Lighting can transform the way a space looks and feels. This is true for both interior and exterior spaces. It is also true for garages. Sure, you want your garage lighting to be functional and to provide safety, but it should also be stylish and add to the décor of your home. You probably know or at least have thought about how you plan to use the interior of your garage and what type of interior lighting you would like to have. Have you given any thought, though, to what type of lighting would work best on the exterior of your garage? To help you with that, here are some exterior garage lighting ideas:
Desirable Features in Exterior Garage Lighting
Did you know that exterior garage lighting can add to your home’s curb appeal? Not only can it help to establish your home’s unique appearance, but it can also contribute to the overall esthetic appeal of your home. Of course, you will also want your outdoor lighting to provide an adequate amount of safety. The proper type of outdoor lighting will allow you to safely navigate in, out and around your home and entertain visitors without having to worry about slip and fall accidents. Additionally, adequate outdoor lighting will give you peace of mind because it will help to prevent intruders and break-ins.
Selecting Your Garage Lighting Fixtures
Choosing your exterior garage lighting fixtures may seem like a daunting task. Some fixtures are designed for specific applications while others can be used in a more general way. Fixtures come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have a vintage look while others offer more of a modern or traditional style. As if that weren’t enough, bulbs have specific brightness and color values to choose from. To help you with your selection and to keep you from being overwhelmed, here are some important factors to consider so that you can achieve the best combination of style and functionality in your exterior garage lighting:
Durability of Exterior Garage Lights
Your outdoor lighting fixtures will be exposed to the elements, so they need to be durable. Copper and brass have been used extensively in outdoor applications. Both of those materials are strong and resistant to corrosion. Over time, they will build up a patina that gives them a classic look. Stainless steel is extremely strong and durable, but it must be cleaned often to maintain its bright appearance. Aluminum is both strong and lightweight, but it is not ideal for coastal regions because it will oxidize in salty air. Whatever metal you choose, the finish should completely seal the fixture so that it can better withstand the elements.
In addition to being durable, you want your garage lighting fixtures to be energy efficient. The United States Department of Energy recommends LED outdoor lighting combined with motion detectors and photo sensors so that lights are only on when they need to be. Fixtures should have reflectors and deflectors that strategically create the desired light pattern while avoiding light pollution. You should also be able to control your exterior lights with timers and switches. In some cases, you may be able to use solar outdoor fixtures. This would save you on your electric bill, plus your fixtures would not have to be wired into your home’s electric system.
Selecting the Style of Your Garage Fixtures
Exterior garage lighting fixtures come in several styles, including traditional, vintage and modern. Here is some information about each of those styles:
Traditional exterior garage lighting fixtures continue a style that has been used extensively in the past. Some would say that such lighting fixtures have a classic look to them. Certain sconce lighting fixtures are reminiscent of candle holders with ornamental brackets that were attached to walls. A traditional look can be achieved by hanging sconce fixtures on each side of the garage door plus another pair at the home’s front entrance. This type of lighting is especially well suited to farmhouse-style homes. Most sconce fixtures can be fitted with LED bulbs. To increase the amount of light, you could also combine wall mounted sconce fixtures with recessed or partially recessed fixtures.
You can step back even further in time by using vintage lighting fixtures. Some people go this route to make their outdoor lighting really stand out. Vintage lighting fixtures often have an antique look that can represent the Victorian era of the middle 1800s, the classical revival period that lasted into the early 1900s or the art deco designs that were popular in the roaring 20s. Vintage lighting also includes the schoolhouse look of the 1950s and the retro designs that were popular in the 60s and 70s. Various colors of vintage fixtures allow you to match or contrast the exterior color of your home.
Modern lighting fixtures typically use a broad range of materials and feature clean lines as opposed to the ornate designs of many traditional and vintage fixtures. They further differentiate themselves by the way that they incorporate colors, shapes and patterns. Some modern designs take on a minimalistic appearance. This can easily be achieved by using recessed lighting, which gives plenty of light while keeping the focus on the home rather than on the fixture. Uplights can also be recessed into the driveway surface at the base of the garage door.
Types of Garage Lighting Fixtures
There are many types of exterior garage lighting fixtures from which to choose. Here is a description of the more popular types:
Sconce is a general term for any type of light that attaches to a wall, including some of the types described below. Sconce lights come in a variety of styles, materials and colors and can be mounted flush with the wall or in a semi-flush position. They provide an excellent traditional décor when placed on each side of a garage door. Many modern sconce lights have motion detectors and photo sensors, plus they will accept LED bulbs.
Wall Surface Lights
In addition to lighting a driveway or pathway, wall surface lights project a light pattern onto a wall for decorative purposes. They can easily transform a boring wall into an attractive focal point. Some are mounted on an arm that extends from a wall mounted plate. Many wall surface lights that are used for exterior garage lighting cast light in both an upward and downward pattern. They are available in a variety of finishes to match any home décor.
A barn light is a type of semi-flush mounted sconce light. The light source is often mounted on a gooseneck arm that extends from a wall mounted plate. However, they are also available in pendant style. Barn lights cast a circle of light in a downward direction. They were often used in the past to light up rural homes and barns. Garage doors and the driveway area below the door take on a dramatic appearance when one barn light is attached above and centered over the garage door.
Bulkhead lights were popular in the past in industrial and maritime settings. They have a nautical look that features a light bulb with a protective cage around it. They produce a casual light that is also functional. Bulkhead lights are often used in entertainment areas and on retaining walls. They are also ideal for areas where sports are played because their bulbs are protected by design. That design also allows them to provide enhanced security.
Uplights and Downlights
Uplights are installed flush with the ground and shine their light in an upward direction. They can be used to light up your garage door or to light an area around your garage, such as a tree that has plenty of character. Uplights are also used in garden areas to draw attention to a fountain or statue. Conversely, downlights are mounted in a higher position and cast their light downward. They are good for lighting pathways and outdoor dining areas.
Spotlights project a narrow beam of light. They can be mounted on the ground or on a wall. Spotlights are used for emphasizing a particular architectural or landscape feature. They are also good for lighting patios and sitting areas. Many spotlights have a movable head so that you can direct the light exactly where you want it. Some spotlights are solar powered. This would allow you to locate them away from your garage and not have to worry about installing wiring.
Floodlights are the exact opposite of spotlights. They project a wide beam of light that will light up a large area. Some people use a floodlight over their garage door to light up their driveway for sports activities like basketball or skating. Floodlights help to prevent slip and fall accidents and guard against vandalism. Floodlights come in a variety of brightness levels and color temperatures. LED floodlights are very energy efficient and last longer than other types of floodlights.
A bollard is a short post often used to protect an object from vehicle damage. Bollard lights are simply bollards with a light built into them. They can be used to outline a driveway or walkway. In a way, they are similar to streetlights but much smaller. Typical bollard lights are two to four feet tall. Although many are round, they also come in rectangular and square shapes.