Summary: Homeowners who have followed the growing trend toward outdoor living spaces are perplexed about the best way to light them. Outdoor porch lighting is something you really need to plan for no matter how you design your outdoor living environment. Whether you add a sunroom, a patio cover, a pergola, a porch, or an outdoor kitchen – you want to be able to enjoy the space at night as well as during the day.
For ambient light, try replacing traditional light bulbs on my outdoor patio with red light bulbs. The red light casts an eerie glow on the patio, but it allows you to see everything and not ruin your night vision whatsoever. White light, even when turned down with a rheostat, causes the pupils in your eyes to contract ruining your night vision.
Tim Carter, who writes the online blog “Ask the Builder” (www.askthebuilder.com), suggests testing a single red bulb in one outdoor light to see how it works. Don’t make your final decision until you’ve spent several nights relaxing outdoors. You may be surprised as to how effective the red light is in illuminating the space while allowing you to look out at the things beyond your porch.
If red light is too radical for you, then you need to use very soft lighting that’s either indirect or is pointed down towards the ground. The softer lighting will be easy on your eyes and not cause strain at night. Indirect lighting that bounces off the ceiling can help create a very cozy mood.
In a sunroom or patio room, enclosed by screen and glass, you can safely use lighting that is not specialized for outdoor use. You have a lot of flexibility with lighting for a sunroom, because the area is protected from the elements.
But the outdoor lights that you choose should match the overall feel of the space and the architecture of your home if at all possible. Be aware that inexpensive lights may have a finish that can pit or tarnish quickly. Pay attention to the warranty if you live in an area that has lots of pollution or salt mist that might corrode cheaper coated metal finishes.
Overall, find the light that will attract you to your outdoor living space at night. Whether you use a red light or a soft light indirectly, you are now able to enjoy the summer nights of entertaining or just relaxing in the comfort of your lighted patio or deck.