Over the last few years, the garden has become an extension of the house. It is a pleasure to enjoy the garden on a warm day or evening, or to have a view of the lit garden on cold winter nights and increase the living room’s cosiness. However, which fixtures and lights will generate the desired effect? Let's take a tour through the many possibilities.
Types of fixtures
In general, four types can be distinguished: wall, floor, post and pin fixtures. In the event there are eaves, you can also opt for ceiling fixtures.
Wall fixtures exist in many shapes and forms. Certain wall fixtures give direct lighting, which may on occasion lead to blinding effects. Another possibility are up or down facing fixtures that shine their light upwards or down. Combinations are possible as well. Wall fixtures are used as general lighting on the terrace and as accent lighting for the facade.
Floor fixtures are installed on pathways, the ground, or the lawn. The lights always shine upwards, which is ideal to light plants and trees from the bottom up. When used in pathways, be aware of the potential blinding effect. This could be limited by using frosted glass.
Post fixtures are very popular. They are mostly used alongside pathways or a garden platform. The lighting part is located approximately 30 to 70 cm above the ground, hence, it also lights the surrounding area adjacent to the post, making it easy to follow the path in the dark.
A pin fixture can be placed anywhere in the garden’s soil. It is equipped with a cord and the fixture is fed using a switched power socket.
Safety and lamps
All outdoor fixtures need to be water-resistant. If they are powered by 230 V, they need to be connected to earthing. However, it is safer to select fixtures that work at very low voltage (12 V). The cabling needs to be buried sufficiently deep so that it cannot be damaged by garden tools. The correct depth depends on the rules of the country you live in. Your installer will provide the appropriate information.
Previously, incandescent and halogen lights were used as light sources. Today, energy consumption is taken into consideration and outdoor fixtures are usually equipped with low-energy light bulbs or economical LEDs. In general, low-energy light bulbs cannot be dimmed, whereas LED lights can. Dimming will help you save energy and tune the lighting atmosphere in your garden to your exact needs.
Outdoor fixtures are available in various materials and combinations of materials. Copper, aluminium, wood and zamac are often used. Such variety enables you to tune every fixture to its surroundings.
Pin fixtures equipped with a small solar panel are also available. The main benefit of these fixtures is that they do not require any wiring. However, there are a number of disadvantages. The solar sensors are very small and can only power a small LED light, limiting the amount of light that is generated. On dark days, the system cannot store enough energy, cutting the amount of time the light can stay on at night. Falling leaves and snow can cover the solar cell and prevent the fixture from shining when it gets dark.
For more information on outdoor fixtures and controls, you can view articles on garden and terrace lighting and automatic garden lighting.