Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Don't be overwhelmed with the variety of outdoor lighting fixtures. Consider the features and your lighting needs when choosing fixtures to extend living outdoors.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

Outdoor light fixtures can add style, as well as light and security, to the exterior of a house and offer a variety of decorating options and price ranges. Take an evening walk around your favorite neighborhood to notice the various effects of outdoor security lighting. You'll see how a pair of coach lights makes a front door stately and inviting while deterring intruders who avoid well-lighted entries. It is a stylish home accent that illuminates house numbers, the stairs or entryway for visitors. You'll notice why a lighted side entrance is a comforting welcome to owners returning late in the night as it helps them find the keyhole, and provides a handy place to rest packages.

The fixtures operate on the standard 120V line voltage used in the rest of a house and range in price from $100 or more. You'll find outdoor fixtures in a variety of styles sold at lighting and home centers. They come in a palette of finishes including brass, nickel, bronze and hammered metal. They have clear and frosted glass and require one-to three light bulbs, which are sold separately.

To replace an old fixture with a new one you can do it yourself if you have electrical experience, use the installation service at the retailer where you buy the fixture or hire an electrician. Definitely hire an electrician if you're adding a new fixture because a new electrical line requires a licensed professional.

The best location for a wall-mounted fixture on house siding is along the upper third of the door. If you're replacing one it is usually predetermined by the location of the existing fixture.

A home with a porch or covered front entry often requires more than one fixture. A hanging pendant lantern installed overhead provides general lighting, while a wall-mounted fixture on the siding illuminates the front door. To create a consistent stylish look, choose a style with both hanging and wall-mounted models of fixtures.

Lighting a yard with a 7-to-8-foot high lamp post is an attractive addition to any landscape. Use the post alone or dress it up with a planter box or a garden bed to mark the entrance to a front walkway, driveway or garage. You'll pay about $160 for the post, plus $240 more for an electrician to install it 30 feet or less from the house.

A strictly utilitarian security light, also called a flood light, which sell for about $40, is a good choice where a wide cast of light is needed. Place one at the roof peak of a shed or garage to light up the property, a convenience at night when you're letting the dog out for a run.

Many of these fixtures are sold with a built-in motion sensor that kicks on the light when someone comes within its range, a deterrent to an intruder who prefers to work in darkness.

Don't want to get involved doing this job yourself? Click Home Advisor, a free referral services that matches homeowners with local prescreened contractors.

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