As the weather warms up your family will spend more time outdoors playing in the backyard. Those precious moments will often stretch long past the sunset, making landscape lighting an essential feature on your patio and in the yard. Is your electrical system prepared for this additional load? And are there products available that will make lighting up your outdoor living space easy and even environmentally friendly?
Examine Your Electrical
Most often landscape lighting is low voltage. That means that the load it will present to your system is minimal, much like plugging in another household appliance or electrical gadget. Even built in deck and patio lights will run off of their own transformer, which is in turn plugged into an outlet.
Be sure that you have sufficient GFI receptacles on the exterior walls of your home. Otherwise, the transformers or other components of electrical landscape lighting won't have space to be plugged in safely. GFI (or GFCI as it may be called) is the short form for Ground Fault (Circuit) Interrupter. This type of outlet is essential for exterior use of electrical plugs. It offers a safety mechanism that will detect any imbalance in the state of the electrical current, causing the circuit to trip and potentially saving you or a family member from being shocked or even electrocuted. They are not fail-safe and should always be used with care, but GFIs are a must for all homes and any set up of landscape lighting that will be plugged into your existing system.
If you will be permanently installing an exterior light similar to the one on your front porch it's probably a good idea to call in an electrician. This professional will be able to install the fixture for you and may even offer advice on how to choose this addition, where to put it for maximum coverage and where to have the switches for convenience.
Can Solar Power Work For You?
If you want to skip the whole GFI or exterior lighting installation, consider whether to install a set of solar powered landscape lights. These products are available in a wide variety of styles including lamp posts, lower path lighting and small strips for use on deck stairs and railings.
They will essentially store the power captured from the sun throughout the day in a battery. When the sun goes down, these lights will tap into that stored energy and light up. There shouldn't be any problem with them running down if they have been installed in the correct locations and the sun has been out at least part of the day. However, lower quality systems tend to have short life spans and when one light on the system is broken, the entire set may need to be replaced.
Both solar powered and wired in landscape lighting can be equipped with photoelectric sensors that indicate when the unit needs to come on. This is a convenient addition and helps your lights to save energy in the long run.
When your family spends time outdoors it's a good idea to provide them with landscape lighting. For wired in sets, be sure that your electrical system can handle any additional load and have an electrician work on complicated installations. Low voltage lighting transformers can be plugged directly into a GFI, while solar powered landscape lights are a great idea for low levels of light. Use landscape lighting to give your family plenty of illumination and safety while they enjoy the warm season in the backyard.Posted by: diana