One of the first things you should consider when choosing an outdoor lantern is how you intend to use that lantern. Not all lanterns are made equal, so having a clear idea of how you intend to use yours, will help you narrow down your options.
If you're hoping to entertain guests in your yard or patio, then appropriate ambient lighting can turn the ordinary garden sit down into a luxurious setting for wine or whiskey and a cigar. If you're considering a lantern for ambient lighting, then intricate or patterned designs are probably not the best bet.
Lanterns cast large shadows in dim light, especially if they have a patterned or scenic design on their glass chimneys or mantles. The visual impact of shadows is emphasized in the warmer color temperatures, which happen to be the best for outdoor ambient lighting.
Cooler light temperatures have a bluish hue, which can make outdoor environments appear sickly and faded at night or evening time. The ideal lamp for ambient lighting outdoors will produce a light temperature of 2700k and ideally have little to no designs that could cast long shadows.
Note: Consider using halogen light bulbs for ambient lighting purposes. As popular as LED bulbs have become, they produce directional light, not diffuse light, which makes them more appropriate for task or functional lighting than ambient lighting. Halogen lights are available in warmer color temperatures and produce diffuse light, which is ideal for creating ambience.
Some LED bulbs can be paired with chimneys that diffuse light for them and alter the temperature of the light to match warmer tones, but they make for a weak substitute for halogen bulbs.
When choosing lighting for your outdoor space, it can be easy to jump straight into choosing bulbs and lanterns obviously intended to be decorative, as opposed to functional. This can be a mistake that devalues your decorative lighting and makes it less effective than it could be.
The first step in choosing decorative lighting is to ensure that your ambient or task lighting is already covered. Decorative lanterns often have designs on their glass chimneys and mantles, which can alter the color or pattern of light produced by the bulb within to create accent lighting or to cast patterned displays on your garden or patio.
If you have a plant rich environment, a sprawling light display can be somewhat wasted on greenery at night. Wooden decks or patios, however, handle colors well, especially when finished with a natural wood grain.
Functional or spotlighting is best handled by daylight or cool white LED bulbs in mantles that allow unobstructed directional lighting. Lanterns intended for functional lighting will find their best value positioned over outdoor staircases, reading nooks, card tables or grills.
Consider placing an LED lantern anywhere you'll be using your hands for something intricate.
Lanterns don't have to be all about ambient or decorative lighting. They can also work to keep you safe from dangerous or annoying pests like mosquitoes and sandflies. Some lanterns emit a specific wavelength of UV light that most flying insects find incredibly enticing. Once the insects get close enough, an electric shock is delivered that usually kills them quickly and humanely.
Normally bug zappers aren't exactly pleasing to the eye, so if you've given up on finding one that is aesthetically pleasing or that matches your décor, we understand. If you're hoping for an easy fix to your aesthetic dilemma, consider using a bug lantern that rests on a shepherd's hook.
These lanterns usually come in black and are finished in ways that allow them to fit easily into rustic, contemporary or modern decors. Shepherd's hook bug lanterns can be set up as interesting but discrete accents in corners of your garden without becoming a visual intrusion.