Let There Be Outdoor Light

Posted: November 17, 2020
Category: Home , Tips

Ask any realtor in New York City these days and they’ll tell you that there’s never been a better time to buy. Long one of the most expensive and competitive housing markets in the world, Gotham has become a bargain hunter’s dream these days with Forbes reporting an average 5.3% drop in apartment prices across Manhattan. However, one segment of available apartment inventory is defying this trend. According to Bloomberg, sales are on the rise for apartments with outdoor space with buyers paying 5.4% more for Manhattan apartments with terraces, patios and roof decks than they did in pre-pandemic times.

Outdoor space for apartments has never been more popular. And with additional cash on hand due to cancelled vacations and other freed up expenditures, apartment owners with open air space have been investing heavily in upgrades that have caused unprecedented booms in outdoor furniture sales and (as we reported on this blog last month) heating systems. And as apartment owners are extending the seasons of their terraces, decks and patios, many are taking improvements a step further by investing in outdoor lighting systems.

But what do you need to consider before making the decision to spend money on outdoor lighting? We’ve put together list of things you should know to make sure that you get the best bang for your outdoor lighting buck.


According to the New York City Lighting Council, the city does not have a single code on lighting. Codes, laws and rules on the use of light, lighting equipment and energy are scattered throughout various NYC agencies. For a summary with links to locate information, visit the NYCLC website here. But even though the city may not much of have a say in the kind of lighting you choose to use in your outdoor space, your co-op board most certainly does. Take a look at your proprietary lease before making any purchases.


How do you know the difference between wiring for low wattage that may be romantic but dim and fully overblown system that may give your space all the charm of Times Square? Try a little math. To find out how much lighting you’ll need multiply the square footage of your outdoor space by 1.5. So, for a 50 square foot balcony, you’ll need 75 watts.


There are three different types of lighting: task, ambient and accent. Task lighting is more utilitarian and includes security lights and lighting on any steps or paths. Ambient lighting sets the mood and can include wall sconces or overhead string lights. Accent lighting provides drama by drawing attention to plantings or architectural elements. Mixing up these three types of lighting ensures that your outdoor space will be safe and cozy with a dash of excitement.


If you have a roof deck or balcony, the lights of city will most likely provide a good deal of ambient illumination for you. It’s one of the many romantic charms of living in New York. So, when you’re choosing your system, avoid going bright. This is particularly true if you have enough space for outdoor dining. Nobody likes to eat with a spotlight on their face. Go for a restful glow by installing indirect lighting. Dimmers are also helpful by providing flexibility that can take you from a soft mood for entertaining to a brighter scene when you’re cleaning up.


Traditional outdoor halogen lights are harsh. Incandescent bulbs burn out. But LEDs are flexible, low-maintenance, and last up to 50,000 hours before you have to change them. One caveat, however. LED’s are not compatible with all dimmers. If you have a dimmer, make sure that it will work with your LED bulbs.

PK & Altman Electric has been performing lighting installations all across New York City for over five decades. We’re on hand for all types of lighting projects—from the removal of existing fixtures to custom inside-the-wall wiring and new feature design and installation. We perform all types of residential lighting installations for both inside your home, and outdoor spaces and will work with your co-op board to ensure that everything we install is compliant with your building’s rules. And, as a licensed contractor approved by Con Edison, all work done by PK & Altman Electric’s expert staff is guaranteed to meet New York City safety code standards. And our estimates are always free.

Our team of licensed electricians is available to work lighting magic to your home or outdoor space into the showplace of your dreams! From estimate to completion, our lighting experts will work with you to determine your dream, and then work their magic to help you achieve that perfect effect.


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