Why Light Your Deck?
A new deck is a significant investment. After the deck contractor has completed their work, it’s time to enjoy that unique outdoor beauty. While decks are perfect for sunbathing and afternoon barbecues, they’re also great evening oases. Deck lighting can make a new deck stand out, but it’s also safer to use a well-lit outdoor space at night. It’s easy to forget about deck lighting, but here are a few ideas on how to enjoy that fresh home addition.
Deck Lighting Ideas
Deck Stair Lights
Installing lights on deck stairs makes the deck much safer after dark. Additionally, deck stair lights give off a subtle light perfect for an after-dinner cocktail or two.
Much like deck stair lights, under-table lighting provides delicate illumination to the deck at night. Under-table lighting is especially suitable for outdoor cooking or grilling stations. Install lights underneath work stations to ensure that everyone can see what they’re doing.
String lights are a cost-effective and fun way to light the deck. Don’t skip out just because these lights are often associated with the holiday season. String lights come in multiple different colors, but white string lights are a classic choice all year long.
Recessed Overhead Lighting
If the deck has overhead protection such as an overhang, consider installing recessed deck lighting. Recessed lights are protected from outdoor wear-and-tear and do not require as much maintenance and cleaning as other forms of deck lighting.
Deck Post Cap Lights
Recessed lights installed on deck posts are beautiful deck accents. Deck post cap lights are available at most home improvement and hardware stores. They are available in both LED and solar-powered versions.
In-Floor Deck Lighting
Consider placing in-floor lighting on decks, especially near corners or steps, to improve night-time usability. Multiple low-voltage in-floor lighting options exist. Make sure to consider the climate when deciding on lighting fixtures; some may work better in wetter or colder climates than others.
Under Rail Deck Lighting
If the deck has railings, consider running solar or LED-powered lights underneath them to emphasize both form and function. Lighting the rails increases safety for everyone outside in dark or wet conditions, but it also makes the deck look better!
If a permanent light installation isn’t in the cards, consider placing torches or other portable light sources on the deck. Many lamps, designed for camping or outdoor use, come with battery-operated or solar bulbs. Additionally, some lamps are built to house candles. To fight off those nighttime biting bugs, place a citronella candle on a table on a summer night for mood lighting.
If the deck is covered, a spotlight can help direct light to where it’s needed. Spotlights are popular options for decks that also function as an eating area. In this case, consider placing the spotlight directly above the table.
Using a Transformer for Low Voltage Deck Lighting
Once all deck lighting options are explored, and the perfect combination selected, it’s time to think about how exactly to implement these changes. Deck lights need a power source, and most deck lights require a transformer as a power source. Make sure that the transformer is adequate for the deck lighting system. Plug the transformer into a regular outlet and run wiring through each light fixture in a loop.
Consider purchasing a transformer that has an automatic timer to turn the lights on; some even come with light sensors. Most LED lights need a 12-volt DC transformer, but most incandescent lights need a 12-volt AC transformer. Most light fixtures say which transformer they require on the packaging, but ask a professional if any questions arise. A poorly wired deck lighting system can result in burnt-out light fixtures, blown fuses, and, at worst, fire.
To figure out what size transformer is needed, multiply the number of light fixtures by the number of watts in each installation. Then, add ten percent of that number to account for line loss. Round up to the next available transformer size.
Deck Lighting Wiring
In addition to the transformer, it’s critical to ensure the deck lighting system has the correct type of wire. Most LED lights require 18/2 gauge wire, and most incandescent lights use 12/2 gauge wire. To wire the lights, the polarity of the cable must match the lights. Most wires are easy to decipher; they split into a smooth black wire and another wire with white lettering. Matching wires connect to form a working loop.
It’s easy to hide wiring from view. Try connecting the installation through a routered cavity in the deck railing or underneath the deck. This both protects the wiring and hides it from view. Keep in mind that voltage drop occurs over a long string of lights. It’s essential to plan out the deck lighting schema carefully. For best results, install the deck lighting in a looped circuit. For LED lights, remember that they must be parallel to each other, not in a series.
Time to Enjoy that Deck
With a functioning lighting system, it’s easy to enjoy a deck at all times of the day. Not only will the deck be much safer for nighttime use, but the lighting also makes it festive year-round. Whether the deck is used for a party, a barbecue, or just an evening for two, a well-lit deck enhances that relaxation time.
How Can We Help?
EvoSiding specializes in deck design and construction. For over a decade, EvoSiding’s professionally-trained contractors have been building high-quality residential decks and patios in the Portland, Oregon area. Additionally, EvoSiding can help design decks and patios based on the existing home’s design. EvoSiding only uses quality materials on every construction project; a well-built deck by EvoSiding will last for many barbecues to come. Call today to find out how EvoSiding can help with your new deck or patio!