Exterior Lighting

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 17, 2014)

One of the most dramatic, yet affordable, visual improvements you can make to your home is that of exterior lighting. Not only does exterior lighting provide depth and aesthetic value, it provides a security and safety measure to your property. Exterior lighting can softly light a walking path in your garden, as well as brightly light a dark alley, discouraging would-be intruders.

Since exterior lighting has become so affordable and easy to install, many homeowners can install outdoor lighting without the need of a contractor. The first thing that you should do, however, is to plan where to add lighting, based on your needs and your desired outcome. There are many different types of exterior lighting. Based on whether you want functional versus aesthetic lighting—or a combination of both—you can choose from area and pathway lighting, wall washing, bench and step lighting, down lighting, or shadowing and silhouette lighting. Specific types of exterior lights and lamps include:

  • Solar lights. Solar fixtures need regular exposure to the sun in order to operate correctly, so don't place them into permanently shaded areas. Solar lighting is low maintenance since it requires no other power source than the sun, so you don't have to run any wiring when you install it.
  • Submersible/waterproof lights. Specially made to function in and around fountains, hot tubs, pounds, swimming pools, and docks. When deciding upon underwater lighting, make sure that you only choose waterproof lights.
  • Motion-sensor lights. Since they are activated by movement of mammals within range of the sensor, motion-sensor lighting is an excellent choice for lighting around points of entry of your home. Motion-sensor lighting can light the way for unexpected visitors, ward off trespassers, and light your pathway at nighttime. Quality motion-sensor lighting will have adjustable sensors, allowing you to adjust the sensitivity of the sensor.
  • High-voltage lights. Since high voltage lights are extremely dangerous to work with, always hire a qualified electrician when you want to install them. Keep in mind that you will probably need a separate circuit in your home's electrical system to maintain high voltage lighting.

If you simply want to light the edge of a pathway, patio, or deck, use globe lighting. Low voltage lighting fixtures are great for installing underneath handrails or seating and creates sift, diffused lighting, yet provides enough lighting to see to walk. Floodlights and spotlights can showcase a tree or shrub, or any part of your landscape that you wish to show off. Keep in mind that floodlights cast a wide beam of light, where spotlights provide more focused, narrow beam of light.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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