Lighting the exterior of your home, deck, and landscaping features don’t just boost the esthetic value. It can also improve the resale value of your property, while also improving your outdoor safety and security. Of course, for many homes, there’s also a functional component to lighting outdoor entertainment areas, like the backyard fire pit, the outdoor kitchen, the pool area, the patio, or other places where people like to gather after the sun has gone down.
With such popularity, it should come as little surprise that there are a ton of outdoor lighting ideas. Some are simple enough, like string lights, that you might be able to install for yourself. While others, like post lighting and recessed lighting, truly do need to be installed by a licensed professional.
With so many options, you might feel a little spoiled for choice, or perhaps staggered trying to find just the right options for your home. In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the more popular exterior lighting options for homes, decks, and landscaping features.
Best Outdoor Lighting Ideas For Decks & Patios
There are a few thoughtful ways and efficient ways to light your deck or patio. Some are designed to light broad areas, whereas others help to accent key areas or entertainment spaces.
Deck Rail Lights
String lights and LED fixtures can be installed into deck rails. Not only does this help accent the rail itself, and provide perimeter lights, but it also helps people find the rails for a secure grip. This could be important if you have family members or frequent guests with minor mobility issues.
Stairs can sometimes be tricky to navigate in the dark. Adding simple lights under the brim of each step or setting up lights that can cast on the stairs. This adds to the ambiance as well as improving safety for people who need to walk up and down your stairs. They are especially handy if you will have visitors who aren’t familiar with your exterior layout.
These are a great way to light exterior spaces with overhead areas like a pergola, wrap-around porch, or another roofed structure. Visually attractive Edison bulbs that have been updated with modern, energy-efficient components can also help add to the ambiance of your covered patio or deck space.
Just like stair and rail lights, in-floor lights can help brighten and accentuate the perimeter of your deck or patio. They can be set to cast at different widths, which can be used to brighten certain areas better.
Under Table Lighting
Picnic tables and other outdoor dining areas often benefit from additional lighting. Sometimes overhead lighting is a little too strong or casts unappealing shadows on plates of food and centerpieces. Whereas under table lighting tends to be more subtle, with softer shadows.
Overhead Spotlights For Key Areas
Key areas like the grill, firepit, and dining areas can all benefit from a distant spotlight to help accent them, or help guests find them. This might be a single spotlight or a combination of two or three softer spotlights to help properly light an area without creating sharp, contrasting shadows.
Under Deck Lighting
Under deck lighting is a great way to add soft white light or colored accent lights to your outdoor entertaining spaces. It’s also a great way to light the perimeter of your deck, which can be very handy if you happen to have multiple landings or multiple deck levels.
Lanterns can be hung in key areas, or affixed to buildings to act like sconce lights. The architectural dynamics of the lantern fixtures can also be used to enhance or match the overall décor of your outdoor spaces.
Fire features are increasingly popular. This might be wood or gas burning fire pit, or even an artificial electric fire pit or fireplace that mimics the natural appearance of flame, which also adds to the overall outdoor lighting concept.
The Best Landscaping & Walkway Lighting
Beyond the deck and patio, walkways and key landscaping features can also benefit from additional lighting. Not only does this help accent key areas, and add visual interest, but it also improves overall safety for guests who may not be familiar with your grounds. It’s also worth considering that properties with outdoor landscape and walkway lighting tend to enjoy greater security, as would-be intruders are less likely to prowl a property with a well-lit exterior.
Solar Stake Lighting
This is a relatively simple and relatively inexpensive way to light a walkway or a landscaping feature. A small photovoltaic cell on the top of the light turns natural sunlight into a small electric current during the day. The electricity is stored inside a small internal battery. When the outdoor lighting reaches a certain level, the light comes on and stays on until the sun rises again or the battery’s charge is exhausted.
Outdoor LED Lights
Light Emitting Diodes are very energy efficient and increasingly popular for meeting a wide range of lighting needs. They are also available in an exterior grade, all-weather fixtures that can be used to light walkways and other landscaping features. LED fixtures can be directional, which also makes them a great way to direct lighting on outdoor arts, and key landscaping features.
Rope & Rail Lights
Rope or string lights are a long-popular way to light long stretches and key features. Exterior grade rope lights can even be tastefully strung into trees to add to the esthetics, while also contributing to ambient lighting levels.
The Best Exterior Lighting For Homes & Garages
Homes and garages benefit from exterior lights in a variety of ways. While esthetics certainly do matter, most homeowners choose to light the exterior of their home more for safety and security reasons.
Popular for many decades, motion lights stay off until they are triggered by motion within their sensor range. Many of the best motion lights have an adjustable range that can be set to key areas, like the front steps, the corner of your garage, or your side access doors.
Spotlights have evolved from simply being stagecraft lights. Today exterior grade spotlights can be set up around the perimeter of your home to light exterior walls and walkways. They are also available with directional fixtures and in different shades to help accent the exterior of your home or garage.