Choosing outdoor lighting is an important part of building or renovating an outdoor area. It is important not only for outdoor entertainment but also as a security measure. With all the options available, choosing outdoor lighting can be difficult. It pays to know the type of light to get for your space, based on function, power source, and design.
Lighting by Function
There are several types of lighting available, depending on how you use your outdoor area. You may choose outdoor lighting that fits into one or a combination of these three categories.
The purpose of accent lighting is to draw attention to particular objects, such as trees, water features, or sculptures. Accent lighting can also take attention away from potential eyesores in your landscape, such as sheds.
Task lighting is for aiding vision in your outdoor area for practical reasons. A few examples of task lighting are lights on gates for security, in outdoor kitchens for food preparation, and on stair steps for safety.
Unlike with accent lighting where you use the light to highlight an object, decorative light serves as the focal point of the space. Because of this, decorative light needs to be visually appealing. Note however that decorative lighting can also serve as task lighting or to aid vision in your outdoor area.
Lighting by Power Source
Unless you are using candlelight, outdoor lights are generally either solar-powered or electrically powered.
Solar-powered lights charge during the day and can be used once the sun sets. Other than being environmentally friendly, solar-powered lights require no unsightly cables, which can make them more ideal for visually appealing outdoor design. However, they are generally not as bright as electric light.
Electric lights are generally brighter, making them ideal for spotlights. They are more affordable to purchase but more expensive to maintain, as they are not as energy-efficient as solar powered lights. Also, electric lights require wiring and cables, which can be complicated to install and slightly more difficult to work with for aesthetic purposes.
Lighting by Design
Light design is another factor to consider when choosing outdoor lighting. There is a vast variety of design options for outdoor lighting.
Spotlights are bright lights that are used to feature particular focal points in your landscape, such as a tree, a sculpture, a water feature, or a fancy mailbox.
Uplights are positioned at low points and directed upwards. They can highlight objects and provide ambient light. Downlights, on the other hand, are positioned at high points and directed downwards to illuminate a specific object in a space, such as a car in a carport.
Path lights are placed alongside walkways and paths, while surface lights are built into walls, but can also be put in the ground. Both designs enhance visibility and security.