Gardening 101

Essentials of Outdoor Lighting

As the sun sets, the labor of love in your garden turns into dark unusable space. Traditional light from the house limits the enjoyment of the outdoors at night. Outdoor lighting changes your landscape to an environment that can be enjoyed after dark, and it provides ambience, beauty, and security for your home and property.

There are two types of outdoor lighting. The low volt system uses a transformer to reduce 110 volts down to 12 volts. This reduction allows the lines to be tucked underneath mulch for simple installation, though the lines are still in danger from being chewed through by critters or pets.

Low voltage fixtures use lamps up to 150 watts. The monthly cost of using this system is based on wattage totals, which can add up quickly on your power bill. The lamp life of standard low voltage is 4000 hours. LED lamps have a projected 10,000-hour lamp life.

Low voltage uses warm color lamps to illuminate structures, tree trunks, and focal points. Dwarf trees and smaller structures take great advantage of this limited low voltage output. The proper installation of low voltage is crucial to the final outcome. The farther away the fixture is from the transformer, the dimmer the output if not installed with a booster.

The other type of outdoor lighting uses 110 volts.  Professional installers safely bury the lines to keep them away from pets, squirrels, or other critters.

The 110-volt option uses LED color perfection lamps. The color in the LED lamps replicates the warm hue of incandescent lights at 2700 K and a perfect moonlight white at 4000 K. The warm LED is ideal for illuminating homes, statues or landscape features at night. Staying true to its name, the moonlight white is mounted in the tops of trees to create ambient lighting over your yard and cast dappled shadows on the ground or to highlight your home. LED lamps are long-lasting and are rated at 50,000 hours of light. The low wattage cost per fixture allows for sunset to sunrise usage for just pennies a month.

Comparison of Low Voltage and 110 Voltage Lighting

Low Voltage
•    Easy installation
•    Lines are in danger from critters/pets
•    Standard 4000 hour rated lamps or LED 10,000 hour lamps
•    Wide range of housing for lamps
•    Power consumption of 20-150 watts
•    Limited distance for cast of light
•    Cost and quality has a huge range from inexpensive at box stores to higher quality from installers
•    Fixtures can lose illumination the further from the transformer
•    Heat from halogen or standard lamps, no heat from LED

110 Voltage
•    Professional installation needed
•    Burying lines protects from critters/pets
•    Two color choices: LED warm or moonlight white, both with 50,000 hour rated lamps
•    Die cast aluminum housing
•    Dimmable
•    Power consumption of 6-15 watts
•    Low maintenance
•    Mounted at 50-80 feet up in the trees with moonlight shadows on ground
•    No loss of illumination with distance from power source
•    No heat from LED lamps

Installing landscape lighting can turn your yard into a place to entertain and enjoy day and night. It provides enjoyment from the inside looking out and enjoyment outdoors while in the garden.

Cat Valand of Legacy Lighting may be contacted at 919-665-2507 or

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