Driveway Lights – Tips on How to Install Solar and Low-Voltage Driveway Lighting
While sometimes overlooked by homeowners, driveway lighting remains an integral part of any outdoor landscape lighting design. Also, while the installation of driveway lights will primarily be used for illuminating the driveway at night, these lights also are particularly helpful during other forms of nasty weather which can impair the vision of a driver – such as a foggy weather, heavy rain or snowstorms.
There is never a reason to stop with just safety and basic lighting as reasons for acquiring driveway lighting. This type of outdoor lighting, when done right, can really add a stylish and finishing touch to an overall landscape lighting design.
With so many different types bulbs, frames, shades and installation types to chooses from, attractive driveway lights are available to any homeowner – regardless of the budget. Some lights can be installed on tall-standing poles, others can be installed on walls, while still others can be installed directly into pavement, bricks or other hard surfaces.
With so many varieties to choose from, you may want to consider a few points before heading off to the store to purchase.
Here are just a few:
(a) Determine the exact size of your driveway and lay out the design – In order to be able to choose the right size lights and the specific number you will actually need, you’re going to have to be able to determine the total area of your driveway. From this, you’ll better be able to narrow down which type and size of driveway lights to consider and how many of them you will need. (Generally speaking, smaller lights work better with shorter driveways, and larger lights work better with longer driveways.)
Before installing your outdoor driveway lights, you’re going to have to lay out the design. This means deciding on which type of design and light fixtures to use as well as taking into account the dimension of your driveway, surrounding pathways, trees, flower beds, etc.
From here, you’ll be be able to decide where best to situate your light fixtures and which types to use (e.g. surface-level lights, flush-mounted lights, small lanterns, post lights, etc.). Also, you’ll need to take into account potential problem areas where running wiring may be dangerous, such as areas prone to accumulating water.
(b) Consider using low-voltage driveway lighting or solar driveway lights – If you want to save as much money as possible, you can’t do any better than to install solar driveway lights. The only drawback here is that the amount of light each solar panel is able to store is dependent upon the amount of daylight received during the day. During winter months or foul weather, they may not receive enough daylight during the day to charge them through the entire night.
With that in mind, you may want to consider slightly more expensive, but much more reliable driveway lighting in the form of low-voltage lights. These energy-saving lights will last throughout the night, during any kind of weather, and cost relatively little to run.
(c) Consider using durable, low-maintenance driveway lights – Since driveway lighting is going to be something of a permanent improvement to your property, you should carefully consider a design that is meant to work for the long-haul and also is easy to maintain. If a light bulb burns out, you don’t want to have to bring in the services of a professional just to perform what should be a simple task.
(d) Consider your reasons for installing driveway lighting – Are your reasons mostly practical, stylish, or some combination of both. Decide on this before the installation takes place. Once installed, the driveway lighting is more than likely going to be there for a good long while. So, if you would like your driveway lights to be both functional and stylish, purchase a package that accomplishes both of these objectives from the word go. The main point here is to have a very good idea of exactly what you want before the purchase is actually made.
Installing Driveway Lights
Once you have thoroughly considered all of your considerations and options and purchased the right driveway lighting package for you, it’s now time to install what you have bought.
Don’t take this step lightly!
A great deal of care and attention is needed to make sure the lights not only are set up safely and properly, but also appear visually appealing – not to mention do what they’re designed to do … and that is to illuminate your driveway!
If you decide to make this a DIY (do-it-yourself) project, here are some useful tips to help you along:
How to Install Solar Driveway Lights
By far, the easiest type of driveway lighting to install is that of solar driveway lights. So if you’re not inclined to bring in an electrician, these may be the best choice for you. These outdoor lights gather their energy from the sun – which means you won’t have to run electrical wires down the perimeter of your driveway.
… and these lights save money that would otherwise be spent on the electricity to run other forms of driveway lights.
Each individual solar light has a built-in solar panel. All you have to do is decide where you want to place each light and secure it firmly in the ground. That’s about it!
Depending on the solar driveway lighting package you buy, you may have some initial settings to program – such as automatic timers or whether the lights will be switched on or off depending on the amount of light outside. Additionally, most solar panels will need to be pointed in a certain direction to make sure they gather an optimal amount of energy from the sun.
How to Install Low-Voltage Driveway Lights
The installation of low-voltage driveway lighting can also be tackled by most homeowners as a DIY project. Most of these types of lights come in the form of outdoor lighting kits. Such kits typically include a low-voltage box, multiple lights and all the wires needed to perform a proper installation.
All you will need to do is follow the instructions included in your kit.
The low-voltage box is most often designed to be plugged into an outlet on the outside of the home. From the main box, wiring and cables are then run to each of the individual light fixtures. The wiring does need to be buried below the ground’s surface – but usually only a few inches deep. So you won’t need to dig any major trenches!
Because the electricity running through the wires is low voltage, it is pretty much shock-free and safe to work with – relatively speaking. But always make sure to follow the instructions carefully and heed all of the manufacturers’ warnings.
Now, you may need something like a trowel, shovel or other small garden tool to help you do some digging; but outside of that, you pretty much won’t need to use any other tools to install either solar or low-voltage driveway lighting.
Tall driveway lights may need to be secured in cement to prevent against the possibility of tumbling over in bad weather or accidentally being knocked down by a person, pet or other object. Ground level lights or other forms of shorter post lights can typically skip this step.
High-Voltage Driveway Lighting
If you decide to go with driveway lights that run off your home’s regular electrical current, you should seriously consider bringing in a professional for the installation process. High-voltage electricity, as you can probably guess, poses the risk for great bodily harm if handled incorrectly.