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Enhance Outdoor Living With Deck Lights

Updated: 08/08/2022

Some of the best solutions for deck lights have come from the simplest ideas. This is generally how it goes in our gardens. Let’s fill that space with a pool and landscaped rockery, for instance. Making improvements to your garden lighting can follow such patterns. That extra space always seems to be wasted as it falls dark, so adding light and movement can bring it back to life again. This is the case with deck lights, their layout, planning, choice, and execution.

Once you start to look at what the decking is capable of at night, the deck lighting ideas will come thick and fast. However, there are basic areas you need to consider as part of any deck lighting plan.

The first and golden rule with deck lights is planning. This will apply tenfold if any deck lighting improvement is a post-build installation. I hope you remember to keep the drawings showing where all the cross members go? No, well this could be more interesting than I think. But seriously, you need to check this out before you go further. Not only will it determine where you can and can’t cut the appropriate holes, but it may also eventually dictate what type of powered deck lights you will have.

Why Choose Led Deck Lights

This is quite a simple one to answer. Besides the obvious benefits, especially of LED solar deck lights, the regulations make it pretty much imperative that you do. Deck lights based on standard incandescent bulbs like many of the deck post lights for instance, will become a thing of the past as the bulbs themselves are phased out of the market.

Your choices as replacement are energy-saving bulbs or LED deck light fixtures. The problem is that they take too long to reach their full level of brightness. I also think with the additional benefits of the LED and the fact they are more flexible in application, the LED deck light is much the better option.

Key Areas to Address

So you might know by now what power solution you have for your deck lights. Personally, I prefer solar deck lights, especially for a post-build install. It is just much less complicated than the low voltage 12v deck lights. Although having said that, I do have reservations, as you might, in areas where the light needs to be assured, such as security. You may prefer your deck lights low voltage powered here, better known as low voltage deck lights. But then who says you won’t suffer a power cut at any time anyway?

I am assuming here that we are going to go for LED deck lights as well so that our deck lighting ideas consist of mainly LED solar deck lights. Now you need to have a look at the focal areas of your deck. These may consist of the following:

  • Deck rails
  • Deck corner posts
  • Decking stairs and steps
  • Pool Area
  • Seating and eating areas (i.e. may have patio furniture, umbrellas and other such items)

This is just a small taster of what you can look at. For each of these areas I would consider the use. What you are using each area for on the whole should dictate the extent, type, and degree of your deck lights and their arrangement.

Pool Deck Lights

A good example of this planning for your deck solar lights is around a pool area. Pool deck lights as well as providing light for safety, if not chosen correctly, can cause a safety hazard in themselves. If you have children, this is increased. Also, remember that you are liable legally for what happens to the guests while on your property. So the ideal solution is to plan to fit flush mount deck lights. These are easily available, usually being described as recessed deck lights.

With these led recessed deck lights fitted, any trip hazard is greatly reduced. It is certainly best to have recessed solar deck lights as well. You could have a lot of water swilling around, so power cables would not make me feel comfortable at all. Recessed LED deck lights are there to solve a problem and not to create one. It is also wise to go for stainless steel pool lights as well to resist corrosion.

Deck Step Lights

It is a similar story on stairs and access points. This is made more important in that there are building codes and local regulations that dictate your responsibilities. Again I would favor recessed deck step lights in footfall areas. On top of that, it is usual to fit further deck step lights into the risers of the steps themselves. Solar deck lights flush mount or the Louvre style are ideal.

Post Top Deck Lights

Of course, one of the major features of any decking scheme is the perimeter posts and rails. They do stop one from falling off the edge from time to time! But they can really be made into a fantastic feature with the right garden deck lights. You have to think a bit out of the box and laterally here. Put yourself flying above and around your deck from the outside. Think about how it will look from there as well.

So the point here is that you shouldn’t only be looking to light the inside while leaving this black void outside. A diffused lighting pattern casting light against the surrounding foliage not only looks good but also provides some moderate lighting outside for safety.

Post cap deck lights are ideal for this situation and can be as subtle or as dramatic as you like. Obviously, I would try to weave any LED post deck lights you get into the overall theme for your deck lighting installation. But fortunately, there is a massive amount of choice out there. You can go for low level, small and low profile solar or 12 volt deck lights for this.

Alternatively, you can go for a grander statement. I personally like the classic wrought iron look of the coaching lights that are around. Hinckley and Kichler deck lights have superb ranges for this and are available in many places either on or off line.

Down Lighter LED Deck Lights

Now, these are closely linked with both post deck lights and step deck lights as they can be used to supplement both sorts of fittings. In fact, when I first started out, I used to call them post lights as indeed they were fitted to the post, just nearer to the bottom. But I have been nagged until I conformed and have gone to down lighters.

They aren’t a primary source of light where solar lights for decks are concerned but more of a best supporting actor. The light they cast is there first as a subtle design feature to spread across from the perimeter rails. This glow is rather atmospheric, especially on the outside of steps where they supplement the step lights without being overpowering while adding to the safety aspect.

My personal view is that you can go one of two ways. First of all, you can say that the actual unit is not going to be seen much, so keep them simple and spend as little as possible. Secondly, it is a chance to add some flavor and individualism to your deck lights design. There are now some lovely individual designs on the market, such as small lizards, animals, and other idiosyncratic shapes. They are certainly best as a solar-powered deck light to allow flexibility of placement. Don’t go mad however. Just the occasional insert, say one in four lights, or something really gives a personal feel and a great talking point.

Rail Deck Lights

I am going to be honest here. I am not really a fan of these. To my mind, the beauty of the wood you choose should be all you need. They also look too intrusive and untidy for my liking and sometimes require too much fiddling and actually alternation to the deck rails.

I have seen them used well in various examples though with LED rope lights. Like I say, not to my taste, but I can certainly appreciate the work that went into them.

Am I just too old and old fashioned? Let me know if I am. Go on, depress me!

That really is the basics of your deck lights as part of your outdoor lighting. Use this little primer to plan out your lighting scheme, whether it is for deck lights solar powered or for low voltage deck lights. Finding out what you need and want is the key to figuring out your ideal and actual budgets and then the tools or contractor costs to install them all. Saving money by using solar-powered deck lights and reducing consumption of power and increasing versatility with deck LED lights is a great way to reduce your whole life costs so that you can afford to spend more money on the outside deck lights you want.

For more of a panache and interesting effect, it is also possible to add some points of interest as well. I see many people taking the planters they have on their decks and inserting the cheap but effective color-changing deck lights, light the color-changing globes from Moonrays, or butterflies. While strictly not deck lights in themselves, these solar LED deck lights make great little pockets of interest that can easily be moved around for freshness.

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