Should I Install Outdoor Lighting? Read This First

Candace Nelson
Written by Candace Nelson
Updated December 21, 2021
A contemporary illuminated house at dusk
Photo: Dariusz Jarzabek / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Outdoor lighting reduces the risk of injury and makes the home look inviting.

  • Professionally installed landscape lighting costs between $2,000 and $4,500 on average.

  • Solar-powered lights are easy to install with no impact on your energy bill.

  • Landscape lighting projects require outdoor-rated materials.

  • Outdoor lighting fixtures come in various styles, shapes, and colors to fit your preferences.

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Landscape lighting can be the difference between a hot pizza delivered to your door and the delivery person tripping over your front steps and dropping the pizza. But it’s not all about safety. Outdoor light can also give your yard a luxurious feel. Imagine summer nights under twinkling lights on your patio or the welcoming glow of a ceiling fixture above the front door. Let’s take a look at how outdoor light designs can be an asset to your family and property.

The Pros of Adding Outdoor Lighting to Your Home

In addition to putting a spotlight on anyone with criminal intentions, outdoor lighting increases curb appeal, lights up walkways for safety, and enhances outdoor living areas. 

Outdoor Lights Improve Safety 

A dark property poses several safety risks. When walkways and stairs are not lit properly, it’s hard for family and visitors to see where they’re going and spot any obstacles in the way. That’s when trips and falls happen. Subtle lights can be incorporated in the landscaping around your patio or front steps, giving it a rich feel along with enhanced safety.

Outdoor lighting can also help deter crime since the last thing burglars want is a spotlight shining on them while they attempt to enter your home or car. 

Makes The Home Look and Feel Inviting

Outdoor lighting doesn’t have to look utilitarian or harsh. Soft exterior lighting can look pleasing and inviting when done right. A landscape lighting designer will work with you to design an outdoor lighting solution that works for your home. 

The average cost of outdoor light installation is between $2,000 and $4,500, depending on the type of lights and where it is located. You can DIY landscape LED light installation to enhance your outdoor living space if you feel comfortable.

Path Lights Illuminate the Way

You can install path lights along your walkways to illuminate the way to the door and reduce the risk of tripping. You can also add path lights along the driveway to help drivers better see the boundaries. 

Path lights come in various styles to match your home’s personality. They can be low to the ground or raised up on posts. Post lights illuminate more areas, so you don’t need as many. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, consider raising your lights on posts, so you still get the benefit even when snow piles up. Professional light post installation costs an average of $1,000, and the biggest cost factor is the distance from the house.

Floodlights Work Great with Motion Sensors

As their name suggests, floodlights will flood the area with light. Motion sensors commonly trigger floodlights to light the way for residents taking out the recycling or visitors looking for the door. 

They are also good at warning off uninvited intruders since they illuminate all the nooks and crannies surrounding your house. You can also choose to operate floodlights with a switch to light up your yard for outdoor gatherings or after-dark basketball games in the driveway. 

The Cons of Adding Outdoor Lighting to Your Home

A house’s backyard with outdoor lighting
Photo: AHatmaker / Adobe Stock

Outdoor lighting isn’t without some cons, like the additional expense and weather considerations.

The Cost of Outdoor Lighting

It’s more expensive to add lights outside of your home than inside. Outdoor materials have to withstand freezing temperatures, heat waves, rain, and snow. In addition, you need to run electric lines where you want the light. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,500 to install outdoor lighting, with high-end designs and fixtures increasing the price. 

Beware of Nuisance Lights

Don’t let the floodlights that help you sleep soundly keep your neighbors up at night. Follow some outdoor lighting etiquette and angle your outdoor lights to illuminate no higher than the eaves of your house and stay within your property lines. As a courtesy, check in with your neighbors to ensure your lights aren't bothering them and that the motion sensors aren’t too sensitive. 

How to Power Your Outdoor Lighting Project

Before filling your shopping cart with lights, consider how you will power them. 

Install Solar-Powered Outdoor Lights

Solar path lights are a cost-efficient and convenient option. Since you don’t have to run electrical wires, you can place them anywhere you want. Just push a stake into the ground to install. They come in various styles, colors, and sizes and start around $50 for a set of path lights. You can also find solar spotlights or decorative garden lights.

The best part is that they’re solar, so you’ll never see an increase in your electricity bill. Small solar panels on each light collect energy when the sun shines. Once the sun goes down for the day, the panels stop collecting solar energy and the light illuminates. A drawback is that the panels don’t collect much solar when covered in snow or on gray days, so your path might not stay lit until the sun rises.

Run an Underground Electrical Line

Another option for outdoor lighting is to run an electrical line underground where you need it. For best results, hire a skilled electrician who has the experience to install an outdoor line  safely. Outdoor electricity requires sturdy materials that can withstand extreme temperatures, rain, and snow.

Your electrician can also connect your new outdoor lights to a switch, timer, or motion sensor for you, so you’re not running out in your pajamas and slippers to plug and unplug the cord.

Install Outdoor Lights on Your House

If you’re mounting your outdoor lights to the house, you can take advantage of the electricity that’s already there. This is a good option for an elevated flood light to shine on your backyard or front lights, so the food delivery driver finds your house number before your dinner gets cold.

If you’re not comfortable working with electricity or drilling into your house, call an electrician to install your exterior lights. Otherwise, follow this guide to installing outdoor light fixtures, making sure to turn off the breaker before you get started. 

Choose the Best Outdoor Lights for Your Home

Carefully consider your lighting goal because the options are endless. If you’re stuck on how to create the perfect outdoor lighting, consult an outdoor lighting designer.

Emphasize Yard Features

Your lighting designer can strategically place lights to highlight your garden, hot tub, patio, or pergola. Soft lighting illuminates the space while being gentle on the eyes.

Stair Lighting

Choose path lights that line the stairs or build lights into the outdoor steps for more flair. Either way, your entry will be welcoming with improved safety.

Front Doors

Lights by your front door are almost non-negotiable for safety and functionality. Choose an overhead light mounted above the door, decorative sconces on either side of the door, or a ceiling fixture mounted in the front porch ceiling.

String Lights

Artfully placed string lights can bring a playful vibe to your backyard or patio. Choose colorful strings or interesting bulb shapes to make your string light installation all your own.

Outdoor Living Spaces

Since your yard is an extension of your house, it needs to be lit like the great indoors. Consider pot lights built into structures like pergolas. A ceiling light mounted to a porch can bring drama and illumination to a covered porch. Sconces affixed to courtyard or porch walls and angled down can bring a gentle glow to summer evenings outside.

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