Common Electrical Upgrades and Improvements
All About Landscape Lighting
From choosing the best outdoor lights to setting them up, our experts share how to brighten up your home’s exterior. You’ve pulled out all the stops to make your home and yard look top-quality. So why let this hard work go away at nightfall. You can roll back the darkness with a flick of a switch and some strategically positioned outdoor house lights and put it all on display? Done right, landscape lighting makes the best of what you have by highlighting the architectural features of your home and drawing attention to prized trees and plantings.
What is the Best Landscape Lighting?
Much of today’s landscape lighting is low voltage, and understandably so. It’s easier to deal with and less expensive to install than 120-volt systems. And while low-voltage lights receive one-tenth the power, there’s no limit to the effects they can produce thanks to a step-down transformer, from ethereal moonlight beamed down from a canopy of a tree to a subtle glow that washes over a low garden wall. More than just choosing the right equipment, the artistry is also about a fun lighting scheme.
What’s in a Low-Voltage Outdoor Lighting System?
Usually, landscape lighting relies on stepped-down electricity from your home.
Transformer: Decreases 120-volt household current to a safer 12 volts.
Bulb: Determines a light’s brightness, color, and beam width, as well as electricity usage.
Fixture Housing: Protects bulb from elements and helps shape light beam.
Stake: Holds the fixture in place.
Cable: Carries current through the lead wires of the fixture into space. Underlit trees and façade-facing accent lights create an enticing post-sunset atmosphere around this house.
How to Map out a Plan for Your Exterior Lights
If you don’t want a finger lift, go with a pro. But homeowners willing to spend a little of their own time and resources will save a lot by following the advice of Mark Piantedosi, owner of the Commonwealth Landscape Lighting in Acton, Massachusetts.
Here are some of his top design tips:
Make sure to always bathe the trunk in light while shooting at ground lights straight up into foliage. When you don’t, the crown lit up will appear like a UFO that is floating. Place two 20-watt downlights as high as possible in a tree when illuminating foliage from above, and point them so that their beams do not cross.
- Planting Beds
Put fixtures no closer than 20 feet apart. “You want pools of light to guide your eye from one plant to the next, not continuous illumination."
- Home Facade
Bullet and wash.
Fit bullet lights with a beam spread of 12 degrees and target them at the corners of your house or architectural details; softer wash lights can fill the space between them.
- Garden Walls
Well, bullet, or flood.
Place fixtures close to the base to put texture into sharp relief by the beams.
- Focal Points
Flood, bullet, or wash.
Highlight an element that merits attention — such as a fountain, a tree swing, or an arbor — by targeting it with two or more lights. The crossing beams reduce the harsh shadows that form on an object when the only one shines.
Types of Outdoor House Lights
Canopies on top of 18- to 24-inch posts reflect light in the beds where they are rooted. It could be used as track markers, too. Its design and finish are on show, unlike other lights.
Throws out a smooth, diffuse light that is perfect for brightening flat facades, fences for protection, and walls for garden.
These lightweight, compact fixtures are also fitted with bulbs that project a narrow beam — good for precisely lighting features of a home, tree trunks, and garden structures.
The bulb hides inside a ground-buried, waterproof box, so you get light without seeing a fixture. Using well lights to light up the underside of plant foliage or graze a surface or wall foundation. Available with either fixed bulbs or with swivel bulbs.
These fixtures, often high on trunks and branches, can be aimed at lawns, paths, or the foliage of the tree itself to create a moonlit effect. A long, cowl-shaped shroud around the bulb does away with side glare. Choose sturdy LED copper and brass housings — you don’t want to climb to do repairs or replacements.
A wider beam typically casts than a bullet—40 degrees or more — and is brighter than a wash light. A collar minimizes glare to the side. Using sparingly for lighting up tall trees or large facades of the building.
Considering Electrical Upgrades and Improvements for Your Home?
At Frontline Electrical Services we love helping our clients feel safe and secure in their homes and businesses. If you are in the Benicia, Walnut Creek or Fairfield, California or surrounding areas, contact us today at 800-945-0268 (here is a map to our location) and we’ll have one of our certified specialists review your home’s current electrical grid and give you the best upgrades possible to suit your needs while maintaining the safety and security of your property!