For those of you not familiar with the term, a sconce is a light fixture that’s mounted to a wall. It is one of the oldest forms of light fixtures known to man, yet it comes with so many different modern designs because manufacturers are just that creative. Back in the day, scones used to be paired with candles or oil lamps, while today they work with LEDs and other types of bulbs.
They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, but each type has its own pros and cons. Today, we’re going to focus on modern outdoor sconces and what they have to offer.
What to Know About Outdoor Sconces
Having outdoor light fixtures is important regardless of how much time you spend outside the house at night. It doesn’t matter if you are not the person to spend time in the yard after sunset, as lighting fixtures for outdoor placement can serve as security measures or they can help you find your way around the yard and entrance if you ever get some when it’s already dark.
A sconce is made from two main components: the light bulb and the fixture itself. The fixture, however, has at least three of the five following elements as well:
- The back plate is the part of the fixture that’s mounted on the wall. The design of the back plate can range from super minimalistic to adorned with all sorts of decorating elements. The role of the back plate is to conceal all the wired and electrical components that are part of the fixture. When you purchase a wall sconce, it should come with all the hardware needed to mount the back plate to the wall.
- The arm of an outdoor wall sconce is what connects the back plate to the actual light source (bulb). Plenty of wall sconces have curved arms and, depending on the model chosen, they can be highly decorative. Some fixtures have longer arms that keep the bulb farther away from the wall.
- The shade is another essential component of a wall sconce because it is placed at eye-level, which can make it rather blinding if you stare right at it by accident. The role of the shade is to diffuse the light and make it easier on the eyes.
- If you opt for an outdoor wall sconce, it will most likely have a power switch that’s either mounted inside, or outside as long as it’s covered and protected from nature’s elements, including freezing temperatures. Indoor wall sconces also have power switches attached to them, and while some outdoor fixtures have that as well, it’s less common.
- Some fixtures also include a dimmer, but it’s not a common option amongst outdoor light sconces. Dimmers are preferred in indoor fixtures, especially in places that need just the right amount of light (like hallways, where you want to see where you’re going, but you don’t want to have the light running at their maximum capacity).
Outdoor sconces need light bulbs in order to function. Some models have integrated lights, while others will require that you purchase the bulbs separately. For the most part, these fixtures are compatible with three types of light:
- LED lights are the most common ones because they consume less energy and have a long lifespan. However, LEDs are also more expensive and not everyone is willing to make a larger upfront investment.
- Incandescent bulbs are recognized for their softer light tones and low price. However, they also consume more energy and have a shorter lifespan.
- Fluorescent lights consume 90 percent less energy when compared to incandescent bulbs and have 10 times their lifespan. They are also expensive, can’t be dimmed, and emit a harsh color tone.
How to choose the outdoor sconces best for you
When it comes to choosing the best outdoor sconce for your home, there are definitely some things you want to consider before making your final purchase:
- What type of sconce are you in the market for? Security lighting? Motion sensors? Decorative?
- Do you need a damp or wet rated sconce? Do you live in an area with erratic weather changes?
- The height of the wall or door where you intend to install your light.
- The finish of the outdoor sconce you are looking for – brushed nickel, wrought iron, etc.
- Modern or traditional looking outdoor sconces?
Types of outdoor sconces
As with any product, you are always going to run into options upon options, and some of these options might be new ideas for your outdoor scone. Technology and décor are changing all the time so you will definitely want to consider this before installing the first budget-friendly scone you come across.
Some of the following are types of outdoor sconces that are available on the market today:
- Step Lights
- Garden Lights
- Bollard Lights
- String Lights
- Flood Lights
- LED Models
- Solar Energy Models
Pros and cons of outdoor sconces
Pros of Outdoor Sconces:
- Provides ample lighting to illuminate your home and offers a warm welcome to visitors/guests while deterring mischief.
- Offers safety measures to prevent slips, falls, and more.
- Can allow your children the chance to play outdoors well into the evenings.
- Offers a homely experience while sitting on the deck for late-night reading, relaxing, or entertaining.
Cons of Outdoor Sconces:
- Can increase your utility bill when used frequently.
- Are prone to damage in severe weather conditions.
- Can be pricy when compared to indoor light fixtures.
Tips for Installing Outdoor Porch Lights
Installing your outdoor porch light should not be a difficult process and if you follow the instructions of this tutorial, you will be enjoying that new light in no time!
You will want to have all your tools readily available and access to the main breakers of your home to cut the power as a safety measure. Once the power is cut, you want to match up the wires of the junction box with the wires of the light fixture. Once the wires are tightened around the screws, you are ready to maneuver the light into place. Clean up any gaps with silicone-based caulking and restore power to the home!
If you are unsure about installing your outdoor porch light alone, call up a friend or family member with experience or look for a local electrician that can easily have the job done in a small period of time.
Top 15 Modern Outdoor Sconces That Add Value
With a little bit of knowledge on what a modern outdoor sconce has to offer, let’s look at some specific examples of different outdoor fixture varieties in hopes that we can inspire readers for their upcoming purchases.
We start off our list with an aluminum scone made with weather-resistant material for added durability and for protecting the light against nature’s harsh elements. It features an open bottom so that you can exchange the light bulb faster. Speaking of bulbs, this one works with 60 W ones. It will require assembly and can be used for outdoors and indoors, although the rugged design makes it more suitable for outdoor use.
With a futuristic design that’s absolutely magnificent, any modern home could accommodate this sconce. It is a fixture made from metal with shade material of iron, aluminum, and acrylic. It comes with a built-in LED (which is not dimmable, in case you were interested in having that feature).
This cylinder fixture is ideal for people who want a two-bulb lighting system that’s also compatible with LED bulbs (there are no bulbs included in the package). You can access the bulbs through the bottom side each time you need to replace them. Much like the first item on today’s list, this sconce is also made from durable aluminum casing which is weather resistant and can be used outdoors.
The Erick outdoor light fixture is another perfect example of a modern piece that fits contemporary homes really well. Made from cast aluminum, this fixture is durable and good-looking, especially due to that matte black finish that makes it suitable for a variety of porch setups. The shade material is made from glass, while the cylinder shape is very appealing to the eyes. It comes with an integrated LED which is dimmable.
Time to move on to a product with a more different design. This particular wall sconce has a steampunk design with elements of modern geometry and featuring a cage that protects the clear glass shade housing the bulb. While it’s designed for outdoor use, we can totally picture this sconce as part of an interior home decor, and it would fit really well in a pub or a bar. It comes with all the hardware needed for mounting.
This traditional-looking sconce is perfect for fans of glossy metal finishes. It is made from stainless steel and promises to withstand harsh weather conditions without being prone to rust. The shade material is made or glass, and the design really makes it look like a traditional old-school lamp. It can house an incandescent lightbulb of up to 100 watts.
This box-shaped sconce is the perfect example that less is more. It is a metal-frame sconce with a glass housing that will protect the light bulb in the face of nature’s rain, snow, wind, moisture, or other elements that would normally be dangerous around electrical equipment. You will receive a full set of instructions on how to install the fixture, but the light bulb has to be purchased separately.
Whether you opt for the black finished or the brushed nickel one, the Cano is one hella cool sconce. The simplicity of the cylinder-shaped design makes it compatible with modern houses, making it the perfect outdoor wall fixture for people who just want something basic, yet modern-looking. The fixture is made from metal, while the shade material is made from aluminum. The fixture is compatible with 100 watts incandescent light bulbs.
I spy with my little eye an outdoor sconce with a very UFO thing going on there. This aluminum sconce is a pretty straightforward product, with light oriented towards the ground, so you know that the bulb is both protected and stays away from your line of sight. The light is dimmable, while the aluminum cast construction is perfectly resistant in the long term.
Streamline style fans look no further, as this is the right outdoor light fixture for you. With a cone-shaped design and a durable metal casing, this fixture provides you with the peace of mind knowing that you invested in a long-lasting product that isn’t prone to rust, whilst the electrical components and the light bulb inside it are protected. It comes with an integrated LED bulb which is not dimmable.
This globe-shaped outdoor fixture has a contemporary design, combining metal and glass components that are durable and protective of every other part that shouldn’t be exposed. It works with a 60 watts medium bulb which has to be bought separately. The entire construction is weather resistant, while the rounded top is in tandem with the overall design of the fixture.
Following up, we have a light that’s a little bit different in terms of design compared to the other we’ve reviewed today. It has a very sleek brushed aluminum finish and comes with a built-in LED light that eliminates the hassle of having to purchase a separate bulb. The light is dimmable, while the plastic and metal combination with the unique geometric shape make this fixture stand out as being perfect for homeowners looking for that modern feel both indoors and out.
You have to give credit where credit is due: the Atlantis outdoor sconce looks amazing. You can purchase it in a bronze, satin black, satin white, or titanium finish, and each of these four designs are out of this world. It is a fixture made from a combination of metal housing and a glass shade, with a modern rectangle style. You can also add an incandescent light bulb to your purchase, but it will cost you!
The Zoller light fixture makes a wonderful addition to today’s list, with a cool-looking design and good construction elements that make it worthy of your investment. It is a fixture made entirely out of aluminum with two lights to illuminate your patio or entryway. The lights are dimmable, but neither of two light bulbs supported by the sconce are included in the package.
To end this list in style, we have chosen a really attractive outdoor sconce, but also one that would fit perfectly indoors in some very specific decors. This wall fixture features a cylindrical frame, with shade material made from glass. Surrounding the glass, you will find metal golden-finish bars. The waterproof construction and the rugged look with modern elements put the Grandbrook wall fixture at the top of our list.
What is an outdoor sconce?
An outdoor sconce is a light fixture that is designed to offer lighting options for the exterior of your home. They have been treated and tested in numerous weather conditions to prevent damage or safety hazards. Outdoor sconces can be installed on the walkways of your driveway, over the exterior doors on your porch, over a garage door, along a wraparound patio, and more!
What are the best outdoor lighting brands?
When it comes to determining the best outdoor lighting brands, you will want to consider: the customer reviews of each product, the customer service rating of the product, and whether or not you are covered under a return/repair warranty for a specific period of time in the case of a defective outdoor sconce. Some brands you might consider to be one the “best” whereas someone else would consider them adequate. It mostly comes down to the customer reviews and personal preference.
Some of the top brands at the moment in the market are:
- Unique Lighting Systems,
- Kichler Landscape Lighting,
- FX Luminaire,
- Philips Hue Outdoor Lights, and
- Atlas Solar Lights
How Big Should outdoor sconces be?
Outdoor sconces should be a certain size, within reason, to suit the exterior of your home. You wouldn’t want to install a tiny sconce on a large wall so that it gets swallowed up by the space and siding. The general rule of thumb is to have your outdoor sconce approximately one fifth the height and width of the doorway while being big enough to position it so the center point is around 66 to 72 inches above the ground (or patio deck).
How do you install exterior sconces?
Electrical experience isn’t completely necessary when it comes to installing your exterior sconce on your home but you should always be aware of safety hazards (and how to avoid them) before starting any project.
The first thing you would do before removing the old light fixture is turn off the power to the home with the main circuit breaker. You want not a watt of electricity flowing through the wires that could lead to potential electrocution. Once the power is cut to the home, you want to slowly remove the casing around the old fixture and pop it off the wall of the home to expose the wires.
Untwist the wires of the old light from the junction box (the metal box that has three wires running through it – this is the source of electricity for your light). There should be a black or red coated wire (the hot wire), a white or gray wire (the neutral wire), and a green or bare copper wire (this is the ground wire).
Connect the wires of the new sconce to the corresponding color and twist the wires around the screws to provide electricity. Ensure that the junction box is back in the wall enough, the wires are securely tucked inside the junction box, and all screws are tight with no loose sections. Once this is done, gently push the sconce itself into position to cover the electrical and secure as per the manufacturer’s instruction. If the sconce isn’t flush to the home, use a silicone caulk to fill in the gap and prevent water, insect, or rodent damage.
Once these steps have been completed, restore power to the home and test out your new sconce!
A sconce is a very specific type of wall-mounted light fixture, with elements that are easy to recognize. There are a variety of modern sconces suitable for outdoor use, so the design and complexity of the product is entirely your choice. However, there are a few things that are not negotiable: an outdoor sconce has to have a weather-resistant casing, with the wiring and the bulb well-protected.