For any property owner, curb appeal and landscape lighting is important. Why? When done right, it can add value to your property, extend indoor/outdoor living, add hours to outdoor use, and–oftentimes most importantly–provide safety and security once the sun goes down.
However, not all landscape lights are created equal. The result is a design that could cost you a lot more than you anticipated due to the lifespan of your lights and energy costs from the lamps to name a few.
When the sun goes down, your dream landscape turns into a state of darkness. So, when it comes to adding landscape lights that will turn your landscape into a place you can enjoy both day and night, what do you look for? Here are our top tips for buying landscape lights so you can turn that dark dreariness into a safe and beautifully lit nighttime oasis.
Materials and manufacturing matter.
Choosing from the different materials available for landscape lighting can be confusing and overwhelming: plastic composites, ceramic, aluminum, other metals, and the list goes on. While some options might seem more budget-friendly, they might not have the longevity of fixtures made with better, higher quality materials, resulting in the need to replace them—often repeatedly—over the years.
Opting for quality materials, like the solid bronze or brass, means your fixtures will last years into the future, costing you less time and money when it comes to replacing fixtures that have run their course.
When quality matters, it’s important to also look for a company that has a commitment to manufacturing its own products. This allows the company to have the ability to quality control and properly train the people making the fixtures. At CAST, our solid sand-cast bronze, a metal nearly impervious to corrosion, uses a process of sand-casting. It’s a labor-intensive process, and it means a cost savings due to the lifespan of our products. Despite the time it takes in labor, we work with and train some of the best engineers to monitor the work at our own foundry. This allows us to produce high end quality at attainable prices.
In fact, we just celebrated our 20-year anniversary, and we have CAST fixtures that have been in use for all of those 20 years that are still functioning as well as they did on day one.
Performance is important.
For many people, there are options they consider when it comes to lighting: solar and “traditional” (electric) lighting. Both options have their pros and cons.
Solar lighting can be placed anywhere (no wiring required), and it is basically free to operate (no electricity required). However, solar lighting can be a poor performer in poor or cloudy weather, requires full sun for most of the day to charge and then light properly—which can limit where it can be placed, the degree of illumination cannot be adjusted, and it might not be as bright as you’d like.
Traditional lighting requires wiring and electricity, which can cost money for both installation and use. And while these can be downsides, traditional lighting can work no matter the weather conditions and/or the availability of full sunlight, it’s degree of light is adjustable to achieve the desired effects—both day and night, and it’s a better option for security since traditional fixtures work no matter what and it offers a secure level of lighting.
With traditional lighting, you’ll need to consider transformations. Low-voltage lighting (12-24 volts), like those commonly used in landscapes, needs a low-voltage transformer to safely reduce the current voltage to 12 volts. Depending on your total lighting system, you’ll need a specific size of transformer and possibly more than one transformer to meet your lighting needs. For safety reasons, transformers must also be plugged into a GFCI-protected receptacle. If this sounds like Greek to you, or if you’re unsure about your transformer needs and installation, please contact a licensed electrical professional.
You definitely don’t want your lighting fixtures to detract from the other beautiful aspects of your landscape, so what those lights look like is crucial to getting the overall effect you’re wanting. A material like solid bronze, for example, ages over time to create a beautiful patina color/finish. You’ll get durability and resistance to corrosion (which is the opposite of beautiful) due to the material you choose, but it also adds to the beauty of your landscape instead of detracting from it. And with the wide variety of designs to choose from, your wish is our command as far as beautiful and functional fixtures go.
Less is more.
While you might think that the more fixtures you use, the better lighting results you’ll get, in reality, one fixture can go farther than you might think in achieving your desired results, and a few fixtures, strategically placed, can bring your nighttime landscape dreams to fruition.
Instead of opting for multiple fixtures right off the bat, create layers of lighting in beds, pathways, and around structures, remembering that you can always add more fixtures if needed. By following the “less is more” strategy, you’ll get the lighting you want and need, and the ambience you’ll create will be just what you’ve been dreaming of.
When looking for and then buying landscape lighting, here’s the bottom line: While it might seem daunting at the get-go, spending the time to do your homework so you can find the best fixtures for your plans will actually save you time, money, and frustration in the long run, allowing you to enjoy your nighttime landscape just as much as you do during the daylight hours.
We’re happy to put our 20 years of landscape lighting expertise to work for you and your dream landscape plans, so contact us today, and we’ll get that landscape lit in no time!