Deck lighting is a great way to illuminate your outdoor areas. Making your deck look comfortable and modern is just as important as the rest of your home, but the products you’ll use to get there are a bit different to withstand outdoor conditions.
The basics of deck lighting
Most products, including those you’re most likely to use in your deck lighting project, are low voltage products. That means they run on 12VDC or 24VDC. This is for a few reasons. First, wire size. It’s much easier to run low voltage stranded wire in small places and keep it hidden than it would be to run regular solid Romex for a 110VAC connection. The second reason is that it’s simply safer to use low voltage in areas that are going to get wet.
LED Life Span
One major previous trouble spot with deck lighting was bulb life. People had to replace incandescent bulbs constantly, and they were always a unique (and not readily available) bulb type. The advent of LED lighting has solved this problem – aspectLED products are rated for a 50,000 hour life expectancy, which means you’re not going to have to worry about replacing them for decades to come.
Most light fixtures are not designed for use outside. aspectLED recommends only using fully waterproof fixtures in deck and outdoor settings, which typically means your fixtures should be rated for IP67 or higher. Many aspectLED fixtures are IP67 or IP68 rated. You can check your specific fixtures by looking in the specifications section on the product page.
Retrofit or new construction?
Your installation will likely vary in difficulty based on whether you’re lighting a new or existing deck. New construction tends to allow for more leeway in mounting and concealing, whereas existing structures are a little more difficult. Despite this, one of the biggest benefits of LED lighting is the ability to use it in tight spaces. We’re sure we’ve got something that will fit your needs and look fantastic.
Hiding wires for your deck lighting
Nobody wants to see wires visible on their deck. Fortunately, many of aspectLED’s products are available in low voltage varieties or with external drivers able to be mounted remotely. That means you’ll only need to run thin low voltage cables or wires to the light locations and you can hide these wires more easily.
When it comes to hiding low voltage wire, there are a few options.
- Under the deck. If your deck is low to the ground so people won’t see under, but still accessible, this may be an easy option. Simply have a large weatherproof access panel with drivers, power supplies, or transformers, run wire to the light locations, and bring it up through the floor wherever you need it.
- Under the railing. Many people choose to use a router to cut channels where the wire can sit recessed into the railing. They then run many sets of wire all the way around the perimeter of the deck, going through the posts if necessary, with each set of wire peeling off as needed to go to each light location. We also sell aluminum channel with a plastic lens that may help in concealing without getting a rough edge around the bottom of the railing.
- Through the posts. This would be popular for lights mounted on top of, or on the side of your deck posts. You would drill a hole vertically through the center of the post, and then horizontally to meet the other hole. It may not be feasible to make long runs this way, but usually a foot or two of height differential can be solved this way.
All of aspectLED’s single color fixtures are designed to be turned on and off at the line voltage side. For 110VAC fixtures, that would mean you would wire it like any other light fixture, but for low voltage (12VDC or 24VDC), you would switch at the power supply you’re using.
Most aspectLED power supplies come with a 3-prong plug on the 110VAC side that you can choose to plug in or unplug to turn the lights on and off. Alternatively, you can choose to cut the plug off and hardwire it into a traditional light switch, allowing you to control it that way.
Dimming is a little more complicated, and you’ll need to determine what specific products and options you’re going to be using before determining how to dim them. That being said, most aspectLED products are capable of dimming, and you can determine whether that applies to your items by checking in the product specifications to see if they are dimmable. Once you know what you’re planning to use and whether it’s dimmable and line or low voltage, be sure to check out the following pages around 110VAC and low voltage dimming, respectively.
- Line voltage (110VAC)
- Low voltage (12VDC/24VDC)
Color changing (RGB/RGBW) products add another layer to this, because you’ll need a color controller. These come in varying types, capabilities, and styles, and you’ll need to select one that fits your needs. Whether you’re looking at a simple RGB touch remote controller, sound activated options, or a full standalone DMX setup, we’ve got something to fit your needs.
So which aspectLED lights should I use for my deck lighting?
Deck Stair Riser Lights
The biggest part of most deck lighting products is the riser or stair lighting. There are a few different options here.
- Flexible LED Strip Lights – you can mount our strip lights to the underside of your stair step nosing (or overhangs), usually on each step. This creates a beautiful edge-glow effect and provides a bright linear light output for the stair below. We recommend using our aluminum channel for these projects, because despite being made with a high-quality 3M adhesive backing, the flexible LED strip lights will attach better to our aluminum channel than it will most deck materials. It will also help to protect the flexible LED strip light from accidental bumps and kicks in a high foot traffic environment.
- Compact or Small LED In-Ground lights – These are available in different styles and are more popular in installations that call for the fixtures themselves to be easily visible. Most of our smaller in-ground/in-wall fixtures use 3 watts and have a minimalist 304 stainless steel finish. They’re rated for outdoor use and are designed for use in walkways and other high traffic outdoor areas.
- Recessed in-wall lights mounted in a landscape orientation can be a good fit for many of these installations. These are slightly lower power consumption in comparison to in-ground fixtures and are often considered more accent lighting.
Deck Accent Lighting
- Flexible LED strip light – if you’re looking to create a glowing type accent, flexible strip lights are the best option because they’re bright, easy to install, and have a linear light output so you can make large areas like toe kicks or ceilings glow without installing multiple – or even dozens – of fixtures.
- LED puck lights – Simple and easy to install surface mount fixtures that provide pools of light for specific features. These can be mounted in virtually any direction. 12VDC and 24VDC models allow for low voltage wire to be used, which is much smaller and easier to hide.
- Recessed in-ceiling lights – our smaller recessed lights work great as accent lights if you have a ceiling or wall they can be recessed into. Some of these also have customizable beam angles, or adjustable heads to get the precise type of accent you’re looking for.
- Recessed in-wall lights – aspectLED has several types of in-wall lights ranging from purpose built in-wall accent lights to well lights or ceiling lights that can be mounted in walls. Under railing lights/glow
- Flexible LED strip light – With endless color, brightness, and waterproofing options, flexible strip/tape lights are excellent options for edge glow effects around railings. One popular option is to use a channel to protect them. Our aluminum surface mount or recessed channel offerings help to conceal, protect, and enhance the physical appearance of your installation.
Grill or task lighting
- Recessed in-ceiling lights – Recessed lights are not only for indoors anymore. If your grill or counter area has a roof, we’ve got an assortment of single color and color changing recessed lights that can be a good fit regardless of vertical clearance or wiring challenges.
- Flexible LED strip light – see our article on under cabinet lighting.
General area lighting
- Recessed in-ceiling lights – Our can-free shallow recessed lights are a complete can replacement. That makes them simple and easy to install even in remodel installations with limited ceiling cavity access, or areas with low clearance where a traditional can would not fit.