LED Garden Lighting Basics

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LED Outdoor Lights vs Conventional Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor LED lighting first started appearing as part of the range of low voltage garden lighting systems only just a few years ago, but has since become extremely popular. LED garden lights deliver beautiful after dark effects while being very easy to install, safe for plants, animals and children, fairly inexpensive to buy and very cheap to run.

Traditionally, garden lighting has relied on normal incandescent bulbs and halogen spotlights and as a result can overwhelm many normal sized family gardens. Also, unlike low voltage LED outdoor lighting, the range of effects possible is more limited, and even traditional 12v low voltage garden lights can be quite hazardous on account of the very high temperatures of the bulbs.

Finally, traditional out door lighting costs significantly more to run because incandescent and halogen lamps use easily ten times more electricity than LED garden lights and also need the bulbs to be replaced on a regular bases (some LED garden lights are capable of lasting a decade or more).

Outdoor LED Lighting Options

So, what choices do you have with LED landscape lighting? Well, there’s outdoor LED spot lights of course, LED flood lights (which are basically more powerful spot lights), colored clear rock lights, LED patio and deck lights in a variety of sizes and colors, bollards, lanterns, spikes, and LED pond lights, for starters.

Let’s just take LED deck lighting for example. These can be fitted very easily into decking boards or indeed any outdoor wooden garden structure.

It’s simply a matter of drilling a hole the same diameter as the deck light unit, dropping the connecting cable thru and pushing the LED light itself into the hole. And there it will sit, quite likely for several decades, performing reliably night after night with absolutely negligible cost.

Because they are so robust, durable and lightweight, you can fit LED deck lights not only into the regular deck boards that you walk over, but into the side panels of your decking and even into upright posts and the cross beams of pergolas where you can install LED deck lights at different angles to direct light back down. Put LED deck lights into fence panel posts or even highlight a garden shed if you feel so inclined. You are limited only by imagination (and taste).

Many people assume they can’t use LED deck lights if they don’t have a deck – well, don’t let that stop you! LED deck lights are one of the most versatile components recently introduced into the outdoors and general garden lighting arena. I have seen them installed as patio lighting, fitted into steps and stepping stones, even mounted into wood blocks and deployed as standalone ground level lighting in among flower borders.

Interesting variants on regular LED deck lighting are solar deck rail lights and solar post cap lights which you can fit to pick out the line of deck rails and fencing. These are low power ambient LED lights that aren’t intended for illumination as such, more as a decorative finishing touch. They are easy to install and effortless to maintain.

LED garden spot lights have been around for a while of course, not least because the highly directional nature of LED light is exactly what is required in a spot light but without the need to fit reflectors to focus the light beam.

Used outside in the garden, LED spots are a perfect substitute for equivalent halogen bulbs but require a fraction of the power consumption and generate negligible heat (which can otherwise easily damage nearby plants or curious fingers and paws).

The key points to look out for when installing LED spotlights in a garden are beam angle (do you want a tightly focused beam of light or one a little more spread out?) and LED light color.

This isn’t just a matter of deciding on a color such as white, blue, red, green, yellow and so on, although that choice is also available. It is more to do with what is known as “color temperature” – whether the light appears “cool” or “warm” which depends on the sort of effect you are trying to create and is fundamentally a matter of personal taste.

There are some basic rules of thumb though. To create a “dramatic” look use very bright, pure white (if anything slightly on the “cool” side); this is especially effective on water and architectural garden features as you will get a sharply defined, quite sparkly effect. For plant foliage and flowers it’s more common to want to enhance natural colors so warm white or even yellow or amber spotlights can be used to up-light both leaves and branches.

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