Outdoor Lighting Sizing Guide: How to Determine Fixture-to-House Proportions

Adding the perfect amount of outdoor lighting will give a home after-dark curb appeal and provide safety for family and visitors. Start by shopping for exterior lighting that complements the design of your house – but keep in mind that the lighting you fall in love with needs to be the right size for your home’s proportions. 

Here are a few expert tips for getting the size and location of your exterior lights just right.

Gibbes Street Collection

The entrance to your home is the natural focal point, so it makes sense to pay a lot of attention to making it look spectacular. The first rule is: go big! However, keep in mind that the fixtures used to illuminate the front door need to be sized in proportion to the door.

Wall lanterns by the door should measure anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 the size of your front door. Keep in mind that the fixtures will appear about half the size from 50 feet away. 

Mounting heights will vary due to the ceiling and door height. In general, outdoor sconces and lanterns should be mounted at eye level (with the center of the light mounted at approximately 66 inches), six to twelve inches from the door casing, and 8 to 10 feet apart.

Fixtures placed over the doorway should be sized at 1/4 or 1/3 the width of the door frame and centered six inches above the door. 

Hanging lights (such as pendants and lanterns) should be sized at 1/5 the height of the door and centered six inches above the door.

Endicott Collection

If you have more than one size of sconces or lantern sets, always place the bigger of the two by the front entrance door and install the smaller set at the garage doors. 

For fixtures installed over the top of your garage, center them across the span of the door or doors. This placement provides even illumination that stretches over the entire width of the area. 

To light a single-car garage, you can either place one wall lantern or sconce on each side of the door or install one light centered over the garage door. 

For a two-car garage, include at least two lighting sources on either side of the door. For additional illumination and aesthetics, add a third light centered above the door. As with the front door fixtures, your garage lights should measure 1/3 to 1/4 the garage door’s height.

Make sure to install the lights high enough above the door so that the garage doors function properly.  

For post and fence lighting, bigger is usually better. Since they are usually located further away from the house, they appear smaller than they are, so size up accordingly.

Remember: always select outdoor lighting rated for damp locations (for semi-protected areas) or wet rated for places where the fixture receives direct exposure to the elements. Use weatherproof or outdoor-rated electrical boxes that safely hold the electrical wire connections and prevent water from coming into contact with the wires.

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