Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Night lights

The lack of light pollution is generally welcomed in our rural setting, except when trying to walk around the yard in the middle of the night. Without moonlight (or a flashlight), it is black. Some landscape lighting was in order, so I dabbled with a couple versions of solar lights during the summer. They were all dismal in performance, providing little more than a flicker for a few hours after dusk. What we need is reliable pathway lighting strong enough to get our guests from building to building without wandering into the woods or falling into random barn foundations (which happen to be located smack dab in the middle of our yard). Fortunately I found a low-voltage lighting kit on clearance (80% off!), which had everything we needed for the job. With winter almost here, I scrambled to build some mounting posts that would elevate the lights above the snow cover we're about to get. I built a dozen posts from some cedar barn timbers, boring holes in the top for the lights to press in to: I set them up along the path from the house to the barn, and piled field stone around each post to hold them in place. This started out as a temporary fix to get us safely through the winter, but we think they look good enough to be permanent.
The light kit came with a programmable timer and 20W halogen lights, which meant our 11 lights were putting out 220 watts for several hours every night. That's crazy! I replaced them all with 2W LED lights, which are working just as well and cut the power consumption by 90%.

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