Outdoor Lighting Ideas and Guidelines

Published By: Shades Of Light

Date Published:

Last Updated: April 16, 2018

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Looking for Outdoor Lighting Ideas?

Start with these basic guidelines for size, placement and style.

Outdoor Lighting Placement

Place your electrical box for your exterior light so that the top of the fixture is 20% lower than the top of the molding. Allow for the side door molding also.

How big should my Lights be?

Outdoor lanterns should be approximately one fifth the height and width of the doorway, including trim. (For example a 100" high by 60" wide entrance would require an 20"Hx12"W fixture.) Post lights should be as large, or larger than the lights at your front door.

Placement Guide

Outdoor Light size guide


Use our chart (below) to take the guess work out of what size light to use. When in Doubt go larger. Remember, from 50 feet away your lights will appear half their size. And don't forget to include the door trim in your measurements!

Sizing Chart

Proportion of Light Fixture to Doorway Placement of Light Fixture
Front Porch Lights & Wall Sconces 1/4 or 1/3 the height of the doorway 66" from the floor to center of fixture
Over Front Door Wall lights 1/4 or 1/3 the width of the door frame Centered; 6" above the door
Pendant & Hanging Porch lights 1/5 the height of the door Centered; 6" above the door

DESIGNER TIP: Using a wall lantern on each side of the door frame is an appealing choice for symmetrical entries. However, if space is tight, one light placed on the door knob side will work. Feel free to go a little larger in size, up to 1/3 of the door frame height. Add an overhead light if more light is desired.

Style Considerations

Outdoor lights should be compatible with the look and lines of a house. Open bottom fixtures are better for down lighting an area, and glass-topped lanterns are the better choice for accenting architectural elements above and around the door.

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