You have probably already spent a lot time planning the perfect outdoor living space, but may not have given much thought to the value and benefit of landscape lighting and it’s potential to transform your outdoor area’s from great to spectacular! Well designed landscape lighting will not only enhance your garden features visually by illuminating a beautiful tree, a garden sculpture, or maybe even a water feature, but will increase the usability of your outdoor entertaining area’s well into the night, (or even all night for those party animals out there). Aesthetics and partying aside, landscape lighting can also help to increase home security by lighting up garages and entries and heighten user safety as well, by illuminating paths and steps.
When considering the type of landscape lighting you would like to install, solar lights are definitely the most cost effective (and DIY friendly) option, but these lights will require a significant amount of sunlight in order to function. If you are just wanting some basic lighting to guide a user along a path, or to surround an outdoor seating area, solar lights can definitely serve this purpose, but the more reliable and long term solution is hardwired lighting and like most home improvement projects, this requires careful planning, quality materials and expert installation for best results. The process of installing hardwired outdoor garden lights (utilising either Halogen or LED lights), can be broken down into the below stages.
Sketching a rough plan of the landscape lighting you are after, is a great place to start. Ideally your sketch should include the power source (where the lighting transformer will be placed), light locations and wattages, the path of wiring from the transformer to the lights and the distances from the transformer to each light.
- Light selection
This will largely come down to the overall effect you are trying to achieve and the light brightness (wattage) you are after. Two main types of outdoor garden lights are LED and Halogen lights. Globes for LED lights have very low wattages, such as 3, 5, and 9 watts and require significantly less power than their Halogen counterparts. Something to bear in mind with LED globes is that the brighter the globe, the larger it will be in size. The wattages of Halogen globes are significantly higher and the same light my have a globe of 10, 20, 35, or even 50 watts installed. There is a mind boggling selection of styles in both Halogen and LED lighting available and it will be best to chat to a lighting expert, who can advise you on the best product to suit your unique project requirements.
- Transformers, Wiring & Connections
Transformers transform power from 240 to 12 volts and the size of the transformer comes down to how many lights you have and the brightness of each globe. This can easily be determined by adding up the wattages of all your garden lights, which will give you the overall amount of power your system will require to function. The wiring used to connect your garden lights to the transformer comes in a number of sizes including light, medium and heavy duty. If you have opted for a Halogen system the cable size will be driven by transformer size, light quantity and distance, all of which will impact the final light performance. In most cases a lighter duty wire will be sufficient for an LED system, due to its lower wattage globes. When it comes to connections, the output from a transformer is 12volts, which can safely be handled by an experienced DIY home owner, but a qualified Electrician will be required to deal with any wiring that powers the transformer.
The above is a very broad guide to landscape lighting and no matter how simple, or complex your landscape lighting requirements, we would always recommend you discuss your garden light options with a lighting specialist, who can provide you with the best advice for your unique situation.
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