How to Select Outdoor Lighting

How to Select Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting makes a home look and feel more inviting, cozy, and warm. Adding layered indoor lighting can transform your home into a luxurious space, making it stand out from the rest. Why not add the same luxurious look to your outdoor oasis? Whether you are lighting your outdoor entryway, path, poolside, patio or deck, or landscape, subtle lighting additions will bring these areas to life. Each fixture serves a different purpose, that is why we encourage you to 1) Identify the different types of lighting 2) Determine the purpose/location of the lights 3) Pick the right size 4) Start layering your lights. Read on to learn how to pick and style the best lighting for the outdoors. 

Types of Outdoor Lighting 

Wall Lights - are great for illuminating the exterior of your home, emphasizing architectural details and lighting entryways and driveways. Modern outdoor wall lights are the most common solution for outdoor lighting and are available in different sizes, colors, and finishes.

Entrance lights

Ceiling Lights - help compose attractive, engaging outdoor spaces that balance the beauty and comfort we create inside our homes. If your living space has a porch or ceiling covering part of the outside area, or perhaps a covered patio, then outdoor ceiling lights are a great option. It is important to ensure that the ceiling light you select is rated for outdoor, wet locations, and is specifically designed to be used outdoors all year round.

Ceiling Lights

Ceiling Fans - are a practical solution to combating the summer heat. They are the perfect alternative way to light and ventilate an outside space. Outdoor fans are also useful in an exterior building or outhouse, such as a barn or work shed.

Ceiling Fans

Pendant Lights - hang down from a chain or stem or cord, with a hanging lantern or pendant on the end. The pendant lights will radiate light sideways in all directions, as well as some light emitting downwards.

Pendant Lights

Outdoor Table and Floor Lamps - are a terrific way to make decks, patios and terraces into true extensions of your home. Especially during the warmer summer months, when outdoor entertaining is the norm, an outdoor floor lamp or two can add both practical lighting and enough ambience to turn an outdoor space into a warm, stylish area for dining, entertaining, or simply enjoying the evening hours. They are designed to be weather-resistant and waterproof, with insulated electrical parts and carefully designed bodies. 

Have you seen outdoor portable table lamps? This option has become increasingly popular over the years because of their portability, durability, and effectiveness. Outdoor table lamps are typically battery-powered and can be charged via a USB cable. They are extremely flexible and can be placed in multiple indoor or outdoor areas to illuminate a space.

Portable Table Lamps

Landscape and Accent Lighting - are designed to be positioned into the ground and to rise up a short distance to light the surrounding area. They serve more of an aesthetic purpose than a security or task one. As such, landscape and accent lighting tend to be less bright than full-scale light fixtures and so you may need at least a few of them to light a specific pathway or driveway. These types of outdoor lighting fixtures are great for bringing attention to plants, trees, flower arrangements, shrubs, and other yard elements to further evoke a feeling of comfort and serenity.

Landscape Lighting

Purpose, and Location

There are many factors to consider when selecting the best lights for your outdoor space. You will want to consider the multiple sources of light you might need to either provide light at an entryway or add cozy table lamps to your patio furniture. Also be aware of the climate and what lights can withstand hot or cold temperatures, and exposure to precipitation. Here is our guide for different locations: 

Location  Type or Size
Front Door Large all-mounted lights
Front Porch Ceiling flushmount or pendants
Secondary/side Entrance Large wall-mounted lights
Rear Door Small wall-mounted lights
General Lighting/Covered Area Outdoor ceiling fan
Task Lighting Outdoor hanging pendant, chandelier, or lamps
Portable area Lighting Portable LED lamps


If you need help selecting the best lights for your outdoor space please contact us. We’d be happy to assist you on the phone, by email, or in person.

Picking the Right Size

  • One fixture? Your light should be approximately 1/3 the height of the door.
  • Two fixtures flanking the front door? Your wall lights can be as little as 1/4 the height of the door. Go a bit larger if you have double front doors.

Size lights

Ratings - Damp vs Wet Rated

  • Damp Rated - A damp rated fixture is ideal for covered places—think porches and patios—and cannot be directly exposed to water, even in a storm.
  • Wet Rated - A wet rated fixture can be exposed to direct precipitation.
Location Rating for Outdoor Lighting

Energy Efficiency

LED Lights are a great choice for outdoor lighting. The energy efficiency of LED lights makes them much cooler than incandescent lights and CFLs. The lower temperature makes them much safer to handle. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release about 90% of their energy as heat, and CFLs release 80 percent. 

Some of the Benefits of LEDs include:

  • Long life (around 15 years): low to no maintenance
  • Low energy use cuts electricity bills
  • Color control: color temperature choices set the mood and enhance décor
  • Fewer insect annoyances: high-quality LEDs produce less heat and UV light, both of which attract bugs

LED Light

Pro Tips:

  1. You might find it helpful to cut out a piece of paper the size of the light you are considering purchasing, taping it to your wall, then standing back a distance to get an idea of what it will look like.
  2. Don’t Over Light - A little light goes a long way outdoors. A common mistake most homeowners make is using too bright a bulb outside. A bulb that uses a lower wattage or has a lower lumens output is generally adequate in the dark, creating subtle, elegant accents.
  3. Layer lighting for a luxurious look and feel. Pair an outdoor ceiling fan with step lights and portable table lamps.