Before you step outdoors to enjoy the summer evenings, make sure your outdoor entertainment area is suitably lit.
With the festive season around the corner, chances are your parties will start spilling into the garden. Before you step outdoors, sundowner in hand, to enjoy the summer evenings that are with us, get your outdoor entertainment area suitably lit.
Whether you choose the peaceful glow of warm white light, the sophisticated sheen of cool white or sport a colourful look, outdoor lighting adds value by improving visibility and enhances evenings spent outside by creating mood effects, focal points and sheer fun. Options in outdoor lighting include natural, electric and solar, and lights can be permanently fixed, or rigged for a special occasion. Limit a lighting design to a tabletop or wall for a special function, or splash it across the whole of your outdoors – the choice is yours.
Landscape and outdoor lighting also improves curb appeal, expands living space, increases the safety and security of your home, and allows you to enjoy the exterior of your home throughout the year, even if it’s just from indoors!
The glow of a flame is hard to resist, and can add romance and glamour to any occasion. Gardens, stairs and pathways can be lit with garden torches and hanging chandeliers, while tables can be decorated with an endless selection of candles, candelabra, hurricane lamps in colours and styles to compliment your décor. Scented candles can be used simply for enjoyment, to create a specific mood, or to keep insects at bay. Easy to use, and easy to change, natural lighting is usually inexpensive, fun and infinitely variable.
More and more solar lighting options for outdoors are available and as they are cordless and portable lights can be used almost anywhere – and moved at will. Perfect for night-time decoration, they are easy to use, low in wattage and eco-friendly! They run off a photovoltaic cell (solar panel) that collects the sun's energy during the day and stores it in a rechargeable gel cell battery. Generally they come on automatically as the light fades, although many have on-off selectors too. Solar lights for outdoors are available in glass, stainless steel fittings, as well as plastic, and can be left in-situ in outdoor settings.
The first consideration when planning electrical outdoor lighting is whether you want to install permanent fixtures, or whip up a special look for a particular occasion.
There are plenty of enticing lighting options on the market which can be quickly plugged in to add sparkle to a special occasion available at prices ranging across the spectrum. For a festive look consider:
Rope lighting: For a quick and enchanting transformation add a coil of rope lights to an entertainment area. Wind them along walls, through trees or around table legs to create the look you want. Available in a number of colours, and often cut to measure, rope lights are sealed in plastic tubing, plugged into a power point, and are fun, easy to use and highly decorative.
Curtain lighting: Attach a curtain of light – hanging in lots of single strands - to a bare wall for a dazzling effect. Use electric cable clips to attach these lightweight sheets to a wall – and remove them at will. Usually available in 3m wide drapes, but sometimes cut to measure, these lights create a fantasy look that can be used as a focal point in themselves, or as a backdrop to a feast.
Mesh lights: In a number of colours, mesh lights come in a net-like pattern, and can be used once again as decoration on a wall, or above a doorway.
Fairy lights: Wrapped almost anywhere – across a veranda, or around a garden tree, they create the magical, dainty look that gives them their name.
For permanent outdoor lighting the choice is also wide, and it’s advisable to plan what you want before going out and buying random lights. Focus on the desired effect of the lighting rather than the specific fixtures you use. Consider:
- What look you want
- How much light you want
- What architectural or natural features you want to emphasise
- What focal points you want to create
Most permanent outdoor lighting needs to be installed by an electrician, and cables need to be placed in underground trenches. Permanent outdoor fixtures need to be weatherproof, so check not only that the fixtures are made of weatherproof materials, but also that casing is watertight.
Know the size of the area you want to light (in m2) in when going to purchase lights. This helps sales consultants advise you on the wattage and number of fittings you will need.
Get any permanent lighting installed by a reputable electrician. You’ll need a compliance certificate for any electrical installation if you put your house on the market anyway.