Outdoor Lighting

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Years ago outdoor lighting consisted of a harsh floodlight beaming at the front door or plastic lights lining a walkway or dangling across the patio. Today the look is natural, sophisticated and energy-efficient as homeowners look at ways of bringing the same ambiance of indoor lighting to their outdoor living environment.

There is not much difference between interior and exterior lighting anymore. Some manufacturers provide the same style and elegance of interior lighting to the outdoors, including chandeliers.
 
Boulderscape fixtures, such as natural looking rock lights that blend into the landscape, are popular, especially around fountains and pondless waterfalls. People are putting in natural pavers and lighting is following that trend. There are even waterproof fixtures that are fitted inside the water source. They light up the fish and plants at night, bringing all that activity alive. Moving water makes the whole yard will shimmer.
 
Outdoor security lighting has come a long way since floodlights provided what looked like blinding beams scanning prison yards! Today, security lighting is trending toward both beauty and safety. If you are fortunate enough to have mature trees in your yard, you can light those for a more subtle form of lighting. This can be quite beautiful and at the same time give you a substantial savings of power consumption. Where security is concerned, lighting is the number one crime deterrent. There’s no reason it can’t be done in an attractive way.
 
Another outdoor lighting option is the stem-mounted landscape light that sits 18” off the ground and provides a 10’ circle of light. This provides more light than the inexpensive, plastic lights that sit down close to the ground that have a four -watt bulb in them and don’t put out any light.
 
As far as materials are concerned, cast aluminum and resin fixtures are growing in demand. Cast aluminum is an ideal material to use outdoors because it does not oxidize the way a brass fixture would. Resin allows for lots of details in the fixture, giving it a hand-carved look for a lower price point.
 
Selecting The Right Fixtures
Before selecting fixtures, study your home’s architectural and material elements. If you have copper roof or gutters, then the lights in the landscape should match that element on the house. If you have black shutters, use black lights. 
 
It’s also important to know what the lighting will look like at night. Walk through the area before dark and then as it turns dark hook up some pieces to see what effect they’re going to have.
 
Showing digital photos of the areas you want to light to the staff at a lighting showroom will help them determine the right style and size fixture for your home. If you are replacing lighting on an existing house, measure what size the fixtures are and what type of bulbs they hold. Also take note of the placement of the electrical boxes in relation to the door. Sometimes boxes are mounted very high, making a fixture that hangs down better suited to the space. The same is true if the box is mounted low. Then you would want a fixture that has most of its size going above the electrical box.
 
Homeowners living in a rural setting have special lighting considerations that a professional can address. The night skies in the country can be beautiful so do some kind of downlighting so you don’t lose the darkness. Dusk-to-dawn light would take away the ability to see the stars.
 
Energy Savings
Energy efficiency is improving with the introduction of low voltage lighting and fiber optics. Low voltage lighting has created an outdoor lighting revolution. Two lanterns and a lamppost use 500-600 watts, depending on the bulbs. With that same amount of power, low-voltage lighting could light the whole front of the home, plus trees. Low voltage allows less consumption of power but gives a more dynamic effect. Fiber optics stretch that even further with a single illumination source.
 
Many companies are coming out with wall and post lanterns that take fluorescent bulbs. They are using opaque glass, which hides the bulb, making for a more aesthetically pleasing fixture.
 
Timers are another way to conserve energy from a simple digital timer to photocells that respond to darkness.
 
Increase Home Value
Outdoor lighting has an aesthetic value that can give your home a whole new look. It makes your home an oasis of beauty. At night you can light isolated portions of your yard, so when you look outside there will be a soft glow and that’s what will make it so enjoyable.
When done well, outdoor lighting creates a usable environment. Enjoying the outdoors improves the quality of a person’s life. The light makes it an inviting place to be, plus much safer and secure, and that provides peace of mind. 
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