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Lantern Outdoor Light Guide – Sizing, Placement, and Style

Lantern Outdoor Light
Lantern with yellow warm light on facade of building. Twilight on city street, building illumination. Retro lantern lighting, warm light glow. Street lights, illumination and vintage lantern

Looking for that perfect ambient lighting for the outside of your home? Not only does an outdoor lantern light provide a nice warm glow around your home, but outdoor lighting provides additional security as well. Yet, there is more to outdoor lighting than just putting up lights randomly. You need to consider location, size, and style.

Exterior lighting is more than just security. While safety may be the primary reason for buying outdoor lights, there is a method for where to place them for maximum effectiveness. We will go through the different types of lantern outdoor lights and their sizes. Also, we will give you ideas on improving the security of your home with outdoor light fixtures.

Types of Outdoor Lights 

When selecting an outdoor light, you want to be sure that it is weather resistant. It seems obvious, that all exterior lights are weather-resistant, but you want to ensure the lighting you choose is appropriate for your climate. You also want to make sure that it matches the style of your house. While you may like the way a light fixture looks, if it doesn’t gel with the architecture of the house, it will stand out–and not in a good way.

While the types of outdoor lights vary, they should all have a cohesive look when covering the entire perimeter of the house.

Porch and Garage Lights

Lantern outdoor lights are mounted to the exterior of the house when they are used near a porch or garage. In terms of security, you should place them at entry points. Some people choose to illuminate only the front door well but leave the back a little dimmer. For safety, all entry and exit points should be well-illuminated.

Porch Lighting

Depending on the configuration, you can either mount porch lights on one or both sides of the door. For a wide door or double door, you may want to mount one on each side. It will depend on the illumination radiating from the light as porch lights spread illumination downwards and outwards. 

Sconces need to be mounted close to shoulder height. It will generate a downward light to aid household members in locating their keys while avoiding direct glare. Sometimes these lights are referred to as coach lights because they are similar to the lanterns used to guide horse-drawn carriages. They are used to illuminate entryways and steps.

Best Contemporary: Housen Solutions Outdoor Wall Lantern

This outdoor wall light is made of die-cast aluminum and tempered glass. It’s weatherproof and designed for anything Mother Nature can throw at you. It provides a warm, natural glow to any outdoor space. The up/down direction is resistant to corrosion and perfect for illuminating a porch.

Pros:

  • Art Deco style
  • Easy to maintain
  • Will not rust

Cons:

  • Light sockets may be temperamental
  • Inside may hold condensation

Classical Sconce: EERU Waterproof Wall Sconce

This sconce is weather-resistant. It is composed of sturdy metal material, making it durable with seeded glass. This sconce installs easily onto your front porch and contains an open bottom to easily change bulbs. 

Pros:

  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Anti-rust and corrosion-resistant
  • Will not fade
  • Hardwired

Cons:

  • Glass is fragile, so users need to handle with care

Garage Lighting

You should place outdoor lights on the walls along both sides of a garage for proper illumination. It will help light up the area in front of the garage and cast a glow around the surrounding space as well. These lights will help you safely enter the garage at night and should be used to light up larger driveways for safety and security reasons.

Garage lights may be positioned too far from the front door to provide adequate illumination to the area. It is recommended for security reasons to use a combination of porch and garage lighting if you often enter through the front door. 

For double or multiple garages, sconces should be placed at the outermost pillars to cover the full area. You can also select a motion sensor outdoor light or floodlight to illuminate the area when someone comes up the driveway. These tend to be the most convenient.

Best Overall: VerRon Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Wall Lantern

This lantern comes with an upgraded photocell sensor. It detects subtle changes in the surrounding area in terms of brightness. The light will turn off from sunrise to dusk. Then, it switches on during the night or in times of low light. It adds a nice warm glow to the garage as you pull into the driveway. 

Pros:

  • High-quality aluminum alloy prevents corrosion and rust
  • Waterproof
  • Easy to replace bulbs

Cons:

  • Light sensor may be a bit finicky at first
  • Some find it difficult to properly install

Lights for the Exterior

You can place exterior wall lights on the sides or rear of buildings to illuminate walkways, deter intruders, or add light for entertaining

Ideally, you should add outdoor motion sensors to the backyard. They automatically turn on when they sense movement. Security lights also improve a home’s security. They activate instantly when a home is empty, eliminating the need to turn the lights off and on.

Wide homes or a row of garages may require more than one of these fixtures to provide adequate illumination. The one downside to these lights is they often turn on when it is windy. 

Most Sensitive: Lonedruid Motion Sensor

This light has a built-in IC light sensor/PIR motion sensor and is highly sensitive to motion. At dusk, it will turn on with 25% dimness. It will go to 100% when activated and go back down after two minutes. The illumination is very wide, with a distance of 40’ and an angle of 220°.

Pros:

  • Can switch modes to provide a constant eight-hour illumination
  • Waterproof and resistant to corrosion
  • 60-day free return and 1-year warranty
  • Energy saving

Cons:

  • A few reports of motion sensor not working properly after three months

Hanging Lights

Hanging lights are ideal in covered areas like a porch, overhang, or ceiling. These lights are perfect because they cast a wider circumference, which illuminates the area well and provides a soft, ambient light. They easily attach to the underside of the ceiling. 

These lights come in two types:

  1. Flush-Mounted Lights/Outdoor Ceiling Lights: These types of lights fit flush to your ceiling like a light fixture that has an indoor flush mount. Most of the light shines downwards, whereas outdoor ceiling lights are positioned above entrances or walking areas. 
  2. Pendant Lighting: These lights hang down from cords, stems, or chains with the lantern on the end. They will illuminate an area sideways in each direction, and some have a downward illumination as well. For this light, you will require a ceiling high enough to hang the pendant with enough head clearance. 

Post Lights

A post light offers a classic look and can be placed almost anywhere on the property. They take many forms, ranging from classic to modern to angular to solar appearances. These lights should illuminate an area from all directions and are best when placed in expansive areas, like close to driveways or in the middle of the lawn.

Pole lights will mount so the lantern will be higher off the ground. The light will shine downwards. Lamp posts are better for lighting large areas and need to be placed further away from the main area. Solar poles contain integrated LED bulbs and are an energy-efficient way to illuminate any area of the yard.

Best Solar Lighting: 67” Solar Lamp Post

These solar lights do not require electricity and are perfect to illuminate garage paths. There are two levels to select from: low and high. Lights will remain illuminated for up to eight hours. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Waterproof
  • Dusk to dawn lighting

Cons:

  • Not the brightest illumination

Other Outdoor Fixtures

You can also place lighting on top of posts or other surfaces. Some homeowners place these on top of posts at the end of driveways or strategically in a garden area. It provides illumination closer to the ground.

Landscape lighting is among these outdoor light fixtures. Again, they are closer to the ground and only come up short distances. They are more designed for appearances over security as they illuminate paths and are more decorative.

Best Budget: Solpex 8 Pack Solar Pathway Lights

The double ring design gives a snowflake pattern to the surrounding area. It provides a nice, soft glow to pathways around the exterior. These path lights remain lit for eight hours and have clear illumination. 

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Dusk to dawn lighting
  • Weatherproof

Cons:

  • May crack easily
  • Requires full sun to work optimally

String lights are lights on strings or cords. They can go in any area of the backyard. String lights usually plug into an electrical outlet. People tend to use these for parties or outdoor gatherings rather than leaving them out all the time.

Most Popular: Brightown Outdoor String Lights

Energy-efficient and dimmable, these string lights have 25 glass bulbs with two replacements. These lights are weatherproof and will withstand dampness, rain, and wind.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Energy efficient
  • Plugs in
  • Can be placed in a variety of areas

Cons:

  • Bulbs may break easily
  • Bulbs become extremely hot

Tips Regarding Selecting Fixtures

When looking to purchase outdoor lights, consider the following:

  • Match the outdoor lights to the style of the house.
  • Examine the safety rating. They should be able to tolerate wet outdoor conditions, not just damp.
  • For coastal areas or anywhere that experiences harsh weather, look for fixtures designed to resist the elements.
  • Use more than one outdoor light fixture for proper illumination and safety.
  • Exterior lights may be installed on a switch or circuit. You can select a motion detector or dusk to dawn lights to save on electricity.
  • Fixtures will require electrical wiring unless solar powered.

Positioning

Positioning depends on where the lights are mounted. Wall-mounted lights need to go on vertical, flat surfaces that can support the fixture’s weight.

Post-mounted lights/pier-mounted outdoor lanterns should go on the top of a lamp post or adapter. They rest on top of a flat surface or a pole. The pole itself, or wherever it is resting, needs to be stable enough to support the weight. Additionally, any pole light needs to be safely installed a sufficient distance away from walls.

Consider the radius of the light spread. If it goes in all directions, put it between pathway areas to illuminate both places at once. Lighting should go where people are active as opposed to simply lighting a landscape. 

Landscape lighting is used solely for this purpose and is only decorative. It simply emphasizes the landscape or natural features.

Tips on Positioning

When using outdoor lights, consider these important tips:

  • Each fixture gives a certain range of light, which means that it only illuminates a local area.
  • The number of bulbs and wattage determines the degree of light.
  • Focus on illuminating high-traffic areas like walkways and driveways, then expand to less-frequented areas.
  • Light the back and sides of the house to deter intruders.
  • The shape of a light fixture will determine the spread of light.
  • Choose options that will allow you to cover a larger area with fewer fixtures.
  • Overhead lights are more natural than wall mounted.
  • Use small lights for smaller areas and large lights to cover vast spaces.
  • Position lights evenly with just a bit of overlap as it eliminates shadows.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can create a beautiful look to the outside of your home that provides the illumination that you need to not only safely walk or find keys during the night but to lessen the chance of a break-in as well. 

Be sure to position your lantern outdoor light well, and always do areas of safety before moving on to the rest of the exterior.

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