12/10/2016 12:00 AM
Do you like to entertain family and guests outdoors? Maybe you feel your garden is lacking something. You have the decking and/or the patio, you have a nice, safe fenced off garden, a barbecue area, seating, grass, nice flowers and everything you need for a good party. Yet, something is missing. Perhaps that something is outdoor lighting. If you have not considered it before, maybe you should now, because low cost LEDs are revolutionizing the way we light our indoor and outdoor spaces.
Why You Should Consider LED Lighting
Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs were once something found in laboratories and small torches, but now they are a viable and affordable light source. They are renowned for being cost effective, durable and flexible. This means they cost less to run while coming in all shapes and sizes ranging from floodlights to tiny strip lights which can be attached to any wall or surface. Their durability means they are more robust for outdoor lighting and many come in weatherproof fittings and covers.
Types of LED lights include:
For an outdoor setting you may need to mix large main lights with smaller, decorative lights. These can range from small lights placed between plants to illuminate flower beds to large wall mounted flood lights and strip lights placed along fences and trellises.
Planning Your ProjectThe key to any DIY project is planning. Each project is unique and should never be bodged together at the last minute! This is especially true for all DIY project requiring new or modified wiring. You need to know exactly where you want your lights, in what pattern, which needs to be wired into the mains, and how. Some lights will require wiring through or along a wall, others may need to cross under or over areas where people will be walking.
Patio and Decking LightingThe first thing to decide is what kind of lighting would you like... Would you like a main light on the wall or a series of smaller LED candle lights or perhaps spotlights? These are more complicated to install as you will need to firmly attach the fitting to the outside wall and ensure wiring either goes through inside the wall to an appropriate mains supply or down the outside. The wire needs to be properly insulated and safely fixed into position. You may wish for a series of smaller lights such as strip lights which can be simply fixed to the wall with wiring closer to the ground. Much like Christmas tree lights, you can work these lights over trellises, railings and so on. It is also possible to utilise battery powered lights - which last longer with LEDs and solar powered lights for the garden, but the latter will only work in areas which receive sufficient sunlight.
Fence LightingFences are trickier to light because they require longer lengths of wiring and smaller lights. It is not advisable to attach floodlights or bulkheads, or even spotlights to fencing. Strip lights are the most sensible lights to use, though lightweight wireless lights such as battery candle lights and solar powered lights may work too. To complete your fence lighting you will need large strips of lights connected to one or two power sources close to the house. The wiring needs to be safe and secured, so you can control when the lights are used.
Some ConsiderationsThere are a number of considerations you should think about when undertaking DIY outdoor LED lighting projects. However, these are not unique to LEDs, but should be considered for all DIY efforts. It is crucial to:
You should also seek expert advice wherever possible; especially on health and safety issues, you should employ a qualified electrician for any new or complicated wiring elements of your lighting. This is not just for your safety, but for those using the site as well.