Summer is on the way and it won't be too long before you're able to enjoy sitting out on the deck. By adding some stylish furniture to the deck, it can be turned into an extension of your living room that you and your family can enjoy by relaxing with a good book or barbecuing and eating outdoors. But the fun doesn't need to stop after dark. If you want to take advantage of the warm summer nights to sit outdoors, lighting your deck could be a great project you could undertake this spring.
Planning Your Lighting
If you decide you want to install lighting on your deck, it will make the process easier if you draw up an outdoor lighting plan. Examine your deck and decide if there are any features like tubs of flowering plants that you want to highlight with dramatic illumination. You might want to use softer lighting near seating areas. To make it easier to access the deck at night, rails or stairs can be illuminated. Installing lights in the caps of deck posts is another attractive option. If you're going to be using low-voltage lighting (a popular choice for deck lighting, since it's fairly easy to install and safe), mark the routing lines where the wiring will connect light fixtures to a transformer.
Choosing a Transformer
The transformer should be located next to an electrical receptacle. The size of the transformer that you should use depends on the total wattage of the fixtures that you want to install. If you're buying two floodlights, 12 post lights, and 16 stair lights, add up the total wattage of all the fixtures. When you're sizing a transformer, the rule of thumb is that you should add 25% extra capacity to the total wattage of all the lighting fixtures you are going to install. The total wattage of your lighting system (as well as the distance of the lights from the transformer) will also influence the gauge size of the wires you choose for your system.
Where to Install Lighting
When you're installing deck lighting to set a welcoming mood and make your deck safer to walk on at night, there are several options. Post cap lights that illuminate the support posts are attractive and functional. You can also install side lights on the deck railings and stair risers, or recessed lights on the deck stairs. If there is a path between your house and the deck, you might want to add landscape lighting along the path so your guests don't have to fumble their way to your barbecue! If you're grilling on the deck, consider adding task lighting too so you can see what you're cooking—perhaps a lamp that clamps onto the grill itself or to a railing nearby. A professional electrician will be able to advise you on lighting fixtures that will fit your needs and on all the options that are available, such as LED tape lighting, which is becoming popular for outdoor illumination.
If you've decided to go ahead with a lighting project, use our Services Directory to find top electricians. And use our system of reviews to evaluate the work of your electrician once the job is done.