With a little lighting, your yard becomes a lot more usable
In the summer months, our yards become our personal playgrounds and weekend gathering spots
during the daylight hours. When night rolls around, a little extra lighting allows for extra use of the
back yard. A yard can be as lit up as a kitchen or as subdued as a romantic restaurant, depending on
what you like.
Hard-wired outdoor lights offer the brightest illumination options but are the most difficult to install.
Wiring must meet local electrical codes, and the work must be inspected and approved.
If an interior electrical circuit can accommodate an additional load (see page 112), an exterior mounted light can be wired to it
instead of running new wiring from the service panel.
In addition to outdoor lights, consider adding outdoor-rated electrical receptacles for convenience.
Extra lighting can also bring a sense of security, particularly for those living alone and concerned
about entry doors and entry-level windows. The types of lighting vary greatly.
Outdoor lights can be mounted on a structure, on or at the base of trees, or at any ground location.
Hard-wired lights require trenching in order to run the wires but offer a great variety of lighting styles
and brightness. A wireless solar light has a small solar panel. This panel absorbs daylight, which
charges an internal nicad battery. The battery powers an LED, which provides a small amount of
illumination, nowhere near as much as a wired light can provide.
Wireless Solar Lights
Solar outdoor lights are the easiest to install and require no electrical permits.
Full lines of lights and styles are available, including path lights and spotlights.
Other than occasionally wiping the solar panel clean and replacing the batteries every one to three years, there is no maintenance
for solar outdoor lights.
Because they’re not permanently wired, these lights can be relocated to other parts of your yard.
Which type of lighting is best? It depends on what you’re trying to do. Solar lights do a good job
marking sidewalks and driveways, and wired lights let you see more, an important consideration for
security. Combining both offers more options with less compromise.
Motion Detectors and Timers
Motion detector-activated lights allow lighting when you need it instead of remaining on all night.
For security lights, install them high enough that an intruder can’t disable the motion detector mechanism or remove the bulbs from
Timers allow you to control designated lighting, both indoor and outdoor, according to seasonally adjusted darkness.
You can control holiday displays or fountain pumps with timers, too.
Underground wiring can be installed in metal or plastic conduit or a direct burial cable. Each
requires a different burying depth. The location of your lights should be planned with the
wiring path in mind. Some paths will be more difficult to dig than others or be more
susceptible to future disruptions (tree roots, for instance).
Location of Lighting
Install lights for safety along high-traffic areas and especially near steps, which are hard to view in the dark.
The location of your power source will affect where you install hard-wired lights.
The type of lighting you want in any specific location will determine the design and style of the fixture.
For pure decoration, choose a focal point or two, such as a large tree, for additional lighting.