Question: Can you give me a quick lesson on low voltage outdoor lighting? Are they the same as solar garden lights used for landscaping? Are they difficult to install in the landscape along pathways? Vivianna – Houston, TX
Answer: Low voltage outdoor lighting is inexpensive, environmentally friendly, easy to install and attractive for most residential homes and commercial applications.
This type of outdoor lighting is a marked difference from the higher 120 voltage required by conventional lighting. Low voltage lighting also is a low cost, simple installation to enhance the appearance of your home during twilight and give an added measure of security to your home.
Solar Landscape Lights
Solar lights are a type of low voltage lighting but they are different in that they get their “power” from the sun’s recharging of a battery where other type of low voltage lights use a transformer to reduce the voltage.
Solar landscape lighting is a smart option for “do-it-yourself” types around the home. Installation of solar lights is pure simplicity and eliminate the need for any complex wiring or digging up the landscape to lay wires, plus they support the greener lifestyle.
The beauty is low voltage solar light is that once charged they “turn on” when sensors activate the lights at sunset.
Solar lights are an excellent choice for outdoor lighting – no wiring or plugs to deal with. However, if their placement is not in an area that gets a lot of sun their performance will be less than optimum.
Outdoor Lighting Use
Low voltage lighting when used around pools can create some very interesting effects – unique reflections and mirroring effects – bouncing off the water. Safety is always of prime concern, safety lighting is an essential part for landscape plans around patios, decks, steps, stairs and along pathways and walkways.
Lighting should be used to provide safe access to entry areas especially front doors and also along paths and driveways.
Lighting trees in the landscape is very effective as it creates dramatic and attractive effects from the street. Uplighting trees, especially palm trees where the canopy of the tree and the trunk are bathed in light produces some truly one-of-a-kind effects. Directional type landscape and garden lighting fixtures are now on the market which are easy to assemble and can even be mounted on trellises.
Most landscape applications will find lighting installed along pathways, steps, walkways, driveways and around decks, along with washing walls and fences with light or pointing up at trees creating magnificent silhouettes.
Don’t forget to light up the fountains, artwork and statues. Outdoor landscape lighting allows homeowners to transform their drab, dark, property to a radiant stunning showcase during the evening hours.
Outdoor Lighting Fixtures
The world of outdoor lighting continues to evolve with the low voltage lighting fixtures of today reviling the design elements of “wired lighting”. No longer a cheap plastic fixture but designs in copper or black powder coat finish, decorative or concealed which not only are aesthetically pleasing but functional as well, all wrapped in an energy efficient low-voltage package.
Most of the units are sold as “complete lighting kits” along with a lighting transformer helping to eliminate much of the buying decisions. With everything included it allows DIY installers to create a gentle transition from indoors to outdoor living areas.
It must be said that even though low voltage lighting is easy to install it can take some time and experience to “learn” where the best focal points are located and how much light to focus on a house.
Lighting the Garden – Lighting The Deck
Lighting placed in a garden can be transformational. Picture yourself slowly walking down a softly lighted path as the stars above sparkle. The garden paths lit gently guiding your steps as you move towards an illuminated trellised archway – it is magical.
These amazingly inexpensive low voltage lighting fixtures enhance and expose new vistas in the landscape when the sun goes down.
Decks as well as patios can take on a whole new look when recessed lighting illuminates plants an pool areas and make great use of precious little outdoor space.
You’ll find specialized deck lighting for wood porches, balconies, and decks which include step lights, recessed lights, deck lights, pathway lights, surface mounted lights and more. It is also easy to experiment with lighting to create all sorts of ambiance outdoors.
The best part – there are hard no rules to follow. Let you lighting imagination go wild.