With warmer summer days upon us, blue skies and soft breezes make the idea of stepping outside and soaking up the sunshine more tempting than ever. If your personal outside oasis needs a little love after the cooler winter months, updating your outdoor lighting
is the perfect way to make a big impact with a simple upgrade. And no lighting fixture makes a grander statement than the chandelier.
Where to Place an Outdoor Chandelier
Chandeliers aren’t just for dining room tables and entryways—they can be placed in a variety of outdoor locations! Outdoor chandeliers
add a spark of luxury to your outdoor areas and keep things bright when the sun goes down. These flashy fixtures cover a range of styles, shapes, and sizes, so the first step in choosing the best outdoor chandelier is to consider what style of light will complement your space. Tips for choosing chandelier size and shape
are the same for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Depending on the set-up of your outdoor space, you may want to match your chandelier to a table, like we discuss in our Dining Room Chandelier Buying Guide
; conversely, you may want to center your chandelier to the space, like we discuss in our Bedroom Chandelier Buying Guide
It’s important to pinpoint the function you want your chandelier to fill before you begin searching for that perfect fixture. Patio chandeliers hung over a patio table may be smaller than a gazebo chandelier or a pergola chandelier centered to the roof of the structure, and a porch chandelier protected from the worst of the elements might be more intricate than other chandeliers in more exposed areas. Whether this chandelier will be the only light source in your area, whether the space is oddly shaped, and what you plan to use the area for are all factors you will need to take into account. For example, you might hang a chandelier over a sitting area on your back porch and chose to light the entryway with outdoor wall sconces
or outdoor ceiling lights
instead of choosing one light fixture to light the whole space.
Tips for Hanging Outdoor Chandeliers
Chandeliers are certainly stellar options for outdoor spaces, but all chandeliers are not up the job. If you plan to hang a chandelier outside, be sure to evaluate how exposed the fixture will be and chose a light suited for the task.
Choose a Damp-Rated, Wet-Rated or Marine-Grade Fixture
An outdoor chandelier must be either damp- or wet- rated, with a wet rating accounting for more rugged fixtures.
Covered porches rarely touched by the elements are perfect places for damp-rated chandeliers, but if there is any chance of your fixture encountering rain, ice, or snow, be sure to choose a wet-rated chandelier. These fixtures have enclosed shades and are made of sturdier materials that can stand up to harsh weather. If you live on the waterfront, proximity to coastal areas can be particularly hard on lighting fixtures. Look for marine-grade outdoor lights
with wet-ratings that are constructed from corrosion-resistant materials like brass or resin composites. Remember, outdoor chandeliers can be hung indoors, but indoor-only chandeliers should never be hung outside.
Hang Your Outdoor Chandelier at Least 7 Feet Above the Ground
With any hanging fixture, it is important to install the light at the best height to illuminate your space without causing a safety hazard. For chandeliers positioned over walkways or hung in the center of gazebos or pergolas, the bottom of the fixture should be about seven feet from the ground or floor—higher if you or your friends are particularly tall! Hanging the light at this height reduces the risk of bumped heads or impeded views.
Calculate Your Chandelier Diameter Based on the Space’s Dimensions
Choosing the size of your fixture can be a little more complicated depending on the shape of your space. For an indoor room, we recommend you chose a chandelier with a diameter that is the sum in inches of the length and width of the room—a room that is ten feet long by ten feet wide can support a chandelier with a diameter of twenty inches. The same is true for outdoor chandeliers—however, if your space is oddly shaped, you may have to get a little creative, like hanging multiple fixtures through long, narrow areas, or using smaller chandeliers as accent pieces while ceiling lights or sconces to provide the bulk of the illumination.
Use Your Patio Table as a Sizing Guide
If you’d like to match a chandelier to an outdoor table instead, you can use the table to determine the size and shape of your fixture. First, measure your table at the widest point and subtract twelve inches. This number is the diameter of an appropriately sized chandelier. Then you can use the shape of the table to either accent or contrast the shape of the chandelier—a round chandelier looks great over a round table, while a square chandelier over a round table creates a stylish accent. Linear chandeliers are ideal options for rectangular tables, or you can hang two or three smaller round chandeliers in a line for a bit of modern drama. Just make sure to leave about thirty to thirty-six inches of clearance between the bottom of the chandelier and the tabletop to reduce hazards and leave clear views.
Advice on Outdoor Chandelier Installation
We recommend you always consult an electrician when installing chandeliers, as certain fixtures may require special considerations for weight and safety.
For outdoor areas, a little light can go a long way, so look for fixtures with chandelier light bulbs
that are 80 watts or less—or for LED lights, in the range of 100 to 300 lumens. Dimmer lights with a soft, warmer glow are best as they illuminate a space while minimizing the shock of stepping from a lighted area to a darker one.