Choosing the right lighting fixtures for your home is an exciting challenge. You get to pick lights that fit the aesthetic of your house and design a lighting plan that makes the most of your yard.
However, before you start thinking about the appearance of your lighting fixtures, take a moment to consider the materials used in their construction. This is important because the materials have a major impact on the life span of the lighting fixtures.
This guide will discuss the pros and cons of various materials used to make outdoor lights. Read on to discover the best material for your outdoor lighting fixtures.
Bronze Lighting Fixtures
Bronze is an alloy that primarily contains copper, tin, and nickel. Its introduction over 5,000 years ago revolutionized metalwork and launched the Bronze Age. By adding tin to copper, workers created a metal that was stronger and impervious to corrosion. Bronze artifacts have been found dating from as early as 3,500 B.C. This points to one of the most important properties of bronze: its durability.
Bronze lighting fixtures can withstand large temperature fluctuations and exposure to the elements. In fact, as bronze oxidizes, a protective coating forms that stops the bronze from corroding. The coating produces a distinctive patina appearance that most people find attractive.
The patterns created as an object oxidizes are unique. That means you’ll always end up with a one-of-a-kind lighting fixture.
At CAST, we use bronze extensively. All the lights in our CAST Landscape line are made from solid bronze and created in a timeless design.
Take, for example, our range of Classic path lights. You can choose from 16 unique designs. In the photo below, you can see our Classic Savannah Path light.
It’s finely crafted and sturdy. That light can sit out in your yard for years without needing to be replaced. In fact, we’re so confident in the craftsmanship of our CAST Landscape fixtures that every product comes with an unbeatable warranty. At no charge, we’ll repair or replace any properly installed CAST Landscape Lighting product that fails under normal conditions.
Brass Lighting Fixtures
Brass is an alloy made by combining copper and zinc. It’s durable and can withstand fluctuating weather conditions. Outdoor lighting fixtures made of brass can deal with hot summer days and freezing winters for years on end without breaking and still look great.
With brass fittings, you also get the distinct patina effect noted earlier. Many people think the appearance of brass lighting fixtures actually improves after weathering.
Brass is a relatively soft metal as well. You can easily cast, bend, and cut the metal into different shapes, which gives manufacturers the freedom to create intricate designs.
That combination of sturdiness, relatively low density, and an attractive finish make it a popular choice with consumers. This is part of the reason that CAST Lighting offers a range of timeless brass lighting fixtures in our SOURCE by CAST product line.
We have 22 brass lighting fixtures in our SOURCE by CAST range. All the items in the range are beautifully crafted with a timeless appearance. We offer directional spotlights, path, wall, deck, wash, ground, and specialty lights.
Stainless Steel Lighting Fixtures
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and chromium. The alloy is corrosion-resistant, which is why it’s called stainless. You can easily fabricate stainless steel into different designs, but it’s still durable and tough.
The attractive, shiny appearance of stainless steel comes from the reflective properties of the alloy. You’ll see indoor stainless steel lighting fixtures used frequently in modern homes.
Unfortunately, there are a few issues with stainless steel outdoor lighting fixtures. For example, stainless steel lights look great if you polish them regularly. That’s something you’ll need to do frequently if you use them outdoors.
If you buy stainless steel lights, be prepared to get on your hands and knees to polish your outdoor lights once or twice a week. That’s not a lot of fun on a cold autumn morning, when the ground is soggy and your fingers are freezing.
Aluminum Lighting Fixtures
The great thing about aluminum is its low cost and low density. It’s easy to shape, and it’s cheap. That’s why companies like Coca-Cola use aluminum for disposable cans.
Unfortunately, aluminum is not a good material for outdoor lighting fixtures. The biggest problem with aluminum is that it oxidizes. As aluminum corrodes, the strength of the metal reduces. You start to get cracks and bubbling.
You don’t want the surface of your lighting fixtures looking like this after a year.
Aluminum also reacts with salt. You can’t use aluminum lighting fixtures if you live by the sea. The fixtures simply won’t last. On top of this, you’ll face problems because aluminum is so soft. Your lighting fixtures will bend and break easily.
Plastic is a pretty incredible material. You can easily mold plastic into almost any shape. It is also chemically inert. That means it doesn’t react with other substances, which is why you see bleach and other chemically reactive products stored in plastic containers.
As a byproduct of oil production, it’s cheap and readily available too.
Yet for all the great things about plastic, it still comes with problems. Plastic objects get damaged easily. Within a year, your plastic lighting fixtures will probably be covered in unattractive dents and scratches.
Polyurethane plastics are susceptible to weathering as well. Over time, the surface of your light might blister and yellow. The yellowing is partly the result of exposure to UV light. Certain plastic coatings reduce the impact of weathering. That’s something you’ll need to research if you choose to buy plastic lighting fixtures.
You also face some end-of-life issues with plastic lighting fixtures. Because plastic is chemically inert, it takes a long time to break down. Moreover, you can’t recycle many types of plastics, so there’s a good chance your old lighting fixtures will end up in the dump. Metal lighting fixtures, on the other hand, can be melted down and reused.
This guide discussed the pros and cons of different materials used to create outdoor lighting fixtures. As you may now have realized, some materials like plastic and aluminum are more affordable than others. However, cheaper materials tend to damage more easily and don’t last as long.
If you want something that lasts, the best material for lighting fixtures is bronze or brass. If you buy a bronze or brass outdoor light today, it will still look great in a decade’s time. For more information about outdoor lighting, download our free eBook,where you’ll find plenty of valuable tips, insights, and inspiration.