Outdoor Home Lighting Techniques, Tips & Ideas

Well-designed and installed landscaping features can add measurable enjoyment and economic value to your home. Landscape features need not be elaborate to be enjoyable, such as using effective lighting.

Throughout history, outdoor lighting has played an important role in safety, for example Japanese lanterns at walkways,. With recent developments and advanced in lighting, garden lighting has become sophisticated, yet it is still simple enough to understand and install for the do it yourself types.

If your lighting needs require the use of a 120-volt power source, you’ll need an electrical permit and probably the services of a qualified electrician. A 120-volt power source is usually only needed for intense night-time lighting, such as to enjoy your favorite sport (basketball, tennis and such), add extra security, or to illuminate parking areas and swimming pools.

The reasons you choose to light outside your home are as varied as the techniques employed to accomplish your results. Techniques, in general, vary in location of the light source and the direction the light is aimed: up,down, or across a surface.

Types of Outdoor Home Lighting

Lighting Types

Down lighting refers specifically to any type of lighting that is projected from above an object. Generally, a flood light is used to illuminate a large area for safety, security or entertainment. One or more floodlights might be used to emphasize a special plant or object in your garden.

Up lighting, in contrast to down lighting, is provided by placing the light source below an object or area. Up lighting adds dramatic impact to a home’s garden by demanding a viewer’s attention. Lighting such as this rarely occurs in nature and must be added to any garden with a stroke of discretion.

Safety lighting is considered to be one of the most important functions around a home’s outdoor areas. Properly installed safety lighting permits easy movement and more comfortable use of your outdoor areas. Safety lighting is typically used along driveways, walkways and changes in elevation.

Security lighting might light the same areas as safety lighting, but it is intended to protect yards from unwelcome guests. Protection is provided through the even distribution of illumination, leaving no pockets of dark as potential hideaways. A glaring and offensive system is not needed. To be totally effective, the system must be easily operated. Proper switches will allow you to operate all or just parts of the system as needed.

Area lighting is used to illuminate a deck or play area without producing glare in the area or for your neighbors. A combination of flood lights placed high and decorative lights appropriately placed will provide ample, non-glaring light. Globes or panels are often used in dining areas to soften or diffuse a light source.

Moon lighting is a technique that can easily create the feeling of a moonlit night every night. Several mild intensity lights placed high into trees or on buildings will help create his very natural and relaxing effect. Best results are obtained the the light source is both very high and hidden.

Solar powered lighting typically has a photocell that gathers sunlight during the day to charge a battery to operate the light after sunset. Because the collector cells are typically small in size, the amount of the stored energy is small, limiting the light intensity and duration. Another solar powered novelty available is a lighted house number sign. The advantage of solar powered units is the ability to install them quickly without extensive wiring.

Lighting Ideas For Outside Your House

Here are a few outdoor home lighting ideas that you might find useful in enhancing your home’s garden or making walkways or patios safer.

  1. House entries present a warm and inviting welcome to visitors.
  2. Garage and driveway areas, combined with entry lighting, provide not only a pleasing view, but safe access to your home.
  3. Security lighting of secluded, hidden spots sets the mind at ease. Remember, glaring light is not required, just complete coverage.
  4. Safety lighting of steps and walkways will make the garden more enjoyable for you and your guests.
  5. Decks, patios and porches offer an excellent area to light both for accent (framing views) or enjoyment (dining or reading).
  6. Lighting in recreational areas can extend games into the evening. To be effective, lighting for sports such as croquet and shuffleboard needs to be bright, uniform and glare-free.
  7. Water features lit from an outside source, or with lights submerged in the water, can be spectacular. Special care in wiring around water requires the services of a licensed electrician.
  8. Shrubs, trees, flowers and statuary, of course, can be made spectacular through a properly designed and installed lighting system. Unusually branched trees, such as honey locust, white oak, red oak, and southern live oak, can add a spectacular canopy of interest when lighted from above. For lower under story trees that can be spot lit, choose trees for their colorful foliage, fruit or unique flowers.

Outdoor Lighting Installation Guide

When designing lighting, make a sketch of your property. Draw and existing features on a piece of graph paper. Locate buildings, walkways, trees and other permanent features as accurately as possible and to scale. Wishlist items include all the things you think you would like to accomplish with your lighting system. Add these to a sheet of tracing paper laid over top of your property sketch. Highlight the areas and features you want to emphasize. Make notes right on the sheet.

Set priorities for your lighting. On an additional piece of tracing paper, mark in the lighting needs of a particular object or area. Indicate the fixture and the lamp that would best satisfy those needs. Once this is all on paper, you can check off the areas that take priority over the other areas. If budget is no concern, this list won’t be needed. For those who must operate withing a budget, however, a complete plan is important so that you will have a unified and comprehensive system.

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