Handyman: Outdoor lighting that’s practical, decorative


There are a lot of ways to improve a home’s curb appeal, including your outdoor lighting. Not only will the right choices add new life to your home, they will also allow you to entertain more outdoors and illuminate steps and walkways to help you and your guests navigate safely.

“The big trend in outdoor lighting is LEDs,” said Ken Rutkowski, president of Encore Landscape Lighting, (248) 299-1919,, a manufacturer of outdoor lighting.

And those LED landscape lights come in a variety of types, including pathway lights, up and down lights, wall washers, in ground lights, hardscape lights, step and deck lights, wall sconces and even underwater lights.

Rutkowski said in Michigan the most popular LED lights are around 3000 Kelvins, which provides a brighter, more natural light. Kelvin is a unit of measurement that describes the hue of a light. The higher the Kelvin value the closer the light’s color will be to sunlight.

In addition to standard light choices, Rutkowski said color RGBW lights (red, green, blue and white) are also gaining in popularity, especially with the ability to use smartphone apps these days to control the light colors.

One product that allows you to program and control an extendable string of LED outdoor lights with a smartphone app is Lumenplay,

Installers of landscape lighting systems are also seeing a trend toward homeowners wanting both LED lights and more muted outdoor lighting applications. “Virtually all of the projects we are doing now are with LED lights,” said Steven Delicato, general manager for Landscape Lighting Specialist, (734) 5845-5578,

“I am seeing a move toward more subtle soft-wash lighting on the house with some up lighting on trees,” he said.

While Delicato said pathway lighting is still popular, the old style large pathways lights are being replaced with the new lights similar in height (21-22 inches high) but smaller in diameter, which provides the same amount of light while making them less intrusive.

Lighting specifically for decks is also becoming more popular, and deck manufacturers like Azek, Trex and Timbertech have added built-in deck lighting that includes under rail, post and stair lighting options to make entertaining on your new deck at night more enjoyable.

For accent lighting, there are plenty of LED rope lights and strip lights available that you can string around your fence or deck railings.

While having electric powered landscape lighting is still a popular option for many homeowners, there is a cost involved in both the products and the installation. If you are looking for a way to put a few accents around your home’s exterior on a budget, you can consider solar powered landscape lights.

The good news is that the technology of solar lights has improved since they were introduced, so it is possible to have solar pathway lights that actually provide a decent source of light. And the lower cost and DIY aspect of solar lights makes them popular if you are just trying to add some lighting on the walkway to your porch, around your garden bed or patio. But remember, solar lights need sun to charge them, so they won’t work very well if you place them in an area that is mostly shade or in the winter months.

While there are plenty of outdoor lighting options available, remember you get what you pay for whether it is electric or solar lights. So if you buy your outdoor lights from a discount store, you may be lucky if they work for more than a month.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 from 8-10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday.