Driveway Lights (Types & Designs)

Here’s our guide to the best types of driveway lights for your home, including solar, marker, pillar, and more.

Mansion illuminated by solar driveway lights at dusk

Your driveway is the gateway to your home. It’s basically the first thing that anyone sees when they’re coming in or driving up your house.

As much as possible, you’d want it to look appealing and inviting to make a good first impression. Most importantly, a well-lit pathway should be easy to navigate and safe, especially at night. Driving at night can be especially risky and this is when your well-illuminated entryway can come in handy.

The best types of outdoor driveway lights can transform the exterior aesthetics of any home. There’s just something almost surreal about brightening up the driveway that compares to no other.

It creates a somewhat magical oasis of light on top of its obvious functional convenience. Read on to learn more about the different types of driveway lights and see if anything could be one of your latest home additions.

Types Of Driveway Lights

House with driveway pillar lights

To get started, there are various options for every household’s needs. Let’s take a look.

Solar Lights

Solar lights illuminating the driveway

Solar driveway lights are your best bet if you’re all about sustainability. These lighting fixtures operate by harnessing solar energy to illuminate your driveway. 

This way, you can rest assured that you can always drive safely because the fixtures will remain illuminated due to the photovoltaic effect. The solar cell component of the light fixtures mostly drives this. 

Solar cells efficiently convert sunlight into electrical current. They’re environmentally friendly and require no wiring, so they also provide a clean and seamless look for your parking area. 

High quality solar lights can provide 12 to 15 hours of illumination after 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. This makes them an effective low-maintenance choice for drives and pathways.

There are also low-profile models that can withstand up to 20 tons of weight making them easy to add to the without worrying about a car driving over and damaging the lighting.

Driveway Pillar Lights

Close up of driveway pillar light

Putting up pillars or posts can be more expensive compared to the other driveway lighting options. However, they can be a visually impressive addition to your curb appeal once properly set up and installed. 

There’s a diverse variety of designs available, including vintage, modern, minimalist, and antique. Similarly, they also have a brightness control that you can adjust as you see fit. 

Short driveways can especially benefit from pillar lights where a single focus point comes front and center, making for great added yard security

Driveway Marker Lights

Marker lights for driveway

Driveway marker lights are excellent at enhancing the visibility of your parking and walkway area. Depending on your location, it’s actually recommended to use only white or blue reflectors for your driveway markers. 

This is because yellow or red lights can often get confused with taillights or warning beacons. Take note that these markers should be at least 12 feet away from the road and installed not higher than 5 feet from the ground for optimal visibility.

These driveway markers are basically reflective strips attached to poles that are then inserted into the ground. While they are not powered by electricity, they can still be quite visible even in severe weather conditions. 

Driveway Motion Sensor Light

Close up of motion sensor light

These driveway lights are cost-effective because they consume less energy than other types. As the name implies, the lights automatically turn on and/or off when they sense or detect any motion and vice versa. 

They can also be great as criminal or intruder deterrents. Intruders usually look for homes that are vulnerable, particularly homes that aren’t well lit. 

Intruders tend to flee at the slightest risk of being seen. Having these sensors that detect motion would mean that wherever they run to, the illumination will surely follow and spook them, ultimately deterring them from breaking into your home again. 

Also, imagine the hassle of having to turn the lights on when you arrive home with your hands full of groceries. That doesn’t have to be something you have to worry about with motion sensor lighting as they turn on the moment they sense you driving in.

In-Ground Lights

House with built in ground driveway lights

In-ground driveway lights, also known as in-ground marker lighting, are installed recessed in the pavement and are fixed right in place.

They prevent trip hazards and reduce the risks of getting displaced, so if you want a low-maintenance option, then these outdoor fixtures are definitely the way to go.

They’re pretty heavy-duty and are essentially designed to have cars drive over them. The design is modern and sleek, the perfect combination of aesthetic appeal and functionality.

If you want a more contemporary approach to your driveway lighting system, this is the best option.

Best Driveway Lighting

There’s no one size fits all solution for what makes the best driveway lights. It would ultimately depend on your preference; the overall aesthetic and surrounding terrain of your home and the type of driveway you have. 

The best outdoor lighting fixtures are low maintenance and can withstand the wear and tear of a parking area. A recharging solar light that can withstand several tons of weight are a good choice as an overall best choice.

In terms of energy efficiency and aesthetic factors though, motion sensor lighting wins hands down. They’re very modern and can be extremely efficient, helping you save on your utility bills. 

However, if you prefer something more traditional, pillarlighting might be a better choice. Sure, they’re quite expensive and they still require labor work, but they’re also extremely durable and come in diverse designs that can be cohesive with your home’s exterior.

This is especially advisable for homes with much longer or bigger driveways or if you really just want to go for a specific look. The right post designs could really enhance the look of your home’s entryway.

In the end, it really is all up to you. What’s important is that you get to consider what these different exterior lights offer and pick out what you feel deserves your driveway best.

Benefits of Installing Driveway Parking Lights

residence with garage driveway and front door

Driveway lights are life-changing and come with many advantages that go far beyond just essential lighting or illumination. You get the benefit of added visibility at night a heightened sense of safety and some flair or pizzazz for your home when it all comes down to it. You also get to keep nighttime intruders at bay. Proper and ample lighting is usually a deterrent for them.

Outdoor lighting can add to the value and the buyer-appeal of your property. You can illuminate walkways, shrubbery, and the garden. You can highlight all the architectural details that make your home distinctive. – Energy Efficient Outdoor Lighting for Your Home, 1987

Outdoor lights these days aren’t just cost-effective and customizable. They also come in so many colors and styles that you’re bound to find something that will fit right into your property’s safety needs and aesthetics, even acting as a landscape lighting solution. They can be the perfect marriage of looks and practicality.

Here are more details on the significant benefits of installing driveway lighting at home.

Added security: Getting exterior lighting installed at home banks depends primarily on whether you and your home will get improved or heightened security immediately.

Making sure your driveway is well-lit is one of the major deterrents for tripping hazards, accidents, or worse, burglars and other unexpected and unwanted visitors. It is essential for you and can improve your curb appeal if you aren’t getting enough street lighting.

It’s low-maintenance: With the current technology in most modern homes, driveway lighting doesn’t require much upkeep. A majority of them have been designed to be weather-resistant and durable enough to last you for a long period without too much maintenance when it all comes down to it.

Increased curb appeal and real estate value: Parking area lights and outdoor lighting, in general, can do so much to enhance your curb appeal and your home’s general aesthetics. When strategically placed, they can give the proper accentuation and highlights to your landscaping features, architectural high points, and other added details that make your home’s exteriors unique, making it stand out.

It can also increase the overall real estate value of your home. It can be a real plus for potential homebuyers. Well-lit driveways aren’t just fantastic for lighting and aesthetics; they’re attractive add-ons that can amp up the overall pricing for your home.

Eco-friendly and energy-efficient: If you want to go down the solar path, not only will this allow you to save a ton of money on your utility bills, but you also get to have the advantage of reducing your overall carbon footprint at the end of the day. 

Solar lights harness the sun’s energy and convert it into illumination that you can use for your driveway or pathway when it’s dark or nighttime. It’s renewable and eco-friendly, and more than that, it doesn’t incur any monthly energy costs as opposed to traditional lighting.

Also, solar or not, most of these outdoor lighting solutions are energy efficient. They produce an optimized amount of lumens without consuming too much energy monthly. A classic example of this is LED lights.

Customization and convenience: And, of course, getting driveway lighting installed means that when you come home at night, you have a well-lit parking area guiding your way towards the garage. It is beneficial when carrying many household items or groceries. 

More than that, these lighting options also come in various colors, brightness levels, or even lighting styles. There’s bound to be a particular type or style that will fit right into your home’s overall theme and aesthetics.

Lighting Installation Process

driveway lit by lighting fixtures at night

The first step is always in the planning and mapping out of the installation process for your driveway lights. It would help if you considered certain variables such as safety, strategic placement, or overall aesthetics. You also need to consider the power source for your exterior lighting. You can go with the traditional electrical system option, or you can go with the more eco-friendly solar or battery-powered options.

Also, depending on the type of driveway lights you’re using, you may need to get some trenches or holes dug in. Note that this only applies to specific fixtures and is typically about 6 inches in depth. There may be the off-chance that it may require something a bit deeper. It’s always best to check in with your manufacturer’s instructions.

Next, you would have to get the lighting fixtures secured. Position them accordingly in the trenches or holes you’ve prepared, and ensure it’s all level and snugly put in. You also need to ensure that hardwiring is secured at the end of the day. This wiring system must be protected from the elements using either a conduit or a shallow trench. Then, you need to connect it and ensure your wiring connections are secure.

Once done, it’s time for you to test and adjust your outdoor lighting system. Make sure that your lighting fixtures are not only functional but will also light up to the level you need or require. It has to be suitable for all of your needs. It is the perfect time for you to make any last-minute adjustments in terms of the settings, angling, or even the actual placement of the lights.

Lastly, you need to cover the holes with soil and gravel. Stamp it down and pack the aggregates to ensure the entire thing is stable. It would be best if you also went out of your way to seal the conduit to protect it from damage and the outside elements.

Cost of Driveway Parking Lights

modern house design with glass windows driveway and lawn

As for cost, it can vary a lot for driveway lights. There are a lot of variables to consider based on these factors. For starters, it would depend on what type of lights you’re getting in the first place. What is the quality? What are its other installation requirements and features? These are just some of the primary cost considerations for you.

Hardwired driveway lights: These are the top-tier lighting fixtures starting at around $100 and upwards per piece for their high-end bulbs. They have mid-tier bulbs at around $50 each. However, the price can go up if you get them professionally installed because now that tacks on an extra $150 per hour, depending on the location that you’re in.

Low-voltage driveway lights: Then, of course, you have the low-voltage lights. Although they will cost you considerably less monthly energy, the upfront costs can be high. It has more or less the exact high upfront costs of hardwired exterior lighting. 

They cost around $100 apiece for the high-quality fixtures. They also cost around $150 per hour if installed professionally. Still, the added cost requires a transformer ranging from $50 to $200 as a one-time purchase. It is outside of any maintenance costs.

Solar-powered driveway lights: These, interestingly, can either cost less or more upfront, depending on the type of quality of lights you would like to get. The high-end ones can cost $100 apiece, but basic ones are available, costing only around $10 per light fixture.

Maintenance of Exterior Lights

paved driveway with lighting fixtures at the side

The maintenance of your driveway lights is just as important as their installation. You need to ensure that you have their durability and lifespan down pat to protect your investment in the long run. The key to driving this in is by putting in a few basic steps for regular maintenance.

Start by making sure that the fixtures are regularly cleaned. Any dirt buildup or film of debris could result in a less optimized light throw or output. You should also periodically check for damaged wiring or anything that could come loose. 

Make it a point to check if any light bulbs require replacement. Another thing to consider would be any physical obstructions such as shrubs, outdoor furniture, awnings, etc. Being proactive with your maintenance will not only stretch out the aesthetic benefits of your lighting, but it will also ensure that you get to enjoy them for longer.

Outdoor Lighting and Lumens Output

Regarding the proper amount of illumination, you should consider the amount of lumens the fixture bulbs provide to ensure adequate visibility pulling in and backing out.

Lumens for parking fixtures

Here is a breakdown of the lumens necessary for outdoor parking:

  • Subtle Lighting: 100 lumens
  • Moderate Brightness: 200-400 lumens
  • High Visibility: 400-700 lumens
  • Very Bright Illumination: 700+ lumens

Safety Considerations

pavement driveway with illuminated pathway

Safety should always come front and center for your driveway light needs. Their maintenance is simple and finite. Here are some things that are worth considering or worth remembering:

If you’re not skilled in electrical work, the best route would be to hire a professional to get the job done for you. Installation and maintenance of your outdoor lighting, especially for low-voltage or hardwired lights, are critical. You must also turn off the power circuit before any electrical components are inspected. It is to prevent untoward incidents such as electrical shocks and the like.

What you can do, even without electrical skills, is to keep an eye out for open wires, typical wear and tear, or any loose connections. When you notice that some of the lights have gone out, you can get them replaced. You can also clean up any dirt or debris from the light fixtures.

For more related content, check out our article on modern driveway gates.

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