Published on October 30th, 2007 | by Stephanie Evans
Eco Options for Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can provide homeowners with sufficient light at night to walk about safely, discourage crime, and add an aesthetic to the night landscape—without being a big energy drain. Safe, energy efficient, low-voltage outdoor lighting systems are readily available in variety sufficient for almost all applications, including deck lighting, garden walkways, and floodlights. Like all lights that are powered by fossil fuels, they should be used with discretion. A timer is a great feature that you can incorporate into the lighting system so that it is only turned on when you need illumination.
Solar garden lights are the greener solution. This eco lighting system uses light-emitting diodes (LED’s) powered by photovoltaic cells. Here’s how they work:
- The lights are fitted with rechargeable batteries—usually NiCd (nickel cadmium)—that are powered by sunlight.
- Small solar panels capture the sun’s light and convert it into electrical energy that is stored for night use.
- Lights are equipped with photo sensors that prompt the unit to shut down during the day and stream bright beams through the night.
These photocell lights can be used to illuminate virtually any outdoor space—your landscape, garden, driveway, walkway, patio, deck, and steps. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes—look for them as small lamp posts, spot lights, flat deck and step lights, hanging lanterns, and decorative accents such as flowers, mushrooms, and rocks.
When solar technology first appeared as an outdoor lighting option, many homeowners initially observed that solar powered lights emitted little light over only a short period of time. Solar tech and battery capacity have vastly improved since those days and these units now have much more to offer the light-seeking homeowner. Pair the concept with new LED lighting technology and you can’t go wrong! LEDs are already extremely long-lived and extremely efficient lights, so powering them with sun during the day to light up the night substantially increases the sustainability of any outdoor lighting system. Let’s take a peek at the merits:
- Lights are now much brighter and many last about 8-10 hours.
- Pairing the tireless LED light technology with solar cells enhances brightness and offers extended use in the neighborhood of 100,000 hours.
- There’s no fuss with wires or cabling—some designs are even freestanding.
- These units are easily relocated if you decide to adjust your landscape and switch things around.