We tend to be specific when buying interior light fixtures than we do with outdoor lights. That’s probably because we spend more time indoors than we do outdoors.
Both interior and exterior lights should be selected with the same enthusiasm.
While you may consider yourself an indoor person, some aspects of exterior lights such as energy efficiency, location appropriateness, color, and style may affect the way you walk outside as well as your safety and energy bills.
Related: How To Shop For Dining Room Light Fixtures
Manufactured Home Exterior Light Fixtures: 6 Shopping Factors
Here are some of the factors you should bear in mind when shopping for exterior lights:
When did you last consider color when installing outdoor lights?
Probably never. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that the color of your outdoor fixtures influences the appearance of the landscape and walls.
- You should go for fixtures with colors that complement the painting on your walls and the general looks of your landscape.
- They should sync with the color scheme and general décor of your outdoors during the daytime when they are not shining.
- At nighttime when they are shining, they should deliver colors that synch with those of your home and landscape.
Architects agree that coloring is the second element of good design.
- That’s why you might need the advice of a designer who might help you select the right coloring with high CRI value.
- The CRI (color rendering index) is used to show how the color of a lighting source appears to the viewer’s eyes – the higher the value, the better the rendering ability.
- On a scale of 0 to 100, there is a correct CRI value for every ambiance level.
It ranges between warm and inviting for entertainment needs and tranquil for outdoor relaxing deep into the midnight.
Outdoor lights are exposed to all sorts of nature weather insults – snow, rainstorms, searing summer sun, etc. Occasionally, a child playing outside might try hanging on them.
As such, your exterior lights should be capable of withstanding all types of weather and daily wear and tear for long. Not all lighting options you will find in the store are designed to withstand literary everything.
If you live in an area prone to rainstorms, for instance, you will need to buy specific fixtures capable of operating in the worst storms that could ever occur.
The landscape too requires a unique kind of lighting fixture because of the high traffic of people compared to areas close to the wall.
You don’t want to keep replacing your landscape lights often because kids knocked them over during a soccer game or they just were not made to last.
Hinkley is known for its hardy landscape lights that can withstand virtually any impact. Most of their models are designed for the deck:
- Hinkley Landscape Lighting Hardy Island Round Eyebrow Deck Sconce – – Cost: $62 ~ The ultra-durable construction with a matte bronze finish of this fixture.
- Hinkley Landscape Lighting Hardy Flat Top Well Light – Cost: $89 ~ This well light can be installed anywhere on the flat ground.
- Hinkley Landscape Lighting Hardy Island Louvered Brick Light – Cost: $135 ~ These too are designed for the deck but are installed flush on the ground. They are hardy enough to withstand knocks.
3. Affordability – Solar Power?
Some light fixtures are overpriced just because the brand is well established in the market. You want pocket-friendly products that are fit for the job.
Also, why not choose lights that can draw energy from the sun during the daytime and use it to light your landscape during the night?
In this age of green revolution, it only makes sense that you take advantage of the free energy from the sun and cut the dependence of the planet on fossil fuels. Plus, it goes a long way to reduce, if not remove, your expenditure on energy.
Think of the amount of money you could save my buying solar powered outdoor lights!
The best thing about solar lights, apart from being enormously affordable, is that they don’t require you to dig and ruin your landscape trying to install a few wire channels.
Most of the solar-powered outdoor lights you will find in the store are LED bulbs, meaning they won’t draw your batteries too fast before morning.
This can make sense when you remember that some seasons won’t be sunny all through, so the more efficient the lights are, the more likely they’ll remain functional during seasons with very little sunlight.
Gama Sonics supplies some pretty impressive solar powered exterior lights. If you fancy classic designs like Victorian, imperial, royal, Everest, and Bayton, they are your brand.
- Gama Sonic GS-105FPW-BW Baytown II, Outdoor Solar Light – Cost: $87 ~ It comes with 3″ pole piers and wall mount kits, and bright white and black LEDs. Part of the pack is a Li-Ion battery.
- Gama Sonic GS-98B-S-BLK Royal Bulb Lamp Post Outdoor Solar Light Fixture – Cost: $290 ~ Supports automatic dusk to dawn lighting. It has approx. 10 years durability, 350 degrees light spread, and harsh weather-resistant, while being powered by solar.
String lights come with a flexibility advantage – you can install them indoors and also bring them outside for an outdoor party or to light your deck. Plus, they tend to be cheaper.
- AMIR Upgraded Solar Powered String Lights – Cost: $12 ~ A string of these lights comes with 100 LED copper wire lights. You can form a swarm of them together or install them on the whole length of your deck.
- Beewin Outdoor Solar String Lights – Cost: $12 ~ The only difference between these lights and mentioned above is that they provide a white-blue hue excellent for patio entertainment. Still solar powered.
Then something for the garden:
- GIGALUMI Solar Lights Outdoor Garden Led Light Landscape – Cost: $18 ~ These cute garden lights are easy to install: just push remove the isolator tab and push the stake into the soil – now wait for the sun to fill the battery for nighttime lighting. They can also illuminate the walkway.
Some states, such as California, require your outdoor lighting fixtures to be Dark Sky certified (to reduce light pollution) and energy efficient
Light fixtures sometimes go beyond lighting.
You want appealing light fixtures or those that will add an aesthetic value to your home.
The choice of lights should reflect your outdoor décor and the style you wish to achieve.
Do you want your home’s architecture to be elegant or stately? Contemporary or angular?
There are three styles of lighting styles:
Outside these styles, things like the finish on the fixture should be chosen carefully to achieve the desired combination.
Bronze is the most often used finish on outdoor lights because it gets along with most decors. Black too is priced highly for its versatility.
This style features ornate designs with elegantly added decorative touches like flourishes and curving hooks. Light fixtures that conform to this style sometimes feature classic décors, such as Craftsman or Colonial.
A few examples:
Savoy supplies some of the excellent traditional-style lights:
- Savoy House Durham 3-Light Outdoor Wall Lantern w/ Scroll in Slate – Cost: $454 ~ This statuesque wall lantern can be used to make a striking first impression at the gate or front door.
- Savoy House Monte Grande Outdoor Hanging Lantern in English Bronze – Cost: $269 ~ Dimmable alluring traditional-styled lights pale cream seeded glass good for the front door but can light up the porch as well.
- Savoy House Ellijay 3-Light Post Lantern in English Bronze – Cost: $284 ~ Another eye-catching traditional-styled lantern from Savoy, but with clear and unseeded glass.
This style retains some elements of the traditional style but keeps their ornate appeal to a minimum.
This makes it a versatile style that can appeal to a variety of homeowners mostly those who want to be in the middle.
A few examples:
- Hinkley Porter by Lisa McDennon Iron Outdoor Large Wall Sconce in Oil Rubbed Bronze – Cost: $330 – a bold transitional-styled exterior porch lighting fixture with a bit of industrial design.
- Savoy House Brennan 14″ Outdoor Wall Lantern in English Bronze w/Gold – Cost: $154 ~ It comes with bronze finish and accentuated with gold, but the craftsmanship is outstanding.
- Maxim Civic LED Outdoor Wall Light in Architectural Bronze – Cost: $338 ~ Good looks, die cast aluminum, rugged reliability, and extra thick glass fonts complement this light fixture’s captivating transitional design.
This style is known for its minimalistic and streamlined appearance, often with simple geometric touches.
It can have any innovative design, but remains low key. Light fixtures that come in this style also feature LED lights.
A few examples:
- Access Ulko Exterior 1″ Outdoor Ceiling Light in White – Cost: $26 ~ Simple circular fixture for outdoor ceilings, like the veranda, and with an integrated LED.
- Access Nauticus 4″ Outdoor Wall Light in Black – Cost: $33 ~ Uncomplicated oval fixture in a prominent mesh, excellent for exterior walls anywhere in your home.
- Kichler Landscape 21″ 12V Path & Spread in Textured Architectural Bronze – Cost: $130 ~ Comes in simple uncomplicated design ready for perfect illumination along walkways and paths without producing any glare.
5. Energy Saving
Energy-inefficient exterior light fixtures can bloat your energy bills tremendously, more than any inefficient home air conditioner or heater could. Most of them will switch on/off automatically in about 10 – 12 hours between dusk and dawn.
And that’s how they operate every single day of the year.
A moderate halogen exterior lighting system costs about $25/month in electricity to operate. If you do the calculation for a whole year, it can be an insane amount of money.
Halogen lights are actually considered to be the most energy inefficient source for lighting for outdoor and indoor applications – some parts of Europe are starting to ban this reason.
If you are thinking of energy-efficiency, then LED lights are the best type of exterior light fixtures.
There is a reason why fluorescent lights are never installed in the garden.
String lights don’t look great at the front door. Sconces are designed for walls, but not at the gate.
There is a correct kind of fixture for every part of your outdoor. Certain locations require bulbs with high wattage than others.
The backyard is where friendlier and more neighborly things happen.
This is an area you could relax toast your marshmallows with your family, play with paint, smash some water balloons Piñatas, and do backyard camping at night.
These activities require ample lighting, though one that is not too bright to a level of being a nuisance to your neighbors. The most preferable wattage for backyard light fixtures in 80 Watts.
However, any medium-wattage fixture i.e. those in the range of 40 – 80 Watts are perfect. You will find a lot of floodlights that fall in these brackets.
Your choice will be determined by your needs, like what you plan to do in your backyard frequently, and positioning.
While the options in this range aren’t the most powerful options you could find, you still need to avoid installing whichever option you choose close to windows to avoid disrupting the sleep indoors.
- DrawGreen Solar Lights Outdoor Motion Sensor, 1400-Lumen 9-Watt Bright LED Spotlight – Cost: $115 ~ Intelligent floodlights with motion sensors that help them brighten up when you walk into the backyard.
The porch is an informal extension of the living room or parlor. It provides shade and a space to relax in the summertime, both at night and daytime.
Porches don’t require mainly lights, just one or two lights are enough. But they/it need to flood the area with sufficient light for ample visibility.
Mid-range wattage can do for porches. It is recommended that you choose a 60-watt bulb or higher.
If you feel like flanking a pair close to your front door, you’re free to go with a single 40-Watt bulb in each fixture.
If you prefer incandescent lights, each fixture of this type should come with between 60 – 75-Watts. For CFL (compact fluorescent) type, 40-Watts is ideal for your porch.
These electrical ratings are the maximum safe wattage permitted, not the most appropriate wattage you should be using.
How To Determine The Right Size
Here is a simple way to select porch and front door entry lighting this is the right size:
- Start by measuring the height of the porch or front door from the top to the bottom. Note down this measurement.
- Divide the height obtained above and by 1/3 and 1/4
- Now choose a lighting fixture that measures between 1/3 and 1/4 the porch or front door’s height
LED floodlights are the best for backyard applications.
This is because they don’t consume a lot of power on high wattage ratings.
The energy efficiency of, say, 80-watt LED floodlight is far higher than that of an incandescent or fluorescent light with the same wattage.
So, if you are thinking about installing about two floodlights in your backyard, you will save some significant amount of money by taking the LED route.
- Gama Sonic GS-105FPW-BW Baytown II, Outdoor Solar Light – Cost: 87 ~ It comes with 3″ pole piers and wall mount kits, and bright white and black LEDs. Part of the pack is a Li-Ion battery.
- ALOVECO Solar Lights Outdoor Decorative – 2 in 1 Solar Wall Sconce – Cost: 62 ~ These solar torch lights come with a decent 87 LEDs that produce a flickering “flame”. Perfect for the porch, garage, fence, patio, and front door.
- The garage deserves a light fixture in the region of 60 Watts and capable of shining for over 50,000 hours because you will need the garage to remain lit most of the time.
- Lights with 6,000-Lumen are recommendable.
CREE supplies a few models specifically made for the garage and outdoor canopies.
They include the
- 304 Series – CAN-304 and CAN-304 RETROFIT and the 228 Series – CAN-228 and SFT-228
- Cree 304 Series LED Recessed Canopy Luminaire Outdoor Luminaire – Cost: $198 ~ Long life, energy-efficient LED perfect for garages and outdoor recesses canopies
- LED path lights with 20 Watts or 100 lumens are bright yet non-glaring, enabling you to see the path and walk comfortably.
- The best walkway lights should be capable of operating very close to the ground.
- YUNLIGHTS Solar Lights Outdoor – Cost: N/A: These 5-pieces 5-LED white light fixture is perfect for the driveway, patio, lawn, and walkway. Weatherproof.
- GIGALUMI Solar Powered Path Lights – Cost: $24: They deliver a yellowish-white light for your garden, yard, walkway, and lower edges of your patio. Totally waterproof.
Choosing outdoor lights for your home should be approached with the same level of seriousness as that we show when choosing interior light.
Consider the location of installation (gate, deck, backyard, front yard, backyard, front door, etc.) style, energy-efficiency, affordability, color, and durability.
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