6 Best Lighting Types for Outdoor Spaces (With Examples)

  • Written By: Rachel
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Every outdoor space is different. Every owner has a different style, and every backyard has different needs. Some people just want to indulge in their hot tub. Some people want to enjoy a calming ambiance and light plays a special role in that. You may need to keep some security lights ready. There may be some hazardous areas to walk in, so you’ll want to grab some deck lights or path lighting. 

When choosing lights for your outdoor living space, get the type of lighting that is best suited for the need (safety, security, decoration, or display) and best suited for the space you have available to put it. Also, make sure they are waterproof, powered the way you need them to be, and LED. 

Let’s take a look at some of the lighting available for your outdoor living space and then, perhaps you can choose what best suits your style and needs.

What to Look for in Basic Outdoor Lighting

Illumination is Important

Lighting is mainly used for illumination of the landscape or decorative purposes, for being able to navigate the area, and for deterring criminal activity. When it comes to decorative or “mood lighting” you probably want to stick with soft-white or warmer colors for your bulb’s output. For lighting in which you need to see clearly – security or path illumination – it’s best to go with cooler colored bulbs that are a bright white or mimic daylight. 

6 Best Lighting Types for Outdoor S... x
6 Best Lighting Types for Outdoor Spaces

Is it Waterproof?

You need your lighting to be waterproof. This is just an obvious requirement when you are dealing with electrical currents and rain or moisture from sprinklers or well… any moisture. Always choose waterproof lighting fixtures.

Rechargeable, Traditional Electrical, or Solar?

Honestly, if you are using solar power, you are also using rechargeable batteries. Yes, even solar lights run off of a battery. Solar light batteries store power from the main sun. The photovoltaic arrays in the panels collect the sun’s rays and convert them into DC. The current is then stored in the rechargeable batteries to power up the lamps at dusk. 

Solar lights use one of two forms of batteries: NiCd (Nickel Cadmium) rechargeable battery or NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable battery. I suggest going with the NiMH because they hold twice the charge. 

If you try to use regular alkaline or disposable batteries in a solar device it will only work for a short period of time. The battery does not hold a charge like a rechargeable battery made for solar does. Instead, it runs off of a chemical reaction. 

Otherwise, if you’re using traditional electrical power, you don’t have to worry about the slow degradation of your light output. Which is best? It all depends upon your needs and the location of your lighting as compared to the availability of an electrical source and ground

For places where you wish to put solar-powered lights near your plants be sure to check out my article on how they could be bad for the plants.

Boost the Lizard

Boost’s Tips

Remember that you can often use solar-charged lighting, even if the area you have the lights in is partially shaded. How? Because usually the lights can hold enough charge to stay on at least a few hours past dusk or you can get a remote solar panel that is stationed somewhere that receives a lot of direct sunlight.

Are LED Bulbs a Good Choice?

Why should you always choose LED bulbs over all others? LED lights are known to use a lot less energy than standard incandescent or halogen bulbs, so you can leave them on for long periods without a large impact on the electric bill. They also do not overheat. 

String Lights

These lights are soft, low voltage accent lighting that consists of a long electrical cord with small bulbs placed at regular intervals along with it. There are regular string lights, hanging filament string lights, and fairy lights. They’re usually strung over or around an outdoor living space or on the eaves of a home or outdoor structure and can be hung without using nails.

I love these kinds of lights because they just add a flair for the dramatic to any outdoor space. At the same time, the light isn’t harsh and can be just right for enjoying social time with friends and family.   

The lights that we purchased and are planning to use in our outdoor space are the Govee Smart Outdoor String Lights.

Wall Lights

These kinds of lights are usually used in recessed areas or near doors. They can be mounted to any vertical surface – like the columns of a pergola or gazebo or the wall on the back of a house. I break wall lights into two kinds – sconces and lanterns.

Lanterns are the more decorative of the two. They are essentially accent lighting that can be mounted semi-flush to the wall. They usually have a glass and metal, decorative outer frame with an arm that holds it attached to the wall. 

Boost the Lizard

Boost’s Tips

I suggest you choose lanterns that have translucent glass and not clear glass. That way, the light is somewhat softened and diffused by the glass. It provides a much warmer decorative glow to its surroundings and no glare.

Sconces are open-bottomed wall lights that are made specifically to cast their light downward more than outward. These are usually semi-flush but can be found flush against a wall, too. Most lights near an exterior door are considered sconces. 

A great option is the LUTEC Cuba LED Wall Lantern.

Deck Lights

These kinds of lights are specifically made to help guide people safely at night. They are there to keep people from hitting trip hazards and are usually placed in recesses and grooves that are available – so they’re out of the way and don’t become a trip hazard themselves! 

Sometimes these kinds of lights are also used like well-lights to accentuate things in a garden. But they get their name from being placed along the perimeter of a deck or along outdoor staircases, sometimes even on each step. 

My suggestion for solar deck lights is the SUNFACE Solar Deck Lights.

Path Lights

This kind of lighting is made specifically to brighten landscaping and walkways through the landscaping. These lights are usually mounted atop small stakes that can be driven into the ground where you need them. They are low voltage and sometimes are solar and often LED. 

My recommendation is the BEAU JARDIN 8 Pack Solar Lights.

Spot Lights

These are also known as landscaping lights. Why? Because they are usually used to highlight certain features in your landscaping or for showcasing decorations on your lawn. 

Bullet-shaped spotlights are used for pointing toward taller items. They are usually installed above the ground and are adjustable so that they can shine light at the angle you need for longer distances. 

Well-lights are the smaller round lights that stay flush to the ground to spotlight shorter features in the landscaping. They’re just placed near the feature and the light shines automatically upward.  

A great option for some solar-powered spotlights is the InnoGear Solar Lights.

Security Lights

These kinds of lights are there specifically for deterring criminal activity or scaring destructive animals around your property. You want them to be bright and cast a wide beam. I recommend a motion-sensing floodlight on outer walls to augment the sconce lights you should leave on at your entryways.

So, which lights do you actually need? There will usually be several different kinds of lights needed and used around the property. You have to choose which is appropriate for your patio or other outdoor space.

A great option for security lights is the Lightdot Solar Powered Outdoor LED Flood Light.

In Conclusion

Regardless of which types of lights you decide to put in your outdoor space, you will increase the curb appeal of your space and with that increase the value of your home.