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Landscape lighting is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to enhance your curb appeal and illuminate your home even after the sun sets. Smart, well-designed landscape lighting will not only provide a safety element outside the home, but it will also give you and your loved ones more time outdoors.
Installing outdoor light fixtures will illuminate a gorgeous pathway leading into your home, that new patio you just built or your wonderful backyard you have worked so hard to maintain. The good part for you is that all light fixtures are designed so you can buy a complete family of outdoor lighting options that match each other. There are many styles and options to choose from.
Continue reading to make sure you choose the best and right landscape lights for your home.
There are two main types of landscape lighting: low voltage and line voltage. Low voltage is 12 volts and can be installed by you. Line voltage is 120 volts and should be installed by a professional.
Electricity running into your home holds 120 volts, which is far too much for the outdoors. To create low voltage outdoor lighting, you'll need to install one or more transformers. As HomeAdvisor states, this will reduce the voltage of your outdoor landscape lighting to a tame 12 volts, which is perfectly safe when faced with inclement weather.
Of course, lower voltage means less light. The closer your outdoor lights are to your transformer, the brighter they will be. If the lights are too dim, homeowners can always buy a higher-rated transformer, a heavier gauge cable or multiple transformers.
Note: From a design aspect, when planning the layout of your outdoor lighting system, keep in mind that you want to see the light and not the light source. Even with area or path lights, they should be shinning the light on something upward, such as a step or a rock.
Landscape Lighting Options
As I said earlier, there are many different landscape lighting options to choose from. While some homeowners choose to go with one design throughout their home’s exterior, most go with a combination of two or three.
- Path Lighting: Used primarily for safety, path lighting is perhaps the most popular landscape lighting option out there. It’s used to showcase and highlight your paths and walkways leading into the home. Some homeowners choose to add dimmer lights at the outset of the path and brighter ones closer to the home.
- Accent Lighting: This form of landscape lighting is primarily used to highlight individual areas of your landscape like a tree, garden or water feature. Accent lighting provides more peripheral lighting and dim illumination around the home.
- Spread Lighting: If you’re looking to brighten the greatest possible surface area, than spread lighting is the best choice for you. Spread lighting is great if you host summer parties or other year-round activities in your backyard.
- String Lighting: Those who frequently entertain might prefer the look of string lights. These lights come on a long string that the homeowners can attach to the house, on a roof or support columns. String lights typically add a festive touch to the area without adding a lot of light
- Lamp or Fan Lighting: Homeowners can also add outdoor ceiling fans or outdoor lamps. Outdoor ceiling fans function in the same way as other types of ceiling fans. Outdoor lamps are standalone lamps that come in a variety of different styles and types. These lamps provide enough light for entertaining, but the lights also have different settings that homeowners can adjust to provide the perfect amount of light for the space.
- Flood Lights: As the name dictates, flood lights are mainly used for safety. They provide a large amount of light and are movable. Homeowners can swivel the light to provide more brightness in a specific area.
- Lantern Lights: If you really like the traditional look, you could always go with lantern lights, perfect for decks and patios. They don’t provide as much light as some of the other options, but their design is hard to beat.
Installing Landscape Lights
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Low-voltage landscape lighting is an ideal do-it-yourself project. You'll find two basic categories in most hardware stores. At the low end are the familiar packaged kits, consisting of a transformer, cable and six to eight plastic fixtures. These kits are a snap to install and are actually quite durable. However, more and more homeowners seem to prefer an a la carte mix of cast aluminum fixtures. Cast aluminum looks richer and the lights are usually brighter, but that's only part of the appeal. When you buy the pieces individually, you get exactly what you want.
Landscape Lighting Costs
As is the case with all home improvement projects, the cost will largely depend on the scope of work. You might have to pay a couple hundred dollars for basic wiring installation or $1,500 or more for comprehensive outdoor lighting design and installation. Once the wiring is in place, you can purchase various low voltage outdoor lighting for as little as $20 or as much as a few hundred dollars, depending on the type and decorative flourishes of the individual fixtures.
As evident above, there are an abundance of cheap or expensive options and styles to choose from when it comes to landscape lighting. Whether you’re looking to add flood lights to your garage, highlight a particular landscape feature or want to host more parties after sunset, smart landscape lighting is the perfect solution.
Thinking about adding landscape lights to your backyard or patio? See what it costs!