A Beginners Guide To LED Garden Lighting

By Elise Kavenagh

Just a few years ago it seemed quite rare to find people lighting their garden in the evening, which may have been due to the limited lighting options available then. Now though there is a huge choice of outdoor lighting available to satisfy most projects and budgets, with outdoor LED lighting emerging as a dominant player in this field.

And it's easy to see why, since LED garden lighting enables attractive and hitherto unachievable effects that are at the same time simple to install and inexpensive to both purchase and operate. They are also quite safe around delicate plants, animals and children thanks to their very low power consumption and corresponding absence of heat.

Most outdoor LED lighting receives power using the same basic system as traditional garden lighting. An internally located transformer converts mains electricity to 12 volts DC (low-voltage) which is distributed throughout the garden via a cable to which individual light fixtures are then connected. The main difference is that LED outdoor lights require less than 10% as much power as conventional garden lights that use incandescent (including halogen) bulbs.

Conventional incandescent lights work by literally burning a metal filament - this converts electricity into light (about 10%) and heat (90%). LED lights work by stimulating electrons which causes emissions of photons (technical term for light) but instead produce over 90% light and less than 10% heat - in other words the exact opposite ratio.

This means that not only do LED lights run almost cool since so little energy is lost as heat, but that a 6W LED for example can produce the same amount of light as a 60W incandescent bulb since the LED needs 10 times less power and thus costs 10 times less to operate. Don't forget either that LED lights outlast incandescent equivalents by a factor of 20 times and therefore also impose far fewer maintenance costs and headaches.

On a measure of white light quality using the CRI (Color Rendering Index - how accurately a subject is rendered under artificial light) LED lighting scores well. Although most LED lights are designed to produce white light, they are of course available in a range of other vibrant colors and color changing LED units are also common.

Another interesting feature of LED light is that it is a pure color. In other words the light covers just a single portion of the spectrum rather than being a mix of colors, which lends them an almost metallic look, not unlike gem stones such as emerald green, ruby red and sapphire blue. LED light is also inherently directional and so they tend to be great for spotlighting but are equally effective in other roles if filters and diffusers are applied.

These days LED garden lights come in a huge variety of different styles including: wall wash effects; floodlights; patio and deck lights; rock lights; lanterns; submerged in ponds; integrated in garden ornaments; bollards; spikes and pagodas. However, the most frequently found are still LED spot lights.

To round up then, here's a basic list of things to check when purchasing outdoor LED lighting.

First don't be fooled by the diminutive power levels; it's surprising how bright a 1W LED light for example can seem once night descends on the garden.

Secondly take note of the beam angle (how tightly focused or widely dispersed the light pool is) since different applications need different effects.

Thirdly check that the external casing is sturdy and able to prevent water ingress - nothing kills the electronics in LED lights as easily as moisture.

Lastly, like many things you get what you pay for with LED lights and there tends to be a correlation between price and quality. - 29857

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