7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Installing Outdoor Lighting

There are many types of outdoor lighting to choose from, and each has been designed to provide the greatest benefit to your home and yard. Outdoor lighting enhances the style of your home’s exterior, but more importantly, it can also improve safety and security.

Outdoor lighting should not only be chosen based on its appearance. You have to factor in other elements of good outdoor lighting that ultimately bring you the most value for your investment.

At North Star, we help every customer find the perfect lighting for their home and lifestyle. We’ve helped hundreds of people choose outdoor lights for their homes, and we’ve learned exactly what to do and what to avoid when installing lighting around your home’s exterior.

These are our top 7 outdoor lighting mistakes to remember as you choose the right lights for your home.

1. Not Planning for Electrical Demands

Adding any type of new lighting to a home will not only require more energy, but additional installations as well. Electrical wiring, layout, and costs should be factored into any potential purchase prior to installation.

You should also consider bulb types, their average lifespan based on energy consumption, and how much using your new lights may affect your electric bill.

Luckily, we offer a number of low-energy, high-power lighting solutions that can give you everything you need in outdoor lighting without being a large drain on your home’s resources. You can determine the minimum power of lighting you’ll need by calculating lumens. Lumens are measurements of a light’s brightness, and they range all the way from low-level, ambient lighting of 50 lumens to bright, security-level lighting of 2400 lumens and up.

2. Uneven Distribution of Light

Only installing lighting in one part of your exterior can ultimately diminish its efficacy. You may pay for lighting that does not fulfill its purpose or find that your investment does not cover the amount of space you really need to benefit from your new lighting.

Every landscape should have proper outdoor lighting implemented throughout. Not only does this make your home more visually appealing, but it also makes it easier to navigate in the dark.

From an aesthetic standpoint, focus is an important element of lighting that you should consider. You want to make sure that the lights highlight the best features of your home’s yard and exterior without overwhelming them.

Our professional lighting consultants can help you create the perfect outdoor lighting layout for maximum impact and value.

3. Not Balancing Light for Navigation

Some outdoor lighting is beautiful from afar, but it is not easy for you to use when you actually have to navigate after the sun sets. While appearance is important, it is not the only important factor when it comes to choosing the best outdoor lighting for your home.

For instance, consider pathways, either natural or manmade, and how different types of lighting arrangements will affect them. It’s best to stagger lights along pathways to provide clear, consistent illumination from the entry of your home to the exit. A simple, obvious path should be made to ensure that you are always able to comfortably move around your property after dark.

4. Not Installing a Timer

Automatic timers ensure that your lights are always on when you need them and shut off before wasting an excessive amount of power. Timers do more than save money, too. They preserve the bulbs and keep them lasting as long as possible.

Timers can be set to operate at certain hours of the day, or they can be linked to motion sensors. Lighting that picks up activity can turn on automatically and shut off after a period without any detectable movement. A timer linked to motion sensors helps balance the desirable security of outdoor lighting with the practical need to conserve energy and lower costs.

5. Thinking All Lights Work the Same

There are differences among outdoor lighting that you should know well before committing to any purchase. These differences influence how bright a light is, how it performs, and how it can best be incorporated into your landscape.

For example, when installing directional lighting, you have to consider the shadows they’ll cast, the effects these have on navigation, and how texture might influence your visual perception and the best color of lighting for your situation.

Click here to read our blog about different types of outdoor lighting.

6. Using Too Many Lights

Some homeowners make the mistake of installing far too many lights. This could be due to poor illumination, which actually doesn’t improve as greatly with multiple, ill-fitted lights. The best solution is to choose lights that have the right illumination for your space.

For example, down lighting works best on patios, balconies, and multi-level homes due to increased dispersion across the surface below. They can also help prevent damages to fixtures planted in turf, which are more likely to be damaged by weather and landscaping.

Rather than relying too heavily on multiple lights, finding the highest quality, most effective lights to install saves money and improves aesthetic value.

7. Forgetting to Consider Glare

Lighting has to be installed properly for its own benefit, i.e. proper navigation, optimal visibility, and aesthetic impact. But there are practical considerations as well, such as the effect light may have indoors as it shines through windows and glass doors.

Glare from outdoor lighting can be uncomfortable and distracting. It can also cause lights outdoors to appear too bright, which makes your space feel less inviting overall.

Spacing lights properly will ensure they provide the greatest impact outside without negatively affecting your experience indoors. The size of a light fixture, bulb type, color, placement, and lumens also play a role in how intensely lighting appears in your landscape. You may either need to reduce the quantity of exterior lights around your home, change their positioning, or swap out their bulbs to correct glare.


Avoid these lighting mistakes and more with a professional’s help. Contact North Star Outdoor Lighting today for a free estimate!