Types of Outdoor Lighting & Installation
Outdoor lighting has shined a light across many different vocational fields. Trades as varied as retail and marketing rely on outdoor light fixtures, as they illuminate stores and office buildings. Facilities and plants rely on outdoor lighting for added security, while consumers request everything from landscape lights to decorative fixtures to complete their exterior design.
Regardless of the industry or use, outdoor lighting is a great complement to buildings, enhancing its look and adding security during nighttime. While it’s clear that outdoor lighting is a necessity, uncovering your specific lighting needs may require more information. Browse our outdoor lighting guide, and discover the different types of outdoor lights, their best applications and tips for easy installation.
Flood lights provide wide-spanning lighting, covering large areas and hidden nooks that may not be easy to illuminate. These lights can help protect individuals and property from robbery, as well as buildings and other public spaces from vandalism. Flood lights are common in large spaces, including stadiums and parking lots, and utilize LED for superior spotlighting.
Things to Consider:
Before installation, decide which type of flood light is right for you by considering the level of brightness you need. Large areas should be powered with a high-pressure sodium or halide security light.
Landscape lighting is a wide-encompassing type of outdoor lighting, as it is used for both private and public spaces. Parks, office building terraces and public verandas depend on landscape lighting —such as globes, spotlights and LED light fixtures—for security and public enjoyment. Landscape lighting includes core elements of organic design, LED use, light pollution, scale and controls.
Landscape Lighting Design Guide
A little knowledge and planning will help you attain landscape lighting that looks like it was done by a professional. Landscape lighting should include pathways, decks, patios, doorways, drives and other beautifully enhanced features to create a visible picturesque scene of your home. If you are rather unfamiliar with this topic, you may not feel too comfortable with handling the job yourself. You may even feel the need to hire a professional landscape lighting designer. To help you overcome this obstacle, this landscape lighting design guide will offer up some basic information and tips you can apply. Once you are finished reading it, you can shop our online catalog of outdoor light fixtures and buy from us with confidence.
Benefits of Landscape Lighting
Enhances and reveals the beauty of your home and landscape after dusk.
Extends the amount of time spent together with loved ones while enjoying outdoor activities, relaxing, breathing fresh air and smelling the roses.
Adds dramatic lighting effects to a landscape.
Creates a heightened artistic scenic view with high and low points of interest.
Increases security and wards off intruders looking for an easy target.
Minimizes accidents by lighting up stairs, paths, drives and other traffic areas.
Polished and beautifully created landscape lighting escalates the financial value of a home.
Designing and Planning your Landscape Lighting
Don’t over light your yard like a stadium with exterior lighting.
Create high and low areas of interest with high and low intensity lighting variations. Overall there should be more low focal points of light than high.
Incorporate different types of lighting fixtures into your landscape lighting as they will have different lighting effects and your landscape will be more interesting to look at.
Decorative outdoor lights have artistic flair and are designed to bejewel and adorn a landscape and home. Ideally decorative lighting fixtures should be placed more prominently. Other types of outdoor lighting, such as low voltage well lights and spot lights, are best concealed as their purpose is to create interesting lighting effects and the light fixture itself is not designed to draw attention.
Don’t aim lights directly at windows, including your neighbor’s.
Place decorative lights in and around pathways, doorways and other activity areas.
Pay extra special attention to the front entrance of your home, the welcoming place, which should be one of your high focal points of interest. The type of landscape lighting design you employ here is very important.
Common Landscape Lighting Techniques
Up Lighting – Light is aimed upwards for dramatic effect. Used commonly to light up a tree, sculpture, or walls. Lighting from below or upfront creates interesting shadows against surfaces behind the lighted objects.
Down Lighting – Casts light down and may create interesting effects by way of shadowing. Especially useful in lighting up very dark areas to heighten security and safety.
Moonlighting – Simulates moonlight by positioning light fixtures very high above trees and larger plants or objects to create enchanting shadow effects.
Accent Lighting – An intense beam, or spotlight, creates high focal points in your landscape. When the light is aimed at the leaves of shrubs, plants or flowers it can create a fantastic glittering effect.
Grazing – Placing the light fixture close to a surface to achieve the effect of the light traveling and enhancing the lighted area. Grazing is done against textured walls or beautiful wood. It’s also used to highlight a very rough texture of a wider tree.
Backlighting – Silhouettes a sculpture, tree or plants.
Cross Lighting – Enhances a three-dimensional view of a voluminous plant, tree or object.
Types of Lighting Fixtures
Always choose quality lighting fixtures and you will never be disappointed. Quality lighting fixtures are time tested for durability and reliability. Their timeless designs and illumination will create a luxurious landscape.
Outdoor Lanterns and Wall Lights and Sconces – An excellent choice for doorways, garages, and windows. Used to enhance walled areas or square pillars.
Outdoor Ceiling Fixtures – Perfect for porches, patios, breezeways, and covered areas or walkways.
Post Lights – Majestically light up ponds, lakes, pools of water, main driveways and walkways. Create a picturesque scene by placing in a garden near outdoor benches. Some cast interesting light patterns.
Diffusers and Spreads – Low voltage lighting fixtures that give off a softer light and are used to outline borders.
Cylinders, Square and Bullet Shaped Lights – These are designed to focus a beam of light.
Well Lights – Hidden from view, they flush with the ground. Mostly used for up lighting on plants, trees and walls. On highly textured surfaces they give interesting shadow effects.
Accent Lighting– Very versatile fixtures that are used for up lighting, moonlighting, accent lighting, grazing, and down lighting.
Installation of 12v Lighting
12v lights must be wired in parallel. If you are unfamiliar with parallel circuits, we tend to compare them to a ring road. Imagine a road leading up to a roundabout, this would be the power cable leading to the splitter. Like a roundabout, the splitter has multiple exits. Each exit will lead to the next place, either your final destination (a fitting), or another splitter, where the same rule applies.
When installing low voltage light fittings, a transformer is required. First, you will need to determine what size transformer is required based on the load to power. You will need the wattage of the lamps to power up and the total number of fittings. Multiple the two together to calculate the total load. For example, 3 fittings, each using a 5W bulb (3 x 5) = 15W. Therefore, a transformer exceeding this wattage is required, in this case 20W, also known as 20VA. For optimum performance, a transformer should ideally be loaded at between 50-80%. They can power less but if underloaded you may find that the the lamps do not last as long as expected, plus it is unnecessary additional expense. Equally, a higher load can be powered, however we recommend leaving around 10% to allow for power surges, start up current and also discrepancies in lamp wattage. A transformer must not be overloaded or the transformer will overheat and fail.
12V Plug & Play Systems
Plug and Play lighting systems are very simple, designed for quick installation with no tools required. This will also reduce installation costs. Simply plug the plug & play light fitting directly into the transformer / LED driver. Extension cables can be used when the fitting is located further away from the power source, as well as adaptors / splitters to power multiple fittings.
12v light fittings will be changing over to Plug and Play due to the simplicity of installation. Non plug and play items will also connect to these systems with the use of a cable converter. Consequently, this increases the amount of light fitting and accessory choices. For example, Dusk to Dawn Photocells and PIR Motion Sensors are compatible with the 12v system.
12V Low Voltage Garden Lights VS 240v Garden Lights
A common question we are often asked is, “what is better, 12v or 240v”? There are two main systems which can be used in a garden: 12v low voltage and 240v mains voltage. The system to be used will determine the types of light fittings which can be used. There are both pros and cons for both systems, and many factors which will help you make your decision. Here, we will educate you as much as possible about each garden lighting system to ensure you make the correct choice for your specific application.
Outdoor Lighting Buying Guide
Outdoor lighting refers to fixtures designated to use in outdoor settings. This lighting category includes many sizes, styles, and fixture types. Outdoor lighting systems have diverse applications, from highlighting landscape features to offering additional safety at a door or in dark settings. Outdoor fixtures include solar, hardwire, and plug-in designs. Each outdoor setting calls for a unique system of outdoor lighting, to aptly illuminate the space and ensure a proper level of security.
The principal outdoor fixtures are security/flood lights, wall lights, post lights, ceiling mount lights, and pendants. Common components of outdoor fixtures include:
Finial: a decorative knob or shape appearing at the top or bottom of a fixture
Roof: the cover for the internal housing and bulb of the fixture, often featuring a hinged open for easy changing of the bulb
Cage frame: the main element of the fixture’s design and shape, can include metal framing as well as glass panels
Glass panel: acts as a fixture shade. Protects the bulb and inner housing of the fixture while allowing the bulb to illuminate the surrounding area. Can be crafted from seeded glass, transparent glass, translucent glass, tinted glass, or opaque glass
Glass holder: Binds the panels, frame, and light source
Fitter: also known as a post cap, attaches the fixture to the post (post lights)
Outdoor lighting fixtures are crafted from a variety of metals and marine-grade plastics. Since these fixtures are exposed to the elements continuously, they are commonly treated with a weather-resisting coating or otherwise crafted from naturally durable materials that will withstand wear from wind, rain, and snow. Look for fixtures with a non-corrosive, UV resistant finish for lighting that will perform well in outdoor climates
Many fixtures include grading specifications to designate their ideal usage settings:
UL Damp Location Rating: Best for lights in covered areas
Wet Location Rating: Best for lights directly exposed to the open air
Durable Marine Grade Resin or Solid Aluminum Fixtures: Best for withstanding wear from salty air (locations close to the ocean or beach)
Outdoor lighting fixtures are commonly compatible with one of three types of light bulbs: incandescent, LED, and fluorescent. Fluorescent bulbs are rarely used in outdoor applications. Each of these bulb types carries unique advantages and disadvantages.
Pros: Most popular choice for outdoor fixtures, candle-flame appearance, inexpensive
Cons: Need to be replaced often, use the most energy
Pros: Energy saving, very long lives (up to 20 years)
Cons: Expensive, color varies from traditional incandescent bulbs
Pros: Use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, emit little heat, last 10x longer than incandescent bulbs
Cons: Expensive, not dimmable, color varies from traditional incandescent bulbs
Outdoor lighting buying guide
Outdoor lighting can be used to light up decks, flowerbeds, pathways, patios or gates. Whether you’re after wall lights, a pendant to hang from a pergola or spotlights for decking, your lighting should be both functional and decorative. From solar lamps to flood lights, get ready to light up your summer evenings
Ceiling and bulkhead
What is outdoor lighting?
Outdoor lighting is crucial for enjoying your garden or deck to the fullest – or simply for finding the front door when it’s dark outside! What’s more, lighting up your exterior will add a decorative touch to your home as night falls.
Your lights should be practical while also allowing you to highlight certain areas of your home. No matter which type of lighting you choose, remember that all outdoor lighting appliances must meet certain requirements set out by BS and CE standards, and have an adequate IP rating.
Compliance with standards is generally demonstrated by a CE mark on the body of the light. For outdoor lights, the IP rating must be at least IP 23 in order to guarantee protection from dust and, most importantly, water. That said, the ideal level of protection for outdoor lighting is IP 65 (or higher); this ensures full protection against dust and low pressure water jets from any direction so your lights will be able to stand up to your hose