Progress Lighting P5533 Traditional / Classic 1 Light Outdoor Pendant from the BrassGuard Lanterns Collection, $62.85 (10% off)
Hampton Bay Outdoor Solar LED Walk Lights (6-Pack), $17.28 (30% off) at The Home Depot
Mount the transformer within one foot of a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) and at least one foot above grade, more if you’re subject to heavy snowfalls. Plug in the transformer and install a rain-tight cover over the connection, if one does not already exist.
Post lighting is a very traditional approach to general lighting for an outdoor space. Post lights can provide extra security for garages, walkways, and driveways, while serving as a stylish counterpart to your home’s architecture.
Draw possible cable runs on your plan, and choose the one that uses the least amount of cable. You’ll have better results if you group fixtures by distance from the transformer and run separate cables to each group. If you are using more than one run, try for equal cable lengths and about the same wattage requirements on each.
Even though summer just started, many retailers have already put their outdoor and landscaping products on sale. With months of good weather to get your lawn and garden in top shape, here are some outdoor light fixtures that will certainly provide security, curb appeal, and atmosphere—all at discounted prices.
Tip: You can simulate the effect of many of these lights with a strong flashlight. For an uplighting effect, hold the flashlight below the object or surface you wish to light. For a downlight effect, hold it above. Hold a reflector, such as a piece of white cardboard over the flashlight and place it beside a path to simulate a path light. If the effects you want to achieve are sophisticated, consider discussing them with a landscape lighting designer.
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The fiber-optic lighting in this pool imitates the reﬂection of a starry sky on the water’s surface, transforming an earthly area into an absolutely otherworldly relaxation space.
The wall-mounted lights on the front entryway of this home serve multiple purposes. Their simple and elegant design complements the facade, and their placement provides general lighting, accents the structure, and illuminates the walkway.
Small path lights, like these Hampton Bay Outdoor Solar LED Walk Lights, are great for illuminating the yard, deck, or patio from dusk to night. Since they recharge in the sun and feature LED bulbs, they are also eco-friendly. Find them in a six-pack for just $17.28 (30% off) at The Home Depot.
If you are interested in more about outdoor lighting, consider:
Before burying the cable, observe the effect of the lights at night. Move the fixtures as necessary. Once satisfied, bury the cable in a few inches of soil or anchor with tent pegs and cover with mulch. Then program the transformer to turn the lights on and off automatically as desired.
Planning for Outdoor Lighting Plot out your ideas on graph paper. Draw the footprint of your house to 1/8″ scale and sketch in all major landscape elements, including fences, decks, tree, paths, driveways, and garden beds. Include the location of any existing or proposed outdoor receptacles as well.
Spot light: Similar to floodlights but with a narrower beam for highlighting a specific object, such as a shrub or statuary.
The Tiffany Post Mount from Progress Lighting is now $86.40 (orig. $102.17) at Bob Vila Shop
Installing Low-Voltage Lighting With plan in hand, add up the fixture wattages. Purchase a transformer that’s rated slightly bigger than the total, so you can add a fixture or two later if desired. Most homeowner-grade transformers are designed for outdoor use only. If you want to mount your transformer indoors, upgrade to a commercial-duty transformer. Though often double the cost, pro-quality transformers will also allow you to adjust wattages in multi-line systems to account for voltage drop in your lines. Voltage drop causes unevenly lit fixtures and premature bulb burnout.
In-ground light: 120v or low-voltage fixtures that are buried in the ground and covered with a gasketed lens. The beam can be angled slightly to illuminate a wall, tree, or fence.
The dome copper-like top of the Case Sconce from Pottery Barn was inspired by the lanterns in French markets. Made of iron with glass panels and suspended from a goose-neck wall mount, the fixture is hand-finished in antique copper and black. A pair of sconces are on sale for $359 (regularly $698) online at Pottery Barn.
Types of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures Entry lanterns or sconces: 120-v fixtures that mount beside doors. They should be either frosted glass or shielded to prevent glare. Their size should be proportional to the height and width of the entry area (often defined by a portico).
Related: Landscape Lighting 101 Smart New Choices for Outdoor Lighting Outdoor Lighting: 12 Products to Light Your Way
When less light is sufficient, low-voltage fixtures (12- to 15-v) are the norm. These include accent lights, path lights, and small floodlights. The fixtures are smaller and less obtrusive, use less energy, and are far less worrisome when in wet locations. They can also be plugged into an outdoor receptacle, making them ideal for do-it-yourself installations. The wiring does not require tools, and the cables do not need to be buried.
Connect the cable or cables and lay out the cable according to your plan. Avoid installing the first fixture within 10 feet of the transformer to prevent it from getting too much voltage and burning out prematurely. Install the remaining fixtures at the planned locations. Quick connects make this a tool-less job. Just press the connectors together to push the prongs into either side of the cable.
The first step in this transformation is to educate yourself about the possibilities. Because photos rarely do justice illustrating the amazing possibilities of landscape lighting, keep an eye out for good examples when you’re out for an evening stroll or drive.
Mr Beams MB360 Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor and Photocell, $20.65 (17% off)
Give artwork and fountains the star treatment outdoors with spot lighting. Focusing light on a sculpture or water feature will ensure it remains the focal point of your space no matter what time of day it is.
Recessed lights: 120-v fixtures typically installed in eaves over decks and garage doors. They provide large pools of light but are mostly hidden. Small, low-voltage recessed lights can be used to light stairs, railings, posts, and built-in deck furniture.
Covered patio spaces and pergolas can beneﬁt from outdoor ceiling ﬁxtures. Hanging lights in these spaces not only illuminates the conversation area, but also helps to provide a warm ambience on summer nights.
A pair of Pottery Barn’s Case Sconces are now on sale for just $359 (orig. $698)
Accent lighting can help create a focal point in your outdoor space, highlighting landscaping, railings, or hardscapes. The accent lights on this bar draw attention to the area and provide general atmospheric lighting that sets just the right mood.
Outdoor motion sensor lights are a great outdoor lighting solution for you and the security of your home. The Mr Beams MB360 Wireless Spotlight with Motion Sensor is battery-powered and easy to install. Its LED bulbs mean longer life and fewer replacements. Just $20.64 (17% off) at amazon.com.
Hanging or pendant lighting: 120-v fixtures that are frequently used for entry or porch lighting. Low-voltage hanging lights strung in trees, arbors, and pergolas have become popular as decorative accents.
Installing ﬂood lights around your home will illuminate areas of your property that would otherwise be in darkness after sunset. They’re excellent security enhancements. Put direct ﬂood lights onto treetops to create a spectacular accent for the front or back of your yard.
Landscape lighting can turn a visitor from feeling wary to welcome. It can change the rest of the yard from Nightmare on Elm Street to Some Enchanted Evening, all with the flip of a switch.
Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!
Though small, the wall-mounted ﬁxtures along this stairway provide bright illumination to the treads. Tucked away along the wall, their small profile allows them to create a stunning visual as night falls.
Drawing its inspiration from the masters themselves, this Tiffany Post Mount Light from Progress Lighting is finished in a golden baroque with copper foil “Tiffany”-decorated glass panels. The fixture is designed to fit a 3″ post or pedestal mount (sold separately). You can find it for $86.40 (originally $102.17) at Bob Vila Shop.
Outdoor well lights are installed in the ground and can provide uplight to both structures and landscaping. The well lighting around this pond highlights the plantings and reﬂects on the water below, casting a charming glow over the entire space.
Border a pathway with low-proﬁle ﬁxtures to brighten the walk and enliven the entrance to your home. There are plentiful options in both low-voltage and solar ﬁxtures that can accommodate any style and budget.
You will find more cable plans, like the one above, at Malibu Lights.
Solar-powered outdoor lights, a third option, are of course dependent upon exposure to the sun, and are variable with regard to output and when they turn on. They are best used to light paths where they are exposed to full sun throughout the day. Don’t put them in the shade!
Path lights: Usually low-voltage fixtures that illuminate paths by casting small pools of light on the ground. Sometimes, perforations in the light shield allow the lights themselves to be used as guides.
Floodlights: 120-v or low-voltage fixtures used to light wide expanses and large interesting objects, such as driveways, stonework, and trees.
Tip: Consider using two smaller transformers for larger, more complex installations, rather than one large transformer.
Make notes about what you’d like to illuminate and then decide which fixtures will do the job best. Try to use a variety of lighting techniques. Avoid overly bright and dark areas, and avoid glare for both visitors and your neighbors. Do not place path lights too closely together to avoid the “runway” look. You’ll also have to decide about fixture style, too, of which there are many!
Finally, follow the maker’s directions for the gauge cable you’ll need. Generally, if your cable runs do not exceed 100 feet, you can use 16-gauge cable. If your runs are longer, you’ll need 12- or 14-gauge cable. (The lower the gauge number the heavier the cable.)
The strong lights typically used for entrances and to illuminate large areas, such as driveways and decks, are powered by a 120-volt current. A qualified electrician must wire them directly to your circuit box and the cables, held within a protective conduit, must be buried at least 18 inches below ground. If you have these fixtures, make sure they are UL-listed and approved for outdoor use. The 120-v outdoor lights are also preferred for security applications, especially when combined with motion detection.
Lighting your porch or entryway with a new fixture is a great way to add curb value and an inviting welcome for guests. The Progress Lighting P5533 Traditional/Classic 1 Light Outdoor Pendant can either hang from a chain (2 feet) or mount from a ceiling. Now $62.85 (10% off), with free shipping, from Lighting Direct.
Landscape Lighting 101Add beauty and security to your home exterior with planned landscape lighting.