Outdoor wall lights make the spaces outside your home warm, beautiful, and secure. Whether lighting a deck, brightening a patio, or flanking a front door, the best outdoor lights have features like programmable timers, motion sensors, dimmers, and daylight sensors so they come on when you need them.
Outdoor wall lights come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, and it’s important to know what features are available so you can choose the best outdoor wall lights for your needs. Read on to learn the top picks for some of the best outdoor wall lights in a range of categories.
- BEST OVERALL: Globe Electric Sebastien Outdoor Wall Sconce
- RUNNER UP: Design House Jelly Jar Classic
- BEST MODERN: LANFU LED Aluminum Waterproof Wall Lamp
- BEST RETRO: LONEDRUID Outdoor Wall Light Fixtures
- BEST INDUSTRIAL: LEDMO LED Wall Pack Light
- BEST BARN LIGHT: Odeums Farmhouse Barn Lights
- BEST LANTERN: Cloudy Bay 120V Outdoor Wall Lantern
- BEST FLUSH MOUNT: Philips Hue Econic Wall & Ceiling Light Fixture
- BEST SPOTLIGHT: YoungPower LED Motion Sensor Spotlights
- BEST MOTION DETECTION: Topmante Solar Motion Sensor Light
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Outdoor Wall Lights
Below is a list of features to keep in mind when shopping for outdoor lights for your home.
There are three general types of outdoor wall lights, differentiated by how they mount and intended purpose:
- Flush mount fixtures are fairly compact and attach to the wall, leaving no space between the wall and the light. They are suited for small outdoor corridors or stairwells where you need a light with a slim profile. Flush mount lights are good for flanking a front door when you want a sleek, contemporary look.
- Semi-flush mount fixtures have a base that attaches to the wall while the part of the fixture that holds the light bulb extends outward, leaving a space between the bulb and the wall. They are generally larger and more ornate than a flush mount and come in a variety of styles, ranging from lanterns to Mission-style sconces.
- Floodlights are a type of security lighting with intense brightness from broad-beamed, high-intensity bulbs. Floodlights are designed for utility, not aesthetics and are best suited for safety, not curb appeal.
Material and Finish
Wall lights can be made of a range of materials. The best one for you depends on your needs.
- Aluminum is affordable and strong, but over time it may fade and oxidize. It’s not recommended for coastal regions because salty air will corrode the metal.
- Copper is a high-quality option that’s strong, resists corrosion, and has a superb thermal conductivity, allowing heat to escape the fixture. Over time, as it’s exposed to the elements, copper develops a patina, which only enhances its beauty.
- Stainless steel is a good choice for contemporary applications but must be cleaned to keep its shine and protect it from corrosion.
- Brass holds up well in all conditions. Like copper, brass will develop a patina as it’s exposed to the elements, giving it a desirable aged look.
- Plastic, specifically polyurethane resin, is often used with security lights where function is more important than aesthetic. Plastic is more affordable than metal but degrades in the elements over time.
The best outdoor wall lights have finishes (like powder coating) that seal the metal and help the fixture withstand rain, heat, or cold. This coating extends the longevity and preserves the beauty of the light.
There are four general bulb types used in outdoor wall lights, with a range of shapes, prices, lifespans, and energy usage:
- Incandescent bulbs produce light by running an electric current through a wire filament. These bulbs last up to 1,000 hours (or one year), use the most energy, and have the lowest up-front cost. However, their short lifespan and higher energy use make incandescent bulbs a lesser deal in the long run. These traditional bulbs are being phased out of production in favor of more energy-efficient versions.
- Halogen bulbs are generally shaped like a floodlight and have a heated filament that uses halogen gas to produce a bright light. They’re low-priced but only last a year, at most. They use a moderate amount of electricity; less than incandescents, but more than CFLs or LEDs.
- Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) have a spiral shape and produce light by driving an electric current through a tube full of argon and mercury vapor. They last up to 10 years and are more energy efficient than halogen and incandescent bulbs, but they’re not as efficient as LEDs.
- LED bulbs tend to be the most expensive but last nine 9 to 22 years—up to 22 times as long as an incandescent bulb. They’re extremely energy efficient, making them the most economical light bulb in the long run, despite their higher upfront cost. They are a smart option for everyday use in most situations.
An outdoor light is only as bright as its bulb, and bulb brightness is measured in lumens (lm). The more lm, the brighter the light. A standard 100-watt bulb produces approximately 1,600 lm. The color of light also affects brightness, with cool-toned light tending to be brighter than warm-toned light. A bulb’s light color is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale. The higher the K number, the cooler the light appears. Most bulbs are in the 2,500K to 6,500K range, with 2,500K being warmest light and 6,500K being the coolest.
Lights in outdoor wall lights come on in a number of different ways, depending on when the light is desired.
- Motion sensing lights signal the light to turn on when it detects movement. They’re common in home security systems to deter intruders. Many motion sensing lights use a passive infrared sensor (PIR) that detects a human’s body heat based on changes in temperature within the detection field.
- Dusk-to-dawn photocell sensors detect light instead of movement. The lights automatically turn on when the sun sets and off when the sun rises. They’re a good choice for conserving power during the day.
- Timers on lights conserve energy by allowing you to program schedules of operation. Set the timer so the light comes on and goes off at the same time each evening. Or set a timer to run the lights while you’re on vacation to give the illusion of someone being home.
Experienced DIYers should be able to install these fixtures with little more than a drill or screwdriver. Follow this general process of installation:
- Turn off electricity to exterior fixtures at the breaker box.
- Remove the old light, remove the plastic wire caps, uncouple the wires, and install the new light mount.
- Wrap the new lamp’s ground wire to the ground bolt on the mount, and screw the bolt down tightly.
- Twist together the ground wire from the light and the ground wire from the wall, and then secure them with a wire cap.
- Repeat the process with the white and black wires.
- Next, secure the new light fixture to the mounting plate, and check to ensure it’s secure and positioned properly.
- Screw in the bulbs, turn on the power, and test to make sure the lights work.
If you’re unsure of how to install an outdoor wall light, hire an electrician or handyman to install it safely and properly.
Our Top Picks
With the above shopping considerations in mind, here are some top picks for the best outdoor wall lights in a range of categories.
Globe Electric’s two-pack of aluminum wall sconces brings soft light and modern industrial appeal to a front porch or back deck. The semi-flush mount fixtures have a matte black finish that’s agreeable with a range of home styles. The retro shades have a modern white interior that reflects light. These sconces are compatible with dimmer switches to adjust brightness, so they’re not as old-fashioned as they look. Each fixture can accommodate a 60-watt bulb. To get the full retro effect, you can use a vintage Edison bulb in the fixtures, or go for modern energy efficiency with an LED bulb. They’re quick and easy to install, with all the required mounting hardware included.
- Sleek, modern industrial design
- Fully dimmable with 60-watt bulbs
- Pack of two
- Downward design reduces light pollution
- Mounting screws could be longer
- White interior is quite reflective
Design House’s Jelly Jar outdoor lights offer durability, quality, and style at a lower price than comparable fixtures. Inspired by the lights used on boats, these low-profile sconces are made of steel with an oil-rubbed bronze finish so they can stand up to the elements. Their size, at 7.5 inches tall and 5.25 inches wide, makes them a good pick for small spaces. Ribbed glass covers diffuse light, creating an inviting glow instead of a glaring beam. Add a dimmer switch and you can adjust the brightness. These semi-flush-mount fixtures use 60-watt bulbs, or an LED equivalent, and can be installed with nothing more than a screwdriver. They’re also available in brass, satin nickel, and white finishes.
- Farmhouse style with ribbed glass jar design
- Can be dimmable
- Smaller footprint for small entries
- Pack of two
- Dimmer switch not included
- Decorative nuts don’t always match oiled bronze color
LANFU’s energy-efficient outdoor wall light has sleek, contemporary lines and sturdy aluminum construction that can stand up to the elements and resist fading from UV rays. This flush-mount light is cube-shaped and directs beams of light from both the top and bottom of the fixture. The light angles are adjustable, allowing the fixture to highlight architectural features of a home or illuminate an entry. At just 4 by 4 inches, LANFU’s fixture is good for use in small spaces or in pairs for entry lighting. Made for use with a pair of LED bulbs, the fixture can produce up to 600 lm of brightness.
- Contemporary box illuminates top and bottom along wall
- Width of light is adjustable on both sides
- LED light bulbs have long lifespan
- More for decor than illuminating a large area
- Entire unit must be replaced when bulbs burn out
LONEDRUID’s outdoor wall light has the old-fashioned charm of a candle-burning lantern combined with contemporary features like weatherproof construction and LED-bulb capability. Die-cast aluminum resists corrosion and stands up to the elements, while textured glass sides create a gorgeous, dappled light effect. Compatible with incandescent, LED, CFL, or halogen bulbs, the fixture can accommodate bulbs up to 100 watts and produce up to 1,600 lm; that’s a lot of brightness. At nearly 18 inches tall, a pair of these fixtures can make for dramatic entry lighting on either side of a front door. There’s a universal mounting plate and mounting hardware included, but a professional electrician may be your best bet for installing this light.
- Die-cast aluminum Victorian carriage light
- Works with any E26-base light bulb, including halogen
- Antiqued ripple effect in the glass
- Glass panels require assembly
- Missing small parts for installation
Larger outdoor spaces may require a more powerful fixture like LEDMO’s 5,000K light to create a well-lit area. Equipped with a photocell sensor, LEDMO’s flush-mount lights give dusk-to-dawn lighting. They automatically turn on as soon as the sun sets and turn off when the sun rises, making this a good choice for security lighting. Capable of handling a 1,600-lm LED bulb, these fixtures can give up to 50,000 hours of superbright light. With metal construction and heavy-duty plastic covers over the bulbs, they can stand up to the humidity, rain, snow, and other bad weather without corroding or failing.
- Superbright floodlights
- Intense illumination for backyards, driveways, or commercial buildings
- Shatterproof and weatherproof plastic
- Detects light levels automatically and can be adjusted
- Might be too powerful in close neighborhoods
- Too bright and wide for porches
With a simple shade on an appealing gooseneck, Odeums’ barn light features simple lines and a clean design while directing a bright beam of light downward. Made of metal with a black finish, this light can stand up to wet or snowy weather while adding retro charm to a wide range of home styles. The fixture is compatible with LED, CFL, or incandescent bulbs up to 1,600 lm, so it produces a bright light. The brightness is not adjustable, but it’s an excellent choice for those looking to create a well-lit entry or patio. At 10 inches in diameter, Odeums’ barn light is large enough to use as a solitary light on a porch ceiling or as part of a pair on either side of a doorway. The light is also available in red, oil-rubbed bronze, beige, and gray. Installation hardware is included.
- Farmhouse or barn light style
- Works indoors and outdoors
- Gold interior helps mute the bright, visible light bulb
- Light doesn’t emanate very far
- Some may not be a rich black color
Cloudy Bay’s outdoor wall lantern has traditional styling with a sturdy steel frame that is waterproof, frost resistant, heat resistant, and storm resistant. With an oil-rubbed bronze finish and seeded glass panels, this light gives classic flair to outdoor space. There’s an 800-lm LED bulb included that’s operated by the fixture’s photocell sensor, giving you dawn-to-dusk omnidirectional light. With an open-bottom design, switching out the bulb and cleaning the light is easy. You also get a source of light and power outlet in one package; there’s a GFCI outlet built into the lamp so you can plug in holiday lights or power tools. Installation hardware is included with the lamp.
- Contemporary lantern style
- Automatically detects changing light levels
- Bubbled glass panels for more vintage look
- Includes bulb that produces 2,700K of warm light
- Light is black aluminum, not oiled bronze
This wall light from Philips Hue is especially well suited for techies and those with smart homes. The contemporary-style light can be controlled with a smartphone, smart-home device, or voice assistant like Alexa. You can dim lights, set timers, turn the light on and off, and automate use, all without ever touching a light switch. The metal light comes with a programmable 1,150-lm LED bulb that lets users choose from 16 million colors of warm and cool light. That number includes 50,000 shades of white light, so you can get everything from mood lights to flood lights from this fixture. Light your home in customized hues for holidays or gatherings, all without changing a bulb. The light is designed to withstand the elements and can be mounted on the wall or ceiling of a porch or patio with the included hardware and mounting components.
- Contemporary glass box light
- Mounts on walls or ceilings
- Smart-home compatible, dimmable, and color changing
- Can change between warm or cool light
- Unit must be replaced when LED bulb wears out
- Some units aren’t sealed well against moisture or bugs
Spotlights don’t have to be large to be effective. YoungPower’s LED motion sensor spotlights are just over 4 inches high, but their 600-lm LED bulb washes 400 square feet in intense light. Small and powerful, these spotlights aim 5,000K of light precisely where it’s needed for security purposes. Made from ABS plastic that’s waterproof, heat resistant, and frost resistant, this two-pack of lights is lightweight but effective. A motion sensor turns them on when movement happens within 16 feet of the lights and turns them off after 30 seconds of stillness. Installation is simple, as these small spotlights don’t need to be wired in. Instead they use four D-cell batteries for power. Once installed, the light mount and head can rotate so you can direct the light where you need it.
- Battery-operated spotlights don’t need wiring
- Detects motion at least 16 feet away
- Automatically turns off after 30 seconds of no movement
- Works where solar sensors can’t be used
- Battery life may not last long if frequently used
- Hard to close with batteries installed
Topmante’s solar-powered flood lights can detect movement from more than 25 feet away, thanks to supersensitive PIR technology. What the durable plastic light lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in function, washing a driveway or yard in 800 lm of bright, safety-procuring light the moment it senses a warm body. The light has two modes: a low light mode that comes on automatically at dusk and the brighter, flood light mode that comes on when the light detects motion. A solar panel powers the light, so no batteries or wiring are required. Installation is simple; all you need is a drill and a ladder.
- Solar lights don’t need wiring or batteries
- Outer lights can be rotated to cover more area
- Detects motion at least 26 feet away
- Automatically turns off after 30 seconds without movement
- Might not be as bright as preferred
- Mounting bracket could be improved and better secured
Outdoor wall lights serve a number of purposes, but most commonly, they’re used to illuminate pathways and entryways for safety and security. We chose the Globe Electric Wall Sconce since it provides plenty of light, has an attractive design, and reduces light pollution. For buyers looking for motion detection illumination, consider the Topmante Solar Light.
How We Chose the Best Outdoor Wall Lights
These recommendations take into consideration the vast differences of outdoor wall lights, their designs, and their purposes. We have included lights that cover almost any need for outdoor illumination, from traditional porch lights to floodlights or motion sensing lights. Our favorites include a number of popular styles like vintage carriage lights, lanterns, contemporary box lights, farmhouse, and modern industrial.
We narrowed our research to include lights that have different mounting options as well. Some lights mount only on walls, while others can mount on the ceiling, flush on the wall, or attach to a roof. Since there are many preferences for light bulbs, many of the outdoor wall lights on our list are compatible with nearly any kind of light bulb, while others are strictly for LED lights. For shoppers who love to add smart products to their house, we also made sure to include a fully customizable smart light that has amazing versatility. Finally, these recommendations also include some dimmable options or photocell sensors to turn on and off automatically for added convenience.
You may have more questions about which outdoor wall lights are the right ones for you. Here is more information to help you decide.
Q. How do I choose outdoor wall lights?
Choose outdoor wall lights based on brightness requirements, the light’s location, and the style that goes with your home’s architecture.
Q. What size should outdoor wall lights be?
Size is largely a matter of personal preference and where you plan to install the lights. The rule of thumb for entryways is to choose fixtures that are one quarter to one third the height of the door.
Q. How many lumens do I need for outdoor wall lights?
That depends on the light fixture’s style, location, and intended use. Outdoor wall lights can use as little as 50 lm if they are made to give an ambient glow to a patio, while a security floodlight may use more than 800 lm.
Q. How high should outdoor wall lights hang?
For most homes, the ideal outdoor light height is eye level for the average-size adult. This means that if the lights are flanking a door, the fixture should be 5.5 feet to 6 feet from the ground.