How to Choose Outdoor Lighting Fixtures

The Benefits of Outdoor Lighting

Useful as well as beautiful, exterior lighting is an integral part of any home. The right outdoor lighting fixtures provide safety and security, highlight architectural features, give your home a cohesive look, and add curb appeal. They increase security by adding ample light where you need it to safely navigate your property. Outdoor lights create a unified look when you select fixtures from the same collection or in coordinating styles. Finally, the perfect lighting will enhance your home’s curb appeal by creating a beautiful and well-illuminated atmosphere in your outdoor spaces.

To help you plan a lighting layout with the best fixtures to suit your style and needs, we put together some tips and advice to assist you in choosing the right outdoor lighting fixtures for your home.

Outdoor lighting fixtures add safety, security, and curb appeal to your home.

Outdoor lighting fixtures add safety, security, and curb appeal to your home.

The Five Basic Types of Outdoor Lighting

To begin, let’s go over the five basic types of lighting and what function they serve. The main categories are decorative, wall-mounted fixtures, security lighting, landscape lighting, and portable lights and lamping.

Decorative lighting

Decorative lighting is not just for outdoor entertaining. Made with weather-resistant materials and finishes, today’s outdoor fixtures offer a wide range of styles that will have a great impact on the overall look and design of your home’s exterior. Attractive designs in post lanterns, flush mount and semi-flush mount outdoor ceiling lights, porch pendants, outdoor chandeliers, wall sconces flanking a doorway, and even string lights enhancing a patio or in garnishing some ornamental trees can go a long way towards beautifying your property while serving specific functions.

A stylish light has great impact on your exterior’s look.

A stylish light has great impact on your exterior’s look.

Wall lights

Wall-mounted lights such as outdoor wall sconces and lanterns are the most popular and commonly used outdoor wall lighting fixture. Usually mounted on each side of a doorway, they can be installed wherever you have a wall and access to electrical wiring. Depending on the design, wall fixtures can provide ambient light or more directed light to improve both your home’s look and safety. Most are rated for weather resistance, but if you live in a very wet or coastal climate, look for lighting fixtures with marine-grade finishes that can withstand heavy UV, moisture, and salt exposure.

Flood and spotlights help keep your home safe and secure.

Flood and spotlights help keep your home safe and secure.

Security lighting fixtures

Certain areas of your home’s exterior will require lighting that is more security and safety based. Fixtures such as flood lights, spotlights, path lights, deck lights, and recessed lighting fixtures keep dark spots illuminated to help you navigate around your yard, walkways, stairs, and entryways. As an added bonus, the extra illumination around your home’s exterior also helps to deter unwanted intruders. Security lighting should be added in locations such as your driveway, garage, porches, patios, and decks, stairways, walking paths, around pools, and other areas in your yard that need to be well lit.

Landscape lighting

Lighting fixtures installed around your landscape will require more attention to planning and installation than other types of outdoor lighting fixtures. These fixtures include path lights, recessed ground and well lights, and deck or step lights. The reason is that most of these options will need you to run electrical wiring underground to access the various areas these lights will be installed. Though some homeowners have the knowledge and ability to DIY the electrical components, most will need to hire the services of a professional to install any architectural and landscape lighting.

  • Path lights – As the name implies, path lights illuminate walkways, garden paths, and foot traffic areas throughout your yard. They can also be installed near water features such as pools, fountains, and ponds. You can choose solar options that install simply by inserting a ground stake into the dirt or grass to anchor them. Most, however, require the installation of running underground power sources. These fixtures usually come in low voltage (12-volt) or standard voltage (110-volt) varieties.
  • Recessed ground and well lights – These unobtrusive fixtures are sunken into the ground, patio, deck, or driveway to provide illumination without excessive hardware. You get to see the effect of the light while the fixture remains mostly hidden and blended into the hardscape or landscape. They are ideal for security, highlighting landscape features, and provide a decorative touch.
  • Deck and step lights – Step lights are installed directly into the steps of decks and stairways around your home. Typically they are flush mounted into the risers or walls adjacent to the stairwell. They also require more planning and time to install which could mean making cutouts in wood stairs or requiring concrete to be poured. They improve visibility and safety in traffic areas and also add to curb appeal.
Landscape lighting improves visibility and highlights features for added ambiance.

Landscape lighting improves visibility and highlights features for added ambiance.

Portable lights

Outdoor floor and table lamps are a less permanent solution to outdoor lighting, but they perform an important function. They provide task and ambient lighting to outdoor living spaces such as covered porches, screened in patios, and entertainment areas around the yard. Some are plug-in varieties that must be used in proximity to an electrical outlets. Others may be solar powered, while others are lightweight and powered by rechargeable batteries and are truly portable to go anywhere you wish.

Keep in Mind UL Ratings

Once you have determined where you are putting your outdoor lighting fixtures, you need to choose fixtures that are rated to hold up to the moisture conditions of those locations. Outdoor lighting fixtures are rated either UL damp or UL wet to suit different types of weather exposure. Avoid any fixtures listed with a UL dry rating as they are only suitable for indoor use.

UL Damp

Outdoor lighting fixtures with a UL damp rating are designed for areas that are humid and moist, but are not as directly exposed to the elements. These lights are best suited for covered or partially covered areas such as a porch, an entry with an overhead roof, awning, or overhang, a screened sunroom, or covered patio.

UL Wet

UL wet rated lighting fixtures are designed to withstand more direct exposure to weather including rain, snow, and more direct contact with water. You will find these fixtures in various outdoor areas such as porches, walkways, around pools, exposed patios, gazebos, pergolas, and post or pier lanterns mounted on lamp posts, piers, or fencing.

With its extensive selection of lighting fixtures for your home, you’re sure to find the type, design, style, brand, and finishes to suit your tastes, budget, and needs at Riverbend Home. Check out the wide range of outdoor and indoor lighting fixtures for your business or residence available online.