How to Light Your Backyard for Comfort and Entertaining

Ready to spruce up your outdoor living space for the summer? Here are some important things to consider.

Wet vs. Damp Location

How to Light Your Backyard for Comfort and Entertaining - LightsOnline Blog

Yes, water and electricity can mix when you choose the properly protected lighting fixtures for the outdoors — all you have to do is check the label or product description. There are two safety designations for outdoor lighting fixtures; “wet” and “damp.”

The “damp location” label means the lighting fixture, portable lamp, or ceiling fan is safe to use outdoors providing there is a covering overhead – such as a covered porch, lanai, or beneath a roof overhang – to prevent water from directly coming into contact with the power connection. You will often see outdoor chandeliers, outdoor ceiling fans and outdoor hanging lights with a damp area rating.

The “wet location” designation on a fixture, lamp, or ceiling fan means the product can be exposed to rain/water without overhead protection, such as on a patio, deck, or in a pool area. The wall lantern shown above is wet located rated, as are most wall lanterns since they are usually mounted in an exposed area. Some, but not all, outdoor ceiling fans are wet rated, too.

Damp area rated outdoor light recommendations: Savoy House Eden outdoor chandelier, Hinkley Porter outdoor ceiling light, Hunter Key Biscayne ceiling fan, Savoy House Ellijay hanging lantern, Kichler Wright outdoor chandelier

Wet area rated outdoor light recommendations: Generation Lighting Redding Station outdoor wall light, Savoy House Macauley outdoor wall lantern, Matthews Donaire outdoor ceiling fan, Arteriors Puzol outdoor pendant, Hinkley Sawyer outdoor chandelier

Form a Lighting Strategy

How to Light Your Backyard for Comfort and Entertaining - LightsOnline Blog

You might think there isn’t much to consider when selecting and placing your outdoor lighting, but creating a relaxing mood takes a little planning. Whether for dining outdoors with family or entertaining friends for a casual party, the goal is to have a lower light level with a warm, comforting glow that makes everyone look great (think sunset or campfire light).

If you have floodlights as part of your security system, they are not a good choice for illumination when kicking back outside. Not only do they provide glare, but many are in a color temperature that is an unflattering bright white (“cool” tone). Instead, choose light bulbs or lighting fixtures that offer a “very warm white” (2200K) or “warm white” (2700K) for areas where people will be spending time. These temperatures are closest to those you use indoors when dining or relaxing in the evening. If you love a lighting fixture that comes with an incandescent light bulb in a cool temperature, simply replace the bulb with new one in a warmer temperature. (If the fixture has an “integrated LED light,” it cannot be switched out.)

How to Light Your Backyard for Comfort and Entertaining - LightsOnline Blog

For seating areas where an overhead chandelier or pendant is not an option, there are portable lamps and lanterns that are safe to use outdoors — look for those “wet” and “damp” listings mentioned earlier.

Covered porches have the most versatility when it comes to the amount of lighting styles available since they can accommodate damp-rated pendants, chandeliers, and portable lamps. If the overhead light will be above a dining table, look for one that will supply enough illumination on the tabletop so that seats and place settings are easy to see and no one is sitting in shadow. If the overhead lighting is for a porch where only casual seating will take place, look for a fixture that is close to the ceiling to minimize glare and avoid any obstruction in porches with low ceilings. If the porch is long, you might need two or three fixtures to evenly light the space and eliminate any shadows that could cause someone to misstep or trip.

For maximum visual enjoyment, highlight a few select trees and shrubs along the property’s boundary or garden beds using landscape lighting. There is a wide variety of fixtures designed specifically for this purpose. Creating several focal points makes the backyard look bigger by drawing attention further out; people feel more comfortable when they are not surrounded by darkness.

Watch Your Step

How to Light Your Backyard for Comfort and Entertaining - LightsOnline Blog

At the minimum, improving your outdoor lighting is necessary for safety. Illuminating steps and changes in elevation in the backyard, on decks and porches, and along pathways will eliminate shadows that could lead to a fall at night. For maintenance-free performance that will last for years, select fixtures that have LED lamping.  These types of lighting fixtures do not have to be basic and boring; there are so many decorative options for each scenario that will literally enhance the look of your home.

Outdoor safety lighting recommendations: Kichler Seaside path light, Hinkley Hardy Island deck light, WAC color-changing accent light, Hinkley Atlantis path light, Kichler landscape accent light

Where can you find all of the types of outdoor lighting fixtures you need to make your backyard extra warm and welcoming this summer? has it all, in stock and at affordable prices.

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