In the winter, a lot of people will put money into their spectacular Christmas lighting displays, but what about the rest of the year? Thanks to solar-powered options, landscape lighting doesn’t have to cost as much.
Landscape lighting can be a way to show off your yard’s features, illuminate space for nighttime leisure activities, and it steps up the safety and security for your home.
Lighting your yard can be complicated or easy. It depends on the type of lights you want to use, the coverage each light offers, and the convenience of adding a timer to the lights.
There are three main types of lighting used in landscape development.
With in-line voltage, the 120-volt cable is hooked into the garage or house breaker box. Often the line has a light switch or timers installed to control the operation of lights. An 18″ trench is generally dug in the yard to run the conduit for heavy-duty cable.
Adding in-line voltage lighting to your Calgary area home often requires a professional electrician and inspection of the connections. This type of lighting offers more durability than low voltage or solar. It also supports lights with higher voltage ratings. The lights are cheaper to buy but cost a little more to use. You often see in-line lighting used in commercial or industrial settings.
Low voltage uses a transformer to reduce 120v current to 12 volts. The transformer is mounted to the outside of the house and plugged into an external outlet. You may already have some electrical plug-ins for seasonal lights.
Still, you may want to install more for areas that are not close to the current outlets if you are using low voltage light systems. The cable comes in various gauges but is usually thinner than in-line lighting cables.
You can bury the wire along the ground or cover it with mulch. Be sure to use wiring rated for outdoors and waterproof connectors. Also, ensure that the wire joints and junctions have additional protection. There are more fixture types available for low voltage and it is easier to install for homeowners. There are often kits for various lighting projects. It is safer because of the lower voltage.
Solar lighting has a solar panel built into the fixture that diverts energy taken from the sunlight. The solar energy transfers to the internal battery that comes on when solar energy is low. Maintenance is relatively easy. It is easy to place solar lights around your yard as they are free from a connected wire system. However, they may not be as powerful as wired fixtures. They do need to have the batteries checked and replaced. Sunlight is required for the lights to run optimally, so it may not be effective for shaded areas.
The first step in redoing your landscape lighting is to consider your yard as it is now. Make a sketch and note existing features, outlets and lights. Think about what areas you can improve or highlight in your yard. A fun trick is to take a good flashlight and shine it in various areas to see the difference in how it looks with a little light. But be warned, the neighbours may wonder why you are crouching in the bushes with a flashlight.
Perhaps you want walkway and stair lighting for easier access. You may have a spectacular water feature that would look awesome at night with strategic set up. Or you might have a gnarly old tree that would shine with a few well-positioned lights. Maybe you want your back gates to be lit and monitored for safety and security reasons.
Lamps Plus has a few ideas on how to design the perfect landscape lighting for your yard. Their website is a treasure trove of information and may help with some of your options.
There are a variety of types of bulbs to use for outdoor lighting. LED or Halogen lights are great for energy efficiency and brightness. Some bulbs give a subdued light and others a brighter, wider spread. There are coloured bulbs that might blend with the exterior of your home. There are even glowing pathway blocks and lights to create that one of a kind look. Wrapping string lights around tree trunks and floodlights can take the eye to an impressive yard feature.
If you are like me and stand for ages in front of the lighting display, trying to pick a bulb, speak with a professional landscape technician. They’ll be able to offer insight on the best buy. Alternatively, view various lighting articles online.
Consider what you have to spend and whether the project requires an electrician, or if you can install it yourself. Even if you decide the DIY method, consulting a yard specialist or a certified electrician can be a good investment before you begin your project.
Think about whether you have the time and expertise for each option. You may find there is some solar lighting you can handle, but you want to call in a professional for the permanent features. If a total yard makeover isn’t feasible, work on one aspect at a time. Consider ways for attaching future lighting projects.
Early spring is a great time to do the work needed for improving lighting. The greenery doesn’t have leaves to get in the way, and you can dig trenches in the lawn, which will fill in quickly after the lawn starts to green up. Some of the lighting may need adjustment after plant growth to get the best effect. Keep those plants and walkways trimmed, so they don’t overwhelm the light.