The Basics of Barn Lighting
Let’s first go over a few basic essential lights that are needed in a barn. Then we’ll go over more elaborate barn lighting ideas and designs, which include such things as uplights, string lights and skylights.
When it comes to the interior of the barn, you’ll need to be looking for lighting that brings light down from the ceiling. Pendant lights/hanging lights are the ideal light fixtures in doing this. There are a number of styles and fixtures that can be used for this, which we go over later. We also go over more decorative and tasked based barn lighting options.
The exterior of barn is also an important area to light for security, and safety – as it allows people to easily walk up to the barn at night. Ideas for the exterior of the barn include:
- Path lighting up to the barn such as solar stake lights.
- For security measures, a motion sensor light can be fitted above the barn door that will go on when anything nearby moves.
- Wall lights are another idea for adding outdoor barn lighting: hanging lanterns, gooseneck lights, and wall sconces are a few light fixture types to consider.
If you are starting from scratch, or are looking to do a lot of remodeling, then you’ll be able to choose the type of power your lights will be powered by. There are three choices here: low voltage lighting, high voltage, or solar powered.
Low voltage lighting is the most common type of outdoor lighting. Low voltage lighting is safer for outdoor lighting, it is cheaper to run, and the lights will be slightly dimmer as you can see with most people’s backyard lighting. This is done by connecting a transformer to the house’s main power supply, which lowers the voltage for the lights in and outside of the barn.
For a quick guide on low voltage lighting have a look at our post here: How To Install Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting In No Time
High voltage lighting is taking the electricity directly from the house’s main source and using it outdoors. If you are using the barn a lot and need proper lighting as you would in a house, then high voltage is ideal. You would want the barn to be completely weather proof just like a home. If you are using the barn to store things, and use it every now and again at night, then low voltage lighting would be best or even solar lighting.
Most people won’t have too many light fixtures in a barn (a few hanging lights, wall lights, etc.), so a few solar panels installed on the roof of the barn, or to the side of the barn will be able to power all of the lighting. It could even power other things in the barn (power outlets for tools, etc.).
Barn Lighting Ideas
Here are some general barn lighting ideas:
- A lot of barn designs are completely closed off, making them dark inside even during the day. If this is the case, then you can make great use of natural lighting. A few ways to do this include: installing windows, a skylight or solar tubes (a tube that goes from the top of the roof outside, to the inside of the barn bringing light in)
- Gooseneck lights are ideal as they stick out from the wall shining light across a larger area.
- The poles of the barn can make great bases for light fixtures. Wall lanterns or sconces can be attached to them.
Decorative Lighting Ideas
For more decorative barn house lighting ideas try:
- String lights can be used for decorative lighting in a barn, wrapped around poles or overhead beams. They come in the standard small sized (like the common Christmas lights) light bulb (use white or yellow), or there are a range of decorative and elaborative versions like globe string lights.
- Other decorative ideas include a grand wrought iron or rustic chandelier that can hang down and be a focal point within the barn. Uplights, pointed onto the walls and poles are common in decorating barn weddings, and can be used for everyday barn lighting. These same uplights can be placed overhead on the beams pointing onto the ceiling, adding more ambient lighting in the barn.
- 2 simple decorative barn lighting options include using paper lanterns, and lighted twigs. Paper lanterns are inexpensive, and are lightweight so they are easy to install. They are popular in decorating barn weddings. Branch lights are branches stuck into a pot of sand or soil and wrapped in string lights.
If you do any mechanical work in the barn or keep livestock, then you would want to have some specific task lighting within these areas. Low hanging florescent light strips are a popular choice as they cover a wide area, and are suitable in cold climates. Because of the white light they give off, they show true colors, allowing you to see the real color of paint, animal skin, etc.
A good thing to have around is a battery or solar powered lamp that you can carry around in the barn.
Resources: Styles and Barn Lighting Fixtures To Search For
Here are some styles and light fixture terms to keep in mind when searching for your barn lights:
- Bullet wall sconces
- CGU pendant lights
- Shallow bowl pendant lights
- Rustic lights
- Nautical styled lights work well in barns
A great place to buy barn lights is Barn Light Electric, or Amazon has a range of inexpensive light fixtures.
One Thing to Remember
The key to great lighting design is to layer the light, meaning, using different light fixtures to create different lighting effects. If you were to only use overhead florescent lights in the barn, you would create a monotone and dull look. Whereas if you were to use florescent light strips above the work areas, a few wall lanterns attached to the poles guiding people down the barn, 2-3 pendant lights to break up the space, and 2-3 uplights on walls/poles to add some accent lighting, you would create a more comfortable and well lit space, than the monotone barn with just the florescent lights.