Have you ever been downtown at night, maybe attending a concert or sporting event and were impressed with the lighting along a park walk or on a fancy office building? Most of us, at one time or another has experienced awe, comfort, serenity or relaxation at the sight of well-designed landscape lighting. Sometimes lights pointing up at the side of a tall building or low profile lights under plants along a downtown walkway can have a very powerful effect on you. Beautiful lighting can completely change your mood and experience of events around you.
As far as our homes are concerned we tend to think about outdoor lighting in strictly practical terms. We have a light outside at the front door and at the back doors and maybe a motion detector triggered light above the garage door. They are attached to the house or garage and are there just so you can safely see where you are going when outdoors at night.
But your Boston home’s outdoor lighting can be so much more than that. It doesn’t need to be just for seeing things at night. Properly done outdoor lighting can have a beauty and charm all its own and at the same time provide nighttime safety for your walkways and garden.
For many years savvy Boston homeowners have tried to duplicate this beauty with landscape lighting in the yard around their homes and in their gardens. For the most part it has not worked out very well for the average homeowner. In the past most dependable landscape lighting systems were powered by standard household electricity (120 volt). It had to meet a strict electrical code and you had to have an electrician do all the installation and hookup. The connectors, fittings and bulbs all had to be heavy duty, waterproof and weatherproof. It was too expensive and outside the budget for the average homeowner. Those homeowners that followed through with all of that often ended up with a system that didn’t look right. A common mistake is to use too many lights, or put them in the wrong place. You don’t want your sidewalk or garden path to look like an airport runway. So doing it properly often meant hiring a landscape architect or a contractor who specialized in landscape lighting. Of course, that pushed the price up even further; and usually outside the reach of all but the wealthy.
Low voltage landscape lighting (12 to 18 volt), however, has several distinct advantages. Electrical codes are much less strict and because it is low voltage you don’t need an electrician to install it. You can buy an inexpensive kit and often install it over the weekend. Because it is easy to install and setup you can spend more time working on the light locations and lighting design and not worry so much about hiring a landscape architect to do all that for you. If you don’t like the light locations, you can change it yourself without too much trouble. You don’t need an electrician or designer to move it. One common problem with low voltage systems 20 or 30 years ago was the durability of the components. Back then low voltage outdoor lighting systems were often little more than toys. But today all of that has changed. The do it yourself low voltage lighting system you buy at your local hardware store is usually not only affordable, but durable as well.
Author: Michael Russell
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