- Published: October 03, 2011
- By: Jan Soults Walker
Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor lighting, a patio heater, and a glowing firepit or portable fireplace.
- Effort: Low 2 hrs (installation)
- Investment: Med $100-$1,500 (patio heater)
Light the deck or patio
The sun sets sooner on your outdoor living space in the fall, but that shouldn’t limit the hours you use your deck or patio. Adding low-voltage or solar outdoor lighting fixtures lets you party or relax well after dark.
With both lighting types, you can:
• Light deck railings and stairs
• Define the patio perimeter
• Illuminate the edges of paths and walkways
• Draw attention to a planter or tree
Other fixtures light up dining tables, grill surfaces, and even underwater in swimming pools.
Low-voltage fixtures clip onto a safe, 12-volt cable connected to a transformer, which plugs into a GFCI-protected 120-volt electrical outlet. A timer or light-sensitive control automatically turns lights on and off.
A low-voltage lighting kit with eight LED stainless steel fixtures, 50 feet of cable, and a transformer starts at $60. Individual low-voltage fixtures range in price from $7 for a simple poly-resin fixture up to about $150 for architectural-grade, cast-brass models.
Solar outdoor lighting fixtures don’t need cables and transformers. They simply turn themselves on automatically after dark. Each stand-alone fixture stakes into the ground or secures to a deck or exterior surface. You’ll save energy, as a sunlight-charged battery powers the bulb.
The downside to solar fixtures is a dimmer glow than low-voltage fixtures, and fewer lighting hours – many solar fixtures run out of stored energy after 4-5 hours on the job. Cloudy days also reduce power.
A four-pack of solar light fixtures that mount on top of deck posts starts at about $30. Or, check out a cast-aluminum solar lantern for about $60.