As soon as North Georgia hardware stores clear out the pre-lit Christmas trees and the giant inflatable Santas, their shelves are stocked with an array of outdoor lighting products for the spring and summer season. But who says exterior lighting is something to consider in only the warmer months of the year?
When the days grow shorter, our homes sit in darkness longer, making outdoor lighting even more important. Exterior lights enhance safety and security for those who may leave or return home from work in the dark.
When the days grow shorter, our homes sit in darkness longer,
making outdoor lighting even more important.
Plus, installing an exterior landscape lighting system is a great way to add beauty and curb appeal to your home’s walkways, driveways, entrances and landscaping. It creates a nice sight to come home to each day.
Put your home in the best light by adding an outdoor lighting to your fall to-do list. Here are five easy steps to accomplish this project.
Step 1. Know your purpose.
Take a minute to think: Why do I need outdoor illumination? Do you need to enhance lighting on walkways and entrances to improve safety after dark? Do you need more lights around the side and back of your home for added security? Or, are you looking to simply highlight some of the exterior features of your home and lawn?
Step 2. Make a sketch.
Do a walkthrough of your property to determine areas where lights may be needed. Draw your yard on a piece of paper, sketching in existing lights, buildings, trees and shrubbery, walkways, etc.
Step 3. Identify where to illuminate.
Match your lighting purpose (greater security, etc.) to specific locations on your sketch. Here are some areas you should consider:
- Front entry – Provide a warm welcome after dark. You’ll want to illuminate the front steps, as well as door lock and house numbers.
- Side and rear entryways – Illuminating side and rear entries to the house, as well as walls with easy access widows, can discourage prowlers and thieves.
- Steps and walkways – Frequently neglected, lighting these areas is important to avoid accidents in dark locations.
- Driveway – Highlighting your driveway with light can improve safety and security. It also creates an attractive pattern that adds to your home’s curbside appeal.
- Garage – Ample lighting over the garage will enhance both safety and security, particularly when other lights are not on.
- Back yard – Discourage intruders and vandals with a Walton EMC LED yard light or floodlighting from the house or trees. Or, consider adding more subtle lighting that will transform this space into an outdoor room you can enjoy on fall and spring evenings.
Step 4. Study lighting techniques.
After determining where lights are needed, study up on landscape lighting techniques. Be creative in using a mixture of lighting techniques to add interest. Also, keep in mind this tip from Jeff Emerson of Lamps Plus Professionals: “Don’t overdo it! A little light goes a long way at night.” Read Jeff’s outdoor lighting technique tips for ideas.
Step 5. Buy and install lights.
Once you know how you want to light your outdoor elements, you’re ready to shop for lights. The options are many and varied, but all fall under one of these lighting systems: 120-volt, low-voltage and solar.
120-volt lighting requires the greatest effort and expense to install. Wiring for these lights must be buried at a depth of 18 inches or encased in conduit to protect from moisture. A licensed electrician has to install the electrical components.
Low-oltage lighting needs only an outdoor receptacle and a transformer. The transformer converts the 120 volts coming from the household line to a usable 12 volts to operate the lights.
Solar lighting is the easiest outdoor lighting to install since it has no cords to be hidden or the need to be connected to an electric power source. It’s also the least expensive. Solar lights must be positioned so that the photovoltaic cell in the fixture receives enough light during the day to allow it to shine at night. A low-light area, such as under a tree or in the shadow under house eaves, is not idea for solar lighting.
To help you sort through the many different lighting options, Volt, a manufacturer of outdoor lighting, offers many in-depth articles on selecting and installing landscape lights in its learning center. Find it here.
If you’re shopping for 120-volt and low-voltage options don’t forget energy efficiency. Look for lights with long-lasting, energy-efficient LED bulbs. Also, add timers or motion sensors to ensure your lights use electricity only when it’s needed.