Soffit lighting is one of the most overlooked types of outdoor lighting, even though it can significantly change the appearance of the exterior of a home for the better. Read on to learn more about how this type of lighting can improve the exterior of your home.
What Are Soffits and Why Does a Home Need Them?
Soffits are the area at the bottom of the fascia located where the roof meets the side of the house and are usually the part of the board that you can see best from street level. The soffit can be ventilated to let air flow through and into the roof area and can also be added over the top of the fascia board.
Soffits are important as they act as a type of passive ventilation, especially for the attic. They stop warm moisture in the air from getting into the attic, where it would otherwise condense and then cause mould to form. Before the inclusion of soffits, homes once used a hood or gable vent to move air through the space, but they were not as effective. Soffit panels installed along the roofline offer constant ventilation and airflow, making them one of the most effective methods of attic ventilation. The panels actually help to draw moisture away from the house entirely, making it a huge player in the fight against mould. They can also help keep pests from getting into the house through the gutters or roofline.
Mistakes To Avoid When Installing Soffit Lights
LED soffit lighting is one of the most overlooked types of outdoor downlights. Those who do know their benefits often tend to install their outdoor soffit lighting incorrectly. Below are a few of the mistakes you should try to avoid when installing your own under canopy lights:
- USING SOFFITS WITH HIGH BRIGHTNESS. When you are installing under soffit lighting, be sure you are not using lights that are too bright. This can cause a harsh glare and truly be to the detriment of the home’s appearance.
- THE SPACESHIP. Soffit lighting that is too bright can give the effect of a spaceship shining a beam of light down. This creates an unattractive triangular effect that can give the area below a gaudy look.
- FLOATING ISLAND EFFECT. If you do not have any other landscaping lights around the surrounding area but only have soffit lights, it can make your house look like it is floating in the middle of a dark sea.
- NOT USING LEDS. If you do not have LED soffit lights that will be on all night, you will quickly see that it will drive up the cost of your electric bills.
How To Use Exterior Lighting Over a Patio
External spotlights and outdoor recessed ceiling lights are an easy way to make your patio area a more beautiful and inviting place to be. There are other ways that you can improve the patio lighting of your home. When considering them, remember the three most important areas of your patio:
- SAFETY SPACES. These are the edges around the surfaces of the landscape, like the edges of a lawn or patio or anywhere there is a height change in the ground.
- ENTERTAINMENT SPACES. This includes the seating area, dining tables and fire pits.
- SECURITY SPACES. This is anywhere near front or back doors or any entrances into the patio space.
The entertainment area is the most decorative of an outdoor space, and it is also where you will find yourself more often than not. Consider outdoor pendants, floor lamps and table lamps. You should also consider soffit lighting if the patio is close enough to the house. Covered patios also lend themselves to opportunities for exterior soffit lighting and other downlighting. You can also add wall sconces to layer the light and bring it down from the top to bottom.
You should layer the light as much as possible, just like you would with an indoor lighting plan. Downlights are the main point that you should focus on when possible. This spreads the light out easily across the entire place where you can then supplement with other lighting as needed.
Do You Need To Use a Special Type of Downlight Outside?
Because outdoor lights are exposed to the elements, it is important that you consider the IP rating for these lights. IP stands for Ingress Protection, which is a scale that ranks the light in accordance with how resistant it is to both dust and moisture damage. The first digit in an IP rating signifies the resistance to dust, while the second digit relates to the ability to resist water damage.
The IP ratings are as follows:
First Digit – Solids
0 – Not protected against dust
1 – Protected against solid objects larger than 50 millimeters
2 – Protected against solid objects larger than 12 millimeters
3 – Protected against solid objects larger than 2.5 millimeters
4 – Protected against solid objects larger than 1 millimeter
5 – Protected against dust in small amounts
6 – Protected against any dust and deposits
Second Digit – Moisture
0 – Not protected from water
1 – Protected from dripping water
2 – Protected from dripping water at a 15-degree angle
3 – Protected from spraying water
4 – Protected from splashing water
5 – Protected from water jets
6 – Protected from strong water jets
7 – Protected from immersion up to one meter
8 – Protected from immersion beyond one meter
Lights that are outdoors will require that you use an IP rated light of a minimum of IP44.
What Are the Benefits of Using LED Outdoor Downlights and Soffit Lights?
There are a few reasons you should consider LED soffit lights specifically:
- ENERGY EFFICIENCY. LED lights are energy efficient by nature because they require less power to run and give off less heat as they are used. Since you will have soffit lights turned on for much of the light, having energy-efficient lighting can not only save the amount of power used but also the price of your electric bill.
- RESISTANCE AND DURABILITY. Exterior LED spotlights and other soffit lights are made to be durable against elements like sun, wind and rain. This keeps the lights in their best working order while also ensuring you don’t have to constantly pay for expensive maintenance.
- SAVES SPACE. Because of the compact nature of recessed soffit light fixtures and other such external downlights, they will conserve space by sitting flush with the soffit.
- EASY TO CUSTOMISE. Since LED lights offer so many options in terms of colour temperature, brightness and more, you can really take control over the way that your exterior lighting looks.
- LONG LIFESPAN. LED lights are usually rated for 20,000 hours of life, so you don’t have to constantly replace them the way you would other types of bulbs.
- BEAUTIFUL ACCENT LIGHTING. Soffit lights can provide the perfect curb appeal when installed correctly. They offer gentle lighting that accents the home’s exterior while also making it more approachable.
What Areas Can You Use Exterior Downlights?
Exterior downlights can be used many places along the home’s exterior. Below are just a few places to consider:
- Soffits around the house
- Lights beneath the canopy areas, which are especially good for nighttime entertaining
- Under the soffits in the front of the garage
- Under a covered patio or porch area
- Along the sides or rear of the house to ensure everything is well lit and evenly illuminated
How To Plan Your Soffit Lighting Layout?
Plan the layout of your soffit lighting by following the steps below:
- SELECTING THE LIGHTS. The first thing you will want to do is decide which kind of soffit lighting fixtures you want to install. Choose the style of their housing as well as the lumen count and the colour temperature you will want to use.
- CONSIDER SPACING. It is best to have at least four feet of space between each light, no matter what size house you may have. This will create an even spread of illumination and help you avoid the spaceship effect.
- INSTALLING THE LIGHTS. It is possible that the LED soffit lighting may run off of a single circuit, meaning that the chances are high that you can attach the soffit lights to a porch light switch that is already in use.
To install, simply:
- Take a fixture and walk to each of the locations you want to hang them. Mark the wall where you want to hang it.
- Cut the holes in every location.
- Bring the wires through each hole, being sure to leave an extra 10 inches or so for future repairs and easy installation.
- Connect the wires to the fixture.
- Place the fixture into the hole that you have created.
Ideas for Soffit Lighting
The LDC411 6 Watt Black LED Soffit Downlight Fitting is a great choice for any soffit regardless of colour. The black colour makes it easy to incorporate into any colour scheme without clashing, thanks to its neutral hue. The circular shape also works well both for modern and traditional style homes, making this LDC411 6 Watt Black LED Soffit Downlight Fitting truly versatile.
Because of the round shape and the black finish of the Onyx 9 Watt Black Tilting Soffit LED Downlight Fitting, this soffit light fitting works well on homes of any colour and won’t clash with the existing appearance. It shines 800 lumens of light from a moveable head, which you can use to shine in any direction you want it to. It measures 120 millimeters in diameter, making it perfect for installing in a line with other such fixtures.
For those who love the look of recessed downlights but do not have the proper soffit space to do it, the LBL183 5 Watt Round Black Surface Mounted Soffit LED Downlight is a great alternative. This light features a cylindrical shape and can be installed directly onto the soffit itself. It shines straight down just like a recessed light would, and its black finish makes it compatible with homes of any exterior colour.
The LDC412 12 Watt Black LED Soffit Downlight Fitting is a sleek circular light that looks great installed into a soffit. It recesses to create a clean, modern and minimalistic look. The black finish provides you the versatility you need to incorporate it into any home’s soffits, regardless of the surrounding colour. It shines 900 lumens of warm white 3000k light, making it easy on the eyes at night.
Simulate the look of recessed lighting on soffits that cannot accommodate it with the LBL249 12 Watt Round Black Surface Mounted Soffit LED Downlight. This lighting has a cylindrical shape and attaches directly to the surface of the soffit, shining downward like a recessed light. It has an IP67 rating to keep it safe from moisture and dust while it shines 1000 lumens of 3000k warm white light.
LED soffit lights can seriously improve the curb appeal of your space. Above, we have outlined some of the benefits of soffit lighting as well as how to best incorporate them into various outdoor spaces throughout your home.