outdoor lighting

Photo: travis manley/Shutterstock

When it comes to lighting, consumers have hundreds if not thousands of choices. While many of these lights use traditional incandescent bulbs, the use of LEDs and compact fluorescent bulbs are becoming standard practice. Price can run from $10 to hundreds. Style can vary from rustic to over-the-top contemporary.

Outdoor lighting is not that much different from interior lighting. The main difference lies in the weatherproof nature of the lights housing or its configuration. Another element in outdoor lighting is the use of low-voltage lights. Compared to “line” voltage lights, low-voltage light systems are often installed by the homeowner, which can be a great cost benefit to hiring and bringing in a full fledged electrical contractor.

Types of low-voltage outdoor lights

  • Area lights: These lights illuminate larger areas, like a front porch.
  • Spotlighting: Got a really cool sculpture or exotic plant in your yard? Spotlighting can bring it to life.
  • Floodlighting: This is the big brother to the spotlight. Floodlights can wash entire walls or groups of plants and other garden features.
  • Step lighting: Nothing will wake someone up quicker than a tumble down a few stairs. Aside from spilling your evening beverage, bumps and bruises are never any fun.
In years past nearly every one of these low voltage lights would have been supplied with a heat-generating, inefficient incandescent bulb. Today many of these are equipped with compact fluorescent or LED technology.

Think outside of the box (or bulb)

While traditional lights were energy hungry beasts, newer LEDs are mere nibblers where power consumption is concerned. So much so that many of these lights can run on small solar-powered batteries. Not only do these lights not add pennies or dollars to your monthly electric bill; they are carbon- and greenhouse gas-friendly. Add to that the simplicity of their installation (no wires required) and they are great choices for remote locations.

Old school for rustic charm

On the other end of the technology spectrum from solar-powered LEDs lies the humble candle or oil lamp. Tiki torches fall into this category and can be found in dozens of shapes, sizes and colors. Like their solar counterparts they do not require wires and use zero electricity. If filled with citronella oil they can even keep a few bugs at bay.

For those folks who want simple, quick and easy changes to lower their energy use, many existing light fixtures can be equipped with newer LED or CFL bulbs. This change is quick and very cost effective, as there is sometimes no need to swap out any wiring of fixtures.

Kevin Stevens originally wrote this story for Networx.com. It is reprinted with permission here.

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