You have your house and now you have decided that you want to add low voltage landscape lighting. But where to start? Designing a low voltage landscape lighting system takes more than adding lights. There’s an aesthetic you want to reach to accentuate the architectural details of your home while also providing a safe walkway. Just walk into any home improvement center and you can see just how many lighting options you have. Some lights work best in certain areas and some are better to lighting a path than a tree. Having a lighting professional come to take a look at your property and design a system that works best for your property is a good place to start but here are some things to take into consideration when designing a low voltage landscape lighting system.
A great place to start is what you want to achieve with your landscape lighting. Are your lights for safety? For aesthetics? Go for a walk around your property at dusk to see what areas you need to light. From the inside of your home, you might want to look out the back or front and see what you would like to have the ability to see at night. Maybe you have a seating area that would benefit from bistro lighting, a deck that could use lights to guide you around at night. You want to look for possible areas that you would want as a focal point. Red maples are great trees that look incredible at night with a bullet underneath it. It can almost transform the entire look of your property at night. You want to make sure that the lights are also out of the way of people walking, cars coming in the driveway and landscapers.
Photometrics is something to keep in mind when you are choosing the style of fixtures and bulbs. You can use a lamp guide to help determine the light output and the beam. All lamps put out a different amount of light so knowing what bulbs are being put in will help determine how many lights are needed overall while also being pleasing to the eye.
Installing the right transformer is important. Having the proper wattage based on the fixtures ensures there is no wattage drop or tripping of the transformer. If the wattage is too high for the transformer you can split it between two transformers or install a higher wattage, more powerful transformer.
You can avoid a voltage drop (when lights are furthest away from the transformer they will have a lower voltage – those placed closer to the transformer will have a noticeably higher voltage) by using the following ways to minimalize it:
- use a more powerful transformer
- shorten the cable lengths
- reduce fixture wattages
- remove some fixtures on lighting run
All fixtures provide a different look and are best in or with specific elements of your landscape. There really is a fixture for each and every area of your landscape. Finding the right one for your needs will take time. The market is filled with options to light your home. Unique lighting is a great quality company with loads of lighting fixtures to choose from. Here is a list of commonly used low voltage landscape lighting fixtures and possible placements/ uses for them:
BULLETS: Great for uplighting ornamental trees, gardens, or features such as a fountain.
PATH LIGHTS: Light a way to your front door, line a driveway, or outline the perimeter beds for better lighting at night. It provides a safe, lit path, while also being aesthetically pleasing.
WELL LIGHTS: Mounted on the ground, well lights are great for lighting large landscape features or areas.
These are just a few of the many lighting options out there. Deck lights and step lights are great for creating an extended outdoor living space by lighting otherwise dark areas. Bistro, or string lighting, is gaining in popularity for many outdoor spaces.