Hanging Lights To Light Up And Spotlight Your Porch

A charming front porch deserves an equally charming hanging light. Hanging lanterns are a classic porch lighting choice that never goes out of style. With their wide light distribution, hanging lights illuminate your entire entryway with a warm, welcoming glow. They serve both form and function by adding elegance while lighting the way. Let’s explore why hanging porch lanterns should be at the top of your list when upgrading your exterior lighting.

Why Hanging Lanterns Are Great For Porches

Hanging lanterns have been used to light front porches for centuries, and for good reason. Their iconic style suits the traditional architecture of many entryways. Vintage-inspired designs with scrolled metalwork and glass panels evoke nostalgic charm. Unlike porch sconces or ceiling lights, hanging lanterns make a statement. They immediately draw the eye and become a focal point. When it comes to ambiance, hanging lights cast a broad pool of illumination that chases away shadows and makes your space more welcoming. The warm glow of a hanging lantern makes an impression on guests right from the start.

Another advantage of hanging porch lights is how they spread light across a wide area. Wall mounted sconces shine light in one direction, while a hanging lantern brightens the entire entry zone. The light cascades down over stairs and walkways to improve visibility and safety. No dark corners go untouched. Hanging lanterns also point light upward, bouncing it off the ceiling to fill in shadows. This makes your porch feel more open and spacious. With their diverse lighting capabilities, hanging lanterns are an excellent choice for lighting up your front porch.

front porch hanging light ideas

Choosing The Right Hanging Lantern Size

To choose an appropriately sized hanging lantern for your porch, start by measuring the height of your ceiling. Make sure to measure from the porch floor rather than the bottom step. The lantern should be in proportion to the ceiling height so it doesn’t get lost against a taller ceiling or overwhelm a shorter one. Scale and balance are key. An experienced lighting designer can help you determine the optimal size.

In general, the bottom of the lantern should hang down at least 30 inches from the ceiling to maximize light distribution. But it should not hang so low that it could bump people’s heads. For eight to ten foot porch ceilings, a medium 24-36 inch size fixture is ideal. Go with 40-48 inches for higher ten to twelve foot ceilings. For shorter ceilings under eight feet, stick with smaller 18-24 inch lanterns. The light should reach your entry stairs but not extend awkwardly far below the base of the porch.

Take Measurements At Night

Interestingly, it’s best to take measurements at night when the space is dark. This gives you a better sense of the light coverage needed. Note where you have shadows or dim zones that additional illumination could improve. Observe how existing light fixtures are performing. While measuring, also take note of any special architectural features, like dormers or railings, that you want to highlight or avoid. Developing a lighting plan when you can observe real nighttime conditions ensures the scale and placement will work beautifully.

Hanging Lantern Styles To Consider

With the size decided, now the fun begins! There are so many gorgeous hanging lantern styles for you to select from. Narrow it down by choosing a design that fits your porch’s architectural style. Here are some top options that cover a range of aesthetics.


These rectangular hanging lights work well with Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, and Mission style homes. Their streamlined design often features panels of stained, leaded, or colored glass. Or the glass may be replaced with perforated metal for a more industrial look. Straight lines, simple geometric shapes, and minimal ornamentation define the Craftsman vibe.

French Country

French Country options have intricate metalwork like scrolled arms, decorative castings, and finial details. Fluted glass panels, metal fretwork, and distressed finishes add to the vintage charm. Candle-style bulbs mimic flickering flames. These romantic lights feel right at home on cottages or countryside porches.


Bring the seaside with you by using nautical details like boat cleats, oars, shells, rope, and netting. Weathered finishes in driftwood, sea glass, and galvanized metal evoke a timeworn maritime look. Navy blues and bleached whites reinforce the oceanfront style. Wrapped woven seagrass adds organic texture. Coastal chic lights give relaxed vibe.

Materials For Durability Outdoors

Hanging porch lanterns endure year-round exposure to the elements, so material selection is significant. Solid brass, copper, cast iron, and hand-forged steel offer strength along with traditional styling. However, they will require occasional polishing to keep corrosion at bay.

For low maintenance, powder-coated aluminum resists scratches, corrosion, peeling, and fading while still providing a traditional look. Innovative composite materials like polyresin mix crushed stone with resin to emulate the look of real stone at a lighter weight. No matter what material you choose, confirm its suitability for wet outdoor use.

Glass Choices

Look for glass components that can withstand weather fluctuations. Hand-blown glass offers visual uniqueness. Seeded glass contains small bubbles that diffuse the light beautifully. Wavy glass has an antique, imperfect look. Tempered glass gains strength through heat treatment while maintaining transparency. Any glass material should be sealed tightly within the frame using rubbers, gaskets, or caulk.

Lighting Capabilities To Look For

To fully illuminate your entire entryway, look for these specialized lighting capabilities:

  • Upward projection to brighten the ceiling
  • Downward distribution spread across stairs
  • Adjustable arms to direct light where needed
  • Wall wash lighting aimed at door area

Controls like dimmers allow you to set the desired brightness. Smart technology offers conveniences like scheduling or dimming lights via your phone. Some hanging lanterns even have built-in speakers to stream music! The lighting options are truly endless.

Ambient vs. Task Lighting

Hanging lanterns generally provide ambient lighting to illuminate the overall space. This can be complemented by path lights, spotlights, or sconces for task lighting specific areas. For example, discrete step lights make navigating stairs safer at night. Wall sconces by doors offer task visibility for unlocking. Together, ambient and task lighting provide both visibility and ambiance.

Electrical Considerations

Hanging lanterns usually require some basic wiring. Hardwired fixtures are installed directly on a junction box. Make sure the box is solidly anchored and rated for the weight. For simpler installation, opt for plug-in versions that just mount on an outdoor outlet. Use plastic cable clips to neatly run the cord to the outlet location. Waterproof wire connectors are a must in wet areas.

If you want to control lights remotely, install them on a smart switch. Dimmer switches allow adjustable brightness. Include a wall switch at the entry for easy control when coming and going. Place any exposed wires or connectors inside closure caps to prevent water incursion.

Smart Technology

Smart hanging lights take convenience to the next level. With smartphone app or voice control, you can turn lights on and off, dim to the perfect brightness, and set schedules or timers. No more fumbling in the dark! Smart technology also allows fun features like changing bulb colors.

Weatherproofing Hanging Lanterns Outdoors

Since hanging porch lights endure the elements, weatherproofing is crucial. A damp location rating ensures the fixture resists moisture from rain, snow, and humid air. For locations exposed to direct weather, a wet location rating provides even better protection.

Inside the fixture, gaskets, rubber seals, and foam inserts block water entry where wires enter. Fully sealed chambers isolate connectors, sockets, and hardware. Tempered glass panels withstand temperature swings better than standard glass. Regularly check for cracks, loose parts, frayed cords, or gaps that could compromise the seal.

Placement under a porch ceiling provides the ultimate protection. The covered location shields fixtures from direct rainfall and sun exposure while allowing lights to cast outward. For freestanding fixtures, select durable, weather-resistant materials to stand up over time.

Damp vs. Wet Location

Damp locations receive splash water but not direct rainfall or spray. Wet locations get fully exposed to the elements. Check manufacturer ratings before installing. Using the wrong rating for the exposure level can create safety and performance issues.

Caring For Exterior Hanging Lights

With routine care, your hanging porch lantern will shine for years. Follow these tips to keep it looking its best:

  • Apply a thin coat of high-quality paste wax to metals once or twice per year. This protects finishes from corrosion.
  • Clean glass panels occasionally with a soft cloth and mild soap and water to remove dirt and grime.
  • Check for loose screws, broken parts, frayed wires, or damage after storms.
  • Take care not to drop fixtures or expose them to harsh chemical cleaning products.

For glass components, use only soft cloths to avoid scratches. Use extreme care when handling ornate vintage fixtures to avoid dents or breaks. Proper maintenance preserves your investment while keeping the light shining brightly.

Decorating With Hanging Porch Lights

Hanging lights add decor along with illumination. They anchor your color palette while complementing architectural details. Here are design tips for choosing just the right fixture:

  • Select a finish that ties into your color scheme like oil-rubbed bronze accents on a brown door.
  • Contrast against painted walls or glossy doors by installing a galvanized metal or brass lantern.
  • Coordinate with outdoor sconces for a cohesive look. Matching finishes unify different lighting styles.
  • Layer lighting like path lights and spotlights. The combined glow enhances ambiance.

Take cues from your home’s style, whether it’s modern, colonial, craftsman, or cottage. The possibilities for decorating with hanging lanterns are truly limitless. Have fun and get creative with your design!

Light Colors

Beyond the fixture itself, the bulb color makes a difference. Warm light bulbs in shades of yellow, orange, or amber match traditional aesthetics. Cool bulb tones in blues and greens have an airy, refreshing vibe. For contemporary spaces, try trendy bulb colors like pink, red, or purple. Set the mood you want.

Achieving Curb Appeal With Hanging Lanterns

Finally, choosing the perfect hanging light for your porch can enhance curb appeal. As visitors approach, striking lanterns make a great first impression. Use lights to draw the eye towards architectural focal points. Illuminate features like dormers, columns, or gables to showcase charming details. Complement in-ground landscape lighting with glow from above.

Hanging lanterns frame and spotlight your main entry. Their reflection on flooring creates a welcoming pathway inside. Strategically place lights to spread illumination across stairs, improving visibility and safety as guests arrive and depart after dark. Don’t forget to highlight your address number or home name sign so visitors can easily find you.

With so many possibilities, a thoughtfully designed hanging light transforms your porch from a place you pass through into a space for relaxation. Spend time enjoying the ambiance you’ve created. The right hanging lantern puts the perfect finishing touch on your curb appeal and sets the stage for memorable moments shared with friends and family for years to come.

Choose hanging lanterns for added ambiance

Hanging lanterns are a great way to add ambiance and style to your front porch. They come in a variety of styles, from traditional to modern, and can be used to highlight architectural features or create a focal point.

When choosing a hanging lantern, consider the size and style of your porch. Larger porches may benefit from a statement piece, while smaller porches may look better with a more subtle option.

Additionally, consider the color and finish of the lantern. Brass or copper finishes can add a touch of elegance, while black or brushed nickel finishes can provide a more modern look.

As you search for new front porch hanging light ideas, consider choosing energy-efficient options. Not only are these lights more environmentally friendly, but they can also save you money in the long run.

LED bulbs, for example, use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last longer. This means you won’t have to replace bulbs as often. Some fixtures even come with LEDs already installed.

Solar-powered lights absorb sunlight during the day to illuminate at night. They avoid wiring costs and energy use altogether. Just make sure solar options are bright enough for your needs.

Energy efficiency ensures your new hanging lantern provides beauty and function while reducing environmental impact. Evaluate different lighting technologies to make the choice that best fits your home.

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