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Tips for Lighting an Outdoor Fireplace

Tips for Lighting an Outdoor Fireplace

As fall sweeps into Georgia, it’s time to start thinking about all of our favorite autumn activities. Break out the sweaters, warm up with a hot cup of cocoa, and pull on your favorite mittens. Now is a great time to fire up your outside fireplace for some cozy evenings outside with family and friends. It may seem a little counterintuitive, but outdoor fireplaces actually need extra lighting. For the safety and comfort of your guests, it is necessary to light the sitting area around your fireplace. Also, lighting your fireplace can add beauty and interest to this large hardscape feature. Here are some of our favorite tips for lighting an outdoor fireplace!

Tips for Lighting an Outdoor Fireplace [infographic]

Why You Need to Light Your Fireplace

An outdoor fireplace, or more broadly any fire feature, is a beautiful focal point for your outdoor living space. Since humans first tamed fire, we have been naturally drawn to its beautiful flickering light. One of the great features of an outdoor fireplace is that it really is usable all year round. That’s especially true here in Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area. On a crisp autumn or even winter evening, sitting around a fire with family and friends can be a cozy bonding experience. And although the fire will, of course, provide some light, it is actually important to provide some extra light for the safety and comfort of your guests.

The light of an outdoor fireplace is limited. Typically, an outdoor fireplace will only provide a small area of light. If it is left unlit, the small pool of light would leave dark shadows and make it hard to move around the space where people are sitting. Perhaps you can recall sitting around a bonfire at a campsite. The fire is great, but as soon as you step away from it, you need a flashlight. Ideally, you should not need a flashlight to navigate around your backyard at night.

In addition to the utilitarian function of additional lighting, the extra lighting serves an important aesthetic purpose. If you have an outdoor fireplace, you have a large outdoor hardscape feature that is an excellent canvas for some additional lighting. You wouldn’t want to leave a fountain, sculpture, or pergola unlit. So give your fireplace the same treatment and make sure it gets the light it needs to look its best, both when it’s being used and when it is not.

Well Lighting and Uplighting for an Outdoor Fireplace

A great way to light up an outdoor fireplace is with uplighting provided by well lights. Well lights are usually installed flush with the ground, so they don’t take up any room or pose a tripping hazard. Many outdoor fireplaces are finished with stone. The uplighting from strategically placed well lights can create a beautiful play of light and shadow that highlights the texture of the stone.

If you’re going to use well lights, consider two or more small well lights very near the base of the fireplace. Depending on the size of the fireplace, you may want to add more lights. If your fireplace is set into a sitting wall or another extended hardscape feature, carry the same lighting through the whole area. Creating a uniform lighting scheme across the hardscape will usually provide the best results.

If your fireplace is set into a wall, you are not limited to well lights in the ground. Embedding well lights into the wall at the sides of the fireplace can be a perfect way to highlight its shape and texture.

If you plan on any type of well lighting for your fireplace, the best time to install it is when the fireplace is being built. That will allow the contractors to build the well lights into the structure of the fireplace and surrounding hardscape. However, if you’ve already installed the fireplace, it’s not too late to add well lighting. The experts at Night Vision Outdoor Lighting can install well lights even in existing hardscapes. We’ll drill as necessary and hide all the wiring.

Bullet Lighting an Outdoor Fireplace

Another great way to light an outdoor fireplace is with strategically placed bullet lights. This is a great technique if you have any landscaping or bushes around the fireplace. It’s not hard to hide some fixtures in the vegetation and shine a soft light onto the fireplace.

If you have already installed your fireplace and are adding lighting after the fact, bullet lights can be a good alternative to well lights. While it’s not impossible to add well light to an existing hardscape, bullet lights may be cheaper because they don’t require drilling. The placement is also more flexible than well lighting. The bullet lights can be placed in the most convenient area and directed toward the fireplace.

If you don’t have existing bushes or landscaping to hide your bullet lights, it’s not hard to add some. You can place decorative urns or large bowls near your fireplace and plant some flowers and bushes in them. Then you can easily hide your bullet lights in the bushes.

Downlighting for an Outdoor Fireplace

In most cases, an outdoor fireplace doesn’t sit all by itself. It is usually part of a larger hardscape feature, such as a deck or patio. It may also be near a pergola or even an outdoor kitchen. If your fireplace is part of a larger outdoor living space, you can easily include your fireplace in the lighting scheme of your outdoor space. With or without a fireplace, you will need to shed some light on your patio or deck, so adding a little extra light for the fireplace and adjacent sitting area shouldn’t be too hard.

If you have tall trees anywhere near the fireplace, you can place some bullet lights in them pointed at the fireplace. You can choose to use narrow-angle lights to highlight the fireplace or wider angle lights to illuminate the whole area. Often a combination of wide and narrow bullet lights works best. For instance, if your patio area is lit with artificial moonlight, you may still want to shine some lights directly on the fireplace to show off its texture.

Other Places to Hide Light Fixtures

Often, fireplaces include some sort of small overhang. If your fireplace has a mantle, you can hide some LED fixtures under the mantle. If the fireplace has some walls around it, there is likely a lip at the top of the wall. Installing some small lights along the underside of the lip of the wall can create a comfortable glow that is not overpowering. Several of these small lights can combine to provide a lot of light. You can easily create enough light to safely maneuver while keeping the fireplace as the main focal point.

Expert Hardscape Lighting Installation

The best time to install any hardscape lighting is during the initial construction phase. That allows the landscape lighting professionals to work with your hardscape builders. By getting in before the hardscape is complete, they can place the fixtures and wiring directly into the hardscape. If you already built your hardscape and didn’t include lights, it’s still possible to add lights after the fact. There may be some added labor to drill in well lights or create pathways for the wires. But it is not impossible. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting has completed over 5,000 lighting projects, so there really isn’t anything we haven’t seen. We can always find a solution to make your lighting dreams come true. Contact us now to find out how you can take your outdoor fireplace to the next level with great lighting.