Lighting is a key ingredient when designing any outdoor space. From some late-night poolside barbecues to elegant dinner parties, you never know when you might need to light up your backyard or patio. But you shouldn’t have to spend a fortune just to bring out the best in your property after the sun goes down. In terms of cost, lighting should be the least of your concerns when bringing your outdoor space to life. If you know where to look, you can quickly transform the space by investing in some low-cost, energy-efficient lighting fixtures that will help you dress up the space for less. Use these outdoor lighting trends if you’re decorating on a budget.
Skip the lighting design aisle at your local hardware store and head over to a flea market for some vintage housewares instead. You can use vintage lanterns to light up the space without spending a lot of money. You can just insert a candle or screw in a bulb to bring the lantern back to life. It might be tough to find multiple lanterns that look the same, so you might have to mix and match your outdoor style. But vintage lanterns can help you bring some character to the space, as opposed to filling up your patio with stainless steel or brass fixtures that will cost you a pretty penny.
Switch to Candle Lighting Fixtures
While candles don’t produce the same kind of light and reach as electric lighting fixtures, you can save a lot of money by switching to candle fixtures because you don’t have to worry about wiring them to your home’s electric grid. You can put candles all over the space without giving a second thought to power outlets and your electricity bills.
If you’re trying to set the mood over your outdoor dining table, you can use a candlelit chandelier instead of trying to wire an electric one. Candles are also so cheap that don’t have to worry about weather and tropical storms wreaking havoc on your lighting setup. You can rearrange them with ease and bring them in the house if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
LED Lights for Less Energy Consumption
Another way to lower your outdoor lighting bills is to switch to LED bulbs whenever possible. Traditional incandescent bulbs give off a lot of their energy to heat, which can be a major energy hog that drives up your utility bills. But LED lights use only 25 percent of the energy used by incandescent bulbs, which can help you save around $45 a year or more. You’ll also save money by not having to replace your LED bulbs as often as incandescent bulbs. They last anywhere from 15 to 25 times longer, helping you make the most of your lighting setup.
String It Up
A cheap way to quickly light up your backyard space is to use string lights. They can help you cover a lot of ground as you extend a string of lights from one side of your patio to the other. You don’t have to worry about dotting the space with dozens of fixtures because the long strands will fill the space with ample low-wattage light. You can choose between incandescent and LED string lights based on how you want to use the space. Both types of string lights have their pros and cons.
String lights tend to cost much less than more durable lighting fixtures such as those made of metal and stone. You can quickly bring the space to life by only spending a few hundred dollars. You might want to take the lights down if you’re expecting some unruly weather, but as long as you keep your string lights out of harm’s way, you should be able to keep your property lit for a fraction of the cost you’d normally pay.
Repurposing Interior Fixtures
If you have an outdoor space that’s covered by an awning or some type of enclosure, you can repurpose some of your interior lighting fixtures and bring them outside. You’ll need access to power outlets if you want to bring out some of your electrical fixtures, but if you have an outdoor space that feels like an extension of your living room, you can make it work.
You don’t want to bring your fixtures in and out of the house every time you want to sit on the patio, but if you find yourself spending all your time outside in the summer, it might make a lot of sense. You can always put them back in the house when fall rolls around. Unless you’re using your outdoor space just as much as the other rooms in your house, you can cut down your lighting expenses dramatically by reusing your existing fixtures.
Solar-Powered Fixtures for Less Wiring Hassle
Solar panels are an effective way to lower your energy bills, but you can also use individual solar-powered outdoor lights to make your backyard space more functional. These small lights will help you save money on outdoor lighting because the sun provides all the energy you need. But one of the best reasons to use solar-powered lighting fixtures in your outdoor space is that you don’t have to worry about wiring them to your home’s electrical grid. They are completely energy-efficient and independent, drawing power from the sun as they recharge throughout the day. Just stick them in the ground and your work is done.
If you’re feeling like an extra challenge, have a look at these top 10 DIY solar panel tutorials.
No outdoor space is complete without some kind of lighting setup. From swimming pool maintenance to reading outdoors and spending time with your loved ones, you can do everything you need to do outside when the space is properly lit. But you can transform the space by using your money wisely. Avoid costly fixtures and expensive wiring plans that can drain your bank account. When in doubt, go with gently-used, cost-effective or solar-powered lighting options. You’ll have a gorgeous outdoor space for a fraction of the price.
Chris Hoffman is the founder of Backyard & Pool Superstore currently based outside of Dallas, TX. Backyard & Pool Superstore is an e-commerce leader in backyard, pool, spa, grill & patio products. Before starting Backyard & Pool Superstore, Chris has had 10 years of retail, construction, manufacturing and distribution experience in the swimming pool & spa industry. When Chris isn’t working, he moonlights as baseball coach, dance recital standing ovation specialist, husband, and German Shepherd enthusiast.