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Adding Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is truly a multifunctional upgrade for your home. The right lighting will make your home more aesthetically pleasing, safer, and will enhance your home’s existing security measures. To learn more about the best ways to improve your home by adding outdoor lighting, read on.

Outdoor Lighting: Getting Started

Everything you’ve learned about creating appealing indoor lighting systems will translate to your outdoor lighting efforts. A variety of lights emanating from multiple points will result in the ideal diffuse effect.

In every outside space, your goal will be to avoid glare. Lighting should point down, away from the viewers’ eyes. If your home sits up higher than the street, visitors heading up to your home will have a different perspective. Before you install an elaborate lighting array, consider whether the type and orientation of the lights will be unpleasant or unsafe for your guests.

Lighting for Safety

Your first step should be analyzing your home and property for safety and security lighting needs. Each entry should be brightly lit, stairs and steps should be fully visible, pathways and grade changes should be lit along their length, and your yard should not have any fully darkened spaces where intruders may be able to lurk.

Does your home have a pool or pond? Lighting around bodies of water is not only a necessity for safety, but it also creates a beautiful visual result.

If you require emergency response or are receiving visitors after dark, it’s essential that your house numbers are well-lit and easy to read from the street. If necessary, swap your house numbers for a subtly reflective style that offers better visibility from the road—especially if your home is set back a bit.

Motion Sensor Lights

If you have concerns about trespassers or animal activity (coyotes, for example), very bright motion sensor lights are a sound investment. You will be able to preserve your home’s overall soft lighting the majority of the time, and you’ll also have bright flood lights for maximum security.

Lighting for Your Lifestyle

As you plan your outdoor lighting design, consider how you use your outdoor spaces. Do you tend to entertain during the warmer months? Do you host cookouts, watch projected movies, or gather around fire pits?

Or are you perhaps a solitary refuge seeker who rocks in your hammock beneath the stars while you sip a glass of wine and enjoy a good book?

Clearly, these disparate uses for one’s yard would indicate equally different lighting approaches. Consider your lifestyle, then light your outdoor spaces accordingly.

Lighting Your Landscaping

Your home’s lush landscaping may be one of its crowning glories. If this is the case, installing specialized landscape lighting will allow you to spotlight your verdant foliage around the clock.


You will require a variety of fixture types to light your home’s exterior and yards perfectly. Porch lights are a basic essential, while your pathways can be lit with flush lights, downlights, garden lights, and bollard lights. Stairs and steps can be lit with step lights or step riser lights.

Your patio entertainment space can be lit by garden lights at the perimeter and by string or rope lights from above. Depending on whether your patio is casual or upscale, your lighting style will likewise vary.

Powering Your Lighting System

You have many options for powering your lights, ranging from solar all the way to a standard 120-volt system. Let’s examine the various types.

Low Voltage: Safe and Simple

This safer approach is by far the most common. In the event that there is a defect in the wiring, whether from accidental human actions or animal damage, the risk from the level of current is negligible. Consequently, you will have the option of burying the bare cables—no conduit required. Bare cables are soft and flexible, so you will be able to arrange your lights in unique configurations.

Ideally, your low-voltage cables will not become damaged, so do arrange them in such a way that accidental damage is not likely to occur.

Standard Voltage: Powerful and Complicated

For lighting that boasts the same lighting power as your home’s interior, a 120-volt system is an excellent approach. If you’re installing permanent heating or lighting fixtures, security lights, or want to be able to connect tools, small appliances, and sound systems outdoors, you’ll need to wire accordingly.

Of course, this type of system is more complicated and riskier to install. Unless you have plenty of wiring experience, this is not a DIY project.

Solar: Eco-friendly and Effortless

Solar-powered outdoor lighting fixtures are more dependable than ever from a day-to-day perspective, but they don’t have the same lifespan as traditional lighting fixtures. Still, this safe and easy approach is a great solution for many homeowners.

Set up your solar panels in any sunny spot, connect your lights, and you’re good to go! Do all you can to protect your solar panels from physical damage but rest easy knowing that solar panels have never before been this affordable.

Hiring the Pros

Let’s face it: most of us have little to no experience with wiring, lighting installation, and assessing the safety and usage rating of lighting fixtures. For the vast majority of homeowners, hiring professionals is the best call.

Was your landscaping installed by a landscape designer or architect? Reach out to them for help designing a custom lighting plan. Otherwise, a lighting designer will be able to craft an outstanding, comprehensive lighting plan.

When it’s time for the installation, hire a licensed, bonded, and insured electrician. This is not the time for cost-cutting measures. Your electrician may partner with a landscape contractor, especially if conduit needs to be laid underground.

The Takeaway

Your home’s outdoor lighting is as essential as a smart paint job and beautiful furnishings indoors. We hope your lighting installation results in your enjoyment of your home being boosted alongside your safety, security, and peace of mind.

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