Lighten Up: Outdoor Lighting Considerations

The right outdoor lighting around your home and outdoor spaces allows you to take advantage of them after dark, as well as add beauty and an element of security to your property.

Different areas of your outdoor spaces require different amounts of lighting. Conversation areas tend to have lower levels of lighting to help set the mood. Brighter lighting is usually preferred to illuminate eating areas, and bright, direct task lighting is recommended over grills, kitchen, and serving areas. However, be careful to avoid glare that would detract from the ambiance of being outside under the stars.

Consider using dimmable fixtures to enable you to control the amount of light – you may want brighter light over your outdoor table for playing a board game than you would for enjoying after-dinner conversation.

In areas where there are safety considerations, such as along walkways, stairs, driveways, and parking areas, outdoor lighting should provide enough illumination to make your family and guests feel safe. Low-level path lighting spreads circles of light on the ground to illuminate walkways while accenting adjacent flowerbeds. Because the light stays close to the ground, you avoid reducing the ambiance of being outdoors at night. Low voltage step lighting ensures everyone can move about safely on different levels of your deck – lights attach easily to one or both sides of every step and provide just enough glow for confident movement.

Outdoor lighting can also be used in your yard or around your home to provide visual interest. Use low voltage spotlights to highlight features in the yard that you can see from your outdoor room, such as an ornamental tree, a water feature, sculpture, etc. The play of light and shadow often gives you a completely different view than what you get during daylight hours.

To maintain energy efficiency, consider using features such as timers, motion sensors, and photo sensors to control the lighting so it’s not on full output when it’s not being used. Motion sensors are triggered to switch on by a motion detector, and on many models you can adjust the amount of time the light stays on. Photo sensors turn lights on at dusk – you can program them to stay on for a certain number of hours before shutting off, or allow the photo sensor to shut them off at dawn.

By using the right fixtures, you can be sure to keep light confined to the areas in which you want it and away from others, such as over a property boundary or in a bedroom window, while making your outdoor spaces comfortable to enjoy under the stars.