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The Ins and Outs of Outdoor Lighting

Even though the sunlight is lasting longer and longer these days, it’s bound to set on your outdoor entertaining at some point.  It’s important to be prepared for any upcoming gathering with the proper lighting options that can create mood and preserve the safety of the space.  When you’re looking to add brightness in a way that coordinates with the design of your outdoor space, keep these things in mind.

Include a little of each type of lighting.

From a decorator’s perspective, there are three main forms of lighting that you need to consider:  task, ambient, and accent.  Task lights are the most functional (and often the brightest.)  Examples include pathway markers, lampposts illuminating stairs, and the flood-style deck or security lights.  You need to have these to ensure the safety of your family and guests, but they’re not always the most exciting options (stylistically.)  That’s why you also incorporate ambient lighting, to add some fun and set the mood. 

Choose modern hanging lights, wall sconces, or even decorative posts to enhance the amount of light available in a way that improves the feel of your outdoor entertaining space.  The last (and most exciting) type is accent lighting.  Everything from twinkling fairy lights to candles to Tiki torches fall into this particular category.  While not especially great at proving bright, uniform light, they are typically much easier to change, so you can have different accents for different times of the year or even individual parties!  With the right combination of all three, your deck or patio will be bustling in no time.

Plan for your space.

While choosing styles is more fun than conducting calculations, you’ll need to do some of the latter to have the right proportions and wattage.  How much light you’ll actually need usually depends on the square footage of your space.  As a general rule of thumb, you can multiply the square footage of your outdoor area by 1.5 to get the desired wattage.  So, at 200 square feet, you’ll need around 300 watts of functional lighting.

 Keep these numbers in mind when choosing your fixtures too.  Large overhanging lights may provide too much wattage, or take up too much space in a small patio.  Try to go shopping with an idea of where you’d like the light(s) to go, and maybe even some measurements to limit the amount of returns you have to make.  Don’t forget about other practical measures like choosing weather-proof options and locating lighting near electrical sources.  Any connector and/or wire should be properly insulated from the elements, too.

With all of the care you put into your deck or patio, you want people to be able to see it!  Installing unique outdoor lighting is a great way to add the finishing touches to your outdoor space, while incorporating your personal style even more.  Before you host the first backyard gathering, try out some of our suggestions to ensure everyone has a safe, happy time at your home.