Outdoor lighting can turn a lovely yard into a nighttime showstopper, but it’s so much more. Good outdoor lighting on your porch and around outdoor steps can deter intruders, prevent falls and accidents and create aesthetic appeal.
“Lighting steps can be done for effect or for safety, by installing low-voltage LED lights directly into them,” says Joseph A. Rey-Barreau, an architect/lighting designer and associate professor in the College of Design at the University of Kentucky. “These are tiny fixtures that are installed on the vertical, or the riser, of the step. The beauty of LED lighting is that it has an extraordinarily long life, more than 25,000 hours, so you’re talking about 10 to 15 years of lights.”
Another way to light steps is by using path and spread lights.
“They spread light over an area, and you can place one adjacent to each side of the step so that they distribute a light across the bottom. A homeowner can buy a system, install a transformer, run the cable out in the yard, and put a stake in the ground,” Rey-Barreau said.
For the porch, most homeowners install ceiling fans that come with a light.
“If you’re installing a ceiling fan with a light in a porch, use a damp-rated fan, which means it’s under cover but won’t come directly in contact with water,” Rey-Barreau said.
He estimates that good outdoor lighting that lasts will cost between $500 and $1,000 for the whole system. Not sure what you want to do yet? Rey-Barreau suggests installing a metal conduit, or pipe, while installing the porch or stairs for future use.
“Use that pipe later to run any necessary wires underneath the stairs or sidewalk,” he said.
For help with installation, you can hire a company that specializes in landscape lighting.
“Get at least two estimates,” Rey-Barreau said. “Keep in mind that anything less than 30 volts does not need a licensed electrician.”
Infrared motion detector lighting, which turns on when it detects motion up to 70 feet away, is another option. You do not even need electricity. Solar lighting can provide sufficient light and save energy and money.
If you want to light the way, you’ll first have to choose from many lighting options, such as those made from aluminum, stainless steel and brass, and the designs are endless.
“Most anything that you could want you can find at a specialized lighting store,” Rey-Barreau said.