Outdoor Lighting Dos and Don’ts

Once mostly relegated to a front door fixture and a few spotlights on the corners, home outdoor lighting has come a long way. Today’s homeowners have a myriad of options for exterior illumination, both in style and function. Whether you’re building a home from scratch or upgrading the lighting plan, here are some outdoor lighting dos and don’ts:



Do consider energy-efficient lighting.

Solar-powered lighting can save on energy costs and provide effective lighting, especially for walkways and landscaping. Using exterior LED bulbs and low voltage fixtures can also help with utility costs and conservation.


Don’t go overboard.

Although generous outdoor lighting is all the vogue right now, remember that it’s a house, not an airport. Adding too many exterior lights can be expensive for your utility budget and may turn your home into a neighborhood nuisance.


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Do think about security.

Be sure to illuminate any dark areas, especially around entrances, walkways, garages, and driveways. Consider the placement of exterior lights, the wattage of bulbs, and any trees or landscaping that could block light to dark pockets. Motion-activated fixtures are good security features that provide light when needed while minimizing energy use.


Don’t choose exterior fixtures that are a different style.

While light fixtures don’t have to be matchy-matchy, they should complement the overall style and architecture of your home.


Do choose exterior fixtures that are in proportion to your home.

Exterior fixtures that are too small or too large will detract from your home’s appeal. Additionally, fixtures that are too small may not emit enough light, while fixtures that are too large may be too bright. Measure your home’s exterior areas and have those dimensions with you whenever you shop for lighting.


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Don’t have all the lighting coming from one direction.

We mostly think about outdoor lighting as coming from above, but uplighting that’s built into walkways, walls, or landscaping adds interesting perspective and dimension.


Do get professional advice.

The knowledge and experience of lighting professionals can be invaluable when it comes to the placement and scale of fixtures, as well as helping with lighting styles and trends. Ask your local lighting company or home store for assistance.


If choosing outdoor lighting overwhelms you, ride around your community and take photos of homes with outdoor lighting that you admire. Make note of the type of fixtures and finishes that you like and show these to a lighting professional. Knowing what appeals to you is a great place to start.