Choosing the Best Patio Lighting


Summer is upon us. What this means is that more and more people will be spending more time outdoors. At the pool, grilling some food outdoors, or just hanging out on the patio with some friends talking. Whatever your plans are this summer, appropriate lighting for your patio can make or break a good time with your friends and family. Good lighting makes a walkway easy to navigate after dark, provides safety and security, and creates a welcoming ambiance.

Bright, standard voltage lights, such as an under-eave porch light or a post light, add strong illumination to repel intruders or allow you to walk without tripping, however, they are too glaring for entertaining. The best lights for most evening activities are Low-voltage lights. A combination of both types of lights would be ideal.


Path lights usually have shades that produce a wide, downward spread of light.

Lantern-type lights both illuminate paths and provide general lighting.

Spotlights or floodlights can be swiveled to point at a feature or an area of the yard.

“Brick lights” are shaped to resemble a patio paver and are actually installed in the soil, where they point diffused light upward.

Rope lights are strings of tiny, evenly spaced bulbs that can be hung from a tree like Christmas lights.

Deck lights can be fastened to a vertical structure such as an overhead or a trellis.


Position lights so that they will provide illumination without shining into people’s eyes. Often, this means placing low-voltage lights lower than 2 feet above the ground and standard-voltage lights higher than 7 feet.

You can also place lights behind a barrier or use fixtures that provide shielded or diffused light. Most yards benefit from a combination of two or three types. Depending on what you’d like to do with your home there are many different options.

  • Silhouetting
    • To emphasize the shape of a tree, shrub, or bed of flowers, try aiming a spotlight or floodlight at a fence or wall from close behind the plant.
  • Spread Lighting
    • Use short downward-spreading lights not only to light up a path but to light up shrubbery or flowers. Try different colored bulbs for decorative effects.
  • Downlighting
    • Use lights that point downward to gently light up a patio or walkway, or to accent trees and shrubs,


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