LOW VOLTAGE OUTDOOR LIGHTING
With low voltage lighting, you can create an enjoyable ambience outside your home or office. When placed in the correct place, this type of lighting can enhance trees and plants while adding a soft light to see by. Although low voltage lighting is used primarily for walkways leading to the front door or along the driveway, you can also use low voltage lighting to complement the home without too harsh a light.
The key with this type of outdoor lighting is to choose what blends in with your home and yard and light that looks natural. The great thing about low voltage lighting is that the wiring is usually so small that it can be hidden quite easily. In addition, this lighting is both attractive and easy to install.
For example, you could use low voltage lighting to illuminate a garden pond, swimming pool, or outdoor fountain. If you want a little light to guide your way and add security, you could choose walkway or cone lighting, which also enhances trees, shrubbery, and flowers. Another option for low voltage lighting is to mount spotlights. In this case, you could mount the lighting onto the house where it shines down over the yard or you could even mount it in a tree where is adds a soft glow to the front or back of the home.
With low voltage lighting, the price is low as well. For example, you could purchase a packaged deal ranging from $50 to $100. With this, you get several lights and all the wiring needed, as well as stakes for ground lights. However, you can spend quite a bit more if you like. If you go with architectural grade with halogen lights, you will notice the light is brighter, looking more like sunlight. With this option, the bulbs will generally last for as many as 10,000 hours and the fixture being made from metal lasts for years.
One recommendation when buying low voltage outdoor lighting is to buy a larger transformer than your needs. The reason is that you can set the lighting to your current need but then at a later date if you should decide to add more lights, you can. For many people, they add new plants, trees, and flowers and then realize they have to buy an additional lighting system. By doing it this way, you can expand the lights with your expanding landscaping.
When getting ready to buy low voltage lighting, remember that you want the look to be soft and natural, not overdone. The key here is to have the lights serve as an enhancement or accent. If you add too much or too bright light, then you literally flood the home, making it appear harsh. Then, if you want to light a pathway, you will need to determine if you want just the walkway to be illuminated or the features around it as well. To help you decide, remember that the broader the area you want to illuminate the higher the pole you would need. Therefore, a light used for the pathway that has a 20-watt halogen bulb set at 24 inches high would spread out over 10 feet.
Finally, try to remember seasonal needs. For example, when setting your lights, think about mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. While you want to place the lights where you need and want them, you also want to make sure they do not end up in your way. Then when you get ready to install the outdoor lighting, you want to lay the lights and wire out, always using 100gauge wire for the main lines that run from the transformer to the start of the lights. From there, you should move to 12-gauge wiring that will run between the lights. In addition, be sure your wires are buried down a minimum of 6 inches, preferable deeper. That way, they will be covered while not in the way.