Lighting Your Driveway For Style and Safety

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When considering installing outside and garden lighting, the first thing many people think to light is their driveway.
This is a bit odd when you think about it.
Most people are in their car with the headlights on when they navigate their drive at night.
So lighting your driveway is only really a practical necessity if you routinely walk along it after dark.
But outside lighting isn't only a matter of practical necessity.
There is undoubtedly a sense of opulence to a beautifully illuminated driveway, particularly if you're fortunate enough to have a long one.
The lighting turns your driveway into a landmark and creates a grand entrance, a celebration of homecoming for you to look forward to.
It also provides visitors with the warmest possible welcome.
So what's the best way to light your driveway? The answer to that depends on the driveway in question.
If it has a high wall running along one side, installing wall-mounted spotlights or downlighters is an option.
If the wall is low, you have the opportunity to install wall-recessed step lights just a few inches above ground level so they shine horizontal beams across the driveway.
Spacing them so their beams do not overlap will create an interesting triangular pattern of light on the driveway's surface.
But the most popular option for lighting driveways is bollards.
The best of these project their light horizontally and downwards around 360° to illuminate the surrounding area.
If you have a flowerbed beside your drive, you can use the spike mounted versions that install into soil.
If you haven't, the flange mounted versions install onto flat hard surfaces such as paving, block paving and brick.
If you own a period or rural property, you may feel that bollard lights look too contemporary and urban for your location.
If so, you could consider bollards made from solid copper.
These rapidly dull down and blend unobtrusively with their surroundings.
In more contemporary locations, 316 stainless steel is a popular choice, as is aluminium which is available in a choice of powder coat colours.
The next issue to consider is the lighting technology you wish your bollards to use.
If you choose halogen, you will need one or more transformers to take the voltage down to 12 volts.
This needn't be a problem because there are transformers on the market that can be buried out of sight in the soil if there is no convenient location to conceal them.
There is also a choice of energy-efficient bollards on the market.
Some fittings can be used with 12 volt MR16 LEDs which use just 5 Watts of electricity.
Alternatively, if you have mains wiring installed and are looking for a 240 volt solution, you can choose between bollards using a 5 Watt fluorescent lamp or the very high output 20 Watt metal halide lamp.
Both these light sources are very energy efficient and have the added advantage of generating very little heat - useful if children play on the drive at night.
Finally, some people wish to install lights into the surface of their driveway to uplight trees or the architecture of their house.
Clearly, these lights need to be robust enough to withstand being driven over.
There are several on the market, including ultra-powerful architectural uplighters which, while capable of lighting tall buildings, operate at very low temperatures, making them particularly suitable for public locations where health and safety is a consideration.
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