What are the Different Types of Outdoor Lighting Fixtures?

B. Turner
B. Turner
Spotlights may serve as outdoor lighting fixtures.
Spotlights may serve as outdoor lighting fixtures.

Outdoor lighting fixtures provide extra light for recreation, safety, and security. These fixtures can be found in residential applications, where they are incorporated into the exterior home and landscaping design. Outdoor lighting fixtures are also widely used in commercial buildings, as well as parking lots and sports fields. By adding lights outdoors, people are able to enjoy extra living space and perform favorite activities at almost any time of day.

Outdoor lighting fixtures are commonly used in parking lots.
Outdoor lighting fixtures are commonly used in parking lots.

Flood lights are one of the most widely used types of outdoor lighting fixtures. These devices consist of wall- or pole-mounted bulbs designed to cast lots of light over the surrounding area. Flood lights help deter burglars and vandals, and also provide sufficient light for sports. Many stadiums include some form of flood lights, as do commercial buildings and some homes.

LED landscape lights may be used to illuminate outside spaces.
LED landscape lights may be used to illuminate outside spaces.

Other types of outdoor lighting fixtures are used primarily for decorative purposes, and tend to provide less light than flood lights. These include wall sconces, which feature decorative glass or other casing surrounding a standard-size light bulb. Spotlights may also serve as a form of decorative lighting. These fixtures generally sit on the ground and project light up onto the walls of the home or other exterior features.

Some types of outdoor lights increase light pollution, obscuring the night sky.
Some types of outdoor lights increase light pollution, obscuring the night sky.

Entry lights, such as wall-mounted lanterns, serve both a decorative and functional purpose. They tend to have aesthetically pleasing designs to contribute to the visual appeal of a home, but provide basic task lighting. Entrance lights such as these help homeowners locate keys and unlock the door at night, or identify visitors once the sun goes down.

Entry lights and other fixtures are frequently used in commercial buildings.
Entry lights and other fixtures are frequently used in commercial buildings.

Landscape and path lighting fixtures can improve the appearance of an outdoor space while also providing light for outdoor activities. Ground-mounted torches or dome lights illuminate walkways in the garden, or outline a patio or deck. Some outdoor lighting fixtures may even be mounted to the top of a fence post or pole to add light at eye level.

Manufacturers produce outdoor light fixtures from a wide variety of materials. Products made from copper, brass, or galvanized steel tend to hold up better against rust and corrosion than those made from untreated steel. Fixtures that will be used in coastal areas should be made from stainless steel to help protect against damage from salty sea air.

When choosing outdoor lighting fixtures, buyers should be aware of the potential for light pollution. Unshielded fixtures allow excess light to interfere with neighbors or nearby businesses, while shielded fixtures direct light only where it's needed. Many municipalities have laws designed to prevent light pollution from unshielded outdoor lighting fixtures.

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    • Spotlights may serve as outdoor lighting fixtures.
      By: matusciac
      Spotlights may serve as outdoor lighting fixtures.
    • Outdoor lighting fixtures are commonly used in parking lots.
      By: sinuswelle
      Outdoor lighting fixtures are commonly used in parking lots.
    • LED landscape lights may be used to illuminate outside spaces.
      By: Alison Bowden
      LED landscape lights may be used to illuminate outside spaces.
    • Some types of outdoor lights increase light pollution, obscuring the night sky.
      By: TTstudio
      Some types of outdoor lights increase light pollution, obscuring the night sky.
    • Entry lights and other fixtures are frequently used in commercial buildings.
      By: Photobank
      Entry lights and other fixtures are frequently used in commercial buildings.