Landscape lighting provides low-cost security for your property and the latest in low-voltage lights combine reliable performance with style and elegance. Custom light installations add a whole new element of curb appeal after dark. Appropriate light selection adds character to your Madison Wi home above and beyond what’s visible under the sun. There are many options to choose from when selecting low-voltage lights plus the increasingly popular solar-powered landscape lighting options. Landscape lighting dramatically increases the “wow factor” of your home and landscape.
Make a Statement with Landscape Lighting
After making a commitment to landscaping your property in a way that you’re proud of, the most popular reasons for taking the next step with an overall lighting system includes:
- Enhanced Curb Appeal – your landscape takes on a totally new, distinctive look under the glow of artificial light. Landscape lighting allows you to accent special features – the texture of your brick or stone home, plantings, walks and driveways. Quality lighting increases the value of the property, too.
- Safety – there are two elements to the concern for safety that lights address – personal safety when moving around after dark and threats from outsiders on the property. Lighting pathways, steps and drives makes it easier and safer for you and guest to move while discouraging those who would rather not be seen.
- Welcoming, Comfortable Feel – Warm lighting that accents your home’s key features makes it more welcoming after dark and makes outdoor living spaces like fire pits and seating areas comfortable and safe.
Adding outdoor lighting is like accessorizing with fine jewelry, it makes an already nice appearance even better.
Outdoor Lighting – Many Options
Today’s outdoor lighting installations are sculpted to fit any style, architecture or design concept. Fixtures range from simple and basic to artistic and whimsical. Quality, professionally-installed fixtures are of high-quality metal for longevity and performance – for real eye-appeal, designers look to copper and solid brass!
The varied selection of low-voltage lights as well as solar-powered outdoor lights provides for a fixture to fit your needs. Many use the latest in LED technology as well as energy-efficient halogen bulb.
NOTE FROM THE PROS – LED bulbs provide a harsher, brighter white light while traditional incandescent bulbs deliver a warmer, softer light. While both can be had in different colors for seasonal changes, there are usually more color choices with standard bulbs. Since in a low-voltage system neither choice draws much power, the value of LED is more for longevity than energy-efficiency.
Whether you’re in the midst of planning a new landscape installation, renovating an existing hardscape or just looking to add a night-time accent, consider the four basic categories of lights for your home:
- Pathway Lighting – pathway lights are the most common landscape lighting choices. Low-voltage installations are reliable and light up sidewalks, pathways and plantings, adding ambiance and security.
- Cannon Lights – also known as well lights, these fixtures direct light to specific location to highlight plantings like decorative trees and shrubs. Well lights earn their name because they are often installed just below the ground so only the light they give off is visible.
- Floodlights and Spotlights – when you want to highlight the architecture of your home, light a grove of trees or a large, special feature in your yard these fixture cast a wide beam – and do it from small fixtures.
- Deck and Patio Lights – subtle lights on railings, posts, steps and stairs provide a cozy atmosphere while increasing the overall safety as they help to prevent falls in once shadowy places.
If your landscape includes a water feature, landscape lighting makes it even more intriguing after dark to compliment the sounds of running water. Cannon and spotlights are ideal to highlight waterfalls and fountains. There an entire class of underwater lights for ponds, too.
Low-voltage Lights vs. Solar-powered Lights
Low-voltage landscape lighting, as opposed to traditional light installations inside your home, use a transformer to reduce basic 120-volt electrical current to just 12 volts of electricity. In doing so, these systems result in more efficient and safer operation.
Solar-powered landscape lights are becoming more prevalent for do-it-yourself installations because there’s little to do but install or activate the rechargeable battery and put the fixture in place. Originally a true low-cost option, today’s high-quality solar-powered fixtures include the same metal components as low-voltage versions and in many cases match the price.
Solar lights use only LED bulbs so the bulbs last a long time, but there are few options in brightness or color.
There are pros and cons with each landscape lighting option. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of solar-powered lights:
- Advantages —
- Powered by the sun so other than batteries there’s no cost
- Available in a variety of fixture designs, shapes and sizes for most installation requirements
- Solar-powered fixtures can be installed where wired alternatives aren’t practical or desired
- Disadvantages —
- Bulbs don’t blow out, they fade in intensity over time and lose brightness
- There are now bulb options so intensity and color can’t be changed
- They require direct sunlight to keep charged – In Madison WI winters that can be a problem
- Batteries don’t function efficiently in cold temperatures – solar-powered lights may stay on far less in winter than in summer
- Maintenance includes keeping the solar panel free from dirt and debris or they cannot recharge
- Solar-powered lights don’t allow you to determine when they come on or how long they stay lighted
Low-voltage landscape lighting is the choice of professional landscapers in most every instance. It provides bright, reliable light in a wide range of installation options. There are pros and cons with these systems, too. Consider the disadvantage of low-voltage lights:
- Detailed planning required – to get the most from a low-voltage system complete calculations of voltage requirements for the number of bulbs to be used (and the wattage of each) as well as the length of the overall system (size and length of wire required) of the system must be done. Calculations provide the details required to select the appropriately powered transformer.
- Voltage Variations – the voltage in the wires drops the further away from the transformer a fixture is installed. Without correct calculation of the power required for each bulb and using the proper gauge wire to deliver continually correct voltage, efficiency can be reduced. Poor planning and the fixtures farthest from the transformer won’t be as bright as they should be.
- Low-voltage Systems Require Installation Know-how – fixtures are installed in many different locations – including in the ground or above the ground – and must be connected to the main power source via a central line. The power line is usually buried – but doesn’t need to be in a deep trench. Training, tools and experience make installations smooth and efficient.
Once you evaluate the other options, consider the advantages of a low-voltage system:
- Energy-efficient – A large landscape lighting installation requires far less energy that one lightbulb inside your house.
- Long Life – Landscape lighting bulbs last longer than traditional light bulb, extending energy savings.
- Safety – Low-voltage bulbs don’t get hot so there’s no danger to fingers or nearby plants. In a setting where metal tools are regularly used – hoes, scissors, hand-cultivators and shovels – the danger of shock if a wire is cut is eliminated.
- Versatile Installations – with so many shapes, sizes and configurations to choose from, there’s a low-voltage lighting system for any landscape, big or small.
- Positive ROI – historically, a pleasing landscape lighting installation not only increases the overall curb appeal of a property, it increases its value.
Professionals Understand the Options
To extend the overall appeal of your home well after sunset, call Proscapes LLC today and review all your exciting landscape lighting options. Proscapes LLC creates and maintains outdoor living spaces in Madison WI and throughout South Central Wisconsin.
Contact us at (608) 244-6464 or email us for the latest in low-voltage lights for a complete landscape lighting plan for your Madison WI home.