When choosing outdoor lights, it’s important to consider the durability and aesthetics of their material, as well as their main function of providing illumination. The longevity and quality of the light fittings makes a huge difference, especially where possible maintenance could be awkward or costly. Ideally, lights should also add a sense of decoration in daylight too. The use of certain materials such as Copper or Brass for example, can add something special to an overall garden theme.
Lumena 12V garden lights are crafted from durable materials: Natural Copper, Solid Brass, Marine Grade Stainless Steel (316) and Anodised Aluminium.
Copper and Brass look impressive when visible but are also great for blending in with natural surroundings in the garden. Likewise, our matte brown and garden green powder coated aluminium options are exclusively designed specifically for this function. As a result of their colour, the light source disappears into the background whilst creating exquisite illumination. Natural Copper and Solid Brass (polished and rustic bronze) will change colour and darken over time due to oxidisation. To prevent this natural process, and maintain the new, pristine finish, apply clear lacquer periodically.
Typically, standard black outdoor lights such as Spike lights, are selected as the best option to hide the light source within shrubbery. However, there are finishes and materials that actually blend in with the garden landscape more effectively than Black. Our exclusive Garden Green and Earth Brown Spike Lights are an excellent example of this. These camouflaged colours blend in seamlessly with the surrounding area such as foliage and soil, matching the rest of the colours of the garden and not drawing unneeded attention to the light source.
An IP “Ingress Protection” Rating is a measurement of how well an outdoor light fittings is protected against specific conditions, namely water and dust. IP Ratings include 2 numbers. The first number refers to the level of protection again solid objects, such as hands, grit and dust, whilst the second number refers to the protection level against water. The protection is numerically rated from 0-6 for solids and 0-8 for liquids, zero being the lowest level of protection. The highest rating available is IP68 which means that the fitting is completely protected from solids and liquids and can be fully submerged. All outdoor lights must have an IP Rating, ideally of IP43 or higher.
The table below describes exactly what each level of protection represents.
LEDs are available in various tones of white, measured in kelvins (K). There are lots of variations, however these are the most common colour temperature ranges found in every day lighting:
It can be very difficult to determine which colour temperature is best suited to particular installations, however our friendly team are on hand to advise accordingly. Colour temperatures can create completely different effects with exactly the same fitting so needs to be selected carefully. Many factors affect the appearance of light, e.g. materials such as copper are better complimented by warmer light tones with water pairing naturally with daylight white, mimicking the blue / white tones of the moonlight.
Wattage / Watts (W) is the amount of energy consumed by any one fitting / LED. Although it is expected that a higher wattage bulb emits a higher lumen output (brighter), this is not always the case. A high quality brand may offer a 5W LED GU10 with a lumen output of 500lm, whereas a different brand of lower quality may offer a 5W LED GU10 with a lumen output of 250lm. This is a massive difference. It is therefore extremely important that the lumen output of a lamp is considered during installation. Not only will the brightness of a lamp have an affect on the appearance of the overall installation, but running costs will increase should more fittings be required to emit the brightness required.
Lumen output (lm) is a measurement of brightness. The higher the lumen output, the brighter the light will appear. Generally a high quality LED light will emit between 80 and 100 lumens per watt.
CRI – Colour Rendering Index
A colour rendering index is determines how accurate a light source is when it comes to replicating colours in comparison to natural light. This is measured in Ra and generally given a value of between 50Ra and 95Ra when it comes to LED Lighting. For outdoor lighting installations, a CRI of up to 70Ra is an acceptable value, up to 80Ra very good and up to 90Ra being excellent and more suited to specialist, high end installs such as retail.
The beam angle of an LED is an important consideration when deciding on different lighting effects. Wider beams create a floodlighting effect, suited for wall washing and larger structures. Narrow beam angles are more concentrated and create more dramatic effects, especially for more narrow focal points such as statues. It’s also important to consider the fixture housing theLED lamp, as well as any additional elements such as a glare shields or lenses, as they can affect the natural beam angle.
As the term implies this is where spotlights are ground mounted and the light directed to plants and trees from underneath. This can create dramatic effects as it reverses the normal perspective of daylight from above. It is especially effective at illuminating trees and large shrubs. Adjustable spike mounted spot lights are the most commonly used type of light for this effect.
Floodlights or wide angle spot lights are used to spread an even coverage on a back wall to define a space or create a backdrop. Coloured floodlights can make for some beautiful effects in a walled garden or patio area. To create an even coverage the lights must be mounted some distance from the wall itself.
This is a similar effect to wall washing but the lights are placed at an acute angle from a ground position. This will cast a strong shadow and emphasize the texture of the wall surface. Spike or surface mounted spotlights or down lights can be used to achieve this feature.
As the term implies this is simply lighting a feature from above. A wall mounted spotlight or floodlight on a wall or a bough of a tree is used to project a pool of light onto a feature below or can be used to illuminate a path or a flower garden from above. It can also be used to complement other lights such as uplighters.
Spreadlights are specialist low level, usually mushroom or pagoda shaped lights mounted on a single column. They provide a glare free pool of light to illuminate a path, deck, terrace or low plant area. The light source is hidden under the mushroom top which distinguishes it from other Path or Bollard lights.
Bollard lighting is used as a safety feature to provide lighting for drive, pathways and parking areas. It usually consists of a light source mounted within a tubular structure of robust construction. Generally it is used with a mains voltage supply but 12v ES LED bulbs are now available, which effectively convert 240v bollards to a 12v bollard.
This refers to the placing of a light at the side of subject such as a statue, fountain or tree so that the light beam shines across it. The light source can be an adjustable spike mount spotlight, or wall/surface mount spotlight.
This refers to the method of placing a spotlight directly in front of a subject such as a plant or statue so that its shadow shows on a wall behind the subject. This way a small plant or tree can be made to look much bigger. The best lights for this purpose are adjustable spike or surface mount spotlights.
These are not normally intended to illuminate underwater features, but of course they can be. Generally they are used to illuminate a fountain or waterfall. To create a shimmering effect, the underwater spotlight should be placed where the water is disturbed by a waterfall or spray.
As the term implies this is an effect using the reflection from a water feature to mirror an image .The spotlight must be positioned on the opposite side of the water to give the mirror image of the tree or statue etc.
This is the term whereby individual features of trees, plants, statues are highlighted by focusing spotlights upon them Spotlights to use for this are adjustable spike lights, downlights and wall mounted spotlights.
By lighting a surface behind an object a silhouette or dark outline of an object is created. Spike mounted spotlightsand floodlights are the best lights to use for silhouetting.
These are similar to bollard lighting but usually of more ornate appearance and are used as a safety feature to enable paths to be freely negotiated at night. They can vary in height from around 400mm to 800mm according to the height of the surrounding foliage. Normally mains powered they are also available in 12v versions. Mains types using ES lamp holders can be used on 12v systems using the newly available 12v Es LED lamps.
Facts about LED lighting and advice on what to look for
The amount of greenhouse gases we excrete into the Earth’s atmosphere, with regards to energy consumption, are at all time highs and concerns are growing. Although energy saving lighting such as CFLs are now commonly used, with many incandescent lamps now abolished, LED’s (light emitting diodes) have recently progressed to become the new ‘big thing’. Although it is evident that LEDs are the most eco friendly of 240v and 12v lighting, many variants have caused confusion amongst the public in the form of wattages, ratings, drivers and much more. We have therefore come up with some simple information below to guide you regarding LED’s, their outputs and top tips.
The main point most people notice is the initial cost. LEDs are known to have a very long life whilst using little energy and the purchase price reflects this,being a lot more expensive than halogen or CFL lighting.. As with post outdoor lighting, be prepared to pay that little bit extra for added reliability; it is well worth it and the initial cost will be compensated through the reduction of energy bills and maintenance costs. It is true when they say “you get what you pay for”.
Many fittings are available with replaceable Lamps,but some have built in non replaceable LED’s.. If the fitting has a built in LED and fails the entire unit will need to be replaced, not just the lamp. This will result in further maintenance costs, including purchase costs for a brand new light fitting and the removal / installation of the fittings by a qualified electrician. Although LED lamps are advertised with a life of 10-20 years it is not uncommon for them to fail in a much shorter time.
TOP TIP: If purchasing a light fitting with a built in LED which cannot be replaced, always ensure that a guarantee of at least 2 years is offered. LEDs are designed to last much longer than this, usually between 30 – 50,000 hours, however should the LED be faulty and should fail in less than two years, it will be covered by the guarantee, but remember this will not cover labour costs.
REPLACING HALOGEN BULBS WITH LED BULBS
Most of the light fittings sold by Lumena have standard E27 (ES), GU10 bulb holders for mains 230 volt or MR16,MR11, G4 bulb holders for low voltage 12v systems. Instead of standard Halogen bulbs LED bulbs can be fitted by the user without any modifications.Todays prices mean that the cost of a LED bulb is only around 5 times that of a Halogen. A halogen bulb uses around 5 times the electricity that a LED bulb uses. For example a 5 watt LED bulb will be equivalent to a 50 watt halogen. It will last around 20 times as long so really its a no brainer!
There is a variety of LED retro fit lamps available on the market today which give off a powerful light for the wattage, and those which are not quite so good. For GU10s, you are looking for a lamp at approximately 3-6 watts. When comparing lamps of the same wattage for quality, the main area to check is the lumen output. This distinguishes which lamps give off a powerful light, which are generally of higher quality.The more lumens the more light.
Also bear in mind if you need to dim the lights,LED lights that are dimmable are more expensive and only work with some types of dimmer.Also be aware of “Colour temperature”. Halogen bulbs give a light that is normally described as warm white and with a colour temperature of around 3000K ( Kelvin). LED bulbs are available in a variety of colour temperatures. The early ones were often a higher temperature of around 6000K known as ” Daylight White” but nowadays they are availble in a variety of colour temperatures. As a general rule the higher the Colour temperature the whiter the light and vice versa. More details are on a separate section of this website. Although two lamps are the same wattage, they may have completely different lumen outputs – the higher the lumen output the brighter the light.
For some applications such as large Floodlights for garden lighting Metal Halide lights which are very similar in efficiency to LED bulbs will still be the best option for years to come.
When it comes to outdoor lighting, it is really important to have the correct balance where we have adequate lighting with minimal impact to the environment. The main areas affected by excessive light pollution are astronomy, wildlife, plants, and of course climate change.
At night, it is important that areas are effectively lit to enable us to move about safely; however, this is often overdone creating a “runway effect” which can be damaging to the environment. Firstly, consider how much light is actually required to illuminate the desired area. This will determine the design of the light, as well as the output and colour temperature.
Light pollution is created by luminaires projecting light into the night sky (upward light). The amount of upward light produced by a luminaire is due to the overall design of the light. Luminaires with glare shields and downward projection greatly reduce light pollution.
When it comes to brightness, people often over-estimate what lumens output is actually required. When asked which bulb a customer requires, it is not uncommon for their response to be “the brightest option”. Although many would believe a more intense light would be better to achieve maximum visibility, sometimes it can have the opposite effect due to dazzling contrast. Eyes adapt better when the light emitted from the luminaire is harmonious with the surrounding, ambient luminosity.
Naturally, warmer colour temperatures have less of an effect on surrounding wildlife, and reduces star-warping. For example, bats are less effected by a red hue of light, creating orange/yellow tones opposed to very cold, daylight white and green which are higher up the spectrum. Blue light has the most negative effect when it comes to light pollution so should be kept to a minimum. Sticking to colour temperatures of 3000K and less is the ideal solution, often referred to as “bat-friendly”.
In addition to the amount of light required, the illumination timespan is also an important factor. Lighting up a specific area all night long is not always necessary. As well as manually turning off luminaires towards the later evening, automation is a handy solution. Luminaire illumination times can be controlled by way of timers or sensors such as motion sensors.
To reduce your energy consumption and global warming further, professional solar lighting is a great alternative. Technology has greatly evolved over recent years make it more reliable and long lasting without the need for electricity. They often emit a lower level light; enough to fulfil the task at hand but without taking president over wildlife habitat. In-built gradual dimming sequences further reduce light output during hours when additional illumination is not essential.