General Guidelines for Path Lighting
Start with a lighting plan — at minimum a drawing that maps things out visually. But more importantly, first clarify the main points you want to achieve: aesthetic improvements, enhanced security or simply adding financial value to your home.
Keep in mind that besides aesthetics and security, the main appeal of path lighting is to have lights which illuminate a path! So think creatively when placing fixtures — staggering them for variation and avoiding rigid symmetry. Experiment with placing path lights in bushes and other areas around a yard for novelty and excitement. On average, place light 10-15 feet apart, but this may vary by design. Down lights can be positioned from a tree to illuminate a path.
You will need fixtures, cables, lights and a transformer to begin your lighting project. Each component will vary in price by style and manufacturer. You can select inexpensive plastic fixtures that run a few dollars to brass or copper ones that cost several hundred dollars apiece. The old adage “You get what you pay for” often holds true for fixtures. So be mindful of making a purchase based on price alone.
For ongoing safety for pets and children it is essential to reduce the electrical wattage for outdoor lighting from 120 to 12. Reducing wattage is the job of a transformer. Most household voltage is 120/240. A transformer takes this high-voltage output and transforms it into a safe level. And in case you add more light in the future, select a transformer that exceeds the amount of light you’ll need by 25-50 percent. Transformers come in two varieties, electronic and magnetic. We use only magnetic ones for landscape lighting. Magnetic transformers are highly efficient; they run quietly and will not flicker or dim. The cost of a magnetic transformer is easily recouped over time.
There are other devices to consider installing as well: a remote timer, multiple circuits, a photo-electric sensor and wireless activation. But again, before you begin, map out a plan to determine what is “mission critical.” We recommend consulting with a lighting specialist from the outset, for assistance with the planning and/or installation of your project. Click here for more information on path lighting.