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Choosing Outdoor lighting
There are many good reasons to light your property at night, not the least of which is safety. Beyond safety, though, there are other considerations. Outdoor lighting can completely transform the look of your home after dark. Outdoor lighting has a reputation for being expensive to install and maintain, but it does not have to be. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your budget to install outdoor lighting that makes a statement and turns your home into a nighttime showpiece in your neighborhood.

Evaluate your resources and power sources. If you keep your lighting close to the house, you can save on installing new power outlets and additional wiring. If you do need to install wiring and outlets, there are do-it-yourself kits that you can install on your own. If you opt to install your own and you're not a licensed, experienced electrician, though, do have your work inspected by one before using it.

On the same note, check with your local code authorities before adding any outdoor power sources to be sure that you adhere to regulations. Nothing turns a cheap job into a huge expense faster than fines for violating local ordinances.

Consider solar powered lights for walkways and paths. Solar powered stake lights are an extremely budget conscious option for path and safety lighting. You can buy them in sets of four or six at your local home and garden store for as little as $30. Installation is as simple as driving a stake into the ground. There are no wires, and no drain on your electric bill. Most are powered with a battery backup for those days when there's not enough sun to power the lights.

Consider safety first. Decoration is wonderful, but your first concern should be safety. Use motion sensor lighting to illuminate dark areas on your property without having lights glaring all night long. Do not skimp here ¨C your safety is vital. Do, however, check with your insurance company. You may get a break on the premiums for making safety improvements.

The second safety issue is illuminating pathways and steps to avoid falls and injuries. Path and stair lighting can be very decorative and attractive. One inexpensive option for stairway lighting are strips that fit along the edges of the risers. The light is indirect and shines down on each step so you and your visitors can see where you're putting your feet.

Less is definitely more when it comes to outdoor lighting. Avoid garish, overbright lights. An additional benefit to using fewer lights is a savings of wattage, and, in turn, expenses; both up front and in long term maintenance.

Backlighting and low lights can add drama to a bland landscape. Choose a feature to highlight and use a single light behind it to cast it in silhouette. If you shine lights through a tree, the overall effect can be truly dramatic.

Don't be afraid to be tacky. Twinkling fairy lights may be overdone, but a single strand of tiny white Christmas lights twining a potted patio plant or edging the patio deck can be surprisingly effective.

Turn to unusual sources. For instance, instead of using overhead or spotlighting for your patio or deck, rely on battery or solar operated table lanterns on your patio tables. Light your outdoor space just as you would your indoor space, taking into account ambient light and task lighting. Do not light what doesn't need lighting.

Driveway lighting serves two purposes. It should illuminate paths and walkways so that your guests and family can make their way safely from vehicle to house, and it should outline your driveway enough that drivers can navigate it safely. Consider walkway lights along the edges of the driveway, especially if the driveway is edged with stones, bushes or raised flowerbeds.

Providing good outdoor lighting can offer added security as well as extend your outside parties or other activities well into the night. Adding outdoor flood lighting will also enhance the beauty of your home and increase its value. There is a wide selection of decorative outdoor lighting from which to choose. Before beginning your project, consider these valuable tips.
Contact your local municipality on code requirements and adhere to these closely.
Call the electric company to arrange for them to mark any areas with underground wiring prior to your dig.
Purchase lighting fixtures that are comprised of approved properties and made for outdoor usage. Look for the Underwriter's Laboratory seal.
Obtain a ground fault interrupter to stop the current should the hot wire become compromised in any way.
Disconnect the power source to prevent electrical shock.
Ground the cable and lighting fixtures.
Dig your trench at least 2 feet deep to protect your cable. If there is above ground exposure use a conduit to prevent weather damage. Local codes may require the entire line be protected. Consider key placements for your fixtures and direct them away from the home. Prevent glare by using lower watt bulbs. Test your angles to make sure you are not flooding your neighbors yard or the street with your flood lights.

You can create many other different effects without much investment if you take the time to plan your lighting blueprint as carefully as you do your landscaping. Find interesting features in your landscape and use light to accent them at night. Do keep in mind that light pollution has become a serious consideration when lighting at night. Keep the lights low, and angle them so that they do not disturb neighbors or local wildlife.
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