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Outdoor lighting tends to have people a bit lost or confused with questions like: “Where do I start?”, “What type of lighting do I need?” and “How will it be powered?” As intimidating as this can be, it’s actually not too difficult to get right. It's always best to go to the space and ask yourself what you want to illuminate in that area. This then brings you to choosing between two types of lighting; direct lighting and indirect lighting. Direct lighting is where a light is installed to just provide general illumination of an area. This, however, can be blinding as the light will shine in your eyes at night. If this is not what you want, indirect lighting is the way to go. Indirect lighting allows you to light up a specific area but the light is positioned so it does not shine in your eyes. Once you have established whether to go direct or indirect, then you can proceed to the next step.
There are a few common techniques one can use - spot lighting, uplighting, and downlighting. Spot lighting makes use of a light that provides a controlled intense beam of light to highlight specific features in your garden that you would want to draw interest to. Downlighting is a technique where lights are positioned above an object or surface to shine down onto, or along it. It can really give an interesting feel to a wall or door by highlighting textures. Another technique that is commonly used is uplighting. This can be achieved by using a light that is usually laid flush in the ground to provide light to a garden feature (such as a statue), a wall with an interesting texture, or to light up a tall tree. There are many techniques, so it all comes down to what you want to highlight.
The last concern when it comes to lighting is how you want it to be powered. One has the option to use normal phase voltage, battery power or solar power. If you wish to go the normal phase voltage route, you would be making use of cabling and South Africa's single phase electricity. You would then need to buy lights that work with 230V and 50Hz phase voltage. This, however, would require you to hire an electrician to do the installations for you as the SANS 10142 code of practice for wiring a residential premises has very strict regulations that need to be adhered to. Alternatively, you can go the battery or solar powered route. With the huge demand in South Africa on power saving, this is usually the better route to go, not only for the environment's sake, but due to its long term cost effectiveness. The best part of this method is that there is no wiring and you can install it yourself. The big difference, however, between battery operated and solar is that the battery operated lights can be placed where there is no regular supply of direct sunlight whilst Solar powered lights require direct sunlight to charge. A bonus to solar powered lighting is the benefit of your lights automatically turning on when there is no more sunlight.
At the end of the day, lighting doesn't have to be complicated or intimidating. Advice can be found in your nearest lighting shop or online. Just always bear in mind that any wiring that is required must be done by a qualified electrician to avoid unwanted issues. Happy lighting!