Selecting an Outdoor Lighting Company: Types of Systems Installed

Selecting an Outdoor Lighting Company: Types of Systems Installed.

By Tom DeMuth

tip5-image1Your investment in an exterior lighting system should only be made once. The following is a tip that will help you make an informed decision when selecting an exterior lighting company.

TYPES OF SYSTEMS INSTALLED Can the lighting company design and install a system ideally suited for your property? Are they able to install both low voltage and line voltage systems or are they restricted to one type? Many factors will determine whether low voltage, line voltage or a combination of the two systems is the best solution for your property. These factors include: the size of the area to be illuminated, the purpose of the illumination (aesthetics, security, safety, or a combination), type of lighting (downlighting, uplighting or both), and distance from the power source.

Low voltage lighting systems were initially developed for the “do it yourself” residential market. Over the past few years, there has been a large increase in the number of companies manufacturing low voltage fixtures which has greatly increased the quality and variety of fixtures available. The primary appeal of this system type is that the fixtures are relatively straight forward to install and since they are controlled by a step down voltage transformer, only minimal electrical experience is required. Also, the wiring can be buried just below ground level. When designing a low voltage system, the number, wattage, and locations of fixtures, the number of transformers and their locations, and the size of the underground wiring must be carefully planned in order for the system to operate properly. A low voltage lighting system is a good solution for facade lighting and uplighting of small garden areas. Disadvantages of low voltage lighting when compared to line voltage systems include lower light output, shorter lamp life, and less energy efficiency.

tip5-image2Vernon Daniel AssociatesLine voltage lighting systems are a good solution for expansive landscapes and properties with large trees. Design and installation of these systems are a little more complex and generally are performed by lighting professionals. The wide range of lamp sizes and wattages allows the designer to illuminate objects ranging from small gardens to massive trees to their full height. Beautiful shadow patterns of tree limbs can also be displayed on the ground when large trees are illuminated from above. The lamps primarily used in a line voltage system have a long operational life and are extremely energy efficient. A drawback of this type of system is that the wiring is buried deeper which may make it more time consuming to relocate fixtures.