There are different types of path lights with differences in design, size, brand, and so on. In this guide, we will not be talking about design or style while referring to types of path light. We will be focusing on the different types of light used. A few examples of types of lights used in path lights include incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, and LEDs.
- Incandescent - Incandescent lights are the cheapest to purchase and the most expensive to run because they have the highest energy consumption of the three listed. They also have the shortest lifespan.
- Halogen - The halogen is also affordable to purchase but may cost a little more than incandescent lights. Halogen bulbs consume about 30% less power to deliver the same level of brightness than the incandescent bulbs, and last about three times longer.
- LEDs - Finally, LEDs (Light Emitting Diode) are the most expensive of all to purchase. They can cost over ten times the cost of purchasing a halogen bulb, and over forty times the cost of an incandescent bulb. You will, however, make serious savings on energy consumption and the light’s lifespan. The LEDs consume about 80% less power than the incandescent bulbs and about 50% less than halogen lights to deliver the same level of brightness. They also last up to 25 times longer than incandescent lights and over 8 times longer than halogen bulbs, which is pretty amazing.
Path lights can be electric, solar, or battery-powered. If you want to go for electric-powered path lights, you’ll need to decide between 120-volt lights or 12-volt lights. Using 120-volt path lights means you’re running full-strength voltage to the bulbs and will require 120-volt bulbs. The advantage of this is that you won’t need to get an additional low-voltage transformer. You also won’t experience a degradation of the voltage even if it travels over a long stretch of cable.
The disadvantage of this choice is that there is a higher risk involved due to the high voltage. For this reason, installation cost will be higher; you may not be able to handle it yourself, and so may need to hire a professional contractor to do it for you. You’ll also need to run your cables at a minimum depth and/or inside protective conduit routes which will also increase your installation cost while making it more difficult to move or change your path light system should you decide to. To avoid the risk of electrocution, you will need to use only waterproof connectors and materials all through.
The alternative are the 12-volt lights which make use of a transformer to lower the voltage from the mains to 12 volts. Because of the low voltage, they’re easier to install and many people can do it by themselves. This is a major cost-saver. There’s also no risk of electrocution, so the cables don’t need to be buried so deep, and can be moved easily should you decide to change your landscaping lighting style.
The main disadvantage of the 12-volt lighting is that you cannot just run power to the bulbs directly, but will need to power them through a low-voltage transformer. Another disadvantage is that the voltage seems to begin to drop when the connection is beyond 10 feet. This could mean that the lights will be brighter at the top of the connection and dimmer the farther you go from the top. This last disadvantage will, however, not be an issue if you use very low power consumption bulbs.
You can also choose solar-powered lights, especially if you live in areas with a lot of sunshine. Solar-powered path lights usually have rechargeable batteries that are charged during the day so they power the lights at night. These may cost more at the beginning, but you’ll end up saving energy costs. You won’t need to run a lot of cables depending on how the powering system is designed.
Your last option is the battery-powered type. This is less common, especially for extensive path lighting projects. These are more efficient for very few light placements where no wiring is required or can be done. Its disadvantage is that you will have recurrent battery costs.
When trying to determine the brightness of the path light you want to get, don’t just look at the voltage. From the explanation above, voltage does not tell you how bright the light will be; it only tells you how much power it will consume. To compare how bright one light is with another without seeing them, check for their lumen rating. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the light will be.
The path lights you’ll get will likely not just be bulbs; they will come with fixtures. It’s important that you get the right fixture for your lighting plan, as the fixture you get will determine how durable your path lights will be. Ensure you remember that these light fixtures will be exposed to the elements. Come rain, come shine, they will be out there; you need something that will withstand all that.
The common materials fixtures are made of include stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and brass. Aside from the quality or durability of the materials, you should also look at how each material fits into the general scheme of your landscape lighting. Here are a few suggestions:
If your pathway has very high traffic, consider using brass
fixtures because they are usually heavier than the other materials and can therefore provide more protection for the lights. For more natural settings such as paths through gardens, consider using copper
as they tend to blend in well—though they get a bit tarnished with exposure to the elements. They will also work well with brick settings, which also have a natural ambience about them.
If yours is a modern setting, then you should consider using stainless steel
. Bear in mind that keeping it shiny will require some polishing work every now and then. Finally, aluminum
fixtures should be considered when cost is a major issue. Most aluminum fixtures are powder-coated and can be gotten in different colors. You can choose a color that fits your style and setting.