Here’s a few tips when it comes to lighting up your garden and outdoor living area, brought to us by Lumens. Halogen lights have been the most popular for many years and have enjoyed their reign at the top. Most halogen lights run off a 12v supply and this is mated to a reflector that sends a nice sharp beam to where you point it. The 12v configuration is very safe and you can change the lighting because 12v is safer. The trick part is the mirror reflectors inside, that do a great job of not only sending the beam out, but sending the generated heat out of the back of the unit. This is important because you don’t want to heat the plants or flowers up, or if you are using these lights to illuminate the decking area, you don’t really want direct heat pointing at your guests.
You can choose the wattage and the beam angle with the halogen bulb, and they are very small. With some new reflectors you can now have a small light that gives more light than the tungsten kinds, and uses half the energy. This is why halogen lights are so common in our gardens.
Next up we have the hanging lights, which as the name suggests can be hung on beams, branches, pergolas, posts or a gazebo . Almost all hanging lights are 12v, and you can experiment with different wattages for light intensity. Usually a 20w bulb is enough to light up a table from above, and if you place the hanging light higher then you may need a 30w bulb. You will also find different reflectors to create wider beams, or decorative filters that can send the light out in all directions. Choose the light unit carefully if you hang them in trees or on hanging tracks, the features may hide some of the light.
LED garden lights are used to create a very focused beam of light that is small, and because of this they are most used in decking areas to mark the decking outline. The small beam will not spread the light and intrude onto the decking. They have a very long life and low energy consumption, so they are ideal for switching on for hours at a time ,day after day. They only come in primary colors and white, and the blue works well near water features, whilst the white is used for decking or patios. This is only a guideline, and it is up to you what you choose.
Linear garden lighting is mainly used to create an outline of a feature such as a tree or rock formation. The light is housed in a string configuration, much like a strip. This is mostly used at parties or at Christmas time for decoration. A good use is to fix them all around a rockery to highlight the edges, or to attach them to a fence and run them around the top. The bulb life is generally quite low, so they are not for long term use unless you upgrade to some xenon lamps which will last for years but are far more expensive. You could also use them for garden path lighting, and place them along the ground on the edge of the path and make a nice strip of light.
Low voltage garden lights have been around for years and are a necessity today. The benefits are plain to see because they are safer. The mains electric is reduced by a transformer to either 12 or 24v, which is safe and will not be fatal. Because the voltage is low you can have flexible cables running through the garden so you can move things around. The higher power cables that run mains electricity are usually fixed as these are more dangerous.
Low energy landscape lighting fixtures stem from the popular halogen lamps which are still used widely today. They are twice as efficient as normal lamps. To save energy always go for the 12v designs, these do a good job of highlighting any plants and flowers with a nice focused beam. For bigger saving go for LED lights which have a lamp life of over 50000 hours and can also run on a 12v supply.
Recessed lights are used on flat surfaces where you don’t want an upright light that you can trip over. Patios, decking and pathways are the choice for these lights. They also help with mowing the lawn as they will not get in the way. Typically they produce a fixed beam that can light a certain area or feature, but there are adjustable one’s which can throw light onto a wall or tree nearby. The only downsides are that they are more difficult to install, and they can create a lot of heat, so if you have them sunken in the floor be careful not to stand on them with bare feet, or your pet’s feet.
Step lighting is used to light steps and they serve a more practical use. This is for safety first as you need to be able to see each step along the way. They can be recessed into the actual step, or they can be by the side of the steps. Most of them have a shield or canopy to stop the light source from shining directly upwards. The reason is so that people using the steps are not blinded by the direct light. This is much safer and can prevent accidents.
There are a few other kinds of lights such as spreadlights and under water lights which i have covered in previous posts. Remember, there is a great choice of products around and they all serve their own little functions. If you are not sure then ask someone, either at the garden center or online and they should be able to tell you what to go for. Experiment as much as you want until you find the perfect set up for your garden.
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