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Exterior Night lighting—Outdoors at any Hour

by | Sep 17, 2020

Robert Markley

Robert Markley is a licensed Landscape Architect with over 20 years of experience working with clients to provide excellence in landscape design, project management, and installation services. He also possesses a rare combination of skills as a horticulturist, licensed Landscape Contractor, and licensed Irrigation Contractor, equipping him to provide a comprehensive and practical approach to any project, big or small. He takes pride in helping our clients envision and create amazing outdoor spaces that are enjoyed now and for years to come.

Adding some exterior night lighting to your backyard space and elevate it from a boring backyard to a fabulous escape from the real world. Lighting will also increase the safety and curb appeal of your property.

Get started

The first thing you will need to do when adding exterior night lighting to your yard is your current setup. Do you already have lighting fixtures installed? What about outlets and connections? If you don’t, you are likely going to need to hire an electrician to get your home equipped for outdoor lighting.

Pathway Exterior Night Lighting
Choosing what to highlight

Now you must choose what you want to highlight with your design. Is it your backyard pool? A fountain or water feature? Landscaping? Flowers? To help you narrow it down, you should think about features in your yard that you love. Highlight those so that you can show them off. You can also add some drama to areas that might otherwise not stand out. Also, think about function. A deck or stairs may really benefit from some extra light when it comes to safety.

Choosing your exterior night lighting

Your choice of light is likely going to primarily be flood lights, spot lights of path lights. You can choose one or do a combination of all three, depending on how elaborate you want your lighting design to be. Flood lights can cast a wide beam that’s suitable for illuminating large areas. Spot lights will disperse a narrow beam of light, typically less than 45 degrees wide. Path lights, obviously, are most effective for lighting paths and walkways. Once that’s decided, now you have to choose whether you want LED, halogen or fluorescent lighting. Halogen bulbs produce a higher intensity light that is whiter and brighter than fluorescent lighting. They also use more electricity and emit considerable heat compared to fluorescent lighting which produces very little heat while giving off cool, visible light. Fluorescent lighting is also cheaper and more energy efficient than halogen but the bulbs do present a possible health risk if broken because they contain mercury, a toxic substance. On the other hand, LED is quickly becoming the crowd favorite due to its performance. It lasts longer and uses much less energy than other types of light. But, it’s important to keep in mind that LED is going to cost more than halogen or fluorescent lighting.

Water Feature Exterior Night LightingColor temperature and degrees

Another factor to take into consideration is the correlated color temperature (CCT). This is the color of light produced by the light source and is measured on a temperature scale called Kelvin (K). The higher the Kelvin value of the light source, the closer the light’s color hue will be to actual sunlight. When you are purchasing a bulb, the Kelvin value will be displayed on the packaging. For example, if you want the lighting to have a blue hue, look for bulbs in the 4200K range. For an amber hue, choose bulbs with an output of 3500K or lower while a range of 3500-4100K will give you a white hue.

Decorative Exterior Night LightingCreating effects

When you are creating your exterior night lighting configuration, you will want to keep in mind that a spotlight has a 15 degree spread. A narrow flood light offers 30 degrees in coverage and a wide flood light has a 60 degree saturation. If you’re looking to illuminate a garden or path in your yard, you could place the light inside of a tree or a trellis that is facing down over the area that you are hoping to focus on, this process is called downlighting.

Other areas to consider lighting 

  • Around your patio or deck to bring some ambiance and mood lighting to those late-night gatherings.
  • The driveway. A well lit driveway is more inviting and welcoming and it will also keep your property safe by deterring criminals.

Landscape lighting from a professional

In order to really transform and illuminate your property’s best features, we recommend working with a professional. There is a huge difference between the lighting that is installed by a professional and what the average homeowner can do.

When you DIY, you are missing out on artistic, professional touches that will give your home a premium aesthetic. You will also miss out on high-end materials and the latest lighting technology. This is important because professional-grade exterior night lighting fixtures can last for decades so you won’t find yourself running to the big box stores year after year. If you’re looking for a pro to install your exterior night lighting, contact us for a quote!

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