This week, our coverage of outdoor electric lighting basics continues with a look at the main types of outdoor lighting power sources. Not so long ago, the options were pretty much limited to a single source. Today, there is a bit more of a choice, each with its own set of pros and cons.

These are currently the three available types of outdoor lighting:

  • 120-volt household current fixtures
  • Solar powered lights
  • Low voltage lighting

The first two types are fairly self-explanatory. The first type taps into your existing household wiring, a lá your front porch lantern. Installation might be as easy as plugging a fixture into an existing outdoor, weatherproof electrical outlet. The drawback of this type of lighting is two-fold: for one thing, if an outlet isn’t available, or if you don’t want any visible electrical cords, you’ll need to re-wire your home’s electrical system which, unless you are a DIY expert schooled in all of the necessary safety precautions for such an endeavor, is best left to a hired professional; that can be expensive. The other drawback is that this is an easy way to run up your electric bill. You could cut costs by using energy efficient bulbs and installing tools such as timers, light and motion sensors and dimmers, but that’s yet more wiring for which you’ll have to pay your friendly neighborhood electrician.

The second type, solar power, seems ideal at first glance: with a self-contained, solar-powered battery attached to each light, wiring is minimal to non-existent, and installation couldn’t be easier. Plus, they don’t add a single cent to your electric bill. They do have one major drawback, however: they tend to be rather dim, and their light doesn’t always last through the night, which makes them a poor choice for security lighting.

This is probably why the third type, low voltage lighting, is gaining in popularity. A happy medium between household current and solar lighting, these light fixtures are attached to transformers that typically plug into an existing outlet and transform the energy current into a low voltage, usually 12 volts, that is both safe for the average homeowner to work with sans electrician, and easy on the electric bill. Low-voltage lighting kits both capitalize on and add to the growing popularity of this type of lighting, and take even more of the guesswork out of DIY installation.

By now you’re well on your way to developing an effective, efficient lighting plan for your own landscape. Check back next week, when we’ll continue our outdoor lighting basics coverage with a look at the best light bulbs for outdoor use.

One Response to “Outdoor Lighting Power Sources”

  1. unclebuck says:

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

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