Nothing says summer like a backyard barbecue or bash with friends and family. For those times when your get-together goes on past dusk, you’ll need some outdoor lighting to keep the party lit — both literally and figuratively. Outdoor lighting can amp up the ambiance of your patio, yard or deck, but also help improve your home’s security, safety and curb appeal.
Entertainment with outdoor lighting
A set of string lights, hurricane lanterns or tiki torches can add some illumination to your exterior hangout spot in a pinch, but professionals offer more permanent options to take your outdoor lighting to the next level. Backyard lighting doesn’t have to be a simple bulb besides your door.
Experts can install patio lighting to create a stunning ambiance in your outdoor hangout area, lighting up grilling and seating areas so you can party well past nightfall. They can set up your outdoor lighting system on a single circuit and also ensure that low voltage options keep your utility costs down. The option of LEDs can also reduce your costs in the long run (as well as during installation), even though the bulbs cost more upfront.
Aesthetics of outdoor lighting
Strategically installed outdoor lighting is a great way to highlight your landscaping as well as the architectural features of your home. Consider illuminating garden areas or underlighting attractive trees or bushes on your property. Cast a light on garden structures or hardscapes.
You can also mount exterior lights on your home to highlight arches, dormers, columns or other interesting or unique design features. Some options for exterior and landscape accent lighting:
Home improvement stores sell products for DIYers, but professionals who offer lighting design services can help you make the most out of your outdoor features.
Security and outdoor lighting
Exterior lighting can help deter would-be burglars from targeting your home. Installing flood lights, for example, and other strategically placed outdoor fixtures can make your home look like a less appealing place to lurk or make it appear your abode is occupied even when you’re away.
Flood lights, which are a good option for home security, can cast a beam of up to 40 degrees — just use these sparingly so as not to annoy your neighbors or contribute unnecessarily to light pollution.
Consider these options:
Continuous lighting: Keeps the lights on all night.
Motion-detected lighting: Flashes on when something or someone moves in proximity to your home — be it friendly visitors or potential thieves.
You can also install a combination of the two types of lighting. A professional electrician can dedicate a circuit to your outdoor lighting to help avoid shorts.
Outdoor lighting safety
Have a professional install pathway lighting along your front and backyard walks to provide safe passage around your property at night. You can set your lights on a timer that corresponds to sundown and sunrise depending on the time of year so that no one even has to be home to turn on the lights.
Some ideas: Garden lights that cast a canopy of light can make great pathway markers. Downlights can be mounted on trees or structures to illuminate the ground.
Outdoor lighting installation and repairs
Common outdoor electrical problems can range from frequently burnt out bulbs to corrosion and broken electrical connections. Hire a electrical professional for any wiring updates you need — they’ll be trained on proper code and safety procedures for working with currents. Especially if you have an older home or suspect that a prior homeowner has done some DIY work that could be dangerous, call a pro.
Make sure that your outdoor electrical fixtures and lighting is properly protected from weather and pests. The elements can cause corrosion and create electrical hazards over time with exposure.
It’s also a great idea to ensure that all outdoor outlets are ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for safety. GFCI outlets shut off a circuit when they detect a current flowing along an unintended and unsafe path, such as through a person or water
The National Electrical Code requires that all new installations of outlets in kitchens, bathrooms and most outdoor settings have GFCI. If you’re having any other lighting or electrical work done on your exterior, retrofitting any old outlets to bring them up to code is a great idea.
Among many other home repair and improvement services, John C. Flood offers lighting and lighting design to customers in the Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; and DMV area. We offer a full range of electrical services.