Outdoor Path Lighting - Which Type Is Best For You?
If you are looking to add some beauty and security to home, there are few other choices that can have such an instant and dramatic effect as the installation of outdoor path lighting. This type of lighting is usually installed on garden paths, driveways and walkways leading up to the front door. They provide a level of ambiance and safety to otherwise darkened areas at night.
If you have the made the decision to add this kind of permanent improvement to your home, there are more than a few things you'll need to consider before making a purchase. Outdoor path lighting comes in wide array of shapes, sizes and designs. To help make the best choice for you, what follows is a short list of useful explanations of the most important factors to consider.
Chromed-copper, aluminum, brass, plastic and stainless steel are a few of the most common materials used in the construction of pathway lights. The least expensive, as you might guess, is plastic. Plastic outdoor lights are the choice to make if money is the overriding concern. On the other end of scale are chromed-copper and stainless steel lights, both of which are far more durable than plastic lights.
Chromed-copper lights not only are shine a more brilliant light, but also are rust and corrosion resistant. Stainless steel outdoor lights are also extremely durable. These lights are made of chromium, iron, and miscellaneous trace metals. A light outside layer of chromium is what protects stainless lights against the chemical reactions which lead to rusting. Steel lights, on the hand, are carbon based. Carbon easily reacts to contact with oxygen. The reaction of oxygen with the iron composition of the light starts a process known as iron oxide (more commonly known as rust).
Determining which light is best for your purposes can be decided by consulting with a light vendor, lighting professional, and/or doing some research of your own.
Dim lights are typically best used for outdoor path lighting. This means you don't have to have top-of-the-line lights to adequately illuminate the areas you want lit. Too much light on on paths can be overbearing and is a common mistake made by homeowners in their first attempt at installing landscape lighting. Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and incandescent bulbs are good choices for this kind of job.
Light Fixture Design
This is going to depend on personal preference and also the outlay and construction of your home. You can choose from designs ranging from 18th century antique all the way to post-modern designs. Antique lighting fixtures are most usually represented in the form of elegant lamp posts, while modern and post-modern fixtures usually have their light sources concealed: the focus of these fixtures more on the illuminated surface rather than the fixture itself.
Solar Powered Lights
Solar pathway lights are the ideal choice for cost-conscious homeowners. These lights harness energy from the sun during the day and emit it when the sun goes down. In order to work effectively, each fixture the solar panel is installed in must be exposed to direct sunlight during the day in order to function properly.
There are two design options to choose from when going this route. The first option is a design that features one solar panel. This one panel is connected to all of the lamps and powers each fixture in the design. This means that only the main fixture needs to be exposed to the sun.
The second option has a solar panel installed to each of the lamps in the design. The solar light panel is built into the top of each fixture. Each panel must be exposed to enough sunlight during the day in order to function properly at night.
In either case, the only electrical wiring required is for the light unit itself. Because of this, energy consumption and the subsequent electricity bills are lowered considerably. The design best suited for you is going to depend on the layout of your property and how much sunlight it receives during the day.
Halogen and bright white incandescent bulbs are other outdoor path lighting bulbs to consider. Halogen bulbs produce more light than bright white incandescent bulbs, but are slightly more expensive to operate. And when compared with traditional outdoor light bulbs, energy efficient bright white incandescent bulbs cost up to 80% less to operate - while shining almost the same amount of light.
Selecting the right lights and fixtures to use on your pathways requires no small amount of creativity, skill and imagination. The number and type of fixtures you will need depends on the size of your yard and the total amount of light you want to use. Ideally, the fixtures should match the overall landscape and structural design of your home. Color combination and shading angles are two other points worth considering. Both of these are instrumental in generating the desired lighting effect.
To lower energy bills even further, an electrical timer is often installed. A timer is used to turn the lights on and off at predetermined times, thereby saving money on your electric bill.