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Outdoor and holiday lighting

Outdoor lighting lit on the wall.

Efficient outdoor lighting for safety and holidays

Good outdoor lighting allows you to walk safely on the path or steps to your home, lets you see who's at the door before opening it, and acts as a deterrent to criminals and prowlers.

Find out how to select the appropriate outdoor lighting system for the greatest safety and energy savings.

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Outdoor lighting for safety and security

Outdoor safety lighting helps you to move around safely outside when natural light isn't present. For example, a light located on stairs will help prevent tripping.

Outdoor security lighting is for crime prevention. It has three main functions:

  • Deterring crime: If lights are on, it creates the impression that someone is at home and alert to an outside presence.
  • Detecting crime: In a well-lit area, an intruder would find it difficult to approach unseen.
  • Preventing concealment: Lighting takes away shadows where someone could hide.

Outdoor lighting design

Before you install outdoor lighting, you'll need to assess your needs. Take some time to determine what areas need lighting and for what purpose to ensure you'll invest in outdoor lighting that will benefit your home's security and safety without wasting energy.

Tips for outdoor lighting fixtures and light bulb types

  • Choose fixtures that direct light downward, where you need it. These are better than fixtures that cast light upward and sideways, which waste energy lighting unneeded areas.
  • For your safety, an outdoor light that emits a concentrated beam of light offers better visibility than one that shines light in all directions.
  • For your security, brighter doesn't always mean safer. Your home could be vulnerable if excessive lighting creates a glare, or poorly located lighting creates shadows where criminals can hide.

Placement of outdoor lights

Assess your safety and security needs by looking for potential problem areas. Determine what areas have to be lit, how much illumination you need, and when you require the lighting.

  • Consider lighting a path from the entry at the street all the way to the door.
  • A long or steep flight of stairs should have lights at the top and bottom for safety.
  • If there's shrubbery near the entryway, use lighting to eliminate shadows.

Here are some recommendations for specific outdoor lights:

  • Post lanterns are useful at entrances to driveways and walkways. They should be a minimum of 8 ft above the ground to provide the most light.
  • Floodlights are good for driveways. They should be at least 12 ft above the ground to keep light out of drivers' eyes.
  • Walk lights are low-mounted fixtures that spread light downwards, great for steps, paths and driveways. They should be placed 8 to 10 ft apart.

Timing for outdoor lights

To maximize energy efficiency, read up on light timers and sensors for outdoor lighting so you can use lighting controls that ensure they're only on when you need them to be.

Energy-efficient holiday lighting

Your best bet for keeping electricity costs down and holiday spirits up is to opt for energy-efficient LED holiday lights. They use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent holiday lights and can last up to 10 times longer.

Automate holiday lights with a timer

Plugging holiday lights and electronic decorations into timers is a convenient way to have them automatically turn on when it gets dark, and turn off overnight when no one's around to admire them.

Lastly, don't forget to take any old incandescent holiday lights still lying around the garage or crawlspace to any Light Recycle location in B.C. so they can be recycled. For a list of collection sites, visit