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  • Worth the Dime

Off the Grid Interior Stair Lighting

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Product Review: The Latest in The Affordable Stair Lighting with Hassle-Free Installation.

Lighting in an important aspect of any home. Stairway lighting can add to the ambience of your home as well as improve the safety of critical areas. I have been involved in lighting and electrical planning for homes for the past 8 years. I have assisted in home design from the ground up and work or remodels. Prior to that I lived in rentals that required changes that did not affect the actual structure of the homes in which I resided. I became friendly with electricians and craftsmen and gained valuable feedback on how to plan for lighting without breaking the bank. Based on my experience I know the benefits of off the grid lighting options. I am writing this review of the final options considered for a recent bonus room stairway project.

Costs Associated with Lighting

If you do not like saving on electricity then this article may not be of interest to you. However if you would like to decrease your electric utility bill then this may be relevant to you. How comfortable are you with installing electrical fixtures? If you prefer avoiding installing your own in electrical fixtures into you walls or paying a professional to install them then this article offers helpful reviews for alternative lighting for stairs.

Positioning of Stairway Lighting

Stairway lighting consists of 3 main types:

  • Lighting from the ceiling (Chandeliers and Pendant lighting)

  • Lighting from the wall (Sconces)

  • Lighting the Stairs using elements of the actual stair (the rails, steps or wall immediately next to the step)

Each category of stairway Lighting offers varying levels of illumination per fixture, costs for installation, and technical skill for installation. I am choosing to focus this article on Lighting for the Stairs. Full disclosure I am not an electrician, however I have designed multiple lighting projects over the years.

Types of Energy Sources for Stair Lighting

Your source of energy is an important factor that can affect the cost of using the fixture over time and the reliability of your fixture working. For example, if you are using your fixture for an interior stairwell lacking windows then a solar source of energy would be a poor choice due to reduced exposure to its energy source.

The common sources of energy include, but are not limited to:

  • Hardwired fixtures (on the electrical grid, unless your entire home is solar powered)

  • Solar powered fixtures (off the grid)

  • Battery operated fixtures (off the grid)

Pros and Cons of Energy Sources

Hardwired lighting does not require the energy source to be periodically replaced as the power to the home is running the fixture will be able to illuminate. Drawbacks to hardwired lighting is the skill required to install the fixture which can vary from requiring an electrician to run wiring to connect the fixture and cutting into walls/stairs to install or proximity to an outlet to plug in the fixture. The long term cost of hardwired lighting are directly tied to the utility rates from you home energy provider.

As previously started solar power lighting is limited by the availability of the power sources to the fixture. If your home is solar powered then then you just may contend with the issues from a hardwired fixture. If the fixture itself is solar powered then it needs to be in an area with adequate light exposure in order to have a reliable ability to function.

Off the grid lighting may offer savings over time for their use as their costs are independent of the utility company rates. Many off the grid Lighting fixtures do not require complex installation so you can save money on hiring a professional to install. With off the grid battery powered lighting you have to replace batteries so the battery life with normal use of the fixture is important.

Best Off the Grid Lighting Options for Stairs

The criteria that I use to rank of my options of Off the Grid Lighting are as follows:

  • Appearance

  • Cost

  • Ease of installation and recharging

  • Reliability

My rankings for best Off the Grid Stair lighting are as follow:

#1 Battery Operated LED Motion Detector Under Rail/Cabinet Lights which I give a 5 out of 5 stars.

They are easy to install on most stairways and directly illuminate the stairs. Their source battery can be easily swapped and they usually only require 1-2 light fixture per rail.

This fixture came in a close second. The main distractor was the thickness of the fixture which is about 1" away from the wall. In narrower stairways (3 feet or less this may prove to be a headache as you may worry about striking the fixtures when carrying larger items up the stairs. Mr Beams has several options in battery operated wall lighting for stairs, I like this one for its modern appearance.

These lights look great when applied to the risers of stairs but are less versatile as they are difficult to use on carpeted stairs. Also they require multiple battery replacements for each step that they are applied to.

The Final Takeaway

I have been involved in home design and lighting selection for 8 years now and I have been involved in planning from a construction stage to a remodel stage. I am aware of costs for more difficult installations by professionals and the pitfalls of some DIY options.

Please feel free to leave a comment, and share your own experiences with off the grid stair lighting or with any these products if you have used them before.

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