Staff on December 26, 2016 1 Comment Outdoor lighting has two main purposes: security and beautification. Outdoor lights help to improve the safety of your home by illuminating your entrance area so you can take out your keys, or so you can clearly see whoever is knocking at your door. Porch lights help to illuminate your home and yard, enabling you to spend time outside well into the evening and help you enhance the beauty of your home. But how do you choose a porch light that is practical, stylish and durable all at the same time? Here is all the information you need to make the best choice for your outdoor lighting. Different Styles of Porch Lights There are a few porch light styles you may want to consider as you begin shopping. Each comes with its own set of features, but what really matters is determining which one will fit the most seamlessly into your outdoor space. Shop for Outdoor Lighting Here Safety Flood Lights The first style, safety flood lights, is the most practical for safety purposes, but it doesn’t have much style or visual appeal. Safety lights are usually paired with a motion sensor that turns them on whenever there is movement, thus discouraging theft and breaking and entering. Post Lights Post lights can be installed on top of posts along your entrance pathway and around your porch. They light up enough for you to see where you’re going, but not as intense as flood lights. They are perfect for lighting up hidden nooks or beautifying landscape features. Wall Sconces Wall lights, like sconces, are installed on walls. They are great for lighting up the front door and corners around your porch. Outdoor wall sconces can be easily installed on most materials, including brick, aluminium and wood. Ceiling Mounted Lights Ceiling mounts, in the form of flush mount or pendant lights, are great for larger porches where you need more ambient light. Obviously, you need a covered porch in order to install one of these. Porch Light Materials For durability, you need to pay special attention to the material your porch light is made of. The climate you live in will determine what kind of things to worry about. Ice and snow, high humidity, lots of dust and other environmental conditions need to be considered when choosing the type of porch light. In all cases, you should always choose a light that was specifically made for outdoor use. Indoor lighting fixtures are not meant to survive the sometimes harsh outdoor conditions — yes, even if your porch is covered. Certain conditions, like cold, high humidity or dryness, as well as rain or snow, can damage indoor lights. Good weather-resistant materials to look for are powder-coated aluminium and brass. These are generally the most durable types, and a good outdoor light made from these materials should last at least a decade. Materials to look for: Aluminum: Aluminum is common and has a nice, classic shine. It’s perfect when you want a low-profile light, or something brighter. Brass: Brass is warm and inviting, and its glow works well with brick walls and warm wood surroundings. Its glow is a little less bright than aluminium, but still pleasant, especially for entertaining outdoors. Choosing the Right Bulb Another concern for outdoor lighting is choosing the right lightbulb. Again, indoor-type lightbulbs may easily break or burn out in outdoor conditions, so buy dedicated outdoor bulbs only. The minimum you should get is a 60-watt (or its CFL equivalent) outdoor lightbulb. This provides a good amount of lighting for most activities. CFL (acronym for “compact fluorescent light”) bulbs are much more energy efficient and last longer than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, using only a fraction of the wattage. Most CFL bulbs last from 7 to 9 years in normal usage conditions. You may have heard complaints about how “cold” CFL light is, but recent improvements in bulb coating and color has improved the light quality, and it is now very much the same as traditional incandescent bulbs. Choosing a CFL bulb saves you money in both energy costs and bulb replacement. Learn How to Shop for Energy Efficient Lighting Here If you want a brighter light, 100 or 120 watts will work well. A higher intensity bulb will light up a larger area; a 120-watt bulb can illuminate up to 100 square feet. This is especially helpful if your porch is large or if you want to cover a wider area around your entrance. If you’re going for two wall sconce lights on each side of your front door, you can get away with two 40-watt (or CFL equivalent) lightbulbs, since the lighting will come from both sides at the same time. Hang them at about 66 inches of height so that they are just above eye level. Porch Lighting Concerns As you choose your lighting fixture and combination, you should keep some concerns in mind. One important issue is the growing problem of light pollution, which has been shown to have an effect on the natural world (as well as your neighbors). Look for lighting fixtures that mention “Dark Sky” or “Good Neighbor” seal of approval. These lighting fixtures are specifically made to minimize the impact of light on the environment. Another issue you may run into is the problem of bug attraction. Some types of lights attract insects more than others, and so you might want to look into bulbs that attract a minimal amount of bugs. According to a recent test, white incandescent bulbs attract the most bugs in general — so you want to avoid this type. LED lights at the red end of the spectrum performed the best, even better than specialized anti-bug lights. One more thing you should keep in mind is hanging a ceiling light or pendant light high enough and far enough from the door so that they don’t collide when the door opens. If you’re not sure, open your door and mark its arc on the ceiling. That way, you can be sure that your light fixture won’t get in the way of opening your front door. If you plan on spending a lot of time on your porch, and your climate includes hot weather, you may want to consider installing an outdoor fan instead of just a ceiling light. Not only do they keep your porch cool during hot spells, but they also act as an insect deterrent. Just make sure to buy an outdoor ceiling fan — just like indoor light fixtures, an indoor fan will not be able to stand outside conditions.