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What are Back Patio Lights Called?

A patio adds charm to your property and with that, you also need to consider the appearance of your patio at night. This article discusses backlights suitable for your patio.

Wooden Patio with outside lights.

In my apartment unit, I have a back patio with an exterior form of illumination. I actually have several light sources, including the vintage strand of bulbs we are all using these days. The main light, though, is a part of the architecture of the property.

The light fixture matches the rest of the light fixtures of the apartment complex, and these are but one touch that adds charm to a property. I have to wonder though, what exactly are back patio lights called, and is there a formal way to refer to these types of light fixtures? Here’s what I have discovered in this quest to determine what these lights are called and why.

Types of Back Patio Lights

Out door patio with white lights.

One of the easiest ways to figure out what to call a back patio light is to check with the local hardware stores, including Lowe’s, to see what they call their light fixtures. According to Lowe’s, these lights are simply called outdoor wall lights. However, if you are putting a back patio light on the deck, you want to search for wall-mounted deck lights. The home improvement store uses several other terms to describe these lights based on their recommended searches:

  • Porch light
  • Motion activated porch light
  • Outdoor lighting wall mount back porch
  • Backyard light
  • Deck light
  • Flood light
  • Vanity light
  • Garage light
  • Outdoor light

You can also say this type of light is a wall sconce type light fixture. Since the patio light is installed on the back patio, there is also an exterior wall sconce light. If you are using the patio light for a garage outdoors, you might choose a flood light, which is super bright, or a garage light specifically made for the garage. Dusk to Dawn Outdoor Wall Light Fixtures Wall Mount, Sensor Porch Lights, Exterior Wall Sconce Lighting, Anti-Rust Wall Lamp, Waterproof Wall Lantern, Outside Lights for Garage, Doorway

A backyard light or motion activated porch light would be best for providing security at night in an exterior space. This kind of light automatically turns on whenever it senses movement that could be a person or animal. You save energy while increasing the security of your property with this source of light. 

A vanity light is more of a backyard light with flair. Here is where you have a light that is more for appearance rather than for functionality. This Design House Jelly Jar 1-Light is a great example.

You have the brilliance of a light source, but you also get the benefit of a certain style, such as with the Portfolio Litshire 1-Light Oil-Rubbed Bronze Outdoor Wall Light. As you can see, no pun intended, there are as many different types of back patio lights as there are names for this type of lighting. 

How to Choose the Perfect Back Patio Lights

Patio made from bricks, a chair and outdoor lights.

The idea for back patio lights is to provide visual enhancements for outdoor activities, such as walking, gardening, or lounging in the backyard or on a deck. The way to select the right garage light, deck light, vanity light, or backyard light starts with the location and use. The flood lights provide a ton more brilliance compared to a vanity light, which is why this is the preferred choice for garage lighting outdoors.  

When shopping for the perfect back patio lights, Home Depot has a few tips on choosing the best exterior illumination: “Security lights such as path and flood lights are activated by motion sensors. Add motion sensor lights and timers to customize when and how the lights are turned on and off.

Solar lights allow you to not have to remember to turn on the lights before you leave the house. Dusk to dawn lights turn on automatically when they sense a lack of sunlight (dusk), and turn off when the sun begins to rise (dawn). Dark sky lights are outdoor lights that have a less abrasive glare.

These lights minimize unnatural blue light and must be fully shielded.” Determine which type of lighting your exterior space requires before continuing to shop for outdoor lights for the patio or porch. Just identifying this key information will help you narrow down the options that are vast in the home improvement market. 

You also want to take a look at the space where you are using the exterior lighting. Whether I am lighting up a back patio, porch, veranda, or deck is going to make all the difference in the light fixtures I purchase for sure. For starters, there are different levels of lighting needed in each of these spaces.

A porch can be screened in, for example, which reduces visibility and creates a demand for exterior porch lights. A deck will be open to the sky and require little lighting, but at night time, and mainly for security purposes. 

Whether I am calling a back porch light a flood light or a vanity light, it is all the same in the end. These are lights that are weather resistant and made to illuminate the great outdoors with ease. The back porch light is made for the porch while a back patio light is made for the patio. Either way I look at it, these back porch lights are really all the same but with a few extra adjectives tacked on based on specifications like solar powered or motion activated.