Safety has always been an important reason to install outdoor lighting. For deterring would-be intruders or alerting walkers to an unexpected step, lighting is the obvious solution. The trend here is not away from safety, but to seeking beauty in addition to safety. The options available have increased dramatically so that lighting for steps or a walkway can also be pleasing to the eye. And for burglar-deterring floodlights, which blind the eye more than they please it, the trend is to make them motion sensitive.


Closely related to safety is function. More and more, people are wanting to actually use their outdoor space at night. They don't want simply to walk around the side of the house without tripping. They want to move out onto the deck after dinner. Or they want to have dinner out there in the first place.

Lighting trends have changed to keep pace with this desire. Companies offer lamps that can be easily moved around a deck or patio. They offer lamps that can illuminate the table, and the food on it, without sending a glare into the eyes of the diners. Some lamps are even specially designed to be "bugless" so the evening can be enjoyed without attracting too many winged visitors.


Now, more and more, homeowners are lighting simply for beauty. A tree or a flower bed doesn't really need to be lit, except perhaps in a basic way to keep visitors from walking into or through them. But lighting them up can provide an immensely pleasing effect.

The trend is to think about the entire space as a whole and to light it in an artistic way that brings it together. More homeowners are thinking about their yards and gardens in terms of zones, considering how the foreground, middle, and background could best be lighted. And they're not just thinking about how the yard looks while they're out in it. They're thinking of the yard as it looks from the kitchen window. Well-place lighting can extend the spaces in which they live.

These days there are more and more choices to pursue these goals. Low voltage lights make it easier than ever for homeowners to do it themselves without needing a building permit. Transformers make it possible to run cables over longer distances. Waterproof fixtures make it possible to illuminate ponds from within to beautiful effect. And fiber optic technology makes the cabling to such fixtures quite safe. For all these things and more, the consumer has a huge choice of bulbs, making it possible to have exactly the amount of illumination desired.

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