Porch Lighting 101: Your Guide to Lighting the Outdoors

The Highland Park Residential Outdoor Wall Mounted Light Fixture in Black by Steel Lighting Co

Lighting for the outside of your home is, unfortunately, a little less thought out compared to interior lighting solutions. Often, this comes down to the simple fact that your lights are only going to be needed about half as much, as natural lighting from that giant globe in the sky we call the Sun usually does all of the heavy lifting for us. 

Nevertheless, having the right outdoor setup for your porch or backyard can be a huge boon to the level of enjoyment you can expect to get out of those often overlooked spaces. 

Outdoor lighting offers benefits beyond mere visibility at night. It can transform an outdoor area, adding ambiance and warmth that enhances the experience of entertaining guests. Additionally, it serves as an important safety and security feature, making it easier to spot potential intruders in well-lit areas.

To help you maximize these advantages, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on outdoor lighting. This guide will assist you in understanding the nuances of outdoor illumination and how to effectively use our steel barn-style lighting fixtures. With this guidance, you can create an ideal lighting setup for your cozy outdoor space, balancing aesthetics, functionality, and security.

The Basics

The Westchester Residential Outdoor Wall Mounted Light Fixture in Black by Steel Lighting Co

Selecting the appropriate outdoor lighting can effectively serve dual purposes. Firstly, it provides brilliant illumination that enhances the ambiance and warmth of your outdoor space, creating a cohesive and inviting atmosphere. Secondly, it significantly boosts security. With the right lighting, you’ll be more aware of any unwelcome visitors on your property, allowing you to make informed decisions and take appropriate actions in response to any potential threats. This dual functionality of outdoor lighting makes it an essential element for both the aesthetics and safety of your property.

Still, there are a few essential things you should always consider when making the decision to revamp your outdoor lighting. These are:

  • What kind of area or space do you want to light up? 
  • Is your lighting for ambiance, or security? 
  • What kind of budget are you operating on? 

In many cases, the light you choose to purchase, and the purpose they serve, will be easily divisible between three distinct styles. 

Ambient Lighting

This lighting will provide a space with an acceptable level of lighting for you to see well enough to complete a basic task, like eating or drinking. For the most part, this won’t be the brightest form of lighting you can enjoy outside of your home, though it also won’t be so soft that’ll find yourself wondering why you got it in the first place. 

Hawthorne Commercial Space Outdoor Wall Mounted Light Fixture in Black by Steel Lighting Co

Task Lighting

As it implies in the name, task lighting is meant for making sure you can see well enough to complete a task without the need for natural lighting. It goes without saying that this is the brightest form of lighting and the one you are most likely to choose when considering your options for the purpose of security. 

For security purposes, many outdoor lighting systems incorporate features like motion sensors or dusk-till-dawn sensors. These sensors serve a dual function: they enhance security by automatically activating the lights in response to movement or changes in light levels, and they also help manage power consumption. By ensuring lights are only on when needed, these sensor-equipped lighting setups provide an efficient, energy-saving solution that maintains security without excessive power usage.

Accent Lighting 

Accent light isn’t so much about making you see better, even if that seems kind of counterintuitive. Instead, accent lighting is more about adding a sense of drama or occasion to a space, and will most likely be seen in entertainment areas and around space where there is a specific focus towards a certain spot, such as a statue or feature wall. 

Lighting for the Occasion

Gardena Residential Outdoor Wall Mounted Light Fixture in Black by Steel Lighting Co

So, you managed to ask yourself the key question of just what your lighting setup is going to be used for and what purpose you are hoping it will achieve. Now comes the question of just what type of light is going to be best suited to the task you’ve given it? 

For the most part, when it comes to outdoor lighting, you’re essentially going to be picking between one of two choices, or a combination of both. 

Ceiling Lights

Ceiling lights are ideal for outdoor settings like walkways, corridors, high ceilings, and large open areas. In terms of security, larger fixtures are often more effective due to their extensive coverage area. A large ceiling light can cast a wide range of illumination, significantly enhancing visibility and safety in these spaces. This extensive reach not only improves the functionality of the space but also contributes to a more secure environment by illuminating a larger area, making it less inviting for potential intruders.

As an example, our Manhattan ceiling light is a popular choice for a lot of outdoor lighting setups, as the 18” diameter of the hand-spun steel allows a tremendous amount of light to cover a large open area with ease. 

Though, if you’re looking for something smaller, say for a neat little porch setup where the focus will be more about ambiance and mood, a smaller design – such as the Eagle Rock ceiling light, or the Rose Bowl, will be more than suitable. 

Wall Mounted Lights

The issue of course, with ceiling-mounted lighting, comes from the fact that you actually need a ceiling in the first place – something that’s not always the case with the outdoors. As a result, a wall-mounted fixture is often a much more flexible option. 

Wall-mounted lights are often able to serve much of the same functions as their ceiling-mounted counterparts – often with relatively few drawbacks. 

Being wall-mounted allows a light much more functionality and gives you a few options. For example, while bigger may be best for ceiling light, in the case of wall-mounted fixtures – having more light sources can often be an advantage. Particularly if your lighting spaces with entranceways, such as your front or backdoor. 

As an example, our Westchester light, despite being the second smallest design next to our small-yet-mighty Hawthorne, is perfect for lighting porches and driveways when used as a pair for each side of a space. 

Venice Commercial Wall Mounted Light Fixtures in Black by Steel Lighting Co

That’s it for our porch and outdoor lighting guide. If you have any additional questions about how you can light your outdoors, then don’t be afraid to give our team of steel lighting experts a call!


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