoor wall sconce will not only help you find your keys, but some designs wash walls in uplight and downlight to help emphasize your property.

Landscape lighting 

Backyard home space with path lights

This type of lighting includes path lights, deck and step lights, and recessed ground lights.

  • Path lights are meant for pathways but can also be used for water features and gardens or home perimeter lighting.
  • Recessed lights are meant to blend in with your landscape, so you only see the light they emit, not the fixture itself.
  • Deck and steps lights are a more permanent style of lighting that is installed directly into the steps and/or decks outside your home to enhance safety and design.

Security lights

Snow covered home with patio light

Security or safety-based lighting includes flood lighting, recessed lighting, and path lights. These lights can have a dual purpose in that they are for security but also add curb appeal. Typically you can program these lights to turn on and off with the sun, activate with movement, controlled by a switch, or even a smart home hub. And you can find options that are solar-powered, battery-powered, or hard-wired.

UL Ratings

Each fixture will be given a UL grade depending on its weather resistance. These UL ratings indicate which outdoor areas are most suitable for your fixture. It’s important that you understand what you’re buying.

Damp Rated

Damp rated fixtures are used in outdoor areas that are covered. A light beneath a covered porch, for example, would be one of them. Because the fixture is outside, it will be exposed to moisture, but it will not be harmed by rain because the area is covered.

Garden pond with lights

Wet Rated

Fixtures rated for wet environments will be entirely exposed to harsher elements like ice, snow, heavy rain, or even salt-water breezes from the ocean. Deck lights or path lights fall into this category as they are typically in exposed, uncovered places.

Sizing and Placement

While getting creative with lighting placement around your home is fun, there is a safe and effective way to measure your lighting fixtures to fit in your outdoor space.

Front Door

Proper lighting for your front door is essential as it can come in handy when you want to get in the house late at night or if you need to see who’s knocking so late. To find the right size lighting fixture for your entry area, simply measure the height of the front door, then divide the height by 1/3 and 1/4. The lighting you need will fall between 1/3 to 1/4 the height of your door so that it’s suitable for your space.

Garage Area

Home with garage lights

Garage lights can be useful for many things depending on your home setup and your home activities. For instance, if your garage is somewhat next to your front door, the lights you place here can add to your entry lighting. Or, say you have a basketball hoop in front of your garage; the light can be used for visibility. To find the proper size lights for outside your garage, you follow the same 1/3 to 1/4 rule that you use for the front door, except you divide by the height of the garage door.

Pro tip: Motion-sensor lights are best used here if safety is your main concern.

Patio Area

Your deck, patio, or pool space are areas that you will not only use to entertain but will use as places for solitude and relaxation. These areas are meant to be inviting and safe. And with the proper lighting, you can do just that! When choosing the proper size for your outdoor dining, deck, patio, or pool areas, follow the 1/3 to 1/4 rule, just like you would for other outdoor lighting fixtures. Measure the closest door that leads to your home or garage in these areas to get this information. Likewise, if you want an outdoor ceiling fan, you’ll want to find one 2/3 or 1/2 the table’s width since placing it over the table is ideal.

These outdoor lighting insights can help you install gorgeous, useful fixtures you’ve been looking for! Whether you’re trying to increase your curb appeal or require a well-lit garage space for security and safety, outdoor lighting is a necessity for your home. Now that you’ve learned the basics, t’s time to consult us about your custom solution for the ideal lighting for your outdoor space. If you have questions about your outdoor lighting options, the pros at Bjorn's can help! Just give us a call or come in today!