Some 90 percent of Americans say outdoor living spaces are more vital now than ever, according to a 2021 survey by the International Casual Furnishings Association. And with summer in full swing, it’s an excellent time to join that trend. When making improvements to your home’s environs, don’t forget to hit the lights. There have been a lot of advances in outdoor illumination of late.
Here’s a look at some of the types and trends in outdoor lighting to help you design a front- and a backyard that’ll enhance your home’s functionality and provide security.
One way to keep intruders and harmful animals strangers instead of house guests is with security lighting ($300 per light). Sure, you could install the large spotlights that’ll give your place the charm of Alcatraz. Or, you could use floodlights. These babies emit a large pool of light, allowing a wide range of vision. Hang these on the exterior wall or siding of your home at angles that capture bigger areas, like your backyard, side or front yard.
Trends in security lighting: Motion-sensing floodlights ($35-$200) combine the best of both worlds: Since movement triggers these lights, they’ll only come on when someone or something sets them off.
Moreover, some models like the Ring floodlight will light up your yard to 2,000 lumens and provide 70 feet of range — both of which should be plenty to help you spot potential intruders. When considering motion-sensor floodlights, search for ones that connect to other smart home devices like cameras or “smart” lights and possess a weather-proof body. If you’re considering hiring someone to install the lights, the average cost runs from $370. Or, you could pay up to $550 for smart LED options; these allow you to brighten/dim lights and turn them on and off with a remote.
A smart light also has other capabilities. “It can switch colors according to mood, select specific bulbs, turn on and off, etc.,” says Kimo Quance, a San Diego realtor, broker and owner of the Kimo Quance Group. However, “as cool as it sounds, the budget needs to be equally large for it. Usually, per piece of an LED bulb can cost from $100 to $300.”
Have you tried walking up a sidewalk or driveway when it’s dark? It becomes a guessing game of where do I step next. Path/driveway lighting ($50-$150 per light) eliminates the guesswork. You’ll install these at ground level adjacent to your walking paths, sidewalk, or driveway, helping folks find their way.
Trends in path lighting: Solar lights have become a popular choice for pathways, since they don’t require wiring. The evolution of styles includes some tantalizing options. “White solar firework style lights are a fabulous new way to add variety and height. They nestle into flower beds and next to shrubs to add subtle glow and texture to your yard,” says Anne Keery, owner of PatioGateway.com.
You could also consider LED step lights ($85-$100) for your home’s entry points. As their name suggests, they come in flat strips of LED lighting to illuminate stairs.
Moreover, deck lights wedge into the groove of the deck’s surface, providing a well-lit walkway up and down your porch. It’ll cost you $75-$150 to install them. Meanwhile, pool lights affix to the side of your pool. It allows you to see when swimming at night and may stop you from falling in when strolling in the pool area at night. Pool lights run you $300 to $500 on average.
Patio, porch and landscape lighting
Patio lighting provides great visibility. In turn, you will be able to navigate the area easily, cooking, working and enjoying in general. Patio lights cost $50 to $200 for each unit.
Meanwhile, porch lights also provide much-needed visibility when doing late-night activities or keeping an entry point well-lit to ward off intruders. They can also shine a light on your house number, enabling delivery services to locate your home quickly. Prices for porch lights average $65 to $250 per light.
Trends in patio and porch lighting: Outdoor wall lights continue to grow in popularity. A popular placement technique is to install them every few feet on your home’s outer walls. You could also install uplights. Unlike most lights, which project downward, you place these on the ground at an upward angle to illuminate your home’s exterior features.
Also, pergolas have become all the rage. If you have one or are considering one, lighting will be an integral part of it. After all, it won’t be fun to have an outdoor dinner party if you can’t see anyone or your food. A popular trend is to add string lights ($100 to $200 per 50-foot strand). They offer a decorative charm and enhanced functionality, creating the perfect environment.
And don’t forget about shedding lights on those jolly green giants in your yard. Fairy lights ($20 and up) add a touch of elegance to landscaping, lighting up trees and branches. You can also use them in shrubs.
Decorative lighting — soft, low-voltage accent illumination — fulfills many purposes: it can highlight areas of your outdoor living space, provide a charming backdrop for entertaining, and enhance functionality.
Trends in decorative lighting: Lanterns add a unique design pop. Use them to accent the architectural details of your home by attaching them near access points like doors. You can also buy battery-powered tabletop options to keep the light at eye level while not detracting from other lighting fixtures you might have. Bob Vila recommends using ones possessing translucent coating, as they provide glare-free light.
Final word on outdoor lighting
Installing some sorts of illumination, especially string or other decorative lights, aren’t that big a deal. However, you might need a landscape light designer, electrician, or both to help you complete a larger outdoor lighting job. The average installation for extensive outdoor lighting is $3,000, though the size of your yard, the style of fixtures, and the power source (solar, battery-powered or hardwired) all influence price.
“Hardwired outdoor lights permanently connect to your home’s electrical system. Installing them requires some basic electrical knowledge and the help of an electrician. It will cost you around $50 to $100 per hour to hire a professional,” says Tyler Forte, co-founder, and CEO of FreshBuilds.
Home lighting has come a long way since those old floodlights over the garage doors. But do keep costs in mind when considering which outdoor lights to add.