Lighting up the night. Outdoor lighting is a jack-of-all-trades. It helps make our homes more secure. It can also brighten up a walkway and enhance the appearance of our homes. Sometimes we tend to skimp on outdoor lighting in order to save on electricity costs. With new lighting technologies, you can make your home safer while still being energy conscious.
Outdoor lighting falls into two general categories. The first is standard voltage lighting. These are usually wall, eave, or post-mounted lighting fixtures that operate on 110 volts. This type of lighting is great for home entryways, motion-detection fixtures, or outdoor task lighting. The second category is low voltage lighting. This type of lighting is traditionally used for accent lighting, illuminating pathways, and aesthetic purposes.
Make a Plan
As we head into the summer season, it is a good time to survey our outdoor lighting configuration and make sure it is meeting our needs. A good place to start is to go for a walk or drive on a quiet evening. Check out what the neighbors are doing for outdoor lighting. You will see homes shrouded in darkness with doorways cloaked by shadows. You will also probably see homes lit up like the fuel island at a convenience store. It is ultimately a matter of personal taste so look for examples of what you like. The most common advice is to aim for subtle effects rather than excessive brightness.
Once you have an idea of what you like, take a look at your own outdoor lighting (or lack thereof!) and come up with a plan to enhance it. You do not have to break the budget by hiring an outdoor lighting consultant. Most home improvement stores can assist with designing a basic layout. Be sure to make a sketch of your home lot and include the location of outdoor electrical outlets.
Consider LED Systems
The best thing to happen to outdoor lighting is the also the best thing to happen to indoor lighting: LED technology. LEDs dramatically reduce the amount of electricity used in outdoor lighting. In most cases, you can simply replace the bulbs in your outdoor fixtures with compatible LED lamps. If you are installing new low voltage lighting, you will benefit from purchasing a system made specifically for LEDs. These LED outdoor lighting systems usually involve a lot less wire and smaller transformers than the old incandescent systems. You can also connect more LED lights to these systems, which increases the flexibility of your design layout.
Another cool thing you can do with the newer LED outdoor lighting systems is control them with your smartphone. Traditional outdoor lighting controls include wall switches, dusk-to-dawn light sensors, and motion sensors. While these are still good choices, technology is making an impact on outdoor lighting controls.
The new LED outdoor lighting systems offer integration with smartphone apps and home automation systems. The Luxor Wi-Fi is a great example of the versatility and sophistication of LED outdoor lighting systems. Of course, there are less expensive options, like the GE Z-Wave Outdoor Smart Switch. This device provides a simple smartphone alternative to traditional switches and sensors.
This is perfect time of the year to enhance your outdoor lighting. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Focus on security and safety first
- Add special lighting touches around the patio or deck to enjoy the warm summer nights
- Check out the latest LED lighting systems at home improvements stores
- Consider switching your existing outdoor lighting to LED lamps to save electricity
- Inspect light and motion sensors to verify they are functioning properly
- Avoid over-illuminating or having stray light hitting your neighbor’s windows
Remember that outdoor lighting is far cheaper to operate than it used to be. You can make your home safer and more secure without running up your electricity bill.