The Ultimate Guide To Outdoor Lighting

The Ultimate Guide To Outdoor Lighting

Fence and Landscape Lighting

fence mounted lights

Landscape lighting has been used since ancient times to provide security and ambiance to outdoor events. Back then, torches were used. In modern times, the method of lighting outdoor areas has changed, but the desired result is the same- a well lit outdoor area. There are dozens of different options of landscape lighting, such as fence post cap, recessed, pathway, deck, bollard, step, post, flood, and spotlight fixtures; all of these options provide a highly customizable lighting solution that provides illumination exactly where you want it.

While not a guarantee of security, well-lit areas are known to deter crime better than areas with spots of bright and dark (although this subject is constantly debated). If applied in a strategic manner, landscape lighting can enhance the security of the home by illuminating the dark areas around the house enough the visibility is increased for all areas.

Do I have to do it all at once?

While it would be fun to have four dozen light fixtures installed at once so you can marvel at the new look of your home’s outdoor areas, landscape lighting is a solution that can be applied incrementally. If you don’t have the money to add spot lamp fixtures all around the house, a few can be applied to the most important areas and more added later.


outdoor garden lights

With most quality outdoor lighting, the fixtures allow for easy changing of bulbs. Some types of fixtures have built-in transformers and use specialty bulbs, so be aware of that fact when selecting light fixtures. It is much cheaper in the long run to choose a fixture that takes regular base bulbs (i.e. e14, e38, etc.) than specialty bulbs (i.e. ANSI B, D, etc). A lot of times, there is a similar fixture that takes a regular bulb. There are two major types of outdoor lighting bulb that is commonly used today, and they are covered below.

LED Bulbs

pile of led and incandescent bulbs

Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are designed so that electricity flows through small diodes, and that current flow produces visible light. Most LED bulbs have dozens of small diodes that make up one light bulb. With the way the diode is composed, they have very low infrared heat loss and produce a more directed 180-degree light (versus most others that produce 360 degrees of light). These factors add up to provide significant cost savings over any other type of bulb.

Metal Halide Bulbs

metal halide light fixture

Metal Halide bulbs provide a high-quality light and have been used for decades for lighting large event spaces like concerts, sporting event stadiums, etc. They function by passing an electric current through a mixture of mercury and metal halide gas. When they were originally developed, they produced closer to bright daylight hue (5500K temperature), were several times more efficient than the same output incandescent bulb, and produced a much higher quality light than incandescent.

Metal halide bulbs do have some downsides. They have the longest warmup time of any bulb available. They cannot be used on a motion sensor and the need for light needs to be anticipated far in advance of when the illumination is needed. The second downside is that they produce light at 360 degrees. This means when compared to LED, you have a lot more losses in intensity at the same distance when compared to LED bulbs. The third downside is that metal halide has roughly 15% of the lifespan of an LED bulb which equates to many more metal halide bulbs going bad over the lifespan of the light fixture. Lastly, bulb cost is a factor. While it wasn’t always the case, metal halide bulb cost now averages higher than an LED bulb.

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