Best Outdoor Onion Lights: Norwell, Hinkley and Northeast Lantern

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Onion lights, as they are called, have been a staple to the lighting industry almost forever. The original design dates back to the early 1800’s for use on railroads and the shipping and fishing industry. The clear glass globe was the start of the style and the wire cages were added after for additional protection.

Onion lights offer a historic look and a large variety of mounting options and sizes. Today you can get them in wall mounted, hanging, ceiling mounted and post lantern versions and from very small to very large sizes. There are many manufacturers of this style of light fixture and quality is the most important factor. Based on the location around your home you may need some smaller and some larger fixtures. For instance the front door and garage fixtures may be larger than for a deck or back door.

northeast lantern display hanging yale

Hanging style onion lamps

northeast lantern display aged brass yale

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Wall mounted onion lamps

northeast lantern display pole1 yale

northeast lantern display pole yale

Post mounted onion lamps

The quality of the fixtures can vary tremendously with so many manufactures producing these “style” lights. Outdoor lights face conditions that can really take a toll on the fixtures. The salt air, wind, sunlight and acid rain will affect the fixtures and not all of them will react the same way. The salt air and acid rain will really tarnish the finishes and corrode the fixture. I have seen some fixtures ”eaten away” by the salt air. Sunlight will also fade painted finishes so based on exposure some may fade faster than others.

Let's look at a few of the best manufacturers.


Hinkley Lighting has a series of onion lamp for a good value. It is their “Cape Cod Series”. It is offered in a Seinna Bronze finish that is very versatile. Hinkley Lighting does not offer finish or glass options but for a quick fix up on your home often this will fit the need. They are made in China and is a value priced series so the finish and structure may not last as long as others. If you are looking for an affordable option Hinkley could be a good choice.

HINK 2206SZ outdoor onion light

2206SZ 14" - $149

HINK 2200SZ outdoor onion light

2200SZ 18" - $219

HINK 2204SZ outdoor onion light

2204SZ 23" - $299

These are the Hinkley Cape Cod Series. They offer 3 sizes in wall mounts; 14” is $149.00, 18” is $219.00 and the 23” is $299.00.


Norwell is a local company based out of Taunton, MA. Norwell does offer a painted black finish which is something that other companies do not often offer. This is a painted lacquer finish so the paint may flake or fade over time. Norwell offers several quality and pricing levels. They have a 1-year warranty on their outdoor products. Within the Norwell line some of the pieces are made in the United States and some are made in China. Usually the pricing will give that away. The differences in quality will usually be easily apparent.

Norwell lighting onion lamp black norwell lighting onion lamps 1609 si cl norwell lighting onion lamps 1613cocl norwell lighting onion lamps 1613 co cl

Norwell Vidalia Onion series shown in various finishes and glass shades.

Northeast Lantern

Northeast Lantern is a manufacturer based out of Exeter, New Hampshire. All of the fixtures that they produce are high quality, authentic reproductions. They produce the best onion lights and all the pieces are still made by hand. Each piece is crafted with care and attention to the strength and overall construction of a top quality fixture. They use only solid brass or copper to produce their products and offer the fixtures in eight finishes.

They do not lacquer the fixtures so the brass or copper will age naturally without flaking, peeling or rusting. You can even choose between either clear glass, seeded glass or an optic glass in either clear or seeded. When the fixture oxidizes the finish looks even more authentic. They also offer a lifetime guarantee on the structures as well. These fixtures can literally be the last fixtures you have to buy! Unfortunately, the quality is reflected in the price.

northeast lantern outdoor wall onion 2511ABMEDCLR


northeast lantern outdoor wall onion 2531ABMEDOPT


northeast lantern outdoor wall onion 2541ABMEDCLR


Northeast Lantern Onion lights showing size options and variety of finishes and sizes. These show 3 sizes of wall mount fixtures. The 15” #2511-AB-MED-CLR is $302.00. The 19” #2531-AB-MED-OPT is $382.00 and the 21” #2541-AB-MED-CLR is 391.00.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

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