What are the best outdoor lighting ideas?

Inspiration for outdoor lighting comes from the best ideas and products. Begin with your outdoor entryway wall light, the most prominent light outside your home. It can lead your outdoor lighting design. Consider lighting your walkway, garage, patio, and pillars. There's security, like flush window lighting and your stairs and gates. Outdoor landscape lighting includes walkways, trees, and your pool area.

Anna Lee, The Lighting Lady, Certified Lighting Expert at Hansen Wholesale

Anna Lee Lights it Up!

By Anna Lee,
the Lighting Lady
Certified Residential Lighting Specialist
at Hansen Wholesale

Anna Lee the Lighting Lady would like to inspire your next outdoor lighting project. When you have guests in the evening, your lighting can show off only your best exterior parts. Use her outdoor lighting ideas to set the tone and express all the beauty of your warm and inviting home.

What are the best outdoor lighting ideas?

February 6th, 2017

I'm gonna set the scene. In my younger days, I lived in a hip little flat right on the beach. Which was awesome, I'm not gonna lie.

As you may know, there are no street lights at the beach. One cloudy new-moon night, I moseyed up to my front door after gigging till 2 am. My front door was atop two open flights of stairs made with beachy open wood planks. As I felt around for the lock in the darkness I missed it completely and dropped my keys. Through the wood. Two stories down. Into a flower pot.

It hit me much like that last shot of tequila: "Hey..I know..LET'S INSTALL SOME LIGHTS RIGHT BY THE FRONT DOOR!"


Today we are going to focus on some Outdoor Lighting ideas. We'll start with the most common outdoor fixture called a Wall Lantern or Outdoor Lantern. These are prominently used in entryways, and it's a great place to begin.

When you come home late after work, picking up kids, or an evening out, you want to walk up to a well-lit front door. You want to feel safe and see where to put your key even when you have your hands full. Well-placed lighting can make you feel safe, it can make your home more beautiful, and it can shine some light on your everyday activities.

Front Door / Main Entrance:
This is the first impression you make on those you invite to your home. You have many choices in style and finish to choose from to match your home's style and your own. Most front door entry fixtures are part of a lighting family. A lighting family consists of variations of matching lighting fixtures. In a lighting family, there are many sizes of outdoor wall lanterns. You will find matching pilaster or pillar mounts. And, there are even hanging fixtures and sometimes outdoor chandeliers to match. Looking at lighting families can give you some great outdoor lighting ideas to use for your next project.

Sizing the fixture is particular to the architecture of the home, door size, and the space allowed. Here are a few guidelines:

1. Height:
Mount the fixture(s) at least 66" above the closest standing area (top step, etc....)

2. Type of Bulb / Diode:
LED is the best choice, followed by fluorescent, and incandescent for residential lighting. Check your Building Code. Many areas regulate the type of light bulb you can use in your outdoor lighting.

3. Amount of Light:
Do not go overboard in the amount of light (wattage, etc) in each fixture. If you choose fixtures with clear glass, there is brighter light, but more reflection and glare. If you choose matte or frosted class you will get softer, more diffused lighting. Some LED fixtures only have a top covering and no side covers except for iron work. Check your code. Many cities have codes against light pollution. This means that the top of each fixture must be enclosed so that the light only shines down.

4. Size: A few things to consider here -
LED is the best choice, followed by fluorescent, and incandescent for residential lighting. Check your Building Code. Many areas regulate the type of light bulb you can use in your outdoor lighting.

  • Measure your door height (garage too).
    One quarter the height of your door equals height of your fixture. Or, if you have the room you can go a little bigger.

Example: Your entry door is 6' 8" tall. One quarter of 6' 8" is 1'8". Or,
Example: Your garage door is 7 feet tall. On quarter of 7 feet is 1 foot, 9 inches, so keep your fixture about 1', 9".

  • Consider the size of your entry way.
    Do you have an outdoor foyer? Also, do you have a cupola or cathedral ceiling leading to your door? Is there a mailbox or doorbell directly under where you would install your fixture? Adjust your height according to space provided and scale of your entry. Don't forget to account for shadows from normal standing position in front of the light.
  • Photocell? Motion sensor?
    This is up to you and the way you have your home wired. You might have smart house, or you might like the idea of a photocell or motion sensing. A photocell automatically turns your lights on when it gets dark and off during daylight. I suggest NOT having a photocell or motion sensor on your entry light. You need that light to be on when you need it, not when a sensor thinks you do. Leave it to the old fashioned switch.

We have some amazing brands, styles, sizes, and lighting families in outdoor lighting. I hope you're able to use these outdoor lighting ideas on your next project. There really is so much to know about outdoor lighting... I will go into other areas in future blogs.

I hope I helped to enlighten you!

- Anna Lee, the Lighting Lady
Certified Residential Lighting Specialist, Hansen Wholesale