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The Quick 4-Step Guide to Choosing the Best Outdoor Lighting for Your Home
Know What Outdoor Lighting To Choose

 

 

Outdoor lighting not only makes your home safer – it adds style and value to your property. Like a bow on a package, outdoor lighting can be the perfect finishing touch that impresses everyone who sees your home.  

But – getting the overall lighting effect right does require a little planning. Luckily, this planning doesn’t have to be too difficult!

Here’s your quick 4-step guide so that you can plan the perfect outdoor lighting set-up for your home:

1. Identify the style of your home

Whether you have a tiny rustic cottage or a stately classic mansion, your home possesses its own unique style.  Now, you need to choose to light to complement that style. 

First, look at the colors used in the siding, roofing, or any other architectural features of your home. Red, brick, beiges, and other earthy tones generally look best paired with lighting fixtures finished in bright metallics like copper or brass.  If your home is more subdued with gray or black tones, choose lighting with a chrome, nickel, or even white/black finish.

Also, keep in mind your proportions.  If your home was built before 2005, it is likely to have an exterior elevation that is shallower than newer homes, so you will most likely want shorter outdoor lighting fixtures.  If your home is tall and narrow, like a townhouse, you will want tall and narrow fixtures.

2. Determine where light is needed

The key to effective lighting is to place different sources of light throughout your outdoor space.  Essentially, any place where people may be walking should be lit, and any landscaping features you want to highlight should have special lighting.

The good news is that most outdoor lighting comes available to purchase in “families” or “collections,” so you will get coordinated fixtures for different locations. 

Here’s a basic guide for which lighting fixtures you should be used where:

 

Front Door

Porch

Garage

Side Entrance

Paths, Gardens, Landscaping, & Other Special Home Features

Large outdoor wall lighting fixture

Large outdoor ceiling mount or pendant lighting

Smaller outdoor wall lighting / sconces

Smaller outdoor wall lighting/sconces

Variable post lighting and accent light

3. Figure out just how much light you really need

One of the biggest issues homeowners struggle with when it comes to planning their outdoor lighting is choosing the right amount of light.  

Here’s a key tip: more lighting isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to outdoor lighting.  You want enough lighting so that people walking or spending time outside can clearly see, but you also want a soft glow that’s perfect for evening time. Think about the kind of lighting that will complement any moon or starlight.

Lower lumen lamps are usually ideal for outdoor lighting. Consider fixtures that mimic lanterns or candle lighting. Path lights should be 100-200 lumens while step lights can be 12-100 lumens

If you’re looking to highlight a specific landscape or architectural feature, choose directional light sources.  Floodlights can be 700-1300 lumens.

4. LED or incandescent lighting?

When you’re planning your outdoor lighting, you’ll need to decide whether to use LED lighting or incandescent lighting (which includes fluorescent and halogen bulbs).

LED lighting is the energy efficient choice. It has a longer lifespan and a lower cost of operation.  The major drawback to LED bulbs is that they typically have a greater upfront cost.  Also, they typically produce less light, but this can be an advantage for outdoor lighting. 

Incandescent lighting costs much less upfront than LED lighting, and while it isn’t quite as energy efficient, newer fluorescent and halogen bulbs are more efficient than older bulbs.  They also have more lumens, which can be important when you want lots of direct light.  The drawbacks to incandescent bulbs are their higher cost over time and their fragility in comparison to LED lights.  

For more outdoor lighting inspiration, check out Going Lighting’s collection.