A Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Lighting

A Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Lighting

The benefits of outdoor lighting should never be underestimated. From the glamour and elegance of showcasing your home’s features to the security of floodlights, the possibilities are endless.

It can be a tad overwhelming, too. With a plethora of lighting options available, how do you really know what’s going to be best? Don’t worry. Metropolitan Electrical Contractors is going to help shed some light on your outdoor lighting options.

Our beginner’s guide to outdoor lighting is your first step on a well-lit journey!

Types of Outdoor Lighting

Garden lighting is integral to the look and feel of the home. From pathways to the pool, the fish pond to the shed, both safety and beauty can be achieved. Outdoor lighting is the missing piece of the puzzle that takes a space from nighttime lurker to the star of the show.

Wall Sconces

You’ll usually find wall sconces, also referred to as wall lights/wall light fixtures, in entryways, alongside garage doors or near windows. They illuminate the direct surroundings to provide ease of access at night.

Wall sconces combine form and function so you can show off key features and also see where you’re going late at night. Lights should be located above eye level so no shadows are cast, providing clarity no matter how dark it is. Security features such as sensor functions can also be included.

Ceiling Lights and Hanging Pendants

Pendant lights are perfect for a wide variety of spaces, including pergolas, verandas and patios. The versatility of hanging or non-hanging ceiling lights also means height is never an issue. You can select a design that is suitable for your exact requirements.

With styles ranging from vintage and classic to modern and contemporary, the overall aesthetic can always be maintained. It’s also possible to incorporate a ceiling fan for additional cooling. That means you can always entertain in a classy, elegant manner through all seasons.

String Lights

For a more low key vibe, string lights are a DIY task that can be added to any home/garden. String lights provide a casual, colourful mood that’s just right for a party with friends or a romantic backyard picnic.

Home Outdoor Lighting

Post Lights

Outdoor lights such as post lights offer 360 degrees of coverage. They can be placed on a lamp post or as additional lighting along fences and paths. Post lights will help you define boundaries, pathways and driveways with a clear distinction between areas.

Landscape and Garden Lights

LED garden lights are among the most popular outdoor lighting available. You can show off the depth of your garden, including shrubs, statues, ponds and birdbaths. The goal is not always spotlighting specific features, either.

By using a warm light, landscape lights are a subtle way to provide visibility while using the space at night. Low-lying garden lights will also need to be durable and waterproof so that the kids and your sprinklers won’t damage them.

Security Lights and Floodlights

The most powerful outdoor lights should always be your security and floodlights. Typically paired with motion sensors, security lights have high, broad beams which illuminate large swathes of the yard and home. Floodlight installation is very important, and the security lights should be tactically placed on corners of a home for all-round coverage.

There are a few types of floodlights, too. Some can be set to turn on at dusk and switch off at dawn. Others only switch on when triggered by movement. Meanwhile, you can always control the lights with a flick of a switch so you have lighting when coming home or taking the bins out.

Outdoor Security Floodlights

Lumens = Brightness

In the past, halogen lightbulb performance was measured using watts. However, the relationship between power consumption and light output never quite matched up. That’s why lumens is now the standard of light output measurement.

In modern LED lights, energy is converted to light instead of heat. Old halogen bulbs, unfortunately, produced a large amount of heat alongside light. That’s why LED lights always use far fewer watts but still put out the same amount of light. So, for example, a current 9W LED produces roughly 800 lumens, similar to the output of a 50W halogen bulb.

In terms of your outdoor lighting, your ideal range can vary but you should look for:

  • 1000+ lumens for floodlights
  • 400-500 lumens for security lights
  • 10-200 lumens for paths and/or steps
  • 200-400 lumens for ponds and/or pools
  • 120-180 lumens for lamp posts and feature spotlights

Bear in mind that you can also go higher than the numbers mentioned above. There are floodlights which are 5000+ lumens, for example.

Outdoor Lighting Colour Temperature

Another element to consider is colour temperature, which refers to how cool or warm the light is. You’ll often hear or read about warm white lights and cool white lights in certain settings. For example, living rooms and bedrooms benefit from soft, warm lights for a subdued mood while kitchens require cool lights for neutral, clear illumination.

It’s important to acknowledge that colour doesn’t refer to things like red or green, nor does temperature refer to heat. Cool lights will have more of a blue tinge, though, while warm light produces a yellow/amber tone. 

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin (K). Low temperatures are warmer, with most warm bulbs around 2700-3000K and cool white bulbs at 3300-5300K. For comparison, daylight sits at 6500K.

Solar Power v Battery v Hardwired

Your outdoor lighting power source is another important factor. And depending on what use, solar, battery or hard wiring may be best.

Solar powered lights typically cost more to purchase, but the savings appear quickly. The solar powered outdoor lights need to be located under direct sunlight for maximum efficiency.

Plug-in/powerpoint lights will require access to a power outlet. That means you need to consider the power cord and extension cord accessibility. Plug-in lights are a simple DIY addition to any home.

Hardwired lights are connected directly to your home’s mains power. Contact a local, licensed electrician to ensure safe installation of all hardwired outdoor lighting.

Not sure who to call? You’re already here! Metropolitan Electrical Contractors is your go-to team for all outdoor lighting solutions. 


Published: 11 May, 2021

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