Do you need outdoor lighting but are not quite sure which is best for your Vancouver property? This guide includes all the information you need to choose the best lights for your home or business.

Outdoor lighting does more than illuminate a space, it gives you security, increases safety, enables the use of the garden in the evenings and beautifies the area.

The right lighting creates a warming and welcoming ambience, perfect for entertaining guests. Fixtures and fittings also decorate, giving a drab wall some detail.

For home or business, outdoor lighting is essential and well worth the investment, especially as we head into Fall and the days are getting shorter.

This guide aims to give you all the information you need to choose the right outdoor lighting for your needs.

What is Outdoor Lighting?

Outdoor lighting is used to light up a feature or space and to improve the exterior security of a home or business.

The right lighting creates a welcoming ambience and can highlight parts of a garden like a water feature or path.

What to Consider Before Purchasing Outdoor Lighting

Before installing your outdoor lighting system, there are a few things to consider. These include:

  • How big is your outdoor space? The size of your space affects your lighting choice. A large area may benefit from flood lights or LED lights. A smaller space may do better with subtle lighting like deck lights or spike lights strategically placed
  • Is security a concern? If you’re worried about security, a well-lit space is a deterrent. It’s recommended to invest in sensor lights which turn on automatically when someone approaches
  • Where is the safest place for light switches? The majority of light switches need protection from rain. Also, make sure the light fitting has a suitable IP rating
  • What is the purpose for your lighting? Is your aim to highlight a water fountain or light up a path for coming home late at night? Have a think about why you need outdoor lighting, as this will determine the type of light and fixture needed

The Three Functions of Security Lighting

Outdoor lighting offers a layer of security for your property. In Vancouver, there are, unfortunately, several high drug-use areas that often result in higher crime.  

Safety lighting or security lighting helps to:

  • Deter crime. Well lit areas generally deter criminals who would opt for an easier target
  • Detect crime. It would be hard for a burglar to approach a home in a well-lit area without being seen
  • Prevent concealment. An open and well-lit area is hard for an attacker to conceal themselves in

At PTX Electric we can use a type of blue light to prevent drug use. The blue light makes it harder for drug users to see their veins, preventing them from shooting up intravenously. We’ve used this type of light on numerous occasions and have seen 90% drop in drug use in the area.

Types of Outdoor Lighting to Choose From

Outdoor lighting is essential for homes and businesses. Office buildings, factories and retail facilities need quality lighting just like homes.

But the type of lighting for home and business may differ. One may want lights for a decorative effect and one for security and safety.

Whatever the reason you need outdoor lighting, there are multiple possibilities. Let’s take a look at the different types of outdoor lighting so you can make an informed decision.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is used in public and private spaces such as terraces, verandas, parks and office buildings.

They’re used to decorate and provide a security element. Landscape lighting may encompass LED lights, lanterns, spotlights or globes and can highlight certain features like greenery or columns.

Purpose: Add warmth, style and security. May also add value to your home increasing curb appeal.

Best for: Illuminating a path, stairs or decking and highlighting certain garden features

Flood Lights

Flood lights have the ability to light up a large area and hidden, dark nooks. Used in homes and public spaces such as car parks to prevent robbery and vandalism.

LED light bulbs are commonly used, but you can choose a flood light with the level of brightness right for you.

Purpose: To light up expansive spaces and areas that are not easy to illuminate. Great for security because the powerful light is a crime deterrent.

Best for: Perfect for carparks, stadiums, driveways, patios, front porches or dark walkways.

Spot Lights

Spotlights offer a powerful stream of light focused on one area. If you’d like to highlight one area or object such as a door, signage, trees, statues or another architectural feature, spotlights are a good choice.

Spotlights shouldn’t be overdone otherwise focus will be distracted instead of drawn to one area.

Purpose: To direct attention to one focal point such as an architectural feature or sign.

Best for: Ideal for homes or in public spaces to light up one specific feature. Can be used as downlights on the side of a house.

Motion Sensor Lighting

Motion sensor lighting contains small electronic devices that pinpoint infrared waves and radiate with movement.

The motion detector senses heat radiation in animals, people and cars which triggers the light to turn on. A timer can be preset within the lighting system to determine how long the light stays on.

Purpose: To light up an area when motion is detected. Proficient as a deterrent to keep animals and unwanted people away from a building or area.

Best for: Great for alleyways, driveways, garages, doorways, the exterior of commercial buildings and homes.

How to Choose the Right Outdoor Lighting for Your Needs?

Three things you need to consider when choosing lighting are need, type of lighting and fixture. What you use for a large car park will differ from a landscaping setting. Check below for recommendations.

Security – Type of lighting should be flood lights and motion sensors. Best fixtures include bullets and spotlights.

Large Areas – Type of lighting should be flood lights. Best fixtures include halogen floodlights and induction floodlights.

Accent Lighting – Type of lighting should be landscape and lighting spotlights. Best fixtures include globes, pathway lights, wall sconces and bullets.

Focused Areas – Type of lighting should be spotlights. Best fixtures include bullets.

Common Places to Put Your Outdoor Lights

Mounted on a Wall

Outdoor wall lights are probably the most common for homeowners and businesses. The shade can be customized to fit in with a property. Ideal for illuminating walkways, stairways, paths or a patio area. Only low-wattage bulbs are needed to reduce the harsh glare.

Ceiling Mounted or Hanging

Pendant lights are usually fixed to the ceiling or hanging on a cord. Commonly used on decking, porches and entryways to a home or business. Pendant lights tend to be uniquely designed and are great to hang over a dining area.

In a Ceiling Fan

Outdoor lighting can be incorporated into a ceiling fan. These are usually seen in entryways, gazebos, porches and covered decking areas. If you live in a hot area, this is a great option combining a source of light, cooling and insect deterrence.

Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting illuminates the garden, certain features and pathways. Choose from a selection of fixture types to suit your needs.

Stake lights are ideal to highlight a path and deck lights simply attach to a convenient structure. Use landscape lighting to highlight garden features in the form of spotlights, up lights and downlights.

How to Power Your Outdoor Lighting?

There are multiple options to power your outdoor lighting. The best choice comes down to the type of lighting you choose, your budget and the power options on the exterior of your home.

  • Plug in lights. This option needs an electrical outlet to plug your light into. Be aware that that a cord will show and needs protection from being a trip hazard
  • Solar powered lighting. Solar powered lighting costs more to set up, but saves on the electricity bill later on. Lights are operated solely from the sun and require solar panels to be placed in an effective position
  • Hard-wired lights. This option connects directly to your homes electrical wiring. Additional safety measures need to be put in place with this method

Top Reasons to Use Outdoor Lights

Where you place your outdoor lighting ultimately depends on your goal. First decide whether you need light for security reasons, decorative purposes or both. Add lighting to several places around your home like:

  • Path, driveway, steps or sidewalk. These areas benefit from lighting for security and safety reasons
  • Front door to a home or business. Motion sensor lighting works well here to light up the area when approaching or leaving
  • Back door where the bins are kept. Light up the area for workers and homeowners to safely put rubbish out at night
  • Garage or parking space. Lanterns on either side of a garage with motion sensors work well here
  • Patio, decking or porch. Light up the area for safety and comfort when lounging on a porch or patio in the evening
  • Pool, pond or water feature. Turn attention to a water feature and light up the pool for evening swims
  • Outdoor dining or BBQ area. Use quality landscape lighting around an outdoor dining and BBQ area. Lighting decorates and creates a warming ambience

Best Types of Bulbs for Outdoor Lighting?

Once you’ve decided on the type of outdoor lighting you want and where to put it, there are a few different types of bulbs to consider. Here are the options:

  1. LED (Light Emitting Diode). This option costs a little more but lasts for a long time
  2. CFL (Compact Fluorescent) and halogen bulbs. Be aware that CFLs contain mercury which can be a hazard if broken
  3. HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs. Normally used to light up large spaces
  4. Incandescent bulbs. Should only be used for outdoor lighting if protected from adverse weather such as rain and snow

Why Use an Electrician to Install Your Outdoor Lighting?

Outdoor lighting should be installed by an experienced and trained electrician.

The lighting needs to be suitable for use outdoors and have the correct IP rating to be durable and water repellent. Many steps need to be taken to ensure safety, such as the metalwork being earthed and wiring protected.

Plus, electrical installations must follow the guidelines of local safety laws. This is why a qualified electrician must be used to install any outdoor lighting at your home or business.

If not installed correctly, electrical fittings can become hazardous.

Electricians Understand lighting techniques

Professional electricians will know all about different lighting techniques. For example, down-lighting creates a circle of light on the ground that can be used to shine on focal points.

Up-lighting is, of course, the opposite and uses ground lighting to shine up onto an object. That is especially useful to highlight canopies or highlight the shape and structure of a building, a gazebo, or natural feature.

By working with an electrician, they’ll be able to use their expertise to help you choose the right lighting for your property.

Proper installation

Taking care to install your outdoor lighting properly is important not only so it works but also so you don’t overload your circuit which can start a fire and do some harm.

Outdoor lighting will likely need wiring as well, which should be buried for aesthetic reasons and to avoid any tripping hazards.

Likewise, optimizing where to bury wires and how deep area easy matters for an electrician. Not only that, but an electrician can help make sure your electrical bill doesn’t increase – and in fact, an experienced electrician can actually save you money, even if you’re putting in more lights!

Final Thoughts on Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting is needed in the majority of outdoor spaces. Every home and business benefits from the right lighting to keep the place safe and to enhance aesthetics.

There are multiple outdoor lighting options to choose from. Which you choose depends on the desired look and purpose for your lighting.

If you struggle to make a decision, contact PTX Electric for no-obligation outdoor lighting advice.