Outdoor lighting is a critical part of a home’s outdoor aesthetic — and a practical consideration that ensures residents and guests arrive to the front door in one piece. But where should outdoor lights go, and how far apart should you space them?
Outdoor lights should be spaced from 5-8 feet apart for residential buildings and 4-6 feet apart for commercial spaces. You can always experiment by trying out different locations and distances, layering the light, and alternating lights on each side of a pathway.
Options for outdoor lighting are infinite, but we’ll take a look at some common lighting situations to get you started. From there, you can see what feels right and what suits your property best.
How Should You Space Your Outdoor Lighting?
No house is complete without outdoor lights to greet you when you arrive home after a long night.
Outdoor lights can help enhance the look of the house by adding beauty and accents to the exterior, while also helping you see and point out pathways or anything else that is important and should be visible by night.
Here are a few things you should do to space out and design your outdoor lighting:
Form a Layout
It’s crucial to form a layout of the house; this will help you get a good idea of the house’s exterior and surroundings.
Take a walk around your house during the day and identify some key areas. This might include nice trees, shrubs, a fountain, or maybe a stone wall which would fit well with accented lighting.
You should also look into other important areas such as footpaths, walkways, deck areas, porches, and driveways. These are all areas of the house that should stay illuminated during the night.
Make a Sketch
Once you’ve selected the important areas, draw up a quick sketch of your house. You can start by making a perimeter and then add in the benches, decks, buildings, and any other important elements.
Now, highlight the focal points with the approximate height of those objects. Being able to see from a bird’s eye view will help you decide how strong the lighting needs to be.
Select the Lighting
It’s very important to pick the right kind of lighting fixtures for the right area. Path and area lights are ideal for illuminating walkways and will create a welcoming path for people arriving at the home.
Accent or spot lights, meanwhile, are perfect for adding drama and a mood to specific objects or an area. These lights will precisely illuminate that specific area. Check out the MarsLG BRS1 Soldi Brass Accent Lights (on Amazon).
In-ground lights are great to illuminate trees or light a pathway.
Submersible lights, like the SHOYO Waterproof LED Spotlight (on Amazon), are mostly used in swimming pools, ponds, wells, and other areas where water is a major element.
Spacing Outdoor Lights
Once you understand where you’d like to place your outdoor lights, the next matter to consider is how far apart they should be. This is especially common when installing lights for and around the front walkway.
The answer to this depends on a few factors. To start with, anywhere from 5 to 8 feet apart is generally considered a good amount of distance for placing outdoor lights in most residential situations. However, you don’t have to follow this rule; after all, every property is unique.
If your pathway is getting too bright from the lighting you’ve selected, or if it isn’t bright enough, you should test out a few different locations for the lights. Experimenting is the best way to figure out what’s best.
Another popular way of installing lights is alternating between the two sides of a path; this helps keep the lighting balanced and prevents it from feeling too bright.
If your area is commercial, 4 to 6 feet apart for your pathway lighting is another general rule you can follow.
With that said, be careful that you don’t over illuminate the pathway. You generally want to make sure that the light from each different fixture doesn’t overlap with that of another. Other than the slight natural overlap, try to prevent it as much as you can.
When considering places for pathway lights, there are several options. You can have them fixed into the sidewalk or placed in front of your door. If you don’t have a pathway or a yard, you can move onto the porch or a garage and have it illuminated.
How to Space Out Lighting on the Front Porch
Exterior lights can be placed next to the porch, in front of your garage, or even at the side of your main or back door. It’s advised that you install adequate lighting in areas like a porch or patio so that everyone can properly see when they’re coming in or going out from there.
Porch lights, such as the Designers Fountain Wall Lantern (on Amazon), can usually be mounted on one or two sides of your main entrance, at around shoulder height. This provides a downward illumination to help you look see where you’re walking or find important things such as keys. At the same time, lights at this height shouldn’t obstruct your field of vision.
When looking to space out your porch lights, there are a few factors to consider, such as the area of the porch and where the entrances are located. However, the general rule is still 6-8 feet apart.
Of course, you don’t have to follow this recommendation, but make sure your porch isn’t too bright or too dimly lit.
How to Layer Outdoor Lighting
Layers are another great way of creating a bright spotlight without over-illuminating the area. Start to position a few spotlights with different angles towards the object you’re trying to illuminate.
This will reveal silhouettes of the object and create layers. The layers add a dramatic effect that contributes nicely to the overall ambiance.