Outdoor Path and Walkway Lighting
Use Path and Walkway Lighting to Increase Safety, Beauty and value
Most of us are on the lookout for ways to make our homes more pleasurable to live in while also increasing their value. Because we live inside our homes, we might be tempted to offer preferential treatment to our homes interiors. However, since our homes' exteriors deliver first impressions to all visitors - whether friends coming to a dinner party or a potential buyer - we owe it to ourselves to adequately maintain and update our gardens, patios and decks with high quality outdoor lighting.
What Makes a Successful Path and Walkway Lighting Project?
The first step to any outstanding lighting project is simply the commitment to a successful outcome. This means we must resist the temptation to make quick fixes. Yes, I've been there. I've felt inspired at my local hardware store, so much that I've envisioned grabbing the solar-powered path lights on special. They're environmental, right? They'll look great and be easy to install, right? So why don't I? Well, I know they're just not the right tool for the job. I don't impulsively or naively invest in my own disappointment. Instead, I strategically arm myself with accurate information and invest securely in my homes' beauty, value and my own peace of mind.
Functions of Path and Walkway Lights
As an integral part of outdoor lighting, path lighting performs an important role in landscape design and architecture. It protects you and your loved ones from the dangers of inadequately lit walkways, decks, pools and spas. At the same time, it deters burglars and vandals since a home lit with security in mind is not an easy target. As you can imagine, a safe home is a valuable home.
Not to be pigeon-holed as utilitarian, pathway lights are also critical elements of outdoor lighting design. Besides accentuating different components of the landscape, they have the ability to create any desired ambiance. They can even help transform an exterior space into an altogether magical landscape.
Path and Walkway Lighting Basics
Path lights are available as both low voltage (12V) and line voltage (120V) systems. Low voltage systems are recommended for residential outdoor use while line voltage systems are preferred in large industrial and commercial environments. Although installations of low voltage pathway lights are relatively simpler than line voltage systems, it is important that home owners embarking on outdoor lighting projects are aware of technical issues in installation. Design and maintenance are two of the chief considerations affecting the choice of path lighting equipment. I recommend these guidelines when selecting path lighting fixtures.
Guidelines for Selecting Path Lighting Fixtures
Whether you're adding path lights to a large outdoor garden, or a smaller yard, low voltage path lights can embellish your outdoor spaces without requiring major infrastructural changes. But when designing and planning for exterior lighting, take care to avoid the four cardinal mistakes and cultivate the three pillars of path lighting success.
The Four Cardinal Mistakes of Path Lighting:
- Disproportionate number of lights for the path: Known as the Runway Effect, too many closely spaced lights can make your light path look like an airport runway.
- High surface brightness: Excess brightness can seriously detract from your design. Attempt to modulate the lighting effect.
- Intrusive lighting: Avoid positioning path lights that shine directly into your or your neighbor's home.
- Unbalanced lighting: Over use of path lighting fixtures in one area while neglecting other areas is something that can create imbalance in the space. Try to maintain a balance among all areas of your yard.
The Three Pillars of Path Lighting Success
- If you are trying to fit a path lighting system into an existing design, work the design around the existing construction to avoid expensive re-wiring.
- Before buying path lighting fixtures, closely read the warranty information provided by the manufacturer. Ensure that you have recourse to a manufacturer warranty on critical components.
- Never compromise on safety for aesthetics. Look for fixtures listed for wet locations. Ensure that the cabling is hidden, well-insulated and away from commonly trodden paths.
Final Design Considerations
When outdoor lighting is done professionally private homes and public parks or buildings turn at night into dramatic, magical and sometimes breath-taking spaces. The public and professionals have long realized that pathway landscape lights are a good investment for many actual reasons, among them:
- Landscape lighting contributes and increases a property value with a relatively small investment.
- Landscape path lighting guides people and increases their safety.
- With good outdoor lighting, usability of the space is increased and people enjoy their yards for a much longer time period.
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