Outdoor lighting is growing in popularity as an addition to many homes as it not only increases the curb appeal, but helps with security and ensuring the safety of guests. From the gorgeous outdoor pendant that greets you at the front door, to the modern post lighting that guides your way through the back yard, outdoor lighting can help enhance all exterior areas around your home.
While of course there is no law which says you must hang and mount your outdoor lighting fixtures according to our specifications, we have provided a guide of the best practices for sizing and placing various types of outdoor lighting. These practices have been developed not only for aesthetic appeal, but for safety as well. You will find that many frequently asked questions regarding the sizing or placement of particular lighting types will be addressed within the text, tables, and infographics throughout our outdoor lighting guide.
If you are looking for outdoor lighting for the sole purpose of protecting your home through the addition of security lights, our Security Lighting Guide can help you! Not only does our security lighting guide discuss the best places to add security lights, but it also introduces the different types of security lighting, and many other important elements to consider when choosing your exterior lighting fixtures for safety.
How to Choose Between a Wet or Damp Rated Light Fixture
When it comes to choosing the perfect fixture for your outdoor area, one of the most important factors is the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating that the fixture carries. UL wet and UL damp ratings are both indicators that your fixture can be installed outdoors. However, these different ratings indicate which outdoor areas are suitable for your fixture. While wet-rated lighting fixtures can stand up to the elements, some damp rated fixtures may only hold up to a certain level of moisture and indirect weathering.
What does a UL Wet Rating Indicate?
- Can handle ice, snow, and intense rain.
- Can handle harsh, salty breezes from the ocean.
- Can be placed on an exposed deck, veranda, lanai, gazebo, or pergola.
What Does a UL Damp Rating Indicate?
- Ideal for covered outdoor locations that have no direct exposure to water, rain, or snow.
- Can handle moisture and damp areas.
- Can be placed in a bathroom, carport, covered patio, screened porch, or kitchen.
What Does a UL Dry Rating Indicate?
- For indoor use only.
- Cannot be exposed to any moisture.
- Cannot be used outdoors or in wet/damp locations.
- Can be placed in a bedroom, living room, dining room, foyer, or finished basement.
DETERMINING THE SIZE & PLACEMENT OF YOUR LIGHTING FIXTURE
The main goal when determining the size and placement of your outdoor lighting fixtures is to enhance the curb appeal of your home. While it’s certainly fun to get creative with lighting placement around the home, there are safe and effective ways to measure and place your lighting fixtures in various outdoor locations.
These safe and effective ways for measuring and placing your fixture have been determined by our ceiling fan and lighting experts from research and personal experience. These guidelines are Del Mar’s best rules of thumbs and best practices to follow to create an elegant appeal. Additionally, certain measurements were determined in order to keep you and your fixture safe from electrical or physical damages. For example, with hanging light fixtures the standard height of seven feet will provide at least six inches of clearance for the majority of people walking below.
Here are six of the most common light fixture locations and types and an overview of how to size and place each one.
Outdoor Lighting Size & Height Installation Guide
|FIXTURE LOCATION/TYPE ||DETERMINE SIZE ||MOUNTING PLACEMENT & HEIGHT |
1/4th or 1/3 the width of the door frame in inches
Centered above door; 6" above the door
1/4th or 1/3rd the height of the door in inches
At least 6” from door frame; 66" from floor to center of fixture
1/4th or 1/3rd the width of the door frame
Centered above door, 6" above the door
1/5th the height of the door in inches
Centered above door, 6" above the door
1/4th the height of the mounting pole or the fence post in inches
At least 1’ from the driveway or street, 5.5' to 6.5' from ground to bottom of fixture
2/3 or 1/2 the width of the table in inches
Centered above table or living area, 30-34" above the table or 7’ above the ground
Garage Door Lighting
Outdoor garage lighting is not only an attractive addition for the exterior of your home, but it is also a functional fixture to consider. Not only can you install wall mount fixtures on the sides of the garage door but you can also install lighting above the garage door to help light the surrounding driveway and areas. Below, you can see the best practice for installing garage lighting above the garage door. To see how to place lighting on the sides of the garage door, please refer to the outdoor wall lighting instructions.
How to Size Garage Door Lights
This guide to placing your outdoor garage lighting is very helpful in ensuring you keep your fixture safe and above any moving parts on your garage door. To determine how large your fixture should be, simply multiply the width of your garage door in inches by .25 (for a single car garage) or by .33 (for a two-car garage.) When determining the height of a wall mounted fixture, the height would be from the very top of the fixture to the very bottom, including any mounting arms, finials, or other accessories.
Typical single garage doors are typically either ten, nine, or eight feet wide by seven feet high and double car garage doors start at 12 feet and go up to 18 feet. As an example, an eight-foot single car garage multiplied by (.25) would give you an optimal fixture size of 24 inches wide. While a 12-foot double car garage should be multiplied by (.33) to get the optimal fixture size of 36 inches wide.
How to Place Garage Lights Above a Door
When placing your garage lighting, one of the most important safety factors is ensuring that your fixture has enough clearance from any moving parts on the door. To place your garage light at the center of the door, take the width of your garage door and divide by two to determine the location of the center of your garage door.
Front Door Wall Lighting
Outdoor wall lighting can illuminate not only your front door, but your back and side entrances, your back and side porches, or your shed or pool house. Wall lights come in a variety of finishes, styles, and types. Not only does wall lighting add an embellishing touch, but it provides security and can help to keep away any unwanted guests.
How to Size Front Door Wall Sconces
Utilize the helpful tips for deciding on the correct wall lighting placement around a front or side doorway. In order to determine the best size wall fixture, multiply the height of the door in inches by one-fourth (0.25) for a standard look or if you prefer an over-sized design style multiply your door measurement by one-third (0.33). So, for a standard look above a standard sized front door of 80 inches, you would multiply 80 by (.25) for an ideal fixture size of 20 inches.
How to Place Front Door Carriage Lights
The placement height of your new outdoor wall sconce should be 66 inches from the center of the fixture straight down to the floor. This same installation height can be shared on each side of your side doorway or next to your garage door. In other words, if you would also like to place wall sconces on each side of your garage door or side entrance, you would use these same measurements and placement guides.
To determine the horizontal measurement of space you should use when placing your sconces, there are many options and it is primarily based on what you find aesthetically pleasing. However, if you will be placing them next to the door frame, a good practice is to leave about six inches between your fixture and the door.
Front Porch Ceiling Lighting
Outdoor ceiling lighting for a front porch or screen porch is a particularly valid option if you’re looking to bring style while saving over head space. Outdoor ceiling lighting mounts flush or semi flush to your overhead patio, porch, or entryway. These low-profile fixtures may be smaller in size but can still add a good amount of light.
How to Size Front Porch Ceiling Lights
Our model contains the best DIY advice for determining size, placement, and installation of exterior flush mount light fixtures to add to your home’s design and curb appeal. Finding the correct illuminating accessories size will depend on the type of door frame you use. Before we begin, it is important to define what we mean by “width” in this context, as it often used interchangeably with length. Width means the widest part of the light when installed, while length is the shorter of the two dimensions. Height is from the top of the fixture or the flush mount to the bottom of the fixture, including any finials or hanging accent pieces.
If you have double doors be sure to multiply the frame width by one-third (0.33) to receive the ideal fixture width. To find the best light fixture width with single doors multiply the door frame width by one-fourth (0.25). So, again, for a standard door of 80 inches in height, you would multiply 80 by (.25) to get an ideal fixture width of 20 inches.
How to Place Front Door Ceiling Lights
The depth, or placement height for your ceiling lighting, needs to leave at least six inches of clearance above the top of the door frame to provide the best visibility on your front patio and provide an entertaining entryway for your guests. Again, this means that the lowest point of your fixture should have at least six inches of clearance. To determine the best place to center your ceiling light, you should focus on where you would like the light to spread. For more light on the door itself, you can center the fixture on the ceiling and move it closer to the door. If you would like the ceiling light to remain perfectly centered above your entryway, you will want to place the light at the middle cross-sections of your longitudinal and latitudinal measurements of your entryway.
Front Entrance Hanging Lighting
Outdoor pendant lighting is a beautiful way to bring in exquisite form with quality function to your exterior foyer, front entryway, or gallery. Outdoor hanging lights offer warm and ambient lighting with different designs. From modern sleek lines to Antique Brass finishes, you can easily add style to your outdoor dining area or entry with the simple addition of a drop light.
How to Size Front Door Pendants
Our guide on how to size and place outdoor pendant lights will help you determine proportional dimensions based on your front entryway. To determine the best size or ideal size for your pendant lighting fixture, multiple the height of your door by one fifth. For example, if you had a front door which was 80 inches in height, you would multiple 80 by one fifth for an ideal fixture size of 16 inches.
Pendants are most commonly hung using chain, wire, cable, or stem connections. Typically chain connections are fully customizable. For this reason, when measuring your fixture, you would not need to include the length of the chain or stem. However, the length of wire, cable, and stem hanging methods should be considered to ensure your pendant does not hang below seven feet from the ground.
How to Place Front Porch Pendants
To determine installation height, the bottom of the fixture should be six inches above the top of your front door. Our rule of thumb for determining fixture size is to divide the height of your front door by five. This will keep the fixture in proportion with the front entryway without overpowering the space.
In terms of installation, a best rule of thumb for placing your pendant lighting above, would be to center the middle of the fixture at the center of your overhead entryway. To establish the center, you will want to place the light at the middle cross-sections of your width measurement and length measurements of your overhead space.
Driveway & Garden Lighting
An exceptional way to light your driveway, garden, or outdoor pathway is through the use of outdoor post lighting. Outdoor post lighting is perfect to add light throughout your yard. Placing lights up your driveway not only helps to add security but can draw the eye up to the home. This can create a visually appealing effect especially when combined with other outdoor lighting fixtures.
How to Size Post Lighting for your Yard
To determine the size of your post lighting fixture, the pier mount light should be about a quarter of the pole height. So, if your pole were 20 inches, you would want a fixture which is about five inches. Note that many of the popular post mount fixtures are between 18 and 24 inches tall. Additionally, it is recommended to have an electrician prepare the area for the hard-wiring installation that you can do yourself.
How to Place a Driveway or Garden Lamp Post
To place your post lighting, first ensure the pole you will be mounting on is secured at least 1.5 to two feet below the surface of your grass. The pole height should be at least eight feet, allowing between 5.5 and 6.5 feet of exposed post. As for the distance away from your driveway, sidewalk, or street, you should begin by establishing 12 inches of clearance from your curb or driveway. This is because a major consideration is the amount of space you will your fixture to have away from vehicles, snowplows, or anything that may pose a threat. After establish a foot of clearance, there is no technically “best” place to put in your post lighting. You should simply place your lighting where you feel it will create the most curb appeal.
Outdoor Patio Dining Chandeliers
Outdoor chandeliers are a wonderful way to add a pop of drama and elegance to your outdoor patio, dining area, or entryway. In various sizes and with an array of different styles to choose from, they can certainly make a bold statement and leave a lasting impression on any guests that visit.
How to Size Patio Dining Chandeliers
Make use of this tip when hanging your outdoor chandelier over a table on your outdoor porch or patio. In order to figure out the ideal width, length, for your fixture, multiply the width of your table by (.66) for a standard look or if you prefer a more bold and over-sized design, then multiply the width of your table by (0.5).For example, if you were finding a standard sized fixture to go above a dining room table which is 40 inches in width, you would multiply 40 by (.66) for a standard fixture size of 26.4 inches.
How High to Hang An Outdoor Table Chandelier
To place your outdoor chandelier, the measurement from the bottom of your fixture to the top of your table should be between 30 and 34 inches. This not only so that you have enough head room above your outdoor table, but so you have a maximum amount of light spread for the whole table. When determining the best placement for your chandelier in terms of installation, a best practice is to simply center your outdoor chandelier above the table.
How to Size Outdoor Living Area Chandeliers
First measure the width and length of the space where you are planning to hang the chandelier at the center. Then round to the nearest foot of each measurement, to get a round number for each and add them together. If your room width is 10 feet 5 inches, you would round to 10 feet, and your room length is 17 feet 6 inches, you would round to 18 feet. The sum of those two measurements would be 28 feet. Simply convert that number to inches (28 inches) and you’ve got the ideal width of your chandelier.
How High to Hang Outdoor Chandeliers
If you are not installing the chandelier over a table, but instead over an outdoor lounge area the recommended installation height is at least 7 feet from the bottom of the chandelier to the floor and the size is dependent on the size of the space where it will hang. You want to ensure your chandelier is proportional to the space where it will hang, so it’s not too large or too small. Then, you can center the fixture above your lounge area, or wherever you think it will look the best and bring the desired amount of light that you are looking for.
The size and placement measurements are the same whether you are considering either an outdoor or an indoor chandelier, see our How to Size a Chandelier Guide for more details.
The Best Materials for your Outdoor Lighting
While outdoor lighting comes in a variety of different materials, the top materials have been noted to be cast aluminum, solid brass, and wrought iron. Cast aluminum has an especially large variety of outdoor lighting products to shop from with over 1,200 various wall sconces, post lights, ceiling lights, and more. Solid brass and wrought iron are also just as valid of options as they do a great job at standing up to the elements. However, if you are looking specifically for wrought iron lighting, be sure to note that many fixtures are styled to boast a wrought iron appeal, but may not in fact be made of wrought iron. So, make sure to always check the material on your fixture!
Popular Outdoor Lighting Fixture Finishes
If you are less concerned about the material it is made from and more interested in the aesthetic, you have a lot of finishes to choose from:
Popular Styles for your Outdoor Lighting
There are many different styles to shop when selecting the perfect outdoor lighting for your home’s exterior. From Tropical to Transitional and everything in between, outdoor lighting has an array of options so that you can find exactly what you are looking for! Below are some of our most popular styles guides which include discussion of outdoor lighting options for each of the styles!
Another popular outdoor lighting style is the Tuscan style which has a Tuscan Style Lighting Guide available. All styles offer several collections so that you can create a visual bond and coherence throughout all of your outdoor lighting.
Choosing LED for your Outdoor Lighting Fixture
Did you know that Energy Star LED bulbs are only replaced once every 36 years on average? LED lighting is growing in popularity for both indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures as they are more environmentally friendly and can save you a substantial amount of money on your electric bill. Many brands are now integrating LED lighting into their designs. Therefore, LED lighting is definitely an extra element that you may want to consider when selecting your outdoor lighting fixtures. Below are just a few of the many benefits of LED lighting:
- Only 60% of energy consumed goes to heat.
- LED is offered in a wide range of colors.
- It only pulls 10Watts.
- LED bulbs can live for up to 40,000 hours.
HOW ABOUT AN OUTDOOR CEILING FAN WITH LIGHTS?
One last thing you may want to consider as an option for your outdoor lighting needs is a ceiling fan with lights. Ceiling fans with lights have the added benefits of air circulation and a cool breeze for those hot summer nights. Outdoor ceiling fans with lights also come with UL wet and damp ratings to indicate their possible placements outdoors. Pictured below is the Quorum Galveston Patio. The Galveston carries a UL wet rating and brings CFL lighting through clear seedy glass. Additionally, the Galveston produces a 5,126 CFM, meaning that it is capable of creating quite the cool breeze.
When shopping outdoor lighting and outdoor ceiling fans with lights, the possibilities for style and designs are endless. Outdoor lighting can easily add that next level of sheer beauty to your home! Also, keep in mind that once you have found exactly what you’re looking for, we will ship your $40+ order for free!
- Rustic Farmhouse Lighting Style Guide
- Nautical Style Lighting Guide
- Modern and Contemporary Style Lighting Guide
- Tuscan Style Lighting Guide
- Chandelier Installation Guide
- The Best Outdoor Ceiling Fans