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What are the Different Types of Yard Lighting?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated May 17, 2024
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Yard lighting is usually used for three different purposes: to accent landscaping, to improve visibility, and for security. Spotlights and lights with motion activated sensors are commonly used for security. Landscaping lights serve the purpose of making gardens and yards attractive during the night hours. Some homeowners also use them to light pathways leading to garages and other outbuildings.

Landscape yard lighting is typically inexpensive and easy to install, however, in some instances, costs can be relatively high and may require professional installation. Most hardware and home improvement centers carry outdoor yard lighting kits that most homeowners can handle on their own. The kits typically contain everything needed for do-it-yourself installation.

Solar lights are considered especially easy to install, because they do not require electrical cords running from light to light. They are generally attached to stakes or long poles, then driven into the ground where needed. Solar lights contain a small solar cell that stores energy during daylight, which is conserved throughout the day, then released at night. They are generally more expensive to purchase, but could save a great deal of money over time because they do not use electricity. One drawback to consider would be that the length of time they stay lit is dependent not on the homeowner's needs but on how much energy their cells store during the day.

Many landscape designers use a type of yard lighting called "accent" lights. They are usually covered by a metal shade or hood and attached to an adjustable pole. Accent lights are most often used to draw attention to focal points in the yard, such as statues or birdbaths.

Yard lighting is considered a main component of home security. A home that is well lit on the outside during darkness is a less attractive target for burglary and home invasion. Since the cost of running lights all night long cad be expensive, many homeowners choose motion activated lights as an alternative. The lights contain sensors that turn the lights on and off when motion is detected within a specified perimeter. This type of lighting is often used near doorways and other home entry points.

Other common types of yard lighting are spotlights and lanterns. Hanging lanterns and tiered lighting is sometimes installed around pools and patios. Spotlights are considered the brightest type of yard lighting. The curvature of the bulb allows the light to illuminate a very large area. The wattage of a spotlight is typically quite high, which could make them too expensive to use regularly.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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