ADVICE FOR THE USE OF LED GARDEN LIGHTS AND LIGHTING
LED: light-emitting diode
LED’s have recently become the new big ‘advance’ in terms of new lighting technology and concerns over the environment. However the different systems, wattage ratings and drivers have confused many people. So here is our quick guide to LED’s – when to use them, when to avoid them and what to expect in terms of effect.
The first important consideration is cost. There are many Led suppliers out there and many types of kit, but one rule still runs true: ‘You pay for what you get’. We have run into so many cheap kits (£35-£100) that are disappointing both in terms of reliability and effect. We have also experienced many middle price (£200-£500) range Led decking kits that again have failed to run reliably in an outdoor environment. Thus if you do wish to install an Led system in your garden, we would recommend the top of the range Led fittings which can cost anywhere from (£100-£200) a fitting and avoid the kits. Always ensure that when you buy this type of system that the guarantees cover you for at least two years as any faulty Led should fail within this time.
There is another alternative to very expensive Led fittings. The answer is to install a normal low voltage system and retrofit the fittings with Mr16, Gu10 and MR11 Led lamps. This negates the common and often costly problem of replacing the whole Led fitting for a new one. With the normal low voltage fittings you can simply replace the bulb at a fraction of the cost and in ten seconds your system is back working. There are many Led retrofit lamps out there now that are extremely good in terms of wattage power for Mr16 and Gu10 bulbs. You should be looking for 3-6 watts of power and for Mr11 between 1-3 watts. If however, the lamp is simply to demark an area, use a lamp of between 0.5-1 watt. Although these lamps can be expensive (between £14-£35) we believe within in the next couple of years these will become less costly.
We have often come across clients who have been disappointed with a previously installed Led lighting system that was sold as ‘state of the art’ and that would transform the garden and use next to no electricity. Whereas the reality is that often the garden is very dark with small pathetic blips of light with no consideration for large trees or seating areas. Therefore be aware that LED’s have their uses but these are limited and that in real terms halogen bulbs are still going to be needed. Thus let us say for example if you required a large mature tree to be floodlit a £60 Mega man (low energy) flood light will easily light a mature tree of over 10 meters +. The same tree would require an led flood of around 20 watts and that would cost (including drivers and control box) around £450. LED’s are getting better all the time and will in the near future provide all the solutions to garden lighting systems including concerns over the environment, but they are not there yet.