Outdoor Lighting Tips

Strategies for creating attractive and functional outdoor lighting

Exterior lighting serves two important functions. First, it boosts the livability and practicality of outdoor leisure areas, like decks, patios and porches. Second, and perhaps most importantly, it helps make your home a more secure place. Statistics show that homes with ample exterior lighting are burglarized less frequently, as thieves rely on darkness to break and enter. With that in mind, it's a good idea to address each of these needs individually.

Practical and Decorative Outdoor Lighting

First, begin with the basics. Paths, steps, front porches and driveways should be clearly illuminated to help visitors find your home and increase safety after dark. Both attached and detached garages should have their own dedicated exterior lights as well.

Next, move on to individual elements in your backyard area. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Decks and backyard patios can benefit from approaches such as outdoor recessed lighting and low-voltage mini-lights. If you're able, you can create a unique effect by suspending a bright spotlight in a nearby tree. While outdoor deck lighting is often achieved by mounting a fixture on the exterior of the home, consider creative patio lighting solutions like outdoor candle chandeliers and lights placed under patio steps.
  • Pools, fountains and outdoor hot tubs look fantastic with underwater lighting. However, you should be sure to comply with municipal building codes if you want to use these strategies.
  • Outdoor serving areas and grills need high-intensity, well-focused task lighting. You can use portable lighting fixtures, or attach lights to nearby eaves or railings.

If you want to add seasonal lighting, such as Christmas lights or Halloween lights, be sure to follow proper safety guidelines and avoid overloading specific circuits.

Boost Home Security with Outdoor Lighting

Motion-activated lights are excellent at deterring thieves and can be used anywhere prowlers might try to gain entry. This includes both primary and secondary doorways, garages and sheds, and backyard areas.

However, lighting should be a supplementary, not a primary, line of defense in your home security plan. It's a good idea to install a reliable home security system, and ensure that your doors and windows are sturdy and strong enough to resist attempts to breach them.