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22 Do's & Don'ts to Make Your Outdoor Lighting Spring to Life

Updated: Sep 4, 2020

Our Spring Outdoor Lighting Guide

Spring 2020 is in the air and it feels and smells so good. Yes, the land is awakening with budding green leaves and beautiful blossoming flowers but that is not the only reason this Spring is warmly welcomed. With lock down levels lifting across South Africa (hallelujah), our braai spots and backyards are being used once again with laughter echoing around and that all so familiar braai smell floating through the neighbourhood.

Now is the perfect time to give your home, garden and entertainment area a ‘spring’ feeling in one of the most impressive ways… Lighting. But how, where and what are the best and most affordable options and what should you be sure to avoid? Well, we are going to break it down for you so you can actually understand terms, like IP65, and give you a full list of outdoor lighting Do’s and Don’ts to help you make your backyard lighting ‘spring’ to life.

Where to start this ‘spring’ makeover? First and foremost, you need to have a goal for the space and then you can decide how lighting can be used to achieve this goal. Here are a few questions to help you figure out your Spring goal:

  1. Do you want it to be more functional and useable?

  2. Do you want to create a more secure backyard?

  3. Do you want to beautify the area and make it look more attractive?

  4. Do you want to highlight features hidden in the shadows?

  5. Do you want to create a specific atmosphere?

Your goal can encompass all of these features to some degree or only one. The main idea is to define your goal and how you wish to use the space. Now that you have your goal, you need some options and information because the lighting world is bright and beautiful but also very big!

Types of Outdoor Lighting

Accent lighting - This lighting type is used to highlight and illuminate a specific area or object to catch one’s eye and create interest. This could include using a spotlight to illuminate a sculpture, tree, pond, water feature or landscaping element.

Ambient lighting - This lighting is also known as general lighting as it is the ‘base’ lighting and illuminates the overall area. These include fixtures like downlights, pendants, bollards and wall lights.

Security lighting - The purpose of this lighting type is to illuminate all areas of your garden thus warding off potential intruders. Floodlights and motion sensor lights are some of the options to use for security lighting.

Task lighting - This type of lighting is all about functionality and practically. These lights have a particular task that needs to be achieved such as pathway or stair lights.

IP Ratings

You may hear about IP44 or IP65 and think it is some type of form that needs to be filled out, not a protection rating. This may be a foreign concept to you but it is one that is extremely important to know when it comes to outdoor lighting! An IP (Ingress Protection) rating classifies the degree of protection against both liquids and solids in electrical elements. Simply put, water and electricity don’t mix well and we need to know that the fixture we put in our garden is going to last and not cause an electrifying experience (not the good kind). A lower rating means less protection from liquids and solids.

  • IP20 - bedrooms/living room lights

  • IP44 - bathroom lights

  • IP65 - outdoor wall lights

  • IP67 - garden spotlights

  • IP68 - pool/pond lights

Now that you know the lingo and have a better idea about what you want for your outdoor space, we want to guide you and help you to achieve your goal by giving you ideas of what to do and what not to do.

Do’s of Outdoor Lighting

1. Use LED lighting - LEDs may cost a bit more upfront but they tend to pay for themselves due to lower energy consumption and longer lifespan.

2. Use IP rated lighting and equipment (such as glands & electrical boxes) - weatherproof lighting

  • IP44 - this rated lighting can be used outdoors but in areas that are not exposed to direct weather such as wall lights on a covered patio. However, a higher rated fixture (IP65) would be more advisable as issues can incur with lower rated fixtures outside.

  • IP65/66 - these lighting fixtures can handle more weather exposure but not ideal for garden lighting (full exposure).

  • IP67 - this IP rating can be used for lighting in the garden such as tree spotlights or pathway lights, the areas that are fully exposed to the elements.

  • IP68 - your pool and pond lights need to be rated IP68 as these fixtures are built to withstand full exposure to water.

3. Use 12volt fixtures for all submersible lighting such as water features, ponds and swimming pools for safety reasons. When installing submersible lights you may need a transformer, which would need to be mounted somewhere else, so a provision for a box/housing would need to be made. The type of box/housing needed depends on where the box will be mounted.

4. Use 220volts for other lighting fixtures (not submersible lights) as there's a direct connection to the lamp (no transformer needed) which makes it more proficient, cheaper and more energy efficient.

5. Use rust-resistant or treated fixtures, especially for those living at the coast - these fixtures should be IP65 rated or above and be composed of polycarbonate, fiberglass or CNC aluminium or LM6 die-cast aluminium.

6. Coastal residents clean your fixtures about once a month to remove the salt residue. This will help with potential rusting and paint discolouration caused by the seabreeze.

7. Set up ‘Security Lighting’ - Lighting is the best deterrent.

  • Floodlights - Great way to light up your whole garden at night, leaving no dark spots for intruders to hide. These range from 10W to 100W depending on the area you wish to illuminate.

  • Wall lights - Floodlight too much? A simple porch light at your front door will alert intruders you are home and give light for you to see.

  • Sensor lights - Motion sensors connected to your floodlight will switch on if movement is picked up, this scares the intruders off, let’s you know where on the property they may be and saves you on electricity by not having to leave the lights switched on permanently.

  • CCTV lighting - If you have or want to have a CCTV system you need to have sufficient light in order for the Infra-Red to kick in and for you to have a clear view at night. Floodlights illuminating the camera zones are a great option.

8. Use the correct lighting colour temperatures to create the atmosphere you prefer.

  • Warm white (3000k) - Great ambient light as it creates a warm, relaxed mood/environment.

  • Natural or Cool white (4000k): This is a brighter light and offers a good mix of the daylight and warm white. However, it doesn't create the same relaxed atmosphere. A great option for a more functional entertainment area like a patio with a dining set.

9. Use warm white/yellow lighting to create that relaxing atmosphere AND keep those insects away. This colour lighting tends to repel those pesky pains. If the insects are still ruining your evening, an insect killer is a great option as it is quick, efficient with no chemicals.

10. Use fairy lights or illumination cable to create a beautiful starry night across your backyard or make your trees or trellises dazzle with glittering fairy lights.

11. Keep a portable, rechargeable LED floodlight handy, just in case Eskom decides to switch off the lights or you want a closer look at your meat on the braai.

12. Use the correct legal complaint equipment when wiring up outside light. This includes the correct cable, conduit and joint kits (if needed). The use of armoured and round surfix cable would, generally work best.

13. Use strip lights to highlight features such as your deck, fountains, rafters, bar counters and cabinets. Great way to add a relaxing ambience to the area.

14. Use bollards or pathway lights to illuminate your pathways or simply to add soft light throughout your garden area.

15. Make a statement with projection lights or garden spikes under a tree or plant. You can add a bit of colour by using blue or green lighting or just make an impressive feature with a warm white projection light.

Don’ts of Outdoor Lighting

1. Don’t use open fittings outdoors.

2. Avoid halogen and incandescent lights as they use more energy, produce more heat and tend to have a shorter lifespan.

3. Avoid Cool/Daylight (6000k/6500k) lighting as it is a very sharp white light and creates an almost clinical environment.

4. Don't go out in the rain and try to fix a light that has stopped working, wait until it dries out as you can get an electrical shock from water transfer.

5. Don’t overload a circuit.

6. Don’t run cable that is not specified to run underground without a sheath, such as flat cables. These cables are not UV/armour protected and will require conduit.

7. Don’t use big, bulky fitting on steps outside as it can be a bit of a hazard, reduces step space and does not look very appealing.

Your garden and entertainment area should be one of your happy places that you can retreat to and enjoy with friends and family. We hope that these guidelines and suggestions will help you to achieve your Spring goal and make this next season a great one. Remember, if you require any of these above products or advice visit one of Northside Electrical’s branches or call and chat to a sales consultant to personally assist you with your specific outdoor lighting needs. Northside provides the KZN region with superior quality electrical, lighting and security products and remarkable service.

Red Hill - 031 569 1005

Ballito - 032 946 0977

Durban North – 031 564 5692

Hillcrest – 031 765 4140

Umbilo – 031 942 7755 (temporary)

Alternatively, email

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1 comentario

John Ferreira
John Ferreira
30 abr 2022

Great article

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