Find Your Light: Outdoor Edition

ccessibility of a home’s living and entry spaces after dark.

If you’re looking for ways to potentially increase your home’s value, curb appeal, safety and usage of outdoor living spaces consider investing in outdoor lighting solutions. But where do you even start? With many lighting options on the market, there’s a lot to consider. With those concerns in mind, we put together the following outdoor lighting guide to help you understand the types of outdoor lighting solutions, how and why to use them, and any other considerations that need to be made.

Outdoor lighting basics

There are many overall factors to evaluate before starting any lighting project—including the design plan, energy efficiency, weather-rated materials and your neighbors.

  • Design plan: It’s best to have a plan when starting a new lighting project. A good outdoor lighting plan combines multiple sources of light to create layers. All these layers work together to create a functional and eye-catching scheme. Roughly sketch out your plan or hire a professional to put together a lighting plan for you.
  • Energy efficiency: LEDs have long topped the list for most efficient outdoor lighting option. They come with many benefits including long life span (15+ years), low maintenance, low energy, durability in cold climates like Canada, colour control, and fewer insect interruptions as LEDs produce less insect attracting heat and UV light.
  • Weather-rated materials: When selecting outdoor fixtures and finishes, confirm they’re damp or wet rated, as this will ensure they’ll withstand tough weather. Damp rated products are ideal for covered porches and patios as they should not be directly exposed to water. Wet rated products can be exposed to direct precipitation. If your plan is to install lighting in a water feature or pool, make sure the products used are meant for such applications.
  • Style: Make sure the style of your wall and flush mount lights match the style of your home. Whether you have a new bungalow or dignified Victorian, your home’s distinct look and feel should also be reflected in the lighting finishes. Landscape lighting on the other hand is meant to remain hidden, with only the lighting effect it produces being visible.
  • Professional assistance: Regardless of the size and scope of your outdoor lighting project, it’s recommended to consult with an electrician who will be able to ensure your circuit breaker and electrical panel can support the number of lights you wish to install.
  • Be a good neighbor: One of the most overlooked factors in outdoor lighting design is your neighbors. Unless you live on a farm, chances are your neighbor’s house is only a few feet away. It’s important to make sure the light you install stays in your yard and does not shine into the windows or yard of the house next to you.

Outdoor lighting types

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to outdoor lighting systems. From singular to fully integrated, an effective lighting plan includes a mix of the lighting types listed below. Each type of lighting serves a very specific purpose, so it’s helpful to understand the correct application as well as its benefits.

Spotlights

Spotlights are best used to emphasize a specific element in your yard or detail on your home. They project a concentrated, narrow beam of light to draw attention to architectural details, trees, sculptures and buildings (like a pool house or shed). When considering spotlights for your outdoor space, less is more. The idea with spotlights is to highlight one to three features you want to draw attention to.

Floodlights

Floodlights are the most common type of outdoor lighting system. They have a wider beam of light that can spread up to 120 degrees, making them an ideal option for general areas like driveways or parking lots. Floodlights are typically paired with motion-sensor systems as their large light-cast discourages intruders. As floodlights are one of the brighter options on the market, some home associations and neighborhoods have rules regarding the application of night lights. It’s best to double-check if any rules in your area exist before installing floodlights.

Security lights

Keeping your home safe and free from intruders is every homeowner’s top priority and selecting the right lighting system can deter burglars and trespassers. Security lighting, such as motion-triggered lights, is an excellent option for side doors, driveways and garages. When mounting your security lighting ensure it’s installed high enough to prevent vandalism, yet low enough that the motion sensor will pick up movement.

Deck and patio lights

Decks and patios have truly become an extension of our living space during the summer. Those who are looking to enjoy their deck or patio after sundown will benefit from installing deck and patio lights. Typically used to illuminate dark steps to ensure safe passage, deck and patio lights are installed directly into stair risers or under railings. They can also be used to accent architectural details and to light up entertainment and lounge areas. The key to successful deck and patio lighting is to keep it subtle, you don’t want overly bright lights that overwhelm the space.

Pathway lights

Pathway lights are a basic outdoor system every yard should have. They’re used to light up pathways, walkways and garden edges for both function and beauty. There are thousands of different types of path lights on the market, from inexpensive versions that simply stake into the ground to high-end wired options, so finding something that fits your style and budget should be easy. When installing your pathway lights try staggering them on either side of your walkway so the light feels continuous as you travel through.

In-ground lights

In-ground lighting is another option to light walkways, pathways and hardscapes, but they also make an inviting addition to driveways. These circular fixtures install directly into the ground or concrete creating an uplight effect casting a soft glow. When selecting in-ground lights that will be used on a driveway, ensure they have the proper ratings to withstand weather, foot traffic and the weight of vehicles.

Garden lights

There’s nothing like the beautiful soft glow of lights between blooming flowers and wispy grasses. Garden lights are the perfect option for illuminating accent trees, shrubs, and flowers. If your garden houses a water feature like a pond, fountain or waterfall, water lighting can produce a stunning effect as water cascades and flows. These soft lighting options can create a sense of calm and tranquillity, turning your yard into a peaceful oasis. When installing any type of electrical component directly in water it’s advised you consult with an electrician.

String lights

There’s something so dreamy about walking into a backyard adorned with twinkly string lights casting a lovely and romantic glow. String lights are an excellent choice for covered patios when hardwiring a chandelier is not an option. They can also be hung over lounge spaces or dining areas. When hanging string lights over an area spanning more than ten feet it’s suggested you install a guidewire and attach the string of lights using zip or twist ties, this can prevent the lights from disconnecting due to the weight.

Good lighting can make all the difference when it comes to your outdoor spaces. Whether you’re looking to boost your home’s curb appeal, increase your safety measures or create a functioning space in your backyard, installing outdoor lighting can set the tone for your home. You’ll love how your home’s exterior beauty shines through!