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Outdoor pathway lighting for safety and beauty
Low voltage outdoor lighting can really improve your landscape. It is especially useful to keep your friends and visitors out of harm's way and lead them safely to your front door.This is a do it yourself project requiring intermediate skill level.
We designed and installed a 45-foot long S-shaped Pennsylvania flagstone path leading to our front door. Our challenge was to illuminate the path, keep people away from the driveway and do it for a reasonable budget.
We chose low voltage lighting that we purchased at Expo Design. The color is a dark green and the fixture is a mushroom shaped. During the day, the lights blend in well with the shrubs and grass and are hardly noticeable. We stayed away from those shiny metallic finishes and pathway lights that were too large.
One of the first things we considered in lighting the path were LED lights also known as Light Emitting Diodes. LEDs last a long time even though they are expensive. While the LED lights would clearly outline the path, they did not illuminate it sufficiently. There may be LEDs available now for this purpose.
Instead of LEDs, we chose low voltage lighting simply because of cost. Each pathway light takes a 20 watt halogen light bulb. Ask your lighting source about the size of the transformer and cable that you will need.
As a side note, make sure you plan your pathway lights before you install flagstone or brick path. In our case the source of electricity was on the right side of the steps and we were installing lights on the left. We took some PVC pipe and placed it under the gravel base before the concrete was poured. That way we could easily run our cable from the transformer on the right side to the left side.
We decided to go with a solar-controlled lighting system. It's slightly more expensive, but you'll save money by not having to replace your light bulbs so frequently. The lights automatically come on an off automatically. It's really a time saver and convenient.
We have a driveway to the right of our path that drops down to a two car garage. We definitely wanted to keep people away from the driveway since one could fall and get hurt. Because of this, we decided to line up all of the path lights on the left hand side. The lights would act as a barrier and guide our visitors to the front steps.
Our lights are spaced at 5-foot intervals. At first we thought they were too close, but they look fine and provide ample lighting on the path. Also our friends and visitors tell us that the lights on the left really keep them away from the driveway both during the night and day.
Lowes has a nice writeup on installing pathway lighting.