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Outdoor Lighting 101

Updated: May 31, 2021

I’m a customer, looking for some outdoor lights for my backyard. I’ve had the same lights for the past few years, and it’s time to upgrade. Maybe I’m just tired of the same old look; maybe my spouse has told me I’m upgrading. Maybe the old ones have finally fallen off their last legs and it’s time to replace them for safety reasons.

No matter what the reason, switching out your lights doesn’t have to be organized like a military operation. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or struggle with a massive hassle while trying to accomplish something simple. And you certainly don’t need to stress out about it! Lights are fun; we should enjoy ourselves when we pick out new décor for our yards and paths or gardens.

That said, there are a few basics that will help make the decision that much smoother for you.

Outdoor lights have a variety of purposes, ranging from basic aesthetics to safety. Sometimes you want to highlight specific architecture, and sometimes you just want a simple accent to complement the natural world, or foliage. No matter what you’re designing for or what size you have in mind, you have to keep in mind performance, power, and source.

Here are some common outdoor light types:

· Floodlights

· Spotlights

· Garden Lights

· String Lights

· Step Lights

Spotlights are for illuminating anything you point it at. Probably the simplest to remember! Floodlights are for illuminating larger areas; step lights are for stairs, garden lights are for gardens, and path lights are for illuminating paths. Bollard lights are posts with lights at the top that can shine in every direction. And string lights, of course, are lights dangling on strings over objects or areas. We don’t offer all of these at Tailored Lights, but we can certainly help with overall design decisions and pointing you in the right direction of a full-fleshed lighting scheme for any environment.

Outdoor lights can be:

· Plug-in

· Solar-powered

· Hard-wired

Which power source you pick will depend on what your needs are and what conditions are most advantageous. Plug-in outlets will require being near a power outlet, or within reach with an extension cord. This can clearly limit the distance and type of light. Solar-powered lights are powered by the sun and have become much more popular in recent years because of their environmental benefits. Solar-powered lights can be more expensive to set up initially but can end up saving you on your electric bill. And hard-wired lights plug in directly to the electrical wiring of your home.

Lightbulbs are important for your fixture. Common types are:

· LED (light-emitting diode)

· Compact fluorescent or halogen bulbs

· HID (high-intensity discharge)

· Incandescent bulbs

Which type of bulb you pick will vary depending on the location and use of your light fixture. Incandescent bulbs, for example, can be used outside as long as they’re not exposed to snow, rain, etc. LEDs are very popular, but more expensive—they do, however, last longer than standard bulbs. Compact fluorescent lights contain mercury, which can be dangerous if they break or leak. Both compact fluorescent and halogen bulbs can also burn quite hot, which may prove a locational hazard.

Lumens are the standard unit of measurement for light output, or the brightness of the light. It’s different from wattage, which is the amount of power the bulb consumes. You’ll need greater lumens for wider areas you want to illuminate. A backyard will require a higher amount of lumens than a simple garden path; a spotlight or large floodlight will also require more lumens compared to, say, string lights.

All of these elements combine to help you put together a picture of what you’re looking for. You want lights that accent your area in terms of texture and size, but you also need the bulb type to work with the area for both safety and stability. You need bulbs that are bright enough to light up whatever you need while also measuring and monitoring the output and energy use to keep your energy bill from racking up too high.

Our lights come in many different shapes, sizes, textures, finishes, light types, and styles. They can be placed in a variety of locations or a diverse array of placements. From Deco Bollard lights to Hip to Be Square Pathlights, we have everything you need to complete your outdoor lighting look.

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