Illuminating the Landscape with Outdoor Lighting

by Kent Higgins

When you think about lighting in your landscape you want to accentuate your home and yard work at night and you don?t want the them to stick out or look out of place. It should illuminate and focus on-lookers to the work you have accomplished. There are other uses though you may have overlooked.

Energy Saving

Solar powered light use a natural source, the sun, to generate power. Photovoltaic, or solar, panels inside the lights store energy to be at night. There are no wires to connect, nothing to plug-in and light intensity is comparable to low voltage lighting. For optimal operation that last through the night, fixtures should be placed where they will receive full sunlight plus, units are wired with automatic light sensors to conserve energy. Due to high demand, prices have fallen and are much more reasonable.


Important places to use solar installations are the driveway, paths leading to your entryway and any stairs on the way although they can be installed in water features and as spotlights. The show factor is quite obvious but in addition, they add value to your home but more importantly, they enhance the safety of it. Thieves and vandals are less likely to strike a well lit home and your family and friends will be able see when walking around your property after dark.

Professional Tips

Make sure to use a maximum of 240 watts in each grouping, equal to 2-6 lights. This will over lighting any one area. Be mindful of your neighbors and make sure you are lighting your yard and not keeping them up at night. Using shields will help you with this because you can direct your lighting. If want to spotlight a landscape feature, use 2-3 fixtures instead of one bright light. You’ll get a softer effect and will minimize glare. Make sure to use different angles for optimal results.

In your design sketches, include landscape elements, structures in your yard, the potential power source, and where individual fixtures will go. By doing this will help you determine cable lengths and which cable to use with different types of lights, unless you are using solar led landscape lights. Areas that require low lighting should be placed at the end of your cables. There is a voltage drop at the ends that will produce dimmer lights. As far as your transformer is concerned, calculate the energy to be consumed then purchase one with a 20% higher capacity. Additional capacity will give you the option of adding more lights if necessary.

Overall, solar lighting is energy efficient, gives you flexible installation, and yields an appropriate return in value to your property.

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