Outdoor lighting allows you to use your outdoor room at any time of the day or night. Outdoor lighting is no longer limited to just merely providing illumination for outdoor gatherings, but rather has become an art form all its own. Lighting is used to define outdoor areas and accent landscape features. Whether it is general lighting, ambient or task oriented lighting, some kind of outdoor lighting is essential.
General lighting, such overhead lights, wall scones and flood lights that light large areas can be useful in outdoor living rooms. However, you want to be careful not to over light your outdoor room. Lighting that covers a large area is not the kind of outdoor lighting you want for a quiet evening of conversation with friends and family. Lighting selected sections and contrasting light with dark is more pleasing to the eye than indiscriminately bathing the entire yard in light. Consider wiring general lighting to a dimmer switch so you can control the brightness and create mood by modulating the light for a softer effect. If you want to access the dimmer switch from outside, make sure to use a weatherproof switch rated for outdoor use.
You’ll also want to light pathways, steps and doorways for safety and access. Placing fixtures above raised beds, steps, and other obstacles is good safety practice as well as an attractive addition to the outdoor room. Pathway lighting will also guide your guests around the outdoor space while adding a decorative touch.
Ambient lighting creates a mood and is soft, low level light. Candlelight, with its flickering flame, is ambient light that is the most romantic.
An uplight is a great choice for ambient light. Uplights can be used to illuminate dark corners and are particularly interesting when placed under or near a plant, highlighting the shape of the plant and casting shadows on the surrounding area.
Outdoor lamps - such as table lamps and floor lamps - provide ambience as well as task light. Providing a task oriented light source is important if you want to use your outdoor room for reading, using the computer, or enjoying a hobby. If your outdoor lamp has two light levels, it will function for both purposes. You will want to place your outdoor lamp next to a comfortable seat and at a level so that when you are seated, the light does not shine in your eyes. The height of the table or floor lamp, or, perhaps more importantly, the height of the bottom of the shade, is crucial to comfortable use in these situations. If the light shines in your eyes, it will fatigue them and your task will be short lived.
In choosing outdoor lamps, it is very important to select lamps that are specifically designed for outdoor use. These outdoor lamps are designed to be used in the weather and are constructed of materials that will tolerate sun and rain. Furthermore, they are UL listed for use where there is moisture and, thus, safety is not an issue.
Because outdoor lamps are subjected to wind, they are typically weighted at the base. While not a surefire guarantee that your outdoor lamp will not blow over in the wind, this construction helps your lamp survive breezes and soft winds where others would not.
Another very important feature of an outdoor lamp is the shade, if it has one. If the shade is constructed with a fabric, the fabric should be an outdoor fabric that is fade and mildew resistant, as well as washable.
- Select lamps and fixtures that are specifically designed for outdoor use and made of materials that will tolerate the weather
- UL listed for use where there is moisture
- Weighted at the base to withstand wind
- Shades made from outdoor fabric that is fade and mildew resistant, such as Sunbrella
- Replacement parts readily available
Have questions on the essentials of outdoor furniture and accessories? Just ask we'd be glad to help.