Want to brighten your deck with solar lights? Learn how to install deck rail lighting. This easy, beginner-friendly DIY project can be completed in minutes.
Install deck rail lighting in order to use your deck during the evening and to make it safer at night. After all, walking down deck stairs steps at night can be a precarious activity!
We’ve used several deck solar lighting ideas to brighten our deck during the evenings. Thus far, most of the lighting has been focused on the deck itself. While it’s beautiful and perfect for evening entertaining, it is not address our biggest safety issue – the deck stairs.
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The stairs are located on the opposite side of the deck from the house. Therefore, it gets minimal light from inside our home, the porch light, or the top of the deck. In order to make it safe at night, we had to install solar lights for the steps.
The Importance of Exterior Lighting
We have been renovating the exterior of our modern cottage home over the last 3 years, but it has really come to life in the last year. The addition of solar deck lighting, deck string lights, and landscape lighting has illuminated our homes best features!
Of course, lighting isn’t necessary during the daytime. Our home’s dark vertical siding, vinyl cedar shake siding, bourbon barrel house number sign, and cottage style architecture, are all easily visible before nightfall.
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Still, there is something magical that happens when it is all lit up at night. I love pulling into our driveway in the evenings, or looking out onto the deck, and seeing our home lit up by exterior lighting.
Now, you might be thinking, exterior lighting is expensive! And, yes, it definitely can be. That is why we selected solar lighting for our home’s exterior. Solar lights are a fraction of the cost of wired exterior lighting.
Beside the initial cost, solar lighting is also budget friendly because:
- it can be purchased in phases,
- and doesn’t utilize electricity.
Of course, if wired lighting fits your budget, it is a great option, too! Wired exterior lighting will likely be the lower maintenance option, because the lights are less likely to fail over time. With solar lighting, you can expect the overall lifespan of the product to be shorter.
So, whichever route you choose, just make sure to not skip exterior lighting. It will truly change the look and feel of your home’s exterior.
How to Install Deck Rail Lighting
Before we dive into the step-by-step instructions, let’s discuss several common questions about solar deck lights. If you’d like to download and print these instructions (with links to the supplies, included), click here to jump to the instruction card.
Q: What is deck rail lighting vs deck step lighting?
A: In my research, I’ve found that sellers of solar lights use the terms somewhat interchangeably. To an extent, deck step lighting is any solar light that illuminates steps (whether the light is mounted on the step or on the railing).
However – while rail lighting can typically be mounted on both deck rails and deck stair rails – there are also step lights which are installed in a stair riser. It seems that, most often, step lights are wired and not solar.
Q: Do solar lights last?
A: Yes, but make sure to do your research. I read many reviews before selecting our deck rail lights. We have had a good experience with all of our deck and landscape solar lighting.
However, based on reviews, it sounds like there are some lower-performing lights out there. So, do the research and be willing to pay a few bucks extra to get a well-reviewed light, if necessary.
Q: Will solar lights work if my home is shaded?
A: In general, my answer is yes. Even during overcast winter days, our solar lights still light up. They aren’t always as bright after overcast days, or may not stay lit as long into the night, but they DO light up.
However, we don’t have any fully shaded area around our home. And, the performance can depend on the design of the specific light. For that reason, I suggest giving one light a trial run before installing the rest.
If you buy a set, just place 1 outside (but not installed) near the location it will be permanently. See how it performs, and then return it if it does not work as described.
- 8 Pack Solar Lights
- Index Card
- Flip the solar light over so that the back is facing up.
- Align the corner of the index card with the corner of the light.
- Mark the locations of the holes, by punching through the cardstock.
- Measure the distance between the holes and mark the center with a pencil.
- Measure the rail to determine at what height to install each light.
- Mark with pencil the center point for on the rail. The center point on the index card will align with the center point mark on the rail.
- Hold the index card in place, with center points aligned, and begin drilling.
- Drill 2 holes.
- Swap the drill to a screw bit, and drive the screws most of the way into the wood (leave a small gap between the screw and the wood).
- Attach the light over the screws, sliding it into the gap between the screw and wood.
- Make sure to press the power button on the side of the light in order to set it correctly.