Good outdoor lighting provides safety and security to our homes, as well as great curb appeal during the nighttime hours. Lighting at night has much more intensity and even a little light goes a long way in the dark. Many exterior lighting designs use a combination of low voltage lighting (for path and accent lights) and line voltage light fixtures (wall lanterns and hanging fixtures). A well-lighted front entrance enables you to accent your home and to greet visitors. Wall lanterns on each side of the door will give your home a warm and welcoming look, while assuring the safety of those who approach the front door. Under a porch or overhang, you can use recessed, chain-hung or close-to-ceiling fixtures. A separate rear or side entrance can be illuminated with a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door.
The biggest mistake consumers make when installing new outdoor lighting is purchasing fixtures that are too small. When choosing lighting for a door or entryway, a simple rule-of-thumb to keep in mind is that the height of your lantern or outdoor fixture should be based on the height of the door or opening.
- If a single side lantern is used, the piece should be approximately one third the height of the door.
- If two lights are used on either side of a door, the pieces used can be slightly smaller, or one quarter the height of the entryway.
- The fixtures should be mounted so that they are slightly above eye-level. On a typical door this measures out to approximately 66 inches above the threshold of the door.
Please note that many cities have implemented special building codes related to the type of lighting that you are allowed to use outdoors. You should check with your local building inspection office regarding this issue.