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How to Choose Outdoor Lighting for Your Home


Outdoor lighting can help improve the safety, functionality and beauty of your landscaping. This guide is intended to give you a brief look into the different outdoor lighting options that you have.

Taking Weather Into Account

When purchasing outdoor lighting, one of the first things that you should consider is the climate. Outdoor lighting may be labeled as either safe for dry, damp or wet locations. Fixtures that are labeled as only safe for dry locations are unlikely to withstand many elements and should be is a weather protected part of your home. Fixtures that are approved for damp locations can hold up to high humidity, condensation and fog, but will not be safe for rain or snow. Additionally, you should consider how protected the lighting is going to be from the wind. Some fixtures are made of sturdier materials that can hold up to the wind.

What line voltage should I choose when shopping for outdoor lighting?

Most outdoor lighting comes as either 12-volt or 120-volt, with the selection of sconces specifically leaning more towards the 120 volt option. For clarification, most homes run on a 120 volt system, so 12 volt outdoor lighting will require a transformer. The main differences between a 12-volt and 120-volt outdoor sconce is that the 120 volt has the capability to be much brighter, while the 12 volt is safer to install.

What does it mean if my outdoor light is Dark Sky certified?

Lighting that is indicated as Dark Sky certified follow industry standards for reducing light pollution. Light pollution is the what occurs when lighting interferes with the natural nighttime landscape and prevent a person from observing stars. Dark sky certified lamps cast light downward and help protect against light pollution.

Will I have to turn my outdoor lights on and off each day?

There are a few different options for rigging outdoor lighting to turn on and off every day. You can use a timer which can be set or some which vary the time to make it look like someone is always home turning the lights on or off. Also, there are sensors photo cells which will detect when the sun rises and sets and turn the light off and on accordingly.

Great Outdoors Pendant

Outdoor Pendants

What is the purpose of an outdoor pendant?

Outdoor pendants, also sometimes known as outdoor ceiling lights, enhance a home’s beauty, safety and security. Outdoor pendants have been crafted to stand up to the elements, while still providing the beauty to the outside of your home.

Hanging your pendant

Begin by turning off the electricity, and then assemble the pendant according to the manufacturer instructions. Try to get as many pieces together as possible before climbing the ladder. Climb the ladder and screw the fixture cross bar to the electrical box. Connect the power supply wires and attach the bare copper wire to the green ground screw. Push the wires back into the ceiling box and mount the pendant according to the manufacturer ’s instructions. Turn on the electricity.

Outdoor Wall Sconces

Where would I use an outdoor wall sconce?

Outdoor wall sconces are perfect for general illumination around entry ways, back doors, and garage doors. These fixtures are great for providing light in areas where people may be using their keys. Outdoor wall sconces have an added benefit of high lighting architectural features of a home for aesthetic appeal.

What kind of bulb should I use in my outdoor wall sconce?

A variety of bulbs are used for outdoor wall sconces, including but not limited to fluorescent, xenon, halogen and incandescent. Wall sconce product descriptions will clarify which bulb is best for that particular sconce. Bulbs such as fluorescent, halogen or xenon are often times more energy efficient than incandescent and last longer, so light bulb type is important to consider when shopping.

Ground Lighting

What are my options for outdoor ground lighting?

There are a variety of outdoor ground lighting options available including pond lights, which are specific for yard ponds, spot lights,  recessed well lights.

Why should I use a spot light over a recessed well light or vice versa?

Spot lights are ideal for shining lighting onto larger object such as a house, tree or bushes while recessed well lights are ideal for lighting pathways and landscaping barriers.

Unique Lightscaping Apollo Recessed Well Light

About how much will outdoor lighting increase my electric bill?

On average around $8.00, of course this is dependent on what voltage the outdoor lighting is run on and light bulbs used.

Can I put pond lights in water?

Yes, there are pond lights which are made so that they can be completely submerged in water.

Kichler Lighting Detail Accent Spot Light

LED Landscape Lighting

What are the advantages of LED lighting?

LED lighting outdoors can save up 80% more energy than some traditional lighting methods which saves money and is good for the environment. LED lights are typically very small making them quite versatile for positioning subtly outside.

What are the advantages of LED lighting over other energy efficient options such as fluorescent?

LED lights are more directional than other light bulbs which makes it easier to reduce light pollution and eliminate unwanted light shining into a neighbor’s yard.

Should I get solar powered or electricity powered LED lighting?

The benefits of solar powered LED lighting are that it saves energy and you won’t have to tear up your yard to install wiring. The disadvantage of LED lighting is that it is not as reliable as electric run lights because if there is not enough sun they will not be powered through the night.

Will LED provide enough light?

LED technology has been improving greatly in the last few decades and now LEDs which run on electricity provide a very nice yellow-white light perfect for outdoor lighting. Solar powered LEDs however may not always be able to provide enough light depending on that day’s weather conditions.

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