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How to Shop for Outdoor Lights

You don’t have to stop the fun at sundown just because your outdoor lighting is poor or absent. When buying outdoor lights, always bear in mind that those products you’ll find are not made equal. You need to take a few essentials into account before proceeding with a purchase.

Three Types of Lighting

First of all, get acquainted with the three key lighting types – ambient, task and accent lighting. Examples of fixtures that produce ambient lighting are hanging lights and post lights. Two common choices for task lighting are pathway lights and deck lights. Spotlights and landscape kits are great choices for accent lighting.

Calculating Your Needs

Multiply your outdoor area’s square footage by 1.5 and you have a rough estimate of the total wattage it requires. So if your space is 150 square feet, 225 watts must be supplied. To save energy, costs and maintenance effort, LEDs are a great option to the usual halogen or incandescent bulbs.

Making a Plan

Before buying any fixture, make sure you’ve checked size and position with the help of a simple paper template. For the front porch or back patio, an outdoor wall light should be around a third of the door’s height. Also make sure to buy sturdy lighting – that is, one that’s made of top quality, weather-resistant materials. One of those kits that could be plugged into an outdoor outlet makes a good quick fix for your lawn, and so is solar landscape lighting.

A View from Inside

It’s always good to consider how your outdoor space looks like from inside your home. For example, if you have the right lights in your porch that can be seen from your living room, this room can feel much bigger at night than it really is.

Soft Light for Entertaining

Your guests won’t likely appreciate the spotlight when enjoying their outdoor meal, so stick to soft glow lighting. So for your outdoor dining area, think pendants, outdoor lanterns and the like. You’d like to add a dimmer as well so you can set the lights to full during food prep and cooking, and low for eating and socializing.


Finally, take note that outdoor lighting shouldn’t only give you great ambiance but security as well. All your entry points should be illuminated enough. Hang a wall lantern on both sides of your garage door outside or just one in the middle right above. You can also install wall lanterns on windows, garages and side doors, and spotlights on your eaves around certain shadowy areas for added security.

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