Things to Consider When Creating an Exterior Lighting Plan
Adding exterior lighting around your home can make your property more secure. It can improve the aesthetic beauty of your home as well as increase its value. The key to maximizing exterior lighting’s value is to create a lighting plan that takes into account the property’s features and location, as well as your own personal preferences.
Vivint Smart Home has created an entire guide to exterior lighting that any DIY enthusiast would find extremely helpful. You can check it out here. That guide will act as a jumping off spot for this post.
Needless to say,Vivint knows a thing or two about smart lighting systems. As long as you are going to create a new exterior lighting plan, you might just as well use smart devices wherever it’s practical to do so. Smart lighting can do so much more for you than standard lighting.
Different Types of Lighting
For all practical purposes, there are three types of lighting most exterior lighting plans accommodate. The first is security lighting. This is lighting designed to illuminate areas that would otherwise be considered security risks. Take the front door, for example. It is one of the favorite entry points for burglars and home invaders.
A comprehensive exterior lighting plan will illuminate the front door with a bright light. A motion-sensitive light would save energy. It would turn on when someone approaches and turn back off after a certain amount of time.
Security lighting should be installed at all first-floor entrances as well as inside the garage or carport. As for the other two types of lighting, they are:
- Safety Lighting – Safety lighting is separate from security lighting in the sense that it is more about illuminating walkways to prevent trip-and-fall accidents. Safety lighting is installed along sidewalks, driveways, and patios.
- Landscape Lighting – Landscape lighting is just as its name implies: lighting that illuminates landscaping elements. It illuminates trees, shrubs, flowerbeds, and a full range of exterior landscaping features.
Most comprehensive exterior lighting plans involve all three types of lights to varying degrees. If your property is heavily landscaped with designer elements, for example, you might have far more landscape than safety lighting.
How Lights Are Powered
How to power exterior lighting is another aspect that allows for multiple choices. In the old days, there was only one choice: exterior lights that were wired to the home’s electrical system. That choice is still available and may be the best choice for certain types of lights.
Battery-powered lights are gaining popularity among DIY enthusiasts because they can be installed without having to tap into the home’s electrical system. There is no cutting, no running wires, and no municipal inspections. The downside is that you need to constantly pay attention to how long batteries have been installed. You also need to keep extra batteries around the house.
Solar is the third option. It is arguably the most attractive option among DIYers who aren’t interested in running electrical wires throughout the property. Solar lights are powered by energy from the sun. They collect energy during the day and store it in rechargeable batteries. When the sun goes down, the lights go on automatically.
Different Types of Lightbulbs
Your exterior lighting plan should also account for different types of lightbulbs. Your three main choices are incandescent, fluorescent, and LED. Most people choose LEDs nowadays. That said, let us briefly look at all three:
Incandescent light bulbs used to be the only game in town. Fifty years ago, they were the standard for both interior and exterior lighting. They are cheap, easy-to-use, and work in almost any light with a standard socket.
Incandescent bulbs do have numerous downsides. First, they are hard to come by. They are not manufactured nearly as much as they were just a couple of decades ago. Second, they use a lot more energy than either fluorescent or LED bulbs. Finally, they do not last anywhere near as long as the other two.
Florescent bulbs were the first alternative to incandescent bulbs. They do not use quite so much energy and they tend to last longer. However, fluorescent bulbs are more expensive. You also need to be incredibly careful about how you dispose of them. Florescent bulbs contain dangerous chemicals that prohibit consumers from throwing them in the trash.
LED bulbs are not actually light bulbs in the true sense of the term. They are light-emitting diodes that don’t require much energy to operate. LEDs use significantly less energy than both incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs. They can also last for years.
Some people are not fans of LED lighting because it is not as warm as incandescent lighting. But as manufacturers improve their techniques, they are gradually achieving a warmer look with their LEDs. Regardless, LED bulbs are probably your best bet for exterior lighting.
Make the System Smart
One last thing to consider is whether to make your exterior lighting system a smart system. You can make your lights smart in numerous ways. First is using motion-sensitive fixtures for security purposes. We have already talked about that, so no need to go any further.
You can also make your exterior lights smart by using fixtures with programming capabilities. Let’s say all your landscaping lights utilize smart fixtures. With a smart home hub or a companion mobile app, you can program them to go on and off at certain times or illuminate according to programmed scenes. Holiday lighting scenes are especially intriguing.
Finally, being able to control exterior lights remotely also makes them smart. Remote control allows you to override programming or turn any of your lights on or off from anywhere you have an internet connection.
It should be obvious that there are plenty of options for exterior lighting. Creating a lighting plan that accounts for all these options means having as much flexibility as you need to come up with a system perfect for your property.