Outdoor Living
Dec 22, 2010

Outdoor lighting tips

By: Jennifer Bartoli

Outdoor lighting tips Author: Style At Home

Outdoor Living
Dec 22, 2010

Outdoor lighting tips

By: Jennifer Bartoli

Decorating your home with pretty outdoor lights is a beautiful way to make your space feel festive during the holiday season. However, choosing the right lights for your house can be a challenge. To make shopping for lights easier this season, we've asked Allison Duffy from Canadian Tire, for some of her best outdoor lighting tips. 

Style at Home: What are the best lights to use to give your home's exterior some holiday spirit?
Allison Duffy:
When shopping for lights, you will find a vast array of colours, shapes, bulb sizes, lengths, and technologies available. This allows for great creativity when it comes to home decor.

To some, a festive holiday look involves lighting their home and front yard with lots of colour changing lights or lights with special effects that create more of a light show. Others have a “less is more” view, choosing to decorate smaller areas or with less colour.

Typically, larger size bulbs, such as C9 size bulbs, are recommended for stringing along a roofline. Smaller bulbs, like C6 and mini bulbs, are used to decorate porches, trees and shrubs. However, there are no rules. It’s really all about achieving the look you like.

The good news is that there are lights that cater to all tastes, preferences and budgets. Whether it is the traditional incandescent bulb or the latest in LED technoloy you will find a great number of available options. 

Lead image courtesy of Pottery Barn.

S@H: What is the best way to hang outdoor lights for maximum security and minimal damage? What tools are essential to best decorate with lights?
AD:
A few easy steps and some up-front planning will help to ensure a smooth light installation:
•    Use lights that are approved for outdoor use and that are CSA or CUL approved.
•    Hang lights early in the season before it snows or gets too cold.
•    Use a measuring tape to determine the length of the area you are covering and the length of light strings you need before you start.
•    Install lights during the day to maximize visibility.
•    Check your light strings before you hang them to ensure they are in working order and not tangled.
•    Replace any light strings with exposed wires.
•    If using a ladder, make sure that it’s stable and on flat ground.
•    Use the proper equipment to hang lights. Use light clips and not staples. Use the appropriate light clips for the type of light and the area in which it is being installed.
•    Use LED lights to minimize breakage.

Note: An all-purpose commercial grade clip designed for Canadian winters will certainly make installation easier.

S@H: What colours would you suggest using for the holidays?
AD:
The most popular lights are multi-coloured and white. However, there are all kinds of colour variations and combinations available. 

One way to get a festive look is to decorate with alternating red and white lights, or red, white and green “candy cane” lights. 

Another option for those who are undecided regarding their holiday look, are the NOMA True Glow Customized Colour Lights. These are the first Christmas lights that enable you to change colour with the push of a button. Using the remote control, you can select one of eight solid colours. This allows you to change your decor look in seconds.

S@H: While outdoor lighting is a gorgeous addition to any home, it does use a lot of energy. What is your advice to be as environmentally friendly as possible?
AD:
There are numerous energy efficient outdoor lighting options. Using Energy Star approved LED lights instead of incandescent lights significantly decreases energy use. In fact, LED lights use 90% less energy than their incandescent counterparts.

Solar LED lights are another option. Solar light strings can be used in hard to reach places. The installation of decorative solar stakes in a garden or along a driveway is a quick and easy way to create a festive look.

Even if using incandescent lights, there are ways to reduce energy usage, including:
•    Using outdoor timers to turn lights on and off.
•    Instead of decorating the entire house, decorate smaller areas such as around doorways or windows, along porches or small shrubs.
•    Using a floodlight to illuminate trees, buildings or decorative pieces.

S@H:Once the holiday season unwinds, what is the ideal way to store your lights for next year?
AD:
To minimize breakage and damage, lights should be stored wound.  Smaller strands can be wound around a piece of cardboard. Larger strands can be wound around a light reel.
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Outdoor lighting tips