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Eight Options for Outdoor Lighting

Eight Options for Outdoor Lighting


With so many options, how do they compare


Outdoor lighting on walkway.


Understanding the different types of outdoor lighting is just one piece of the puzzle when considering how to implement the best approach for your property. Here are some key elements to keep in mind:

– Hardwired or solar
– White or color-changing options
– Programmable transformer or app controls
– Landscape design or best guess

Let’s look at each one in a little more detail.


Hardwired vs. Solar

Solar Lights:

– Offer tremendous flexibility for placement
– Are the easiest to install and can be done DYI
– The sun will charge the lights which illuminate as it gets dark
– The light will stay on until either the daylight turns it off or the battery runs out
– Are not synched to any specific program
– Often turn on/off at different times

Hardwired Lights:

– Take more planning and typically an experienced crew to install
– Wires need to be placed at minimum depths to minimize damage
– Use underground-rated cable specifically designed for applications like outdoor lighting
– Require a site plan for optimal routing of wires
– Require a transformer to run the lights
– Can be programmed in different zones for different applications


There is an ease factor with solar lights that cannot be beat. Hardwiring takes more time, a plan and a larger budget. Solar lights are not controllable or programmable. When looking for a solution that is consistent with your vision for your property and, if your budget allows, hardwiring makes more sense.


White vs. Color-Changing

Solar Lights:

– Offerings tend to be some variation of “white”
– Color can be inconsistent across fixtures due to battery capacity


– A consistent power source offers a consistent color of light
– Many manufacturers now offer the ability to program different colors into the hardwired lights
– Can be an asset if you are a seasonal decorator


Simply put, hardwired lighting systems offer more options and color pallets. For some, this distinction is important and for others this may not be a significant consideration.


Simpe Transformer vs. App-Controlled

Simple Transformer:

– For years this has been the standard option for many outdoor lighting setups
– Offers the ability to sense dawn & dusk to turn on/off your system
– Offers the ability to set a basic schedule for all lights based on an internal clock
– A photocell is needed
– Often are one-zone so all lights are on the same schedule


– New technology allows multiple zones
– Change your lights in each zone based on your needs at the time
– Change colors (if applicable) from your phone instead of the transformer
– Remotely control your lights from anywhere ensuring your property is well lit when you want it


Technology is constantly moving forward and outdoor lighting is no exception. Either the simple transformer or the app-controlled option will give you a stronger system than solar powered independent lights. The benefits of controlling things from your phone and making changes from the comfort of your home are hard to match.


Landscape Design vs. “Best Guess”

“Best Guess”:

– The old adage of failing to plan or planning to fail applies here
– Multiple trips to the home center or purchases from online retailers will eventually get you what you want
– Matching the proper fixture to the proper application can be a challenge
– Ensuring you have all the supplies, materials and the properly size transformers for maximum long-term performance is not guaranteed

Landscape Design:

– Starts with photos and a plat of your specific property that includes setbacks
– Takes into account your unique property features like: trees, rocks, walkways, hedges, chimneys, outdoor sitting areas, decks, patios, etc.
– Allows you to visualize how the lighting plan will look before you invest
– Provides a written set of documents to have on record including: wiring plan, voltage plans, fixture placement map


Although there is a cost upfront to work with a professional who can map out your property, you will have a better understanding and end-result by utilizing a service like a Landscape Design. For more information Contact Us today!