You’re on your deck enjoying time with family and friends. Dusk descends. Not ready to return inside, you switch on the porch light. It doesn’t take long to discover that your porch light falls short of the illumination you desire. It may be time to invest in light fixtures specially designed for your deck. Deck lighting can provide safety for your family, extend your time outdoors, accent your backyard, help create a unique outdoor space, and bring attention to your deck’s distinctive features. Best of all, deck lights are readily available, easy to install, and come in a range of styles, materials and finishes.
What kind of lights should I get?
There are two main types of deck lights. Which type you use will depend on your unique needs and individual taste.
- Solar lights: Solar powered deck lights use a panel to convert sunlight into energy for their batteries and employ a photocell to turn them on when the ambient light is low. Uncomplicated and cost effective, solar lights require no wiring, use zero electricity and can be installed in minutes using little more than a heavy duty adhesive or a few screws. They are low maintenance requiring only occasional cleaning of the solar panel and replacement of batteries every 2 to 3 years. With no wires or connectors to hide, these lights can be easily placed during construction or added to an existing deck and are a great option for difficult to reach spaces. One drawback, solar lights are not compatible with dimmer switches or timers.
- Low voltage lights: A source of reliable and energy efficient lighting, low voltage deck lights utilize a transformer that plugs directly into a standard wall outlet thus avoiding the need for an electrician’s services. Three transformer options are available; manual-requiring lights to be switched on and off, automatic-which lets you pre-set on and off times, and photocell-eye transformers-which turn the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Low voltage deck lights are best installed when constructing the deck or when replacing the railing due to the need to hide wires and connectors.
Where should I install deck lights?
- On the top of the posts: Consider eye-catching cap lights; a ring or collar light on the top of a post. They add a finishing touch to your deck design and provide a lovely ambiance at night.
- On the side of the posts: A post lamp may be positioned to cast a delicate glow downward or direct light upwards helping to light the floor and/or dark corners of your deck.
- On the railing: Side mount lighting fixtures on your railing to cast a gentle glow highlighting chosen areas or wrap patio string lights around the railing for a scintillating shimmer.
- Under the railing: Install lights beneath the railing to brighten sections of your deck without stealing the focus. A discreet choice, these lights may run in a continuous line or be separated and placed between balusters providing a soft down-glow around the perimeter of your deck.
- In the deck: Mounted flush with the deck surface, ambient lights create a soft up-glow marking the perimeter of the deck or highlighting different deck levels.
- On the steps: Unobtrusive lights mounted in the tread or risers of your steps subtly light the path making your staircase safe at night. You can install them in each step, stagger them on every second riser, or position two lights on wide steps.
- Along the roof line: Spot lights can brighten the grilling station, serving area, or seating arrangement.
- Two or three feet from your house wall: Wall washers provide a wide flood of light and add visual interest to your home while providing illumination for your evening activities.
Don’t retreat into your house! Let dedicated deck lighting create a safe and stylish space for your family to spend long enjoyable hours. With multiple styles to choose from, you can customize your deck lighting, add decorative accents and provide warm highlights. Whether recessed in the stair treads, snaking around the banisters, crowning your posts, or positioned on railings, your deck lighting can signal elevation changes, define perimeter, illuminate entertaining areas and provide soft lighting for your interactions. Best of all, deck lights are affordable, readily available and easily installed.