Tips for Designing Exterior Lights
- Outdoor lights provide safety, security and design functionality.evening lights image by Adrian Hillman from Fotolia.com
Exterior lighting enhances the aesthetic appeal of the outdoors. Proper lighting will add to unusual features of a structure while providing comfort, safety and function to the space. Look at the main functions the exterior lighting will serve as well as the appeal you want to achieve before beginning the project.
Deck and Porch Lighting
- The deck and porch are outdoor living areas that require ambient lighting for nighttime enjoyment. The lighting should provide safety and showcase the deck or porch design. Install recessed lights on the surface around the edges of your deck for safety. Recessed lights are strong enough to step on and work well for lighting your deck edges. Outdoor wall lights, wall sconces and light posts provide general ambient lighting for outdoor living spaces. Install lights on the walls of your deck or patio to keep the area lit for nighttime entertaining. Choose an outdoor light type that best fits your taste and matches the outdoor area's design scheme. Incorporate motion detectors as well, which automatically turn lights on and off based on motion in the light's vicinity. They help scare off intruders and animal scavengers and help conserve energy by turning the light off automatically if you forget.
- Lighting your landscape design brings your yard to life at night, so you can enjoy the look of it at all hours. Map out a plan of the house and garden detailing the placement of trees, other foliage and ornamental landscaping accessories. Measurements are essential for assuring the accurate lighting fixtures are properly positioned. Before you install permanent landscape lighting fixtures, place lanterns or flashlights around the area to get a feel for how the permanent lights will look and to ensure all areas are properly lit. Pay attention to the landscaping elements near each light as well; delicate flowers and shrubs require a lower level of light so they do not burn. Flowers and shrubs can be lit from above or below to showcase specific details of the plants. Keep in mind neighbors and light pollution laws when positioning spot lights; do not shine the lights onto the neighbor's property. Point lights down to help keep the beams in your landscape area and out of other people's property. White is always a safe and tasteful color choice; save the colored spotlights for special occasions like Christmas decorations.
- Install lights along the walkways to help guide people at night, especially if there are stairs along the walkway. The walkway lights ensure people can see where they are walking when entering or leaving your yard and provide security from would-be burglars in a well-lit yard. Use glass outdoor lights to line a walkway or other options such as torches or rectangular or round light fixtures. If you have small children, avoid torches or glass fixtures so the kids do not break the lights or burn themselves from the heat. For an environmentally-friendly outdoor walkway lighting option, go with solar-powered lights, which are powered naturally by energy from the sun during the day and light up automatically at night.