OK, so we’ve progressed with our project and it’s time to think about what kind of light fixtures we need and want to use. There are several things to consider when selecting light fixtures: aesthetics, function, mechanical features and cost.
Aesthetics: Appearance is important not only to decorative fixtures but to functional units as well. In both cases, the fixture selected needs to visually complement the building’s architectural style and the landscape style. Literally hundreds of fixture styles are available from bare bones high tech look to one of many historical styles meant to coordinate with specific architectural periods. Often, several different types of fixtures will be needed throughout a site, each serving a different purpose. Fixtures are available in ‘families’ meaning that a series of fixtures are designed to coordinate in their basic shape, but may vary in size and function. Using fixture families can present a cohesive appearance to all of the lighting equipment. Keep in mind that the size of the fixtures selected must also be in scale with the location where they will be used. Too large or too small a fixture looks out of place and detracts from the appearance of the landscape during the day as well as at night.
Function: In evaluating whether a fixture will function properly in a specific situation, several issues should be considered. What lamp or lamps does the fixture accommodate? Will the fixture accept different wattages? How adjustable is the fixture? Can it accept accesories such as louvers where needed? Spotlights and floodlights often need to be aimed, so you’ll want to make sure there is an adjustment mechanism for the purpose.
Mechanical Features: How are the fixtures constructed? On some commercial landscapes, there is a concern about vandalism so tamperproof attachments may be necessary. Outdoor fixtures should not have sharp edges where the finish could fail and areas where water and dirt can collect and encourage corrosion. Waterproofing is important as it prevents internal corrosion of the fixture housing and damage to parts such as the socket or lamp. When a socket fails, the fixture obviously will not function. Lamps can also fail due to water exposure. Water accumulation can corrode the lamp base preventing an electrical connection. So make sure you are using fixtures designed and constructed for outdoor use. Your installer will also know how to fill any openings from wires exiting the fixture with the proper type of sealant.
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