Energy-saving lights: Options for outdoor lighting
By Kevin Stevens, Networx
When it comes to lighting, consumers have hundreds if not thousands of choices. While many of these lights use traditional incandescent bulbs, the use of LED’s and compact fluorescent bulbs are becoming standard practice. Price can run from $10 to hundreds. Style can vary from rustic to over-the-top contemporary.
Outdoor lighting is not that much different than interior lighting. The main difference lies in the weatherproof nature of the lights housing or its configuration. Another element in outdoor lighting is the use of low-voltage lights. Compared to “line” voltage lights, low-voltage light systems are often installed by the homeowner, which can be a great cost benefit to hiring and bringing in a full fledged electrical contractor.
Types of Low-Voltage Outdoor Lights
Area lights: These lights illuminate larger areas, like a front porch.
Spot lighting: Got a really cool sculpture or exotic plant in your yard? Spot lighting can bring it to life.
Flood lighting: This is the big brother to the spot light. Flood lights can wash entire walls or groups of plants and other garden features.
Step lighting: Nothing will wake someone up quicker than a tumble down a few stairs. Aside from spilling your evening beverage…bumps and bruises are never any fun.
In years past nearly every one of these low voltage lights would have be supplied with a heat generating, inefficient incandescent bulb. Today many of these are equipped with compact florescent or LED technology.
Thinking Outside of the Box (or Bulb)
While traditional lights were energy hungry beasts, newer LED’s are mere nibblers when power consumption is concerned. So much so, that many of these lights can run off small batteries that are charged by solar power. Not only do these lights not add pennies or dollars to your monthly electric bill…they are carbon and green house gas friendly. Add to that the simplicity of their installation (no wires required) and they are some great choices for remote locations.
Old School for Rustic Charm
On the other end of the technology spectrum from solar-powered LED’s lies the humble candle or oil lamp. Tiki torches fall into this category and can be found in dozens of shapes sizes and colors. Like their solar counterparts they do not require wires and use ZERO electricity. If filled with citronella oil they can even keep a few bugs at bay.
For those folks that want simple quick and easy changes to lower their energy use many existing light fixtures can be equipped with newer LED or CFL bulbs…this change is quick and very cost effective as there is sometimes no need to swap out any wiring of fixtures.
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