Light the Night: Outdoor Lighting Ideas When the Power’s Out


When the power goes out, outdoor spaces around the home can become dark and difficult to navigate. Having emergency or backup lighting ready can make a big difference in illuminating pathways, patios, and other exterior areas of the property. This allows one to move around safely and even enables some degree of normal nighttime activities despite the power outage.

There are a variety of lighting methods and tools one can utilize to brighten up the outdoor environment when the electricity is cut. By thinking ahead and making smart preparations, one can light the night even during a blackout. Here are 7 great outdoor lighting ideas for when the power’s out:

1. Flashlights and Headlamps


A basic but highly useful lighting source comes from portable battery-powered flashlights or headlamps. These are inexpensive and most households already have them on hand for emergency kits. But it helps to strategically place good-quality LED flashlights in easy-to-access spots around the exterior of the home. For instance, keeping a flashlight on the patio, by the front door, and in the shed or garage ensures lights are on hand wherever they are needed. Headlamps allow for hands-free lighting and are extremely convenient during power failures. Always have spare batteries as well to avoid getting caught without illumination. Having backup flashlights and headlamps stationed in key outdoor locations will ensure you always have a portable light source able to provide instant, directed light wherever it’s needed outside your home.

2. Solar-Powered Lights


Solar landscape and patio lights operate by storing energy from the sun during daytime hours. When darkness falls, the stored power activates LEDs to provide gentle but reliable lighting all night long. Installing solar path lights along walkways and staircases is an easy way to tap into the sun’s energy for free backup illumination. Position solar lights strategically around deck and patio spaces, gardens, trees, and other areas where they can soak up sunlight during the day and shed soft light at night. They turn on automatically at dusk and will run for 8-12 hours. Solar lights mounted on exterior walls or fences can also cast broader light. The key is placing solar fixtures where they’ll get maximum sunshine exposure so they’ll have power stored up for nighttime illumination during an outage.

3. Battery-Powered String Lights

For festive ambient lighting, battery-operated LED string lights are convenient outdoor decorations that don’t rely on electricity. Available in warm white and multi-colored options, these strings of miniature lights can adorn trees, shrubs, railings, pergolas, and other exterior structures even when the power fails. Battery packs attached to the light strings provide autonomous power. Spacing string light strands strategically around entertaining areas creates pleasant lighting for spending time outside after dark during an outage. The light strings add a magical, celebratory ambiance despite the lack of electricity. Wrapping trees and structures with battery-powered string lights will allow you to set a festive, illuminated mood even if the power is knocked out.

4. Candles and Lanterns


Flame-based candle light offers another alternative when the power is out. Placing votive or pillar candles in glass jars or lanterns provides warm, flickering light pools in outdoor living spaces. Citronella candles also help repel mosquitoes and other insects. For safety, only use fire-resistant containers on sturdy, level surfaces away from vegetation, curtains or other flammable items. Never leave candles unattended outdoors. Be sure to use candle dust covers between uses to prolong the candle life. Properly spaced candles can illuminate pathways, accent gardens, or set a cozy mood on the patio. Carefully placed candle lanterns will create charming little islands of soft, flickering light when the electricity goes out.

5. Gas and Propane Lamps


Free-standing gas-fueled outdoor lamps offer bright, reliable illumination during power failures. Models like gas lanterns and propane patio lights run on replaceable fuel canisters and cast broad light for several hours of operation. Many emit light equivalent to 40-100 watt light bulbs. Place propane lamps along the driveway or walkway for visibility when coming and going after dark. Use gas lanterns on patios and decks to illuminate large gathering areas. Just be sure to shut them off before going to sleep. The right gas-powered lamps will illuminate key outdoor living areas and entry points to provide visibility and security when the power fails.

6. Backup Generators

For whole-home backup power, installing a standby generator provides electrical power to run lights and other essentials during an outage. These systems connect to your home’s electrical panel and kick on automatically when the utility power fails. Full-home standby generators run on propane or natural gas and allow exterior lighting circuits to remain operational. For smaller scale needs, portable gas-powered generators can be set up to run exterior lighting strands and fixtures plugged into generator outlets. Generators should only be operated outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Permanently installed or portable generators allow you to keep exterior lights running just like normal during a power loss.

7. Emergency Lighting

Specific lighting designed for outages includes convenient battery-powered emergency lights. These compact LED units provide 8-24 hours of light and come in designs like hand-crank lanterns, stick-anywhere magnetic strips, clip-on spotlights, and screw-in porch bulbs. They activate automatically when the power goes out. Emergency lights typically have handles or bases so they can be transported and placed wherever portable illumination is needed outside. Waterproof versions can be used in wet conditions. Emergency lighting provides targeted light for safety and utility during a power failure. Purpose-made emergency lighting offers an easy, self-contained solution for on-demand illumination during an outage.

Preparing for Darkness


When stormy weather or other factors threaten to knock out electrical service, take steps ahead of time to illuminate the exterior areas of your property with backup lighting. This will allow some degree of normal activity and provide peace of mind when faced with night darkness.

Aim to have lighting tools stationed around the outside of your home that don’t rely on traditional electricity. Opt for battery-powered, solar-charged, or fuel-burning lamps, strings, and generators that turn on automatically or can be easily deployed during a power outage.

With the right combination of candles, flashlights, solar fixtures, emergency lights, and backup generators, you can keep the outside environment safely and conveniently lit. Don’t get left in the dark during electrical failures. Implement smart outdoor lighting strategies so you can light the night when the power’s out.