Common Outdoor Lighting Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Outdoor lighting is a crucial, yet often overlooked, element of styling your home. When done correctly, it sets the tone for your family, visitors, and passersby alike. Without proper lighting, your outdoor space will leave something to be desired.

Though almost any lighting is better than none, bad lighting is just that…bad. If you’re starting on your outdoor lighting journey and don’t know where to start – we can help! Here are a few of the biggest outdoor lighting mistakes, how to avoid them, and how to choose outdoor lighting fixtures for your home.

Lack of Planning

Like anything in life, equipping your home with outdoor lighting requires a plan. A proper plan will save you time, money, and a major headache.

Start by defining the purpose for new outdoor lighting. If you want outdoor security lighting, check out our array of motion sensor flood lighting and pack lights. If you’re looking for ways to make your home more welcoming, landscape lighting is where you’ll want to start. For creating an ambiance worthy of entertaining guests, you can opt for outdoor ceiling lights. No matter why you want more outdoor lighting, planning can help narrow down your choices and ease the decision-making process.

Selecting the Wrong Rating

You’ve defined the purpose for adding outdoor lighting around your home, so now you must select what rating of light to use. Unless you’re familiar with lighting terminology, you might not even know what rating means – but we can help!

The IP (Ingress Protection) Rating Scale essentially measures how protected a light source is against elements like liquids or solid objects. A fixture’s rating dictates how it stands up to those elements and tells consumers where they should and shouldn’t use a particular fixture.

The two most important ratings are damp-rated and wet-rated. A damp-rated fixture is designed for use in covered places (under an awning or porch) and shouldn’t directly be exposed to water. However, a wet-rated fixture can be directly exposed to water. Understanding this distinction will help you select lighting with the correct rating for your outdoor setup.

Proper Location

Location is everything in real estate, and the same can be said for outdoor lighting. How to choose outdoor lighting and the correct location for each type of light is a crucial part of the planning and styling process. Some fixtures will make a statement in daylight hours, but blend into your backdrop at night. And if a light is too close to a seating area, it can shine too bright and put off a glare.

The two best ways to factor in the location are to properly plan and experiment. Consider location during the planning process of your outdoor lighting operation. Think about what fixture might go where before you start the buying process.

Experimentation is a great way to get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. We recommend setting up your lights and taking them in from different distances and angles. Consider how the light looks from your street or from that chair on the back patio. Essential outdoor lighting areas might include paths, entries, driveway, steps, and your patio.

Lighting in Moderation

As with anything new, there will be a temptation to go all-out with lighting upgrades. So many fixtures, so many possibilities. However, you should try your best to not overdo it. Too much lighting too quickly can lead to a host of unwanted problems.

Increased Expenses

Purchasing too many outdoor lighting options at once can be quite costly. Not to mention the hike in your energy bill each month. The budgetary concerns should be taken into consideration during the planning portion of your lighting journey.


Poor lighting choices can lead to a host of problems, one of which is unwanted glare. Glare can be caused by selecting the wrong type of light, placing that light at the wrong angle, or even by having too many lights in a concentrated area. To avoid unwanted glare, plan your lighting choices appropriately and experiment with the angles of the lights prior to your guests arriving.

Light Pollution

The goal of outdoor lighting should be to make your space more inviting and safer at nighttime. But too much light can eliminate your ability to enjoy nature’s lights – the stars. Light pollution can ruin your view of the nighttime sky and even keep you awake at night.

To ensure you limit your light pollution, consider dark sky lighting. Dark sky lighting directs light toward the ground and not into the night sky. This type of lighting will allow for extra light, without be a nuisance to the environment.

Outdoor Lighting Starters

Wall Lighting

Light up your home’s front door or entryway with the Beckham 21 Inch 3 Light Wall Light from Troy Lighting. With three bulbs and a wet rating, this sleek lighting unit will turn heads right away.

Ceiling Lighting

Ceiling fixtures are perfect for illuminating your front or back porch. For a neutral-colored fixture, opt for the Cobalt 11 Inch 1 Light LED Flush Mount from Access Lighting. Crafted with coastal and Scandinavian influences, this fixture is uniquely designed and is a perfect starter outdoor ceiling light.

Security Lighting

Keep the exterior of your home properly protected with the Stealth 11 Inch LED Wall Flood Light by Access Lighting. Compact in size and easy to install, this LED-powered wall floodlight amplifies your security measures.

Landscape Lighting

Add some extra lighting to the paths leading to your home with the Calgary 17 Inch Decorative Pathway Light from Eglo Lighting. Designed with elegant shades with simple framing, this sleek pathway light is a simple way to add extra light to the exterior of your home.

Take all the outdoor lighting knowledge you just gained and put it into practice during your outdoor lighting journey. From the types of lights and things to consider to the common pitfalls, you are now well-equipped to outfit the exterior of your home with lighting that will dazzle, impress, and make your space the place you love to enjoy.


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