Selecting the Right Light Source for Outdoor Lighting

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By Jim Burks, founder and president, Pinnacle Lighting Group, a design/build firm that specializes in moonlighting, architectural, landscape and specialty lighting

Have you ever noticed how inviting and attractive a home looks when it has great landscape lighting? If you’re thinking about adding this feature to enhance your home, you’ll need to decide whether halogen bulbs or light emitting diodes (LEDs) will work best for your situation. That’s because there are pros and cons for each type of lighting.


Incandescent bulbs, like halogens, are readily available from many home improvement resources. Although they’re less expensive to purchase than LEDs, they have a relatively short life and can generate significant heat.

Halogen lamps use 30 percent less electricity than a regular incandescent light lamp. The life expectancy for one of these bulbs can range from 2,500 to 18,000 hours. It’s possible to operate a halogen light bulb on a dimmer, obtaining excellent performance.

LEDs are electronic light sources that don’t have a filament. They generate less heat and consume less energy. Although today’s LED lights are expected to last more than 10 years under normal use, they haven’t been around long enough to prove this. While some of the more expensive LEDs can be dimmed to about 20 percent light output before flickering, other LEDs may not work on a dimmer at all.

Since LEDs are still expensive when compared to other light sources, you may not recoup your investment if you’re planning to move within a short period of time.

If you decide to go the LED route, Pinnacle Lighting Group suggests you choose a fixture that has a removable LED unit. If you have an issue in the future, you won’t need to replace the entire fixture.

In Pinnacle’s opinion, the technology for LED outdoor lighting will be more reliable and less expensive within the next two to three years.

Check out Atlanta Home Improvement’s feature on new lighting technologies for more information on the topic.

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