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How to Choose the Right Outdoor Lights [Tips & Ideas]



Finding the best outdoor lighting to suit your needs can be a tricky task if you’re not sure where to start. With so many different types, functions and styles to choose from, it sometimes takes a little guiding hand to help steer you in the right direction. 

That’s where we come in, with our complete guide to choosing the right outdoor lighting. Use our guidance and advice below and choose your outdoor lighting either by power source, by area, by function or by style.

Outdoor Lighting: Choose by Area

Having a good idea of where you want to place your lights will help shape the type of outdoor lighting you need. Here are some of the key areas most commonly requiring lighting to give you some ideas.

Garden Lights

General garden lights can be used to illuminate everything from flower beds, shrubs and trees to pathways and ornamental installations. Whether decorative or functional, garden lights are perfect for enhancing the aesthetics of any outdoor garden or yard space and come in a huge variety of styles

(Skip ahead to the Choose by Style section to find style ideas for your outdoor lighting).

Patio & Decking Lights

If you’re looking to shed light on your patios and decking areas you have several options. Patio areas directly outside your house can be illuminated efficiently with outdoor wall lights, while end-of-garden patios and decking can be lit using sunken spotlights built into the decking itself, or with mini bollard lights. The key to good patio and deck lighting is subtlety and minimalism, with these styles taking up little to no space in your seating areas while providing much-needed ambient and practical lighting.


Driveway Lights

There are plenty of specially-designed lighting options for those wishing to light driveways, pathways and other access areas. These spaces need lighting to be bright and efficient enough to provide added safety and navigational assistance while also looking attractive and not obstructing access. Bollard lights, bulkhead lights and in-ground spots are ideal for this purpose, providing both practical and aesthetically-pleasing light for all types of driveways.

Outdoor Lighting: Choose by Power Source

Power source is another key factor to consider when choosing the right outdoor lights to suit your needs. Do you need to be able to move your lights around? Or are you looking for permanently-installed lighting to remain in a fixed position? Here are the main types of outdoor lighting power sources for you to consider.

Mains Outdoor Lighting

If you’re looking to install lighting close to your house, mains powered outdoor lighting makes the ideal choice. This type of lighting is designed to be powered straight from your home’s mains power supply and will need to be installed by a professional. Outdoor mains lighting is a reliable option that will remain bright and consistent for as long as you want it to, though the additional electrical cost will need to be considered if you plan to use your lighting frequently.

Solar Lights

By far the cheapest and most energy-efficient outdoor lighting idea, solar lights work by storing energy from the sun inside a specially-designed battery, which is then activated at night time. This means you can place them wherever you like and simply forget about them; ideal for a low-maintenance garden lighting option. What’s more, solar-powered lighting technology has come a long way from what it was, providing brighter lighting for longer than they once did.

Battery-powered Outdoor Lighting

Highly portable and perfect for casual, short-term use, battery-powered outdoor lighting is a great option for outdoor parties. Battery lighting comes in all shapes and sizes from barrel lights to LED candles and party string lights, so you can enjoy ambient lighting at the flick of a switch. Not ideal for practical task lighting or for lighting large areas, outdoor battery lighting is best suited to occasional decorative use.



Outdoor Lighting: Choose by Function

Knowing precisely what you need your lights to do is a big help in choosing the right lighting for your outdoor space. Here’s a run-down of the most common functions of outdoor lighting to help you choose the one you need:

Functional Outdoor Lighting

Security Lighting

Often operated using PIR sensors to detect movement, security lighting is an effective form of protection for your property, helping to deter intruders by eliminating shadowy areas. Ideal for homes and businesses.


Also useful as security lighting, floodlights are very bright and cast a wide range of light to cover large areas. Usually wall-mounted, floodlights are ideal for large back gardens, parking areas and yards.

Bollard Lights

Designed to provide navigational lighting along driveways and paths, bollard lights are placed at regular intervals to provide even, practical lighting where you need it most. Bollard lights come in both tall and short designs to suit all needs.

Wall Lights

Outdoor wall lights are fantastic all-rounders and provide all kinds of uses. From lighting patios and porches to providing extra security and decoration for the exterior of your home, wall lights can be powered by mains, solar or batteries depending on your needs.

Lamp Posts

Ideal for both homes and commercial properties, lamp post lighting provides widespread, bright overhead lighting to illuminate pathways, driveways and landscaped gardens. Both functional and decorative, lamp posts make highly versatile outdoor lighting ideas.

Bulkhead Lights

A highly robust and functional alternative to standard outdoor wall lights, bulkhead lights are designed to withstand all manner of weather conditions and can be installed as both wall and ceiling lights depending on your needs. Perfect for providing continual light on both commercial and residential properties.

Decorative Outdoor Lighting

Shrub & Tree Lights

Designed to illuminate garden borders, shrubs and trees, these lights provide beautiful ambient lighting. Available in spike and in-ground spotlight designs, shrub lights and tree lights can be mounted in the ground and angled upwards to illuminate foliage.


Colour Changing Lights

Highly popular as decorative landscape lighting, colour changing LED lights add splashes of colour to your outside spaces and create standout ambient lighting with a difference. Styles range from colour changing barrel lights to colour changing seating, spotlights and uplighting.


Party Lights

Perfect for adding a magical, party-ready vibe to any outdoor space, party lights including fairy lights and festoon bulb lights make a great finishing touch. Available in battery and mains-powered versions and in a range of styles to suit your decorative outdoor lighting needs.


Outdoor Lighting: Choose by Style

If it's a particular look and feel you're after, rather than a specific type of lighting, you can also shop purely by style and narrow down your choice from there. Choose your style below to get started:

Modern and Minimal

If you’re looking to create a sleek, contemporary aesthetic with your home or business exteriors then you’ll want to aim for lighting styles with a modern edge. Think chrome and polished metals mixed with sharp shapes, bold lines and quirky designs to add a futuristic, clean and minimal look to contrast with your outdoor spaces.


Traditional-style outdoor lighting is ideal if you’re looking to apply a more classic style of decor to your home or business exterior. Whether it’s elegant, Victorian-style lanterns in copper or brass or unique designs in natural wood or stone effect, this style of lighting will suit any home with a more traditional style.

Still searching for inspiration on which outdoor lighting to choose? Explore the full range of outdoor lighting here at Moonlight Design and filter by everything from style to aesthetic finish and IP rating to find the perfect fit for your outdoor space. You can also call us on 020 8925 8639 for any additional advice about our outdoor lighting products.