Outdoor Lighting Provides Safety, Security and Style
Outdoor lighting products can be used for a variety of reasons. They help accentuate gardens, fountains and landscaping so you can enjoy the beauty of your outdoor living space. In addition, many studies have shown that a well-lit house will deter criminals. Plus, a lit pathway can help show the way through the yard and keep you from trampling your garden or from tripping and falling.
Different types of landscape lighting serve different purposes. Whether used for functional or aesthetic use, the two main categories include low voltage lighting and solar lighting.
Here is a summary of each type:
Low Voltage Lighting
This type of lighting is available in a variety of brightness levels and emits enough light to be used for nighttime activities. A power pack supplies the electricity and can be controlled by an automatic timer. Low voltage lighting is shockless and safe to use around children and pets. It's also cost effective and easy to install. The Canterbury copper floodlight from Malibu is easy to install and at 20 watts provides enough light to be used in the evening while the decorative copper finish can add flair to your landscape.
This type of lighting requires no wiring and is the most energy-efficient lighting because it converts the sun's energy into electrical power. It costs nothing to operate and is easy to install. It should not be used to illuminate large areas brightly or for activities such as grilling and socializing. It works well to highlight pathways and features in the yard. Some solar lights, such as the Hampton Bay convertible Tiffany die-cast solar lantern, can be used to light pathways or as a table lamp when removed from its shepherd's hook.
“Solar lighting has become more popular because it's cost efficient and convenient. It doesn't need to be turned on and off and it can be a great way to highlight accents or pathways in an outdoor area,” said Skip Teeters, global product merchant at The Home Depot. “Another trend we're seeing in outdoor lighting is the use of more specialty finishes and specialty glass used with larger fixtures for wall, posts or hanging light fixtures on and around the house.”
The three basic lighting techniques are downlighting, backlighting and uplighting.
This technique makes pathways and walkways safer at night. Light is directed downward below the fixture to highlight these areas for safe travel. It can be used on steps, driveways and gardens that line walkways, and to accent patios or decks.
When using this technique, aim the light onto a surface behind the object that is to be lighted. Backlighting can accent landscaping in your yard as well as light up fences, trellises or walls.
This light is used primarily to create shadows and patterns of light to highlight yard art, fountains, gardens and your home. It should be placed in front and below the object to be lit. It makes the object or part of your house a focal point.
Teeters added, “Whatever your reason is for installing landscape lighting, keep energy conservation top of mind to lower your electric bills and give back to the environment.”
For outdoor lighting, consider combining energy-efficient light bulbs with motion sensors that only turn on the lights when people are present. This approach provides convenience and security while greatly reducing energy use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, although lighting accounts for only 3.3 percent of the energy use in homes, it often accounts for a large fraction of the electricity bill.