Adding lanterns to the exterior of your home can add style, while making your porch, deck, garage, or other outdoor area brighter and safer. To get the best effect from your light fixtures, you should choose your fixtures carefully from the vast array of available wall mount gas lanterns and electric lanterns and pay careful attention to the positioning.
When homeowners buy fixtures for their property in a lighting store, or quite often these days, online, they often guess at the proper size. The lights on display look quite sizable, while the measurements seem excessively large. When they get the products home, buyers find the fixtures to be the wrong size; most often, the lights are too small. Fortunately, there is a more scientific way to gauge the appropriate size than by eyeballing either the area or the fixture.
Positioning Entryway Lights
For entryway lighting, the size and height of the front door define the proper size for lighting fixtures, which should not only look proportional from close up, but also be visible from afar. From 50 feet away, a lantern will appear half its actual size, so you should select a fixture that measures 1/4 to 1/3 the height of your front door. The standard door height is 80 inches (6 feet, 8 inches) so you should look for a fixture between 20 and 27 inches in height. For best effect, you should position a fixture on each side of a front door if you have the room and one near a side door or garage door. Your junction boxes for the wiring should be located within 6-12” from the door frame.
As for height, your goal is to illuminate the porch for visitors without glare as they knock on the door or come into the home. Ideally, fixtures should be positioned just above eye level for the average person or between 65 and 67″ from the ground or porch floor and both front and back door. When the door is very tall, you should opt for a larger-scale fixture, rather than positioning it higher. You might opt for a hanging light or positioned over-the-door; while this is an attractive placement, the problem can be glare that makes it hard for people to maneuver thresholds or steps or get the key in the door. Ways to cut glare include using frosted bulbs, decreasing the brightness of bulbs, and having shields on the fixtures.
Supplementing Your Porch Lighting
When you want to provide more light for guests approaching your door, you can add a post light to help guide them up stairs or along stepping stones or brick paved walks. For better coverage without shadows, shorter path lights 1 or 2 feet high, evenly placed 3 to 6 feet apart, promote safety while bathing your yard in soft light. These low-slung path lights are often low voltage, which reduces the cost of operation. For this use, 12- to 15-v light will serve the purpose, while you might need120-v fixtures to illuminate driveways.
It you need additional lighting for security or to illuminate your driveway or patio, 8-9’ is the proper mounting height so that they will be out of the way and effective. When you need more directed light than wall lights offer, you may need floodlights or spotlights. Aim for shaded or focused spotlights but at least consider your neighbors when placing any exterior light.
Illuminating Your Garage
With garage door lights that illuminate the main door, you have more choices to make regarding the number of lights. While you still want a fixture that is 1/4 to 1/3 the height of the garage door, you need one light for a one-car garage, lights on either side and perhaps one in the center for a two-car garage, or multiple lights positioned above the top of the door if you want more light.
If you choose garage door lights that match your porch lights, you might choose a slightly smaller fixture if what you choose comes in multiple sizes. Lights positioned on the size of the garage should be 66” from the ground (as measured from the center of the fixture to the ground), while those centered above the door or horizontally positioned, should be 6” above the door frame.
Tips For Successful Outdoor Lighting Placement
While size selection and positioning show outdoor laying off to best advantage, there are a few things to keep in mind for best results:
- Plan for your overall lighting needs. Even if you need to phase in the implementation, a plan will result in a cohesive lighting design. If it includes a schematic for gas and electrical lines, you can make sure that wiring is in place for future projects or at least that gas lines and wiring are easily accessible.
- Prevent lightning pollution. Overly bright lights (Think the Griswolds in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) annoy your neighbors while running up your electrical bill. Your night time lighting should be effective, yet subtle. Avoid high wattage bulbs and rely on dimmers, motion detectors, and timers to prevent waste, ensure your home’s safety and security, and avoid becoming a neighborhood nuisance. When placing lights along driveways or walkways, point them toward the surface, not up or out so that they blind visitors or neighbors.
- Position lighting correctly around foliage. Rather than placing light in a bed of foliage, play sit beyond the growing edge and then angle it to enhance the plantings. Colored lights do an excellent job of highlighting landscaping features by creating an interplay between the color and shadow, something that bright white lights do not do. Angle driveway lights down so as not to blind drivers.
Buying Wall Mount Gas Lanterns
When you buy outdoor lanterns, the lighting around your porch or garage may be only part of the lighting you need. To properly illuminate your property, you may need a mix of wall mount, flush mount, hanging, and post/ column lights, as well as fixtures of varying sizes. While it is not necessary to have everything match exactly, your goal is to utilize fixtures that coordinate with the style of your home and with each other.
If you love the intense light of gas lighting, you might choose wall mount gas lanterns as porch lights. However, for other areas, you may need electric versions. The ideal is to find fixtures that offer full options if you need to change things up.
Reproduction lighting from Lantern & Scroll offers a variety of choices that range from colonial style lighting in groupings such as the Charleston Collection to more modern lighting in the Yacht Basin or Canaan Cities. Most collections offer a variety styles, sizes, and fuel options to allow for the unified look that will offer the best curb appeal.