As the days get shorter, we all want to squeeze the most out of the summer’s final weeks. What better way to do that than by spending more time outside on your deck? Don’t let the setting sun spoil the fun! Dress up your deck with fabulous outdoor lighting and enjoy the twilight hours on your beautifully-illuminated patio.
The Benefits of Backyard Lighting
Outdoor lighting is incredibly versatile, making it both highly functional and aesthetically appealing.
Lights can be placed overhead, underfoot, and at every level in-between. They help keep you safe from trips and stumbles, and they also draw attention to landscaping and architecture, outline your property, and curate the atmosphere of your outdoor events. Outdoor lighting is the perfect way to highlight your deck’s best features and enjoy those warm late-summer evenings.
Watts the Deal
As wonderful as outdoor lights are, you’ll need an experienced hand to get a system up and running. Although most outdoor lights run on low voltage, you’ll still need to figure out what kind of transformer you need to power them. Your choice will depend on the number of lights you’re using and their collective wattage.
Your indoor lighting runs on 120 volts, while outdoor lighting typically runs on 12 to 20 volts. You’ll want to purchase a low-voltage transformer. SFGate has a handy guide for calculating the wattage your lighting system will use.
For energy-efficient outdoor lighting, we love LEDs. They’re durable, reliable, and come in a range of hues, from warm to cool tones. You can even get connected lighting that you can control from your smartphone or smart home hub.
Light Up Your Life
With the logistics out of the way, here are ten of our favorite ways to light up your backyard. No matter what style you prefer, there’s sure to be a one that strikes your fancy.
Classic, understated elegance is usually a safe bet for most homeowners. Anything extremely trendy might go out of style in a few years, but if “out-there” is the look you love, go for it!
Lit From Above
Soffit lighting is a practical and elegant way to shed light on your deck. If you have a soffit that hangs over your deck area, it’s the perfect spot to install pot lights. Soffit lights cast a wide, spreading beam that makes it easy to navigate your outdoor spaces.
These bold linear beams are perfect for underneath steps, risers, or for highlighting your deck’s architecture from below. They cast a consistent, even glow that guides your footfalls and creates a stunning shape around your deck’s perimeter.
Integrated Railing Lights
Illuminating your balustrade is appealing to the eye and your more practical sensibilities. Railing downlighting can be installed on the banister’s underside, casting a beam downwards onto the supporting beams. These puck-like units cast either a wide or a narrow spotlight and can be placed several feet or several inches apart, depending on your preference.
Nothing says casual elegance quite like strings of lights hung over your deck. For a cozy, intimate glow, Edison bulbs or LED fairy lights create a lovely canopy overhead. Use them to line railings, tree branches, or any space you feel could do with a touch of whimsy.
If your deck is surrounded by trees, why not make the most of them? Trees can be lit in any number of ways, from string lights to dramatic uplighting. When positioned at the base of the tree, uplighting is a creative way to show off intriguing shapes and deepen existing shadows.
Use light to enhance the various elements of your landscaping. Flowerbeds, statues, fountains, and swimming pools are all prime real estate for evening illumination. Choose the components of your yard that you want to show off and bring them to life them with uplighting to draw the eye and break up the darkness beyond the immediate deck area.
From the Bottom Up
Small, round lights installed flush with your deck floor are a beautiful, unique way to illuminate your space. They can outline your deck, steps, and even railings. These types of lights aren’t meant to be hidden, so get creative and show them off.