A Guide to Exterior Light Fixtures: Types and Uses

The days of lighting your home's exterior with a single wall or post light are history. With the resurgence of the outdoor room concept, adequately chosen and placed exterior light fixtures are a vital part of your home's overall look and perceived value. Choosing exterior light fixtures that complement your home and provide enough layers of light is key.

Fortunately, most exterior light fixtures today come in matching collections, making it easy to coordinate your look. (You are also welcome to mix and match your lighting, though!) Depending on your home's architecture, you can choose from the following exterior light fixture types.

Outdoor Wall Lights

The most basic type of exterior light fixture, these are traditionally used in pairs to illuminate a home's entrance and are attached to the house's exterior walls.

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Outdoor Post Lights

These exterior light fixtures are used to illuminate spaces that aren't attached to the house, like the driveway or sidewalk. Post lights are an excellent choice for homes with long driveways or extended outdoor entertaining spaces, like swimming pools. Post lights provide a nice general light that creates an inviting ambiance.

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Outdoor Ceiling Lights

Typically in flush mount form, exterior ceiling light fixtures are like indoor ceiling lights, but more weatherproof. They are among the most economical outdoor lighting options for homes with covered porches and can help fill a space with general light. Other places to use these lights include garages, carports and above front doors.

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Outdoor Hanging Lights

Outdoor hanging lights make an elegant statement outside homes with covered front porches. They range in style from basic to elaborate. Plus, outdoor chandeliers are even becoming popular! Unlike basic outdoor ceiling lights, outdoor hanging lights are perfect for sloped ceilings and provide a more widespread light.

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Outdoor Ceiling Fans

Do you like to spend time outdoors in the summer? Outdoor ceiling fans can dramatically enhance the comfort of your covered porch or patio, especially if you live in a warm climate. Be sure to choose an outdoor-specific fan! Otherwise, the blades will start to droop over time due to the effects of weather. You can also choose to add a light kit for extra functionality, but just make sure it is also approved for damp or wet location use, depending on where the fan will be installed. Read more about picking the perfect ceiling fan here.

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If you're considering updating your outdoor light fixtures, you may want to consider choosing models that meet certain environmental regulations. A growing number of states and localities are adopting regulations that mandate energy efficient lighting or Dark Sky lighting. Even if your local legislation doesn't have specific requirements, it may still be well worth your investment.

Energy Star: Typically, outdoor fixtures that use compact fluorescent bulbs are labeled Energy Star, although not all of them are. Energy Star lights (both indoor and outdoor) have been tested and approved to meet certain energy requirements and can save you money. Energy Star rated efficiency is particularly useful for outdoor lights, since they often stay on for longer periods of time.

Dark Sky: Dark Sky-approved fixtures are designed to reduce light pollution, which is a growing concern in urban areas. Light pollution reduces the visibility of the night sky, disrupts circadian rhythms and damages ecosystems.

LED: Outdoor lights that use LED are an excellent way to save money on energy and replacement bulbs. Many of them come with built-in light sources, so you don't even need to worry about installing bulbs. They create bright, useful light that is great for any area.

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Emma Harger-Young - Lights Online

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