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Installing landscape lighting is a fairly simple DIY project that can easily transform your home and yard with security and/or aesthetically pleasing lights at night. With recent advances in lighting technology, there are more choices than ever when it comes to deciding what outdoor landscape light is right for you.
The Home Depot's Scott Krueger and Joe Autry show the difference between solar and low voltage landscape lighting.
For example, you may have a corner of your yard that is far away from any electrical sources but gets pitch black at night, so using solar powered landscape lights would be ideal. Or you just moved into your home, and you want a light that is durable and lasts seemingly forever, so you are maybe looking into LED low voltage lighting.
No matter what your budget, requirements, and application will be, at The Home Depot we carry a wide assortment of all types of landscape lighting. In this post, I'll go over the pros and cons of each type, so you'll be able to make an educated decision! Let's get started...
LOW VOLTAGE LANDSCAPE LIGHTING
This system is the most recognizable of all landscape lights. We've had some great posts here on the community already about these kinds of lights, from choosing wire size to adding photo cells to them. As you may or may not know, a low voltage (12V) system is a shockless and great lighting system to use around the house. It consists of a transformer (power pack) that supplies the electricity to the low voltage cable that is placed under mulch or rocks, that feeds a low voltage lamp, or light. The transformer plugs into a standard 120V AC outlet and generally has a timer to control the lights to go on and off at various times. Adding a photo cell onto low voltage landscape lights saves even more money if one is not already included. When planning out installing a low voltage system, consider the natural landscape that it is lighting up, just like in the post regarding landscaping a backyard hillside. Lastly, low voltage landscape lights now come in LED, which last next-to-forever, eliminating the need to replace light bulbs all the time!
PROS: Installs very easily; under an hour/ makes bright, white lights/ fixtures come in various shapes and sizes for various applications/ costs only pennies a night to operate/ shock-proof and weatherproof
CONS: may need to use additional transformers for added wattage; lights/ wires and lights can be susceptible to damage when landscaping/ standard bulbs need to be replaced over time/ requires an electrical source (which can be an issue if you don't have one)
SOLAR-POWERED LANDSCAPE LIGHTING
This kind of landscape lighting is becoming more popular as customers are becoming increasingly aware of their benefits. Solar-powered lights are perfect for DIY'ers and beginners who just don't want to install wiring in their yard. It also is a great choice for when no power source is nearby and light is still needed for safety or the right look for an outdoor area. A big misconception is that solar-powered landscape lights produce very little light. While in the past, this might have been true, but now there are brighter spot lights (shown above) that give a good amount of bright light. Another misconception is these kinds of lights only get a good charge on bright sunny days. While its true they do need sun to help light them, the photocell and rechargeable batteries in them also provide lots of backup for efficient lighting.
PROS: easiest lighting to install; simply stake into ground/ less maintenance than low-voltage lighting systems/ uses no electricity whatsoever
CONS: can be limited in lower wattages/ some models produce a bluer & harsher light vs.. low-voltage/ not recommended for shady areas
DECK AND STAIR LIGHTS
This kind of light is sometimes lumped together with low voltage lighting, but is really in a class of its own. These lights can be purchased in standard hard-wired (120V) as well as in low-voltage, so you have many options. They are installed flush in the stair riser, which will require accessibility behind it to wire it. I've seen customers use these indoors are well, its really the safest night for stairs you can get. In this category is also use post cap lights that are placed on top of a post to give higher lights that look amazing on a deck.
PROS: gives safety and security to seeing steps and decking outdoors/ post lights can come in wired or solar versions
CONS: accessibility behind and under the step/deck is required to install them/ needs proper placement to ensure no excessive water and moisture is contacting the internal electrical components
To read more about planning landscape lighting, click here.