Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your property while providing safety and security. Outdoor lighting also allows you to take advantage of your outdoor spaces after dark and adds value to your home. It is important to note that many cities have implemented special building codes related to the type of lighting you are allowed to use outdoors. Check with your local building inspection office regarding this issue before installing outdoor lighting.
Techniques for Outdoor Lighting
- Front entranceFront entranceA well-lit front entrance enables you to greet guests and identify visitors. Wall lanterns on each side of the door will give your home a warm, welcoming look, while assuring the safety of those who enter.
Under a porch or other overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be lighted with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door.
- Outside the garageOutside the garageOutside the garage, mount a lantern on each side or install a single fixture above to provide lighting for safety and security.
Consider installing a motion sensor on these fixtures or a photocell that turns the lights on at dusk and off at dawn to save energy. For added security, illuminate any side of the house that would otherwise be in shadow. Spotlights installed on your eaves will accomplish this, or, for a more dramatic look, consider ground lights pointed up to graze your walls.
- Steps, paths, and drivewaysSteps, paths, and drivewaysSteps, paths, and driveways should be illuminated to make sure family members and guests are able to move about easily and safely after dark. You can install path lights or post lanterns or attach lights to the side of the house.
Low-level path lights, which spread circular patterns of light, will brighten your walkway while highlighting nearby flower beds, shrubs and ground cover. Low-level path lights can also be used to define the boundaries of long driveways.
Bollards, which stand 30 to 36 inches off the ground, also work well. Use shielded fixtures to avoid glare.
- Decks, porches, and patios Decks, porches, and patiosDecks, porches, and patios can be converted into romantic evening retreats by concealing low-voltage mini-lights under steps, railing or benches. Another idea is to install a spotlight in the branches of a nearby tree.
- Pools and fountains Pools and fountainsPools and fountains illuminated with underwater lighting provide beauty and safety for evening entertaining or swimming.
Low-voltage and LED lighting are popular sources for ambient pool lighting, or install fiber-optic lighting to create a starry background in your pool's floor and around its edges. Floating and solar-powered lights are also available.
Be sure to check with your local building authorities for safety regulations before installing new lighting systems in existing pools.
- Grills and serving areas Grills and serving areasGrills and serving areas benefit from bright task lighting. To accomplish this, install a recessed spot-light on an adjacent roof overhang, mount lights on a railing behind the grill or use a portable fixture approved for outdoor environments.