What are the Different Types of Walkway Lighting?

Paul Scott

Walkway lighting generally consists of light fittings placed at regular intervals along walkways. These serve to cast enough light on a walkway to prevent accidents while adding to the general nighttime appeal of the garden layout. Walkway lighting can be divided into two basic categories: mains fed and solar powered. Mains lights may either feed directly from the mains grid or draw power from a step-down transformer while solar lighting draws power from solar recharged batteries. Both types of fittings are generally available as bollard or footlight variants suitable for permanent or temporary installation.

Mains fed, which connect directly to an energy grid, and solar powered are the two main types of walkway lighting.
Mains fed, which connect directly to an energy grid, and solar powered are the two main types of walkway lighting.

There are two basic categories of walkway lighting commonly installed in residential gardens. These are mains and solar powered fittings. The choice of which to install is largely a matter of personal preference as both feature distinct benefits. Mains powered light fittings may either draw power directly from the grid or be powered by low voltage step-down transformers. The second variant is by far the most popular as it is much safer to have low amperage 12 volt direct current (DC) power cables meandering through the garden than high tension cables. Low voltage fittings are also smaller, the lamps draw a fraction of the power, and any shorts on the fittings will not blow fuses or trip the power.

The primary benefits of using low voltage mains walkway lighting include more powerful illumination, a greater range of choice in fitting types, and the lack of battery woes. Solar powered light emitting diode (LED) type lights, on the other hand, require no installation, are easy to move around and are, with the advancements in solar cell and battery technology, likely to catch up in the power stakes soon. These light fittings generally include a small solar cell and battery pack in a simple portable package often equipped with a lawn spike for easy insertion. The light's internal circuitry charges the batteries during the day via the solar cell, and an inbuilt light sensor switches them on at night. The downside of solar lights includes reliability issues with the cells and batteries, i.e., lights unable to last all night and low lamp power.

The most popular types of walkway lighting fittings are bollard and footlight fittings. Bollard light fittings situate the lamp on top of a short pole or column which places the light source above the path level, thereby giving excellent light coverage. Footlight types are either built into the path surround or bull nose or may be situated a short way from the walkway edge. These are less intrusive but do not cover as much area as bollard types, thus often necessitating extra lamps to adequately light the path. With either option, walkway lighting adds considerable appeal to a garden at night as well as preventing family or friends from taking a embarrassing pitch into the petunias.

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