Yard lights for 2021
With summer fast approaching, you’re probably planning to spend more time in the backyard— especially at night. Outfitting your favorite outdoor space with yard lighting, then, is one of the best investments you can make this season.
There are quite a few options for yard lighting, including solar lights, deck lights and string lights. While some of these may be enough to illuminate an outdoor space, many consumers invest in more than one to enhance the ambiance.
Wondering which yard lighting you should buy this summer? Here’s our buying guide to point you in the right direction.
Key considerations for summer yard lights
Functional vs. decorative lighting
To narrow your options, decide whether your yard needs functional or decorative lighting — or both.
Functional yard lighting includes any type of lighting necessary or serves a purpose, such as step lights to help you see where you walk. These lighting choices are practical, though sometimes they have useful designs and lack curb appeal.
Decorative yard lighting contributes to the ambiance of outdoor space. While decorative lights can be functional, they’re not always the primary source of light in a space. For that reason, you may need to buy a combination of decorative and functional lights to cover practical and aesthetic needs.
As you compare different options for yard lighting, you may be wondering how their brightness compares, too.
Brightness refers to the light output, which is expressed in lumens. According to Energy Star, the more lumens a light has, the brighter it will be.
If you’re not sure how many lumens you need in yard lights, don’t worry. Most manufacturers indicate the lumens and the recommended uses of the light on their packaging.
As you shop around, you’ll also begin to notice trends in brightness based on different categories of yard lighting. String lights and solar lights, for example, tend to be somewhat dimmer than security lights and floodlights.
Before you purchase yard lighting, take a look at how it draws power. It may impact your final decision — and bottom line.
If you invest in string lights, they may need access to AC outlets. Some of them have relatively short power cords, so you’ll need to invest in a few outdoor extension cords. You may need to secure the cord by affixing it to nearby structures as well.
Like lanterns or security lights, some lights may need to be hardwired to draw power directly from your house. If you’re not comfortable handling this yourself, be sure to budget for the cost of hiring a licensed electrician for installation.
Solar lights, on the other hand, won’t require hardwiring or access to AC outlets. This means they can be placed almost anywhere in your yard, provided the area receives direct sunlight. While they sometimes cost more upfront, it’s unlikely you’ll incur additional costs for their upkeep.
There are a few types of yard lights on the market that are battery-powered, though they’re less popular. They’re considered less convenient options by many consumers, not to mention the ongoing cost for battery replacements.
Popular types of yard lights
Not sure which type of yard lighting to invest in? Here’s are the most popular categories consumers are considering this year.
Solar lights are often installed around walkways or driveways to add a modest amount of light to the space. However, solar lights aren’t too bright, so you may need supplemental lighting to illuminate darker spaces better.
LED lights are energy-efficient and long-lasting options for yard lighting. They’re appreciated for their versatility and bright, clear light; however, their brightness may be a bit too bright and distracting to household members or neighbors.
Color lights let you customize the ambiance of your outdoor space. Some color lights offer as many as a dozen colors and have light show or timer settings. They’re not as bright as other types of yard lights, so they’re not ideal if illumination is your primary concern.
String lights can be hung almost anywhere in a yard, including fences, pergolas or gazebos, just to name a few. They’re available in countless bulb shapes and light colors. String lights often need access to AC outlets and may need to be taken down before extreme weather.
Step lights fall under the category of functional yard lighting. Some of these turn on independently in low-light conditions, whereas others are motion-activated. Installation difficulty varies considerably, so be sure to know what’s involved before you buy.
Pathway lights are used to illuminate outdoor walk spaces, such as those leading to a pool, deck or shed. It’s common for them to have practical attributes, like motion activation or all-weather construction. Quality is hit or miss with these lights, so you’ll need to examine them closely.
Lamppost lights are free-standing light fixtures with elegant, intricate designs. They’re often touted as the top aesthetic choice for yard lighting. Many lamp posts are now solar-powered, though some of them require hardwiring.
Deck post lights
Deck post lights are considered ideal if you would like to illuminate the entire deck. There are quite a few designs on the market, so it’s easy to find one that matches outdoor décor. Deck post lights end up being expensive if you need to install several of them.
Light-up patio umbrellas
Light-up patio umbrellas are popular for dining al fresco on summer evenings. They add just enough light to an outdoor table so guests can see food and one another. Many of these umbrellas use solar lights, so you will need to leave them open if you intend to use them at night.
Tabletop lights for decorative yard lighting are often placed on patio tables and side tables. They’re available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, and many of them are solar-powered. However, they only offer a modest amount of light.
Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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