Outdoor lighting kits the pros and cons


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Is landscape lighting something you are considering to finish off your overall landscaping design? If you go the route of bringing in a professional service, it may surprise you how expensive a job like this can become. If the costs of working with a professional service have put your plans on hold, you may want to consider doing it yourself.

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Outdoor lighting kits the pros and cons

  1. 1. Outdoor Lighting Kits - The Pros and ConsIs landscape lighting something you are considering to finish off your overall landscapingdesign? If you go the route of bringing in a professional service, it may surprise you howexpensive a job like this can become. If the costs of working with a professional service haveput your plans on hold, you may want to consider doing it yourself.This is where the option of installing outdoor lighting kits comes into play. These pre-packaged kits typically come with the transformer, fixtures and wires. (In some cases, theyalso include a timer.) They are also low-priced and (relatively) easy to install. But decidingwhether this option is right for you depends on the expectations you have for the look youwant to achieve, the quality of the materials used, and the durability of the kits. These kits aredont cost much money for a reason. So before you make a decision, lets take a look at theadvantages and disadvantages.The first thing you need to assess is just how handy (or mechanically inclined) of a personyou are. The do-it-yourself kits are designed for easy set-up and require the use of only a fewtools. Yet if you are a person who has never worked with electrical equipment before anddont know your way around a toolbox, you may find that even a pre-packaged landscapelighting package to be more of a challenge than you bargained for.By far, the biggest advantage of outdoor lighting kits is the price. With a little research, youcan actually find some kits that cost around $50 or so. Thats pretty cheap! But what are youactually getting that allows the manufacturers to charge such a low price and still be able tomake a profit?The first thing that allows these manufactures to charge such a low price for these outsidelights is mass production. This means the variety of these products is going to be limited. Sodont expect to find a wide range of styles or practical functions. You should expect all of thelights in the package to look identical unless you purchase one that contains both spotlightsand path lights. While the spotlights and path lights may have different designs, each pathlight will look the same as the next and each spotlight will have the same design as the next.This is just something you will need to sacrifice for the sake of saving money.It also means you are going end up with lights that are made of plastic. This is the primaryreason for the low prices - and a point well worth thinking through. Plastic lights melt muchmore quickly than higher-quality lights made from metal. What this means to you is thatinexpensive landscape lights are going to require low wattage bulbs to prevent the plasticfixtures from melting. In other words, the lights may be dimmer than expected.Most professionally installed landscape lighting systems use at least 35 watt bulbs forspot/accent lights and 20 watt bulbs for path/border lights. Outdoor lighting kits, on the otherhand, are typically limited to 20 watt bulbs for the path/border lights and 10 watt bulbs for thepath/border lights. So before you make a purchase, make sure the lights are going to bebright enough to light the areas you want to reveal. You certainly dont want to go through thewhole installation process only to discover the lights are too dim to adequately get the jobdone.If you want to shine sufficient light on such objects as statues or trees, youll probably find that
  2. 2. plastic lights dont have enough wattage to produce the look you are after. And unless youwant to melt the fixtures covering your bulbs, its not a good idea to insert higher wattagebulbs into the plastic casings. So, really, your only recourse in this instance is to do withoutthe lighting altogether or purchase higher-quality metal lights.You might be wondering at this point what outdoor lighting kits are actually good for. Theanswer would be for lighting areas that do best with dim lighting, which typically means borderand outdoor path lighting. These lights are meant to safely and unobtrusively illuminate theoutline perimeter of driveway and walkways. Another use for dimmer lights is on new orsmaller plants.The durable nature of plastic lights is another selling point. Plastic lights arent as prone todents or other damage caused by the conditions they are exposed to outdoors. Should oneof your lights be accidently damaged or destroyed, its fairly simple and inexpensive to replaceit. Yet if one of your custom-designed metal lights is destroyed, you are probably looking at amuch larger expense to replace the ruined light.Whether outdoor lighting kits are for you is something you will need to decide for yourself. Theadvantages are price, ease of use, and durability. They work well lighting border and pathlighting, which dont require high watt bulbs to properly light them. The downside is limitedselection and functionality. Also, the quality of construction limits the amount of light eachlight is able to shine on larger objects like walls, statues and trees. Knowing the limitations ofthese lights is what will help you to make the best decision to accomplish your landscapelighting aspirations.