How to Choose Outdoor Lighting for Your Patio or Deck

July 27, 2015

How to choose outdoor lighting for your patio or deck

Outdoor lights deter burglars, allow you to use decks and patios at night, illuminate foot paths and steps, and highlight gardens and other features. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing outdoor lighting.

How to Choose Outdoor Lighting for Your Patio or Deck

1. Choose the right fixtures

Use fixtures appropriate for your needs. A pathway, for example, can be safely lighted with low-voltage lighting.

  • For convenience, buy lights that can be set with a timer or photoelectric eye, so that they go on and off as needed.
  • As a rule, use few fixtures and shine the lights toward the ground, away from people's eyes.
  • If you have a dimmer switch installed on your exterior spotlights or floodlights, you'll be able to produce diffused light at the touch of a dial, creating the ideal mood for a party in your patio.
  • Be sure it is a heavy-duty dimmer, one designed for exterior use.

2. Install low-voltage outdoor lights

Create a useful and attractive outdoor lighting scheme with an economical low-voltage system. Low-voltage lighting is safe, energy-efficient and easy to install.

A low-voltage kit includes a transformer (often with a built-in timer), lighting fixtures and cable. If there is any chance that a cable will be damaged by a lawnmower, bury it 0.3 metres (one foot) deep.

3. Adjusting motion-detecting lights

  • Mount a motion-detecting light no more than 3.6 metres (12 feet) above ground.
  • Keep it away from reflective objects, other lights or busy sidewalks, as any of these may make it behave erratically. Most models are adjustable.
  • If the light comes on too often, or not often enough, adjust its range control.
  • If the light stays on too long or not long enough, adjust the time setting.
  • Often, pointing the sensor or the light in a slightly different direction will help.

Following these guidelines will help you properly illuminate your patio or deck.

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