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A Beginner’s Guide to Outdoor Lights

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Jessica
09.04.13

What offers safety, peace-of-mind and a better social life?

Outdoor lights! A few well-placed lamps can do a lot more than just brighten your yard – their presence can deter shady characters, boost curb appeal and add some serious style to an outdoor living space.

Before you run to the store to buy new lights, it’s important to set some goals. Lights are like people – each one has different strengths, and you want to find a type that fits your needs like a glove. Is it all about the backyard parties? Do you want to boost your curb appeal? Or is security your primary concern?

Use this guide to determine what light-type is right for you.

Pricing Note: There’s a wide price range for each light-type depending on bulbs, power source and materials. The ranges we listed will give you a basic sense, but there will definitely be outliers.

Safety Note: Installing outdoor lights can take some electrical finesse. Unless you’re comfortable working with electrical wires, we recommend that you call a professional to do the job. 

Safety and Security

Walkway lights. ($15-$100) According to the Home Safety Council, falls are the most common home injury. Prevent a tumble from happening outside of your home by adding walkway lights along sidewalks, driveways and any entryways (don’t forget the garage!). Bonus: Walkway lights add curb appeal, which can increase the value of your home when it’s time to sell.

Motion detector lights. ($20-$200) Motion detector lighting is simple: If someone (or something) moves in front of the fixture, the light switches on. After a preset period of time, the light automatically turns off. Not only does this deter burglars, it also prevents you (and guests) from stubbing your toe when you enter or leave at night.

Flood lights. ($75-$200) If you like the benefits of motion detector lights, but want something a little stronger, then flood lighting may be for you. Flood lighting (also called channel lighting or zone lighting) turns on automatically at night and doesn’t shut off until the sun rises. It can illuminate a yard, driveway, patio, garden or pool, which makes it easier to see into your yard at night while also deterring burglars in a serious way. Note: If you want flood lighting on a budget, consider lights that don’t turn on automatically when the sun sets. They’re much less expensive (this model is $25). You just have to manually flip the switch.

Social Use and Curb Appeal

Candle lights. ($5-$20) If you aren’t looking for a full-blown electrical change – but you want to add some light to an outdoor soiree – consider using candle lanterns or torches. These no-hassle options create great-looking light and set the mood without having to hire an electrician or even plug anything in.

Uplights. ($15-$75) These lights – aptly named because they sit on the ground and point up – are a great, cost-effective way to add light to a patio or outdoor seating area. Uplights can also be used to showcase something specific in your yard, like a great piece of décor or a large tree.

Landscape lights. ($15-$100) If you’re looking for a low-budget way to add major curb appeal, consider using landscape lights. These lights won’t necessarily scare off an intruder or light up a dinner party, but they will illuminate plants, shrubs and décor accents (which looks great from the road).

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