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The Dos and Don’ts of Outdoor Lighting Safety

August 29, 2023

Outdoor lighting is a popular choice for creating a safe and inviting atmosphere. Unfortunately, if your outdoor lighting fixtures are not properly installed and maintained, they can be dangerous. In this article, we will discuss the dos and don’ts of outdoor lighting safety.

When you own your own home, ensuring it is safe and secure is one of the primary concerns that come with ownership; installing outdoor lighting, including flood lights or extra lighting in dark areas, provides added security that can help immensely in solving this problem. However, there are certain steps you must take to ensure that your lights are safely installed and functioning properly at all times.

From utilizing the correct wattage to being mindful of cord placement, there are a variety of essential dos and don’ts when it comes to outdoor lighting safety. This article will highlight these guidelines so you can minimize potential threats and keep your home safe while adding desired aesthetic appeal with stylish lighting options outdoors.

1. DO buy outdoor-safe and UL-approved lights.

Accent lighting looks great and provides curb appeal, but many people also install it for safety reasons. Having your home light up can help keep your guests safe and deter potential burglars. Whether you’re adding accent lights, flood lights, or motion sensor security lights, you must ensure that you are using the right type of bulbs that are safe for outdoor use.

When considering outdoor lighting, it’s best to purchase lights that are explicitly labeled as safe for outdoor use. This is especially important if you decide to string up multiple strands of lights. If you’re looking for a safe and effective type of lighting, opt for lights that are UL listed for damp or wet locations. “UL” stands for Underwriters Laboratories, which is an independent organization that does safety testing to ensure that light fixtures are safe to use and won’t cause electrical issues. Light bulbs can be UL listed for dry, damp, and wet locations. Avoid UL lights that are listed for dry locations if you’re going to sue them anywhere outdoors.

As an added safety precaution, you can put a weatherproof cover over any lights that could be directly exposed to harsh weather conditions.

2. DON’T drape or hang string lights where they could interfere with power lines.

If you plan to hang string lights outdoors, it is absolutely critical to ensure that they aren’t draped across or over any power lines. This is to prevent an electrical spark that could potentially lead to power outages or, worse, a fire. Hang string lights with care and ensure they are at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines.

3. DO position your lights in areas without obstructions.

Place your outdoor lights around the boundaries of your outdoor space and in areas where you need an extra layer of light as a way to highlight features or create ambiance for family gatherings. For example, placing wall mount lights along a pathway and installing recessed ground spotlights beside steps can ensure that all areas of your outdoor space are well-lit at night.

4. DON’T place lights near flammable materials.

Installing outdoor lights near flammable materials is a risk you don’t want to take. The heat generated by the light bulbs can easily ignite these materials, creating a dangerous fire hazard. It’s a good idea to leave some space between your outdoor fixtures and any nearby combustible elements such as wood framing, vinyl siding, and trees. If necessary, opt for lights with lower wattage or smaller bulbs that generate less heat so you can safely place them closer to combustible materials.

5. DO set up motion sensors in highly trafficked areas.

Outdoor security lighting fixtures like motion sensors are a great way to add an extra layer of security and safety when using outdoor lighting around your home or work space. You can use dawn-to-dusk lighting that only comes on after dark, which conserves energy and will save money on your utility bills.

6. DON’T use regular extension cords in wet conditions.

Extension cords can be a great help when there isn’t an outlet handy, but using regular ones outdoors in wet conditions can be extremely dangerous as they lack waterproofing. Wet conditions increase the chance of an electrical current traveling up a regular extension cord and may even spark or create a shock hazard. The best way to avoid such hazardous conditions is to always use cords with extra protection, like Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), which reduce potential shock hazards, or waterproof cords designed specifically for damp and wet conditions.

7. DO turn off your lights when not in use.

Turning off outdoor lights when not in use is an important energy-efficient step to conserve electricity and save money on electricity bills. By turning off outdoor lights, you will reduce the amount of energy used and ultimately reduce your carbon footprint. It is a simple yet powerful task to help conserve energy and resources.

8. DON’T ignore wiring problems.

Poor wiring of outdoor lighting can pose a danger to you and your family. Wiring problems can cause your lights to short out and create electrical fires. Vibrations from wind or trees can damage the wires, leading to fraying or even splitting in two. Without proper care, these wires can start electrical fires that could easily spread to other parts of your home. Ignoring wiring problems with your outdoor lighting is dangerous and expensive later on if it leads to extensive repairs due to a fire.

9. DO consult a professional when installing new fixtures. 

Installing outdoor lighting fixtures can be a tricky job. The conditions outdoors are vastly different from within our homes, and this can bring many surprises along the way. Working with an experienced professional with expertise in installing outdoor lighting fixtures will save you time, money, and potential headache. A professional installer can also help determine which kind of environment-specific fixtures will be best suited to your particular needs. When you install new outdoor lighting fixtures, it’s always highly recommended that you consult a professional to ensure the work is done right and up to current safety standards.

Keep Your Home Safe With Premier Outdoor Lighting of New Jersey

Premier Outdoor Lighting is your go-to source for all your outdoor lighting setup needs. We’ll help ensure you have adequate lighting for all your outdoor spaces and that it is installed safely. Contact us today for custom lighting solutions!

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