In the mid-90s, most outdoor lighting specialists installed low-voltage halogen fixtures. Fast-forward twenty years and look all around you. There’s clearly been a seismic shift in what homeowners can expect in terms of quality of light, brightness, energy costs and especially the life expectancy of professionally installed outdoor lighting systems. Why? Old-school preference for halogen lights is rapidly giving way to the latest-and-greatest LED technology.
When you look at the advantages of LED, it’s a no-brainer. LED outdistances halogen by providing better lighting with significantly longer light expectancy. LED also saves energy, which is especially important for something that enhances your life, hour after hour, night after night, whether you’re home or not.
How does LED (light emitting diode) work? It uses a small light source that becomes illuminated as electrons move through a semiconductor material. LEDs focus light in a specific direction and only release a small amount of heat backward into a heat sink. Incandescent or florescent bulbs release both light and heat in all directions. Halogen lights use a small tungsten filament, but it is encased inside a very small quartz envelope. Since the filament is so close to envelope, a halogen light is extremely hot compared to a normal light bulb.
LED outshines them all
As you may already know, LED and halogen aren’t your only choices for your new outdoor lighting system. You could also choose standard line lighting or solar outdoor lighting. The drawbacks of line voltage lighting are that a licensed electrician must install it, bulbs tend to burn out quickly, and you end up with a higher electricity bill. Solar options are being sold everywhere from home improvement stores to supermarkets. But if you find yourself being swayed by an enticing retail display, remember this: solar lighting just won’t provide a sufficient amount of light output to make a pathway or other area safe, not to mention inviting and beautiful.
DIY products are available in big box stores and online, but they represent a real roll of the dice when compared to professional expertise. Professional landscape lighting typically includes a custom design, quality products that won’t constantly need your attention, thorough installation and ongoing service to maintain the system. Service typically includes changing bulbs and ensuring that your system has the correct voltage; trimming bushes that may be blocking lighting and interfering with your beautiful lighting design; fixing crooked or misaligned fixtures, and checking timing options to run longer or shorter at night.
Onward and Upward
When you change from halogen outdoor lighting system, you can expect to save 80 percent on your electricity bill. Since an LED bulb’s life span is much longer than a halogen bulb, maintaining your state-of-the-art-LED outdoor lighting system involves much less time and hassle.
What if you currently have an outdoor lighting system that uses halogen technology? Your existing system doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck in landscaping “Stone Age.” Ask a landscape lighting company about making a switch. Many existing systems can be retrofitted to LED.
Also remember that with outdoor lighting options, seeing really is believing. Make sure your search for an outdoor lighting professional includes someone who offers a free nighttime demonstration. Your designer should be able to install a temporary lighting system so you can see exactly how it will look when the sun goes down. This “test drive” greatly benefits you and helps your designer make tweaks so your beautiful new outdoor lighting system will look and function properly for years to come.
The bottom line? Exciting new choices in LED lights give you the lighting looks you’ve always wanted, along with practical advantages. Isn’t it time your lawn and outdoor living areas made a statement about you? Just like the latest tablets, readers and smart phones, new LED outdoor lighting systems and retrofits give you the power to be a technology standout.