The Best Ways to Light the Backyard
Security lighting, generally the brightest backyard lighting, is safety lighting to illuminate large areas and scare off would-be burglars or destructive animals. Powered by standard, 120-Volt current, this lighting is installed high spots such as the eaves or above a garage to cast wide beams of light down onto main walkways or the backyard fence entrance.
Our Pick for Security Lights
Available in bronze or white, the Revolve 270° Triple Head (available at amazon.com; $69) blends in with your home’s trim when positioned on the eaves or the underside of a covered patio. But you’ll know that this wired light is there when you approach: Its three optical LED lights produce a powerful 2400 lumens to light up your landscape as bright as day for up to 100 feet for as long as you choose. And, when placed at the corner of the eaves, the rotating optics on the Revolve can be adjusted to light up two sides of the house.
Path lighting is soft to moderately bright safety and landscape lighting designed to help you navigate walkways while attractively highlighting them. Install it on the ground along both sides of main walkways from the back door to your fence door, along stepping stones from the main walkway to a backyard feature like a fountain, and/or around flower beds to emphasize their contours
Our Pick for Path Lights
With a smart bronze finish and curved panes, this elegant six-pack of solar path lights by Hampton Bay (available at homedepot.com; $14.61) earns high ratings from Home Depot shoppers. Its affordability is another draw—a set of six for less than $15!— along with its LED bulbs, auto on/off power, and crystalline solar panel. Emitting a warm white light, they stand almost 12 inches high
String lighting is soft, low-voltage accent lighting used to evoke a warm, intimate ambiance that’s especially desirable for entertaining. Hang string lights wherever the activity is—be it on the eaves of the home to brighten an outdoor kitchen or from the posts of an outdoor pavilion or gazebo to illuminate patio furniture.
How to fit outdoor lights
Outdoor lighting gives you loads of benefits. It can illuminate your path to the front door. It can help you see who’s calling at night and deter burglars. It can let you make the most of your patio on warm summer nights and can create stunning visual effects of light and shadow among your plants.
Remember to switch off the mains power at the consumer unit. Before starting any electrical work, stay safe – get yourself a socket tester (or voltage tester for lighting circuits). They confirm whether circuits are dead and safe to work on
Check all finished work with a socket tester (or voltage tester for lighting circuits) before using. For your safety, these products must be installed in accordance with local Building Regulations. If in any doubt, or where required by the law, consult a competent person who is registered with an electrical certification scheme. Further information is available online or from your local authority.
All new and modified installations must comply with the latest IEE Wiring Regulations. Either use an electrician registered with the self certification scheme prescribed in the regulations, or if you carry out the work yourself, you must notify your Local Authority Buidling Control Department to get your work inspected and tested.
Never take risks with electrical safety. Before you start any type of electrical work
Garden Lighting Installations: Top Tips
Former electrician Chris Hudson, now owner of Hudson Lighting, shares his top tips for ensuring longevity in garden lighting installations
If you can, use extra low voltage (ELV) over low voltage (LV) every time. Very few reading this will have worked with anything higher voltage and, for most, that’s probably the first time you’ve realised the definition of low voltage was being used incorrectly. However, many manufacturers are still labelling their products with the wrong information, so looking at the voltage used is the best way to determine this
ELV (<50V AC or <120V DC) installations are far safer, simpler and can be less troublesome – providing you use quality components. You can use flexible cables, HI-Tuffs of similar length for their installation rather than armoured, and you don’t need to bury the cables approximately 600mm, as you do with LV (50V to 1000V AC, 120V to 1500V DC) installations. You can chop through the cable with a shovel without incident; the worst thing that can happen is the lights may stop working and you may need to replace a transformer or driver. Believe me: a shovel can go through armoured too, just to be clear for anyone thinking it offers enough protection.
Armoured is used in LV installs to ensure the fault current goes down the Earth to disconnect the circuit quickly – although, in most armoured installs I’ve seen, the armour is not connected properly so this is now pointless. ELV installations also mean reliability will be better as the lighting can tolerate water in light fittings without causing the safety device to trip.
Whereas, with LV installations, the amount of water in any part of the installation can cause tripping issues – and we all know that few have the luxury of having a dedicated circuit for outdoor lighting. Instead, 90% of the time, we have the lighting installation feed from some part of the kitchen.
Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide
What Is Outdoor Lighting?
Outdoor lighting includes a variety of light fixtures that address and improve exterior home security and safety. Additionally, these outdoor lighting fixtures highlight landscaping and architecture at night and come in a variety of styles and finishes.
Power and Performance
With options ranging from hardwire flood lights to plug-in dusk-to-dawn lights to even solar motion lights, you can find the perfect outdoor flood lights for your landscape and the exterior of your home.
Solar-powered outdoor lighting draws the energy it needs to make the lights operate from sunlight. Though this option can cost more for the initial purchase and setup, you can ultimately save on your energy bill. Be sure to install the solar panels in areas that receive sufficient sunlight, and avoid dark and shadowy areas of your home.
Security and Flood Lights
Security and flood lights are broad-beamed, high-intensity lights designed to flood large areas with light. As a result, these fixtures are often used as a preventive measure to reduce criminal activity and increase feelings of safety, especially when equipped with a motion sensor that causes the light to illuminate when movement is perceived.
Outdoor Wall Lights
Outdoor wall lights mount on virtually any vertical surface and cast an ambient glow. Great for illuminating recessed areas, pathways, walkways and stairways, wall lights help eliminate shadows in recessed areas of architecture or hardscaping, therefore reducing the risk of tripping and accidents.
Outdoor Lighting Guide: Rating, Sizing, Placement, Finish & Style
Outdoor lighting is growing in popularity as an addition to many homes as it not only increases the curb appeal, but helps with security and ensuring the safety of guests. From the gorgeous outdoor pendant that greets you at the front door, to the modern post lighting that guides your way through the back yard, outdoor lighting can help enhance all exterior areas around your home.
While of course there is no law which says you must hang and mount your outdoor lighting fixtures according to our specifications, we have provided a guide of the best practices for sizing and placing various types of outdoor lighting. These practices have been developed not only for aesthetic appeal, but for safety as well. You will find that many frequently asked questions regarding the sizing or placement of particular lighting types will be addressed within the text, tables, and infographics throughout our outdoor lighting guide.
HOW TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A WET OR DAMP RATED LIGHT FIXTURE
When it comes to choosing the perfect fixture for your outdoor area, one of the most important factors is the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating that the fixture carries. UL wet and UL damp ratings are both indicators that your fixture can be installed outdoors. However, these different ratings indicate which outdoor areas are suitable for your fixture. While wet-rated lighting fixtures can stand up to the elements, some damp rated fixtures may only hold up to a certain level of moisture and indirect weathering.
DETERMINING THE SIZE & PLACEMENT OF YOUR LIGHTING FIXTURE
The main goal when determining the size and placement of your outdoor lighting fixtures is to enhance the curb appeal of your home. While it’s certainly fun to get creative with lighting placement around the home, there are safe and effective ways to measure and place your lighting fixtures in various outdoor locations
These safe and effective ways for measuring and placing your fixture have been determined by our ceiling fan and lighting experts from research and personal experience. These guidelines are Del Mar’s best rules of thumbs and best practices to follow to create an elegant appeal. Additionally, certain measurements were determined in order to keep you and your fixture safe from electrical or physical damages. For example, with hanging light fixtures the standard height of seven feet will provide at least six inches of clearance for the majority of people walking below.