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Buying Guide: Find The Best Outdoor Porch Light For Your Home (PHOTOS)

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Flickr photo by <a href=takomabibelot" />
Flickr photo by takomabibelot

As much as porch lights work as essential lighting for the front of your home, they are also important accessories that can help boost curb appeal. From pendants to outdoor sconces that can be installed on either sides of the front door, porch lights can brighten up your entrance even if you don't have a full-on porch. And, with the change of seasons right now, there's no better time time to swap out the weather-damaged old one for a shiny new option.

There is a wide array of designs to choose from when it comes to porch lighting, and it's up to you to pick one that suits your taste and your home's style. But, personal preferences aside, here are the more general things you should keep in mind when looking for porch lights.

Decide on lighting type. The style of your porch and your needs will determine the type of porch light you should get for your home. (For example, brass porch lights work great against a brick home facade because the shiny metal helps magnify the pretty details in the brick.) For many homes, a standard pair of lanterns or sconces installed on either side of the front door works just fine. However, if your porch is also a sitting area, consider an overhead ceiling mounted fixture or a pendant light for better illumination.

Consider weather-resistant metals. Even though porch lights are used under a covered area, their exposure to the outdoors means that they are likely to suffer some damage from the elements. So, consider weather-resistant metals like powder-coated aluminum and brass, which is one of the most durable outdoor metals since it can stand up to water and moisture and it doesn't corrode.

Hang it right. The ideal height for wall sconces on a porch is about 66" above the floor, which is slightly above eye level. And, if you're installing a ceiling fixture that is a pendant, make sure it is at least 84" from the ground so that it doesn't interfere with the entrance.

Good wattage. Generally, you should use a 60-watt bulb at the very minimum with a single fixture for sufficient lighting. If you're flanking a pair next to the front door, you can go with a 40-watt bulb in each of the fixtures. If you're really looking to light up a large space, install the fixture farther above ground, which enables the light to cover as much surface area as possible, and go with a higher wattage bulb. To give an idea, a bulb that's 120 watts is fairly intense and can light up close to 100 square feet of space. Read our expert guide for more about lighting wattage.

Consider quick bulb replacement. Some lights require you to dismantle the glass encasing around the porch light to replace the bulb, which can be a hassle. Try lanterns with open bottoms, which make it easier to swap out the bulb from under.

Think carefully about motion sensor lights. The best thing about motion sensor lights is that they offer a sense of added security for many homeowners because it alerts them if someone is at the door. But, while motion sensor lights are highly effective most of the time, they're sometimes too sensitive and tend to become activated unnecessarily.

Flip through the slideshow below to see some of our favorite picks for porch lights in the marketplace now. What are other essential things you look for when shopping for porch lights? Let us know in comments.

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