Five Lighting Tips for Creating Comfortable Outdoor Spaces

May 25, 2017

With spring and summer weather moving in, many of us look forward to enjoying our favorite spaces outside the house. As we spend more time dining on the patio, relaxing on the deck, or watching pets and children play games in the yard, outdoor areas become an extension of our indoor kitchens, dining rooms, and family rooms. Just as indoor lighting is key to creating comfortable spaces inside our homes, it’s important to select the right outdoor lighting to create functional, welcoming spaces outside.

If you’re updating your outdoor lighting this season, keep in mind these five tips to make your outdoor space a more integral part of your home’s living space.

  1. Use the right type of lighting for the right type of space.
    The outdoor areas around your home have a variety of uses. There are grilling spaces to set up your barbeque, patios for dining or relaxing, and open yards for play. Like with indoor spaces, you should choose a combination of general, task, and accent lighting to light each area appropriately. For instance, task lighting is ideal for grilling spaces where you need focused light to prepare food, whereas a combination of general and accent lighting is key to creating well-lit patios and porches that add character to your home.

  2. Choose the right bulb color to achieve the desired ambiance.
    Choosing bulbs that generate warm, yellow light can help make outdoor dining spaces, patios, porches, and decks feel more comfortable and inviting. To select the best bulb, check the lighting facts label for the light appearance, which will be indicated in Kelvins. Pick bulbs with a light appearance of 2700k to 3000k. Many outdoor bulbs are also compatible with dimmers, which can be used to create an even cozier feel. For more help with selecting the right bulb, check out the Mass Save® lighting guide.

  3. Use unique fixtures.
    Choosing stylish lighting fixtures is a great way to enhance an outdoor space. ENERGY STAR® certified fixtures come in a variety of styles, which means you can select wall lights, lanterns, and lighting posts that complement your outdoor décor. Not only do ENERGY STAR certified outdoor lighting fixtures use LEDs, which require up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, but many are also compatible with motion detectors and daylight sensors that can help save even more energy and money.

  4. Make sure the bulbs you choose are meant for outdoor lighting.
    Not all bulbs are intended to withstand outdoor weather. LEDs that are suitable for outdoors will be marked as damp-rated or wet-rated on the bulb package. Damp-rated LEDs can be used in fixtures that shield the bulb from direct rain or snow, such as lantern fixtures or ceiling lights in a covered porch, whereas wet-rated LEDs are needed when there is direct exposure to the elements, such as in floodlights along the side of your home.

  5. Minimize outdoor light pollution.
    Outdoor light pollution refers to excess lighting, which can cause glare, spill into your home or neighbor’s yard, and hide starlight. This light can even interfere with humans’ natural sleep cycles, which depend on the contrast of bright daytimes and dark nights. Make sure to minimize outdoor light pollution by choosing bulbs that aren’t overly bright and thoughtfully directing all lighting at the outdoor spaces that you use.

Next time you shop for outdoor bulbs and fixtures, keep these tips in mind. They can help make your preferred outdoor spaces – from the grilling area where you prepare summer treats, to the back deck where you catch up with neighbors, to the patio where you relax in your favorite Adirondack chair – as comfortable and welcoming as your indoor living spaces. And for one final tip: don’t forget to check out the Mass Save® store finder to locate stores near you that offer discounts on outdoor LEDs!

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