Your deck can be your own personal respite from the rigors of the day. The key is to add lighting that casts a pleasant glow over sitting areas while highlighting features like steps and walks for safety and aesthetics. In this article, learn about the different types of deck lighting, and watch a video on final installation of post lights.
Deck Lighting Adds Ambiance and Safety
Deck lighting will have a striking impact on your home while increasing safety for you and your guests. This increased usability on your deck will allow you to enjoy great weather from the comfort of your home, and give gatherings and activities a unique flair.
At night, your deck can be a bit treacherous as you navigate furniture, steps and stoops. Sure, porch lights may overcome the darkness, but they also take remove the aesthetic appeal of the deck you have built and the garden you have groomed. With deck lighting, create wash of light conducive to moving around safely without destroying the relaxed mood or that beautiful night sky.
Highlight outstanding features like steps, doorways, and other areas where foot traffic is likely and obstacles might be found.
Installation of Deck Lighting
Most deck lights are fairly easy to install yourself. Determine which type of power source your deck lighting system will use. A system that uses a standard 120 volt household current should be installed by a qualified electrician. Most systems are low voltage, so installation by a home owner can be a cost effective solution. All lighting will have some sort of code compliance- please check with a qualified electrician or your city inspector before you get started.
Hiding the wiring is a challenge for any deck lighting scenario. PVC post and railing systems offer the best options when running wire for your lighting.
- Wood Only : Wood railing bottoms have to be routed to hide and secure the wiring. Wooden posts have to be drilled down the center with a long drill bit to allow a wire to be hidden from view.
- Many PVC, composite wood and aluminum railing systems are extruded and hollow and will allow for easier passage of wiring along it’s rail length.
- PVC post systems are much easier to wire. PVC posts systems (which have a structural wooden post center and a pvc sleeve/cover) allow you to cut away ( with a router down the wooden post length) a channel to hold the wiring. Since the post will be sheathed with a attractive all weather pvc sleeve, your wiring will be hidden from view and protected from the elements. The sleeve surface would only have to be drilled where the light is installed.
- Cladded Posts: A third method is to clad the posts with pvc or wood. In this method the center wooden post would have a wiring channel cut down the length with a router similar to the method used with a PVC post systems described above. Then the pvc or wood boards are fitted and secured to the center post.
Low-voltage lighting fixtures are a great choice for this project as they are safer and easy to work with. Unlike with 120V (standard household voltage) fixtures, the transformer that powers them simply plugs into a receptacle. If no receptacle is nearby, you’ll have to install one. A receptacle controlled by an indoor switch is the most common setup.
Be sure to purchase the necessary tools for your DIY project before you start to save time. Although low-voltage lighting fixtures are significantly safer than line voltage (110V/120V) fixtures, always consult an electrician or lighting design expert if you are unsure of how to install them.
- 4-in-1 screwdriver
- Drill/driver, cordless (Drill bits, ½-in., 1-in.; Drill bit extension)
- Wire stripper/cutter
Required Materials for this Project:
- Low-voltage lighting fixtures
- Cable staples
- Waterproof wire connectors
Deck lighting is available in several styles. Lighting can be directly installed into the riser, on posts, or under rails that illuminate the steps. Either method works and looks great, so it’s really a matter of which type offers the look you want. The Zuma 1203 is a rugged and attractive ADA-compliant step light for use with a low-voltage, 13-watt incandescent lamp (provided). It mounts directly to any non-combustible surface, yet projects only 1.75 inches from the mounting surface. The adjustable “eyelid”-style faceplate rotates 360° and shields the lamp source to provide soft, comfortable illumination.
Solar Post Cap Lights
Lighted post caps are an elegant option for deck lighting. Most are quite attractive and finish off a post nicely. Solar post caps add radiance and allure and contribute security and value to your property. Solar lighting may be an especially attractive option if you are considering deck post cap lighting, since that usually presents the greatest challenge to hiding wires. Almost all are automatically turned on via a photocell.Ideal for fences, railings, mailbox posts, decks, and walkways- almost anywhere a soft accent light is desired. Classy Caps Ambience post caps have two unique LEDs that provide a warm yellow light with the effect of a lit candle. Attractively designed in a Japanese garden style, the Ambience is available in traditional PVC white as well as a rich Copper finish. Dependable performance with unique style.
Rope lighting is another option for deck lighting. It’s easy to install and is relatively inexpensive. It will provide a nice effect when installed on the underside of the bottom rail. Rope accents lights make it easy to add this type of lighting to hard to reach spots like under cabinets, in display cases and outside under the patio steps. These string lights are playful and fun to use, and they’re just as easy to coil up and put away when they’re not needed.
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