Backyard Lighting Ideas

What’s the Difference Between High Voltage and Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting?

Before we start discussing ideas for backyard lighting, we thought we would illuminate you on the difference between low voltage and high voltage lighting. Basically, low voltage lights operate at 12 volts or lower compared to the standard 120 volts for high voltage systems.

Can you tell the difference in this backyard?

Low voltage lighting tends to be used more for ambiance, focused on lighting up features in the design rather than lighting the general space. It is energy-efficient, offering subtle illumination ideal for accenting areas of your yard. The lower voltage and lighter weight wires make it safer for DIY installations due to reduced risk of electrical shock.

High voltage lighting operates at 120 volts or higher, providing brighter, more powerful light. It is commonly used for utility purposes, lighting entire spaces like dining areas with overhead or wall-mounted fixtures. High voltage lights require professional installation due to higher electrical risks.

Backyard Lighting Ideas

For the most beautiful and professional looking backyard lighting, we always install a combination of ambiance and utility lighting.

Ambiance Lighting

Low voltage lighting provides a gentle, inviting glow that enhances your backyard’s atmosphere. And even when you’re not using your patio, you can see the soft illumination out your window rather than just blackness.

String Lights

Everyone loves string lights! Connect them between trees, pergolas, along fences, from points on your roof or on dedicated poles. The soft glow adds a magical, festive touch without using too much energy.

Uplighting on Foliage

Use low voltage spotlights to highlight specific trees, bushes or garden features creating a gentle, understated effect.


Position downlights in trees to mimic the natural glow of moonlight filtering through branches.

Glowing Pathways

Incorporate low voltage path lights along walkways or garden paths to guide guests in a subtle way.

Utility Lighting

Utility lighting ensures safety, security and practicality. Unless you want to have to go inside as soon as the sun sets, utility lighting is essential to fully enjoying your backyard.

Task Lighting for Cooking and Dining Areas

Stronger high voltage recessed lighting or overhead fixtures will ensure well-lit cooking and dining spaces. You can use dimmers to set the mood how you like.

Stair Lighting

Stair lighting is legally required for safety in some cases, and is both beautiful and practical.

Deck Lighting

Deck post lights are a great way to add a lot of light without taking up any additional space.

Facade and Security Lighting

Uplighting your home’s facade is an excellent way to add depth and visual interest. You can also add motion sensor lights for security.

Outdoor Lighting Designers in Northern Virginia

Leveraging the benefits of low voltage for ambiance and high voltage for utility lighting can completely transform your backyard. Almost all projects we do at Outdoor Spaces include outdoor lighting. Contact us today for an estimate!