Using Low Voltage Path Lighting – Outdoor Living
Outdoor living is not new, but its concept has expanded dramatically in the last 10 years. Regardless of your climate, creating multipurpose outdoor living spaces, that function as extensions of the home, is now the trend. In this article we will discuss landscape path lighting and how they fit into your outdoor living space plan.
Creating Your Outdoor Living Space
The key to creating a unique outside grotto is to approach it in the same fashion as you would for interior spaces. Consider factors such as your decorating style, how you’ll use the space, lighting, cooking, etc.
Be creative in transitioning your indoor to outdoor living by employing: fire pits, stone work, water features, outdoor fireplaces, lighting, shade or privacy solutions, outdoor kitchens, native and indigenous plantings as well as xeriscaping.
Use Landscape Path Lighting
Landscape lighting not only adds a high-end look to your home, but also adds a sense of safety to your space.
Installing a low-voltage, exterior landscape path lighting system to illuminate pathways, walkways, and garden edges is both functional and appealing.
It’s a great way to add beauty, curb appeal, and safety to your home garden, walkway, and entrance areas. A low-voltage system can save energy, and you avoid the struggles of burying wires 18 inches down or installing conduit.
Outdoor Light Bulbs
Don’t overlook landscape light bulbs. The wide array of available bulbs allows you to tailor your preferred style to your needs. Although some bulbs are more expensive than others, you must also compare the rated lamp life, since some lamps costing several times more usually last several times longer and when amortized over the bulb life are a better choice.
At Concord Carpenter we advise our clients to purchase Kichler hooded landscape lights with energy efficient LEDs.
Why use LEDs?
LED bulbs or lights with built-in LED arrays are considered BEST PRACTICE in the landscape lighting industry. Their more durable, their longevity [15X life] is unparalleled, and they eliminate the need for time-consuming bulb changes, Best of all they use less energy and can even cut electrical usage by more than 80 percent.
TIP: Using LEDs can allow you to place more landscape lights on the same transformer, or use a smaller, less expensive transformer.
Kichler LED Path Lighting
We used Kichler 15820 LED Llena Path Lights on this landscape lighting remodel. Kichler offers a huge variety of landscape lighting– but we find that the textured architectural bronze finish is the perfect style and finish to blend into a flower bed. It’s a simple, clean design and one that many clients seem to gravitate towards.
The Kichler path lights are a perfect solution for highlighting flower beds, paths, or steps– for the downlight is positioned close to the ground and easy to see.
Their LED array light output [color temperature 3000k] highlights perennial and seasonal flowers perfectly, with a striking nighttime accent. The LED array emits a sleek, circular, and uniform light with an approximate 10-12 foot beam spread.
The light color rendering of the LED array is similar to that of the older traditional halogen path lights. Kichler rates their LED array to last 40,000 hours– equivalent to running the lights from 6pm to midnight every night for nine years.
As an installer, I like that Kichler lights have a rugged, sealed/integrated, moisture-proof design and use thick 14-gauge corrosion-resistant metal. Each light uses 9 to 15 volt operating range.The heavy-duty 7/8″ light stem is more durable than the ones you’ll find at the big-box stores. The big-box store lights don’t had up well to kids and pets.
Kichler Lighting stands behind its products with a 15 year residential warranty and 10 year commercial warranty.
Placement of Path Lighting
When considering path lighting, don’t install more than is needed for accent lighting. A little light goes a long way at night. To optimize your lights, consider installing a timer for their on and off periods to avoid having to remember to activate and deactivate them.
6-Foot Rule of Thumb
We follow a 6-foot rule, and try to place the lights back from the path and into the flower bed. This helps the lights disappear during the daytime and illuminate the plantings at night. Additionally, in the Northeast winters, we reduce the risk of damaging the lights from snow blowers and shovels by placing them away 24-36” from the walkway.
When we reach steps, such as this pool deck photo, we place the lights on either side for safety and to illuminate the steps at night.
Time To Relax!
Adding low-voltage outdoor lighting can be a DIY project due to the transformer reducing the homes line voltage to 12 volts. It adds a big-impact for a rather low investment.
Landscape path lighting helps create that outdoor living space that can transform your home outdoors into an exciting entertainment mecca for your family and friends. When landscape lighting is installed and done correctly, it can add an artfully dramatic emphasis to your gardens best features.