Porch Lighting 101: Make a Bright First Impression

Lumens Staff
Written by Lumens Staff

From seeing well enough to get your key in the lock after a long day at the office, to your dinner guests finding the doorbell, it’s the perfect time of year to consider your front porch lighting.

Here are some guidelines for choosing the right outdoor entry lights for your home.

Location, location, location

Indoor and outdoor lights sold in the U.S. have an Underwriters Laboratories or UL rating on the label. The UL rating tells you which location a light is suited for. For example, a dry-rated light is not suitable for outdoors or anywhere that has excessive moisture. If your porch is sheltered and protected from rainwater, a damp-rated fixture is your best option. Wet-rated fixtures use drain holes, seals and protective gaskets to stop water from collecting on live wires and electrical components so you’ll want a wet-rated fixture for any porch lighting exposed to rain, fog, snow or salty air.

Size matters

Generally, the size of your front door should inform the size of your outdoor entryway lights. For a balanced look keep these proportions in mind:

  • Wall Sconces: 1/4 to 1/3 the height and width of the door including trim
  • Pendants: 1/5 the height and width of the door
  • Flushmounts: 1/4 the height and width of the door

Let’s say your door is 100 inches high and 60 inches wide and you want to install wall sconces. You’ll want to look for fixtures that are about 25 inches high and 15 inches wide.

Wall Sconces

If you’re lucky enough to have a symmetrical front entry, hanging two wall sconces on either side of the door is a natural choice. Flanking your front door with a pair of eye-catching wall sconces can really dress up your home.

Have you found a pair of wall sconces that you really like but aren’t sure what the outdoor wall lights will look like from the street? Make mock-up lights from a piece of cardboard and hang them. Lights always look smaller from 50 feet away, so you’ll want to look at them from the bottom of your driveway and from the street.

Placement Guidelines: Set outdoor wall lights approximately 66 inches (5.5 feet) from the porch floor to the bottom of the fixture. Leave 6-12 inches on either side of the door casing. For asymmetrical entryways or when space is limited, a single wall fixture will do. Hang it on the doorknob side for a well-lit doorway.



For porches with high ceilings and no wind exposure, a pendant light is a stylish choice. A combination of wall and pendant outdoor entry lights in harmonizing styles will make you home’s exterior warm and welcoming.

Placement Guidelines: Hang pendants about 84 inches (7 feet) from the porch floor.


Is your front door the pride and joy of your front entry? A flushmount porch light adds welcome light without detracting from your main entrance, columns and other architectural elements.

What’s more, if your front porch has a low ceiling or is open to wet weather, a flushmount fixture is the ideal solution.

Placement Guidelines: Flushmounts should be a minimum of 80 inches (6.6 feet) from the floor.

Remember, your home only has one chance to make a good first impression.

About the author

Lumens Staff

Lumens Staff

At Lumens, we love modern design. Everything about it. We love finding out what inspires good design and how it can make life better. We get pretty excited about it, which is what motivates us to share what we learn with you. We want to inform. We want to entertain. And, most of all, we want to inspire you to bring a little more good design into your own life.

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