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Our Definitive How-to Guide on Exterior Lighting

September 26, 2019

outdoor wall lights on brick wall

In this practical how-to guide series, we're going to look at how to choose exterior lighting for your home, and the types of information you need to take into consideration. Based on your home decor and style (and your aspirations for the type of home you're searching #homeinspo for), we'll provide practical tips and recommendations on how you can select exterior lighting that will not only boost your kurb appeal and home aesthetic, but will also withstand the natural elements and the test of time. Keep reading to find out more!

The Nuts & Bolts of Exterior Lighting

Sometimes, we need to go back to basics. We all know what outdoor lights look like, but we rarely take the time to sit back and contemplate what we need to consider when choosing an exterior light. The most critical factor to consider is a light's suitability and durability in an outdoor environment. Not all lights are made equal, and just because you have a light indoors doesn't mean it'll survive outside.

To ascertain its exterior durability, we need to take a look at what's called an IP rating. This stands for Ingress Protection, and is essentially a system that rates a product's sealing effectiveness. Depending on how sheltered your outdoor space is, and the area you live in, you could use outdoor lights with an IP range of approximately 2265.

Pro tip:  Consult with your local electrician, as they'll be able to advise on the most suitable IP rating required for your space.

So now that you understand the basic nuts and bolts of exterior lighting, it's time to ascertain your architectural style. In this next section, we'll explore some lighting types that are suitable for various lifestyles and structures, including farmhouses, beach/coastal homes, suburban homes and apartments.

Farmhouse Lighting

Contrary to popular belief, farmhouse style homes don't have to look as if they're stuck in time. The modern farmhouse style exemplifies natural textures such as wood and woven materials, as well as timeless materials such as brass, copper and galvanized steel. Whether you want to create your own country retreat, or simply recreate this look in the middle of suburbia, we understand the love for all things rustic. Farmhouses evoke images of warm hearths that are furnished with well-loved items, such as a reupholstered vintage armchair or a treasured family heirloom. 

For wide verandahs and sheltered patios, we recommend wall lights across the length of your verandah. This is ideal for evening dinner parties, as you can transition from indoors to outdoors with ease. We also recommend installing sensor spotlights near your garage, but with a higher Kelvin rating and/or higher wattage than the lights on your verandah. As rural areas have less street lighting than in suburban areas, your garage will need to be brighter than normal, as it will need to illuminate a larger area.

Coastal Lighting

Featured: Southport Outdoor Wall Light

Whether you have a holiday home by the beach or live in a coastal region year-round, we understand the allure of waking up to the crashing waves, incredible sun rises and sea salt air. And, with Australia's temperate climate, there's never a bad time to escape to the seaside.

So, if you're decorating your coastal and/or hamptons style home, our top recommendation for choosing exterior lighting is to select lighting based on a high IP rating and a high quality material.

If you're lucky enough to live right up to the beach, look at products made from higher grades of stainless steel, such as 316 Stainless Steel. Due to higher salinity, conventional materials will rust and/or tarnish much quicker. So, 316 Stainless Steel is the superior material of choice for beachside homes, as it is marine grade and can withstand the harshest coastal conditions. 

If you simply live in a coastal region or in a bayside area, the rules are much more flexible, as your lights won't be exposed to as much corrosive elements. We recommend lights made from brass or copper, which will develop a natural patina over time. This is considered desirable by many people; however, if this is not your desired look, consider alternative materials such as steel.

Pro tip: If you want to seamlessly transition your style between spaces, exterior lights with high IP ratings can be used both outdoors as well as in damp indoor spaces like bathrooms and laundries.

Suburban Lighting

Featured: Copper Railway Outdoor Wall Light (right image) (photography: @mjharrisgroup)

If you're lucky enough to be a homeowner these days, chances are that you want to spend some of your weekends personalising and improving your home. A bit of paint here, a bit of varnish there. And, given the volume of renovated period homes that we have in Australia, it's so easy to choose exterior lighting for modern vintage homes. 

Our top recommendations for exterior lighting for suburban homes are outdoor pendant lights. With a high enough IP rating for your space (speak with your local sparky about your requirements), an outdoor pendant light can look incredible near your front door, or even in a backyard entertaining area. Pole pendants are a particularly good choice here, as they have more sturdiness than chain, rope or cord suspensions, and won't sway with the wind. An example of this is our Whitby Rod Outdoor Light.

Apartment Lighting

Featured: Lyric Opal Ceiling Light

If you live among the hustle and bustle of the city, we understand that space is a premium. It can be difficult to source lighting that fits in proportion with a smaller living space – especially as apartment balconies are generally small by nature. 

So, our top tip for exterior lighting for apartment dwellers is two-fold: invest in flush mount ceiling lights and pendant lights. While flush mount ceiling lights are the obvious first choice (and despite conventional opinion) pendant lights don't have to be an indoor-only choice. With a bit of creativity and clever placement, pendant lights with a high enough IP rating can offer a practical and appealing solution for small balconies and outdoor spaces.

Which style was your favourite? Have you recently purchased or installed exterior lights? Got any burning questions? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!

2 Responses

Fat Shack Vintage
Fat Shack Vintage

January 16, 2020

Hi Teresa

Thanks for your query 😊

Yes this fitting does have an IP03 rating. So its solids protection is zero, however its liquids protection is rated 3 which means ‘protected from spraying water up to 60 degrees from vertical’.
So based on that information, you may want to confirm with your electrician if it’s suitable to be installed in your desired location.

Hope that all helps!
FSV Team


January 16, 2020

I am interested in your expressway wall light. It says it’s IP03 and ok to be exterior. But usually exterior are IP44. Is IP03 correct for this light and is it ok to be external?
:) Teresa

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