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Best Landscape Lighting of 2018
Landscape lighting adds curb appeal and improves your home's safety and security. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best landscape lighting for your outdoor design.
Bright Night: Your Guide to the Best Landscape Lighting
The right landscape lighting can illuminate your yard after dark so that your outdoor design is still on display when the sun goes down. Landscape lighting can also improve your home's safety and security with path lights, spotlights, and motion sensors.
Choosing the ideal landscape lighting can be tricky, though. There are so many options to choose from that it can be difficult to determine the landscape lighting that's best for your yard. Type, power source, color temperature—where do you begin?
At BestReviews, we're here to help. We don't accept free products from manufacturers, so our recommendations are always honest and unbiased. Instead, we do in-depth field and expert research, test products in our labs, and analyze feedback from existing customers, all so we can pass on the info you need to make the best purchasing decisions.
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Flood Lights and Beyond: Types of Landscape Lighting
Path lights are one of the most common types of landscape lighting. Path lights are usually posts with a light attached to the top, so they can be spread along a walkway or pathway in your yard. Path lights also work well for highlighting or framing specific features of your property, such as a driveway or pond.
Spotlights are the workhorses of landscape lighting. Spotlights provide a steady, bright stream of light to highlight landscape features or architectural details throughout your yard. Spotlights also work well for security purposes if you direct them toward entrances around your home.
Post Mount Lights
Post mount lights are designed to be installed on top of posts or other structures. Post mount lights are usually placed on fences, gates, entryways, or around decks.
Step lights are small lights installed directly on stairways or steps to illuminate them for safety. Step lights can also be used to accent architectural details in your yard.
Bollard lights are similar to path lights but taller and thicker. Bollard lights can serve as guideposts around your yard or divide areas in your landscape.
A flood light is like a spotlight, but it provides a much wider beam of light. Flood lights are ideal for highlighting key features in your landscape, such as a driveway or gazebo.
Well lights are similar to spotlights, but they are recessed into the ground to blend into the landscape. Well lights are ideal for uplighting features like trees.
What to Look for in Landscape Lighting to Make Your Yard Glow
- Hardwire: Hardwired landscape lighting is connected directly to your home's wiring, which requires additional safety measures. You'll be better off hiring a licensed electrician to handle this job.
- Plug-In: Plug-in landscape lighting is plugged into an existing electrical outlet, so you'll need to be near an outlet or use an extension cord. Plug-in landscape lighting is easy to install, but the exposed cord will need to be concealed.
- Solar: Solar landscape lighting gets its energy for operation from sunlight. You must place solar lights in an area sure to get sufficient sun during the day, or your landscape lighting won't illuminate much.
- Halogen: Halogen light bulbs produce an extremely bright, white light and use a considerable amount of electricity. They also produce more heat than other options for landscape lighting.
- Fluorescent: Fluorescent light bulbs provide a cool, soft light and create a very small amount of heat. They're usually less expensive and more energy-efficient than halogen landscape lighting. However, fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which can pose a health risk if the bulbs shatter.
- LED: LED light bulbs have become the top option for landscape lighting in recent years. They're incredibly long-lasting and use much less energy than halogen or fluorescent landscape lighting. LED light bulbs cost more than other bulbs, however.
In addition to the lighting type, it's important to consider correlated color temperature (CCT) for landscape lighting. CCT refers to the color of light, which is measured using a Kelvin (K) temperature scale. Light bulbs with a higher CCT produce light that's closest to natural sunlight.
- Cool: For blue-hued landscape lighting, look for bulbs with a CCT around 4200K.
- White: For white landscape lighting, look for bulbs with a CCT between 3500K and 4100K.
- Warm: For golden or amber landscape lighting, look for bulbs with a CCT of 3500K or lower.
Landscape lighting is often controlled via a switch that turns the lights on and off. With dusk-to-dawn landscape lighting, the lights automatically turn on and off with sunset and sunrise. Motion-sensor landscape lighting turns on when the sensors detect movement. If the lights don't sense motion, motion-sensor landscape lighting stays off, saving considerable energy. Landscape lighting that's equipped with a timer allows you to set a specific schedule for your lights to turn on and off.
How Much Does It Cost to Light a Home with Landscape Lighting?
Landscape lighting varies in price based on style, power, lighting type, and the number of lights included, but you can typically expect to pay between $15 and $100 for one set.
- Inexpensive: For simple path lights, you'll usually pay between $15 and $35. For basic wall-mounted lights, you'll usually pay between $16 and $30.
- Mid-Range: For decorative landscape lighting in novelty shapes, you'll usually pay between $15 and $50. For high-powered spotlights, you'll usually pay between $35 and $65.
- Expensive: For high-powered flood lights, you'll usually pay between $50 and $100.
Tips and Tricks for Landscape Lighting Design
- When you're planning your landscape lighting design, sketch out a plan on graph paper, including all your major landscape features like trees, gardens, fences, and paths.
- If you want to approximate the effect that landscape lighting will create in your yard, use a strong flashlight to simulate the lights. This will give you a better idea of what your landscape lighting design will look like.
- Mixing different types of landscape lighting creates a layered look that adds the most visual interest to your yard.
- If you're new to setting up landscape lighting, start with lighting paths, walkways, and steps. You'll get the most impact for the best price with path lights.
- To keep your pathways from looking like airport runways, stagger the lights, so they aren't parallel along the path's entire length.
- Instead of lighting a patio or deck directly, you can get a more attractive effect by lighting features around it like nearby trees or rocks. You'll cut down on glare and create interesting shadows.
Q. Is landscape lighting expensive to power?
A. Landscape lighting usually uses low-voltage lighting, which is less expensive to power than higher-voltage lighting. However, if you want to keep your power bill down, opt for LED landscape lighting, which uses approximately 70 percent less electricity than incandescent landscape lighting.
Q. Can I install landscape lighting myself?
A. If you plan to hardwire your landscape lighting, it's best to hire a licensed electrician or landscape lighting expert to handle the job. For plug-in or solar landscape lighting, you can install the lights yourself.
Q. What type of landscape lighting is best for home security?
A. Dusk-to-dawn lights are an effective home security option because they illuminate your home's exterior from the moment the sun goes down to the moment it rises again. If you're concerned about saving energy, motion-sensor lights are ideal. Motion-sensor lights turn on as soon as movement is detected in your yard.