Lighting an outdoor path adds interest to your landscaping, creates an extremely attractive look, and even improves the safety of your walkways. To get the most out of outdoor path lighting, you need to look for fixtures that give off the right level of illumination, since too little is ineffective while too much overpowers your landscaping rather than highlighting it. In addition, the fixtures themselves should complement the area to enhance its appearance.
In addition to lighting of the appropriate intensity, you want the lights to be evenly spaced to ensure uniform illumination along the walkway, rather than forcing people to pass through pockets of light and darkness. Proper lighting protects residents and guests as they move along paths, guarding walkers against tripping over detritus, as well as highlighting a wet or icy path that might cause someone to slip and fall.
The cost to install path lighting varies according to the number of lights you want, the type of lighting you choose, and average labor rates in your area. Lighting choices include mounted fixtures, recessed well lights, and marker-style lights. The lights themselves – the fixtures and low wattage bulbs – average around $10 to $20 a piece. Additional materials include fasteners and mounting hardware, junction boxes, and connectors. Together, this may add another $50 to $90 to your materials cost, on average.
Installation costs depend on the type of fixtures you choose and the general condition of the install area. Typically, labor includes shallow trenching to bury, run, and conceal wires. Mounted lights require you to secure the wiring above ground. Finally, installation includes connecting and testing the fixtures. Labor rates vary, but you're looking at between $225 and $400, on average, for professional installation.
You have a variety of options as to bulb types, and each option has its own list of pros and cons.
- Incandescent bulbs offer a traditional look but are the least efficient in terms of energy usage
- Halogen bulbs are more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts
- Fluorescent bulbs offer greater energy efficiency than either incandescent or halogen bulbs, but their aesthetic is quite different
- LED bulbs offer soft, even, white light, and use the least amount of electricity, but typically cost a bit more and do not heat, which means they won't melt snow
Replacing bulbs will, of course, need to occur occasionally. How often depends on the type of bulb. LEDs last the longest so, even though they cost a bit more, they last much longer. For example, an incandescent bulb lasts an average of 1,500 hours. LEDs, however, last anywhere between 25,000 and 50,000 hours. Even at the low end of that range, that's 16 times as long as the old school incandescents.
Average costs to replace outdoor path light bulbs include:
- 15W incandescent bulbs start at around $0.50, with frosted varieties costing around $1.50
- 15W halogen bulbs average around $4
- 15W fluorescent bulbs average between $6 and $15, depending on size
- 15W LEDs average between $5 and $20
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