How to Choose Landscape Lighting

Apr 27, 12 How to Choose Landscape Lighting

Most homeowners install landscape lighting for safety concerns. For example, we put PAR38 Halogens above our garages and entrances so we can see at night and detect intruders. Others may install inexpensive solar powered LED lights to line their sidewalks or flower beds. However, these applications fall far short of what is possible with landscape lighting.

During the day, your neighbors see everything touched by the sun, but at night, you’re given a blank canvas that you can “paint” with the right lighting design. When used thoughtfully, landscape lighting can have a transformative effect on your lawn, highlighting focal points and adding dimension to your yard.

To begin your project, decide between solar and low voltage landscape lighting. Line voltage landscape lighting is also available, but is only recommended for large commercial applications. Solar lighting is inexpensive, easy to install, and doesn’t use any electricity since it derives all its power from the photovoltaic panels on the fixture. However, solar lights are undependable. Solar landscape lights are dim and produce light for only a few hours. For this reason, doesn’t carry solar landscape lights, nor do we recommend them. Instead, we suggest low voltage landscape lights that operate at either 12 or 24 volts. When used with the right outdoor transformer, low voltage lights are safe, easy to install, and even easier to maintain.

Next, you have the choice of Halogen or LED landscape lights. Halogen landscape lights are the traditional type of landscape lighting. They are relatively inexpensive, yet they use a large amount of electricity. The advantage of LED is huge energy savings, though your up-front cost may be much more. A typical Halogen landscape bullet, for example, can use as much as 60 watts, but an LED of the same brightness will use only 10. LED lights will also last 50 times as long as Halogen; this means significant long-term savings and much less maintenance.

Now design your landscape lighting layout. On the typical home, you’ll need three types of lights: Pathway lightsbullet lights, and in-ground well lights. Pathway lights, as the name implies, go along pathways, including sidewalks and driveways. You can install bullet lights in the ground and pointed upward to highlight trees, bushes, statues, fountains, and building facades. You can also install bullet lights pointing downward from trees, which makes the tree look full and vibrant while casting a soft glow over your entire yard. Finally, you can use well lights in many of the same areas as bullet lights. Because they are buried, well lights are more concealed, making them perfect for spotlighting trees where there isn’t any other foliage around to hide a bullet light.

So have you installed or considered installing landscape lights at your home? If you’ve already installed them, what are your experiences? If you haven’t, what type of landscape lights most interest you? Drop us a line in the comments below, or give us a holler on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. You can even post your project photos on Pinterest!

Benjamin is a writer for

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