As most of us are unlikely to be out in our yards enjoying a glass of cool, fresh lemonade in 50-degree weather, it is easy to forget about our outdoor lighting during the cooler months of the year. However, with the warmer weather just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you will be illuminating your yard. Here are some basic considerations everyone should keep in mind for lighting their outdoor areas year-round.
Choosing Outdoor Lights
Outdoor/Wet Location Approved
Before selecting an outdoor bulb or light fixture, always make sure the product says it’s suitable for outdoor or wet locations (such as any item in our landscape section). If a product is suitable for outdoor locations, then it’s also suitable for wet locations, and vice versa. Unapproved products may become damaged or otherwise hazardous if sprinklers, pool water, rain, or other damp conditions come in contact with their electrical components. If you’re not sure, you can always try contacting the manufacturer to double check. Sometimes a product will say it’s UL, ETL, or CSA listed for these locations. These are all acronyms for safety organizations that verify products’ operating capabilities in certain locations, including indoor/outdoor, dry, damp, and wet places.
Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage
While perusing potential outdoor lights, you may have noticed many products are offered in either line voltage or low voltage options. But what exactly does this mean?
Intermatic Low Voltage Transformer
Line voltage lights run using the standard voltage that powers most appliances and bulbs in your home – usually 120 volts. This includes table lamps, ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, and more.
Low voltage lights require a transformer to bring down their voltage supply to 12 or 24 volts. Common low voltage bulbs include miniature bi-pin bulbs found in landscape lighting and MR16s found in indoor track lighting as well as outdoor fixtures. The primary advantage to using low voltage lights is that they are safer to use; a 12- or 24-volt shock won’t do half as much harm as a 120-volt shock. Also, if you’re buying a fixture that uses an MR16, you will have plenty of options for controlling your lights’ beam spread.
Common Outdoor Lights
Security/Motion Sensing Lights Security lighting should be top priority as homes possess multiple points of entry for potential intruders. Of course, you should always keep your doors locked, but wouldn’t it be better to ward off unwanted visitors before they get too close for comfort? These 200-degree motion-activated security lights can provide great coverage for your front, back, or side lawn.
Path Lights Many homes have pathways or sidewalks leading up to the front entrance or around their backyard. Whether you’re using them to welcome guests to your home or guide them through your yard, low-to-the-ground path lights will create a warm, inviting ambiance in either location. We offer options in many colors and shades to match whatever theme or color scheme you may have.
Step Lights Steps are easily the most accident-prone areas in the front or backyard, especially since their presence can come as a surprise in the dark. But with proper illumination, you can greatly reduce this hazard. Step lights will illuminate each step in a stairwell or elevated path, drawing guests’ eyes to the floor and ensuring that these spaces remain accident-free.
So one of the bulbs in those little “puck” lights under your kitchen cabinets or the light in your desk lamp has burned out. You may have even had a burn-out with a landscape bullet light. Once you figure out how to get the fixture apart, you find a tiny bulb with two pins you don’t recognize. Now what?
Sure, you can throw the entire fixture out and just get a new one. That may be easier, but it definitely won’t be cheaper. What happens when the bulb burns out again (which it certainly will)? Are you going to just keep buying replacement fixtures?
Relax. We at 1000Bulbs.com have you covered. Identifying and replacing your existing bi-pin xenon bulb (sometimes called ’2-pin bulbs’ or ‘T-bulbs’) is easier than you think. Just follow these five simple steps:
Step 1: Measure the Pin Spacing
How far apart are the pins from each other? You can figure this out by getting a ruler and measuring the space between the pins. The space between the pins is measured in millimeters. Write this measurement down as it will help you find the right base type.
Step 2: Determine the Bulb Voltage
Check the fixture housing or socket and see if there is a label that tells you the voltage of the original bulb. The label will most likely have a UL or CSA symbol. If it’s not on the fixture, try to find it on the bulb itself. When you find the voltage, write it down. If you can’t find the label or the label doesn’t list the voltage, don’t worry. You may still find the correct bulb with some tips coming up in step 4.
Step 3: Check the Pin Type
Now check the pins on your existing bulbs. Are they straight or looped? Most bi-pin bulbs will have straight pins, but there are also bi-pin bulbs that have looped pins. Knowing if the pins are straight or looped will help you to further narrow down your bulb selection. Along with your pin measurements and voltage, make sure to jot down if your pins are looped or straight.
Step 4: Find Your Bulb
Now that you’ve got the bulb spacing, pin type, and (hopefully) voltage, it’s time to find your bulb. If you measured 4 millimeters between pins, that means you have a G4 base bulb, which comes in 6, 12, or 24 volts. If your measurement is just a hair wider than 6 millimeters, you have a bulb with a G6.35 base, which comes in 12, 24, or 120 volts. A measurement of 8 millimeters means you have a G8 base xenon bulb, which only comes in 120 volts. Looped pins spaced 9 millimeters apart means you have a G9 base bulb, which also only comes in 120 volts.
Step 5: Install Your Bulb
After you’ve figured out what bulb you need, installing it is simple. Your fixture has a glass lens that fits over the bulb. After you remove the lens, insert the new bulb into the socket and replace the lens. Be careful not to touch the bulb itself, as the oils on your fingers will damage the bulb, shortening its life and maybe even causing it to melt. Some bulbs come with a wrapping around the bulb to prevent damage when installing them. If your bulb didn’t come with a wrapping, wear gloves or use something to wrap around the bulb, but be sure to remove the wrapping after you install the bulb.
That’s all there is to it. Remember, replacing your bulb is much cheaper than replacing the whole fixture. While replacing the bulb may not be as easy, after a few times, you’ll get the hang of it. If you have any questions about these bulbs or just questions in general, don’t be shy! Drop us a comment in the box below or reach out to us Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.
Halloween is almost here! If you’re like me, you love being creative and decorating your home. Today, we are going to be talking about making a glowing ghost to haunt the front yard this season! It is super easy to make, inexpensive, and made with things you most likely already have in your house. This crafting idea is fun for the kids as well! You can make your ghost as scary or silly as you’d like!
Materials to Build Your Ghost
1. Chicken Wire or a Tomato Cage
You’ll need this for the base of the ghost. Tomato cages work best because they require minimal shaping. They come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive, but if you want to be a little more creative and add more shape to your ghost, then chicken wire is the way to go!
2. An Old Sheet or Piece of Fabric
Typically, you want to use something you would not miss. An old sheet is perfect to use for this project—especially if you want a textured/ripped effect at the bottom of your ghost. You can even use plain fabric of your choice and layer it with sheer fabric for added effects. It’s completely up to you and what look you’re going for!
3. Paint, Fabric, or Paper
There are a wide variety of things you can use for the face of your ghost. Fabric paint is the best method I can recommend. It’s simple, quick, and the kids can help! Not to mention it will last for many Halloweens to come! If you like to sew, you can also take black fabric and cut the eyes and mouth to your sheet. For a quick face without damaging the sheet, painted cardboard or construction paper taped onto the sheet will work just as well.
For best results, use LED wide angle lightning lights. The flashing effect of these lights makes your ghost(s) appear then disappear within seconds, making your house even more spooky and fun! The best part about these lights is the fact they’re indestructible and energy efficient! If you don’t have access to these lights, ordinary incandescent or LED mini lights will work as well.
Steps to Assemble Your Ghost
Take your base(s) and place wherever needed in the front yard. Keep in mind you may have to run an extension cord, so make sure there are no tripping hazards in the surrounding area. Make sure the base is secured by planting it into the ground.
Take the light strings and begin to wrap it around the base you created. For best results, focus the lights around the head area of your ghost. Think of the lights as a gradient: You want the most concentrated light around the head and have the light fade down the body of the ghost. This will add a spookier, glowing effect, making it look like your ghost is actually floating in your yard!
Once your lights are secured around the base of the ghost, place the “body” (aka sheet) over the base. Turn on your lights, and presto! You have a glowing ghost!
To make your Christmas decorating as easy as possible, here are all the different types of LED Christmas light strings currently available, along with a brief description and application ideas for each type.
LED Mini Light Strings: Also known as M5 LED lights, these emulate the look of incandescent mini lights. Most have faceted caps that disperse the light from the LED, though some newer LED mini lights look identical to their incandescent counterparts.
LED Wide Angle Mini Lights: Though these do not directly emulate the look of mini lights, they serve the same function. Wide angle LED lights (sometimes called “Polka Dot” lights) use a 5 mm concave lens to disperse light in a wide, circular pattern. See this graphic to better understand how Wide Angle lights work.
LED Commercial Light Sets: New this year, these special low-voltage light sets are meant for commercial applications. Also known by the brand name “Versaline,” these low-voltage lights use proprietary, daisy-chained controllers and connectors for amazing effects in large civic, business, and theme park displays.
LED C6 Light Strings: Sometimes called “strawberry” lights, these strings feature 3/4 inch diameter faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Slightly larger and brighter than LED mini lights, C6 strings are popular for indoor applications including garlands and Christmas trees.
LED C7 Light Strings: These strings feature 7/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Though typically used outdoors, they are sometimes seen indoors where they create a strong, richly-colored “pop.”
LED C9 Light Strings: These strings feature 1-1/8 inch diameter smooth or faceted bulbs permanently affixed to wire. Unlike C7 strings, these large, bright bulbs are visible from large distances and are almost exclusively used outdoors to line everything from rooftops to sidewalks.
LED G12 “Berry” Light Strings: These strings feature 12 mm (about 1/2 in.) diameter berry-shaped globes permanently affixed to wire. Their unique “berry” shape is sometimes preferred to the cone shape of C6 strings and makes them a popular choice for wreaths and garlands.
Programmable LED Light Strings: Not to be confused with commercial light sets, programmable LED light strings feature built-in, multi-function controllers and large lights in creative shapes like icicles and oversized C7 bulbs. The controllers on these lights are deceptively simple, with just a few buttons able to create a unique light show.
InvisiLite LED Light Strings: Great for centerpieces and small wreaths, these strings feature tiny LED bulbs set on bendable and formable wire that virtually disappears against a green background. The wire is slightly rigid, so it holds its shape and affixes well to any type of artificial greenery.
What is your choice for Christmas lights this year? Will you be using LED or sticking with old-fashioned incandescent? Let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to share your project ideas on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest pages. We especially like to see your pictures!
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you’re looking to have the spookiest haunted house on the block, we’re here to help! You can take a look at our Halloween lights page and even our brand-new lighted Halloween decorations for some quick ideas, but to go all-out, you’ll need to check out our Christmas lights.
If you find yourself asking why anyone in their right mind would use Christmas lights anytime outside of well…Christmas, put the incredulous tone aside for a minute and consider this: Though typically associated with the winter holidays, Christmas lights have all kinds of other uses, from weddings to birthday parties, so why not Halloween?
Looking for inspiration? Try these creepy Halloween ideas for colored light strings and bulbs: Use purple lights to create an eerie glow reminiscent of the full moon in a cemetery, or use orange lights to emulate the smoky flicker of a candle. Don’t stop there! Green lights emit the sickly pallor of toxic sludge while red lights ooze the unmistakable curdle…I mean, color…of blood. Another idea for light strings is to fit medium base patio light stringers with antique light bulbs for an efficient and portable “Addams Family” vibe.
Keep in mind, however, the idea is to scare the neighbors, not yourself. To avoid those spine-chilling energy bills this fall, you can go green with LED wide-angle lights or LED M5 lights for your Halloween display. You can also save on energy bills with battery-operated lights. A string of battery-operated LED Christmas lights, for example, is an energy-saving (and much safer) alternative to candles in your Jack O’Lanterns.