Selection and Usage of Contemporary Outdoor Lighting

How this Article Will Help You

If you want to create a garden that you can enjoy as much during the evenings as during the day, this article will help you. In it I've provided ideas and recommendations on how to use contemporary lighting in your garden to bring it to life during the evening, creating illuminated outside spaces that become natural extensions of the home.

My article will help you to make the best decisions and choices on:

- Types and styles of contemporary lights available

- Creating garden lighting effects that have a "wow" factor

- Developing and implementing a successful garden lighting "project plan"

- Where to buy contemporary lighting at the best prices

Why Install Lighting in Your Garden?

This may seem an obvious question, but it's worth considering just to make sure you've thought about all the possibilities:

- Lighting your garden will help to make your house safer and more secure

- If you have a garden that you love already, lighting will bring it to life in the evenings in exciting new ways

- If you're just about to create your ideal garden, choosing the right contemporary lighting will provide you with lots more options for creating a garden that has impact and character

- Garden lighting will provide you with an extended living environment that you can enjoy throughout the year (well, at least most of the year!)

Why Contemporary Lighting

When you set out to buy lighting for your garden you'll find that there are three main categories of lighting to choose from:

- Traditional

- Modern

- Contemporary

I am differentiating between modern and contemporary because whilst modern lighting frequently lacks style contemporary lighting comes in designs and styles based upon the creations of well-known US and overseas designers.

Contemporary lighting designs have impact. When installed, contemporary lighting can add a distinctive character to your garden. It's also very flexible in that it can be used to great effect in lots of different styles and types of garden. There are also lots of different contemporary lighting designs to choose from. You can select those that fit in with the architectural features of your home.

Outdoor Lighting - Achieving Your Objectives

The main objectives for choosing outdoor lighting are:

Making the House More Secure. Most houses have outside areas where the main objective is to ensure security. Security lights are in a class of their own, and their overall appearance and mode of operation shouldn't be allowed to prejudice your choice. They are not always as elegant as you might like, and the light from them is usually very bright and harsh and should never be used to implement lighting effects.

To Make Your House Safer. Exterior home lighting will enable your family and visitors to move more safely around the garden, avoiding obstacles and hazards that are clearly visible during the day. For example, creating a lighted pathway will help to prevent unfortunate accidents such as tripping over objects in the dark.

To Create an Attractive and Relaxing Outdoor Environment. Lighting the garden at night not only creates light and shadows but also a real sense of mystery and drama. It can totally transform the outdoor space when daylight fades and night begins.

To Extend the Utility of Your House. With a little planning and thought your outdoor lighting will make your outdoor space unique and useable throughout the year. Your decks, paths and swimming pools can become an exciting part of the night life of your garden.

To Enhance the Value of Your House. Prospective home buyers will perceive your overall property to have greater value based upon what you do in your garden, particularly if you take the time to put your garden on show at night (you will need to show pictures for day visitors!).

Options for Contemporary Outdoor Lighting

When you start developing your "project plan" for garden lighting, one of the first things you should consider is the type of lighting you will need in your various outdoor spaces.

The main options are:

- Task lighting

- Accent lighting

- General lighting

- Down-lighting & up-lighting

Task lighting is mostly functional. It's the most concentrated type of lighting. You need to install this type in areas where you want to read or carry out any form of detailed work (e.g. needlework and other craft hobbies). You may also want to install task lighting on your deck or in a work space or private area somewhere else in your garden.

Accent lighting is used mainly to highlight specific garden areas or objects, picking them out from the rest. You might want to use this type of lighting around a swimming pool or building or to light up aspects or features in your garden (e.g. a particularly attractive shrub or tree).

General lighting (sometimes referred to as ambient light) fills in between task and accent lighting and is the sort of lighting you might choose to illuminate paths and work areas in your garden. For some areas you might want to use it in combination with accent lighting, switching between the two depending upon how you are using your garden.

Down-lighting & up-lighting will, as the name suggests, cast light downwards or upwards. Wall lights are often used as down-lights to illuminate a flowerbed or a table that's adjacent to a wall. Up-lighting can be used to great effect in the garden under trees or statues to create special effects by profiling particular curves or angles.

With these types of lighting you need to be careful that the glare from the lights doesn't interfere with other lighting effects in your garden.

Plan & Carry-out Your Project Plan

Next you need to decide about the position, type and style of your lights, and about the type of installation that is likely to be most suitable.

Position & Type and Style of light

At this stage it's very important to make sure that you are very familiar with every aspect of your garden, especially those parts that you hardly notice during the day. I recommend that you tour your garden a few times in the evening just as its getting dark and use a reasonable powerful portable light or torch to help decide about those garden features you might want to illuminate.

As you go round the garden make a list of the types of lighting you will need in all the different areas of your garden. Don't just concentrate on the lighting that's going to create the "wow" factor. Your security and safety lighting is also important.

Type of Installation

Before you can purchase your lights you must also decide on whether you want low (12v) or high (120v) voltage lamps in your garden, or a mixture of the two. Your choice will determine what sort of electrical cabling system and electrical fittings you'll need to provide the power for your lighting.

Choose high voltage for wall lights, deck lights and lights around a swimming pool. You might also want to choose high voltage for a powerful garden up-light to illuminate a large tree or building. With high voltage lights you will need to install an armoured electrical cable that can't be damaged by gardening tools and equipment. You will also need to use appropriately insulated electrical connectors.

If you decide to install high voltage lighting I recommend that you consult an electrician for advice. Get him or her to carry out the basic cabling and installation work.

If you choose a low voltage system (by far the most popular) you can much more easily install it yourself providing you follow some basic safety guidelines. The specification for the cables is still important, but you don't need to bury them deep underground as you would for a high voltage system. However, bear in mind that the cables are still capable of giving electric shocks if damaged.

Most garden centers have a wide assortment of low voltage systems and fittings that are suitable for outdoor use. If you buy a low voltage kit it will come with a transformer as well as cabling and fittings. Make sure that you position the transformer in a dry place indoors or in a garage/outbuilding.

Find Great Lighting Deals

Although you may decide in the end to purchase your contemporary outdoor lights at a local store, make use of the masses of accumulated experience available on the internet. Read on-line customer reviews about particular brands and types of lighting before you decide what lights to buy.

Also, why not buy your lighting on-line? You'll probably want to purchase a number of different types of outdoor lights, and by buying online you can look for deals and keep your budget under control.

Look for on-line suppliers that provide best-seller lists and offer discounted prices. The really good ones also offer free shipping and the option to return any light you don't like.

Find out where to get really good contemporary outdoor lighting at the best prices by visiting Sebastian's website.

Sebastian helps people design and landscape their gardens. Choosing the right lighting to accompany landscaping schemes is an important aspect of Sebastian's work. He also writes articles on landscaping topics for magazines and newspapers, and is conspicuously passionate in his writing about using lighting to transform gardens and make them more exciting and usable.

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