Landscape lighting will add to the beauty of your home and gardens, but before you think about lighting design, you need to know about the popular types of fixtures. The style and purpose of each type of outdoor lighting fixture is often designed around the bulb it contains and will therefore determine where it will be best placed to highlight the best features of your yard.
Dome fixtures come in all sizes and shapes and are often used for lighting paths, driveways or low shrubs. They project light downward, making them ideal for sidewalks since they illuminate hazards without blinding the person walking, and they are often set on top of stakes, making placement and repositioning easy. Most solar fixtures are domed shape because the solar panel is contained on the top of the dome. Solar dome fixtures are often made of plastic, as they are relatively inexpensive, but low and regular voltage dome lights are typically made of copper or aluminum and use a quartz halogen bulb.
Bullet fixtures are so named because of their shape and are used for spotlighting. Small bullet fixtures often are used as part of a low voltage landscape lighting system and often contain an MR-16 bulb, which is the same kind as the old slide projectors used. These fixtures can also be powered by solar energy and will often have an LED bulb, but because of solar lighting’s often minimal light output, they are best used to spotlight a small plant or sign.
Larger bullet outdoor lighting fixtures are often powered through regular household voltage and contain typical spotlight and flood light bulbs, making them ideal for highlighting your home’s architecture or large tree.
Box Light Fixtures
Like dome fixtures, box light fixtures project light downward, but are set at a taller height, to brightly illuminate a large area. Square in shape, these lights are often used for security purposes and are typically wired into the high voltage of your home for maximum light output.
Canister, or well light fixtures are so named because they are set into a heavy 4-6 inch canister often made of PVC, and then are slightly buried into the ground. These types of lights are popular for highlighting your home’s façade or large trees and shrubs. They are different than the bullet fixtures in that it produces a wide swath of light, instead of spotlighting. The bulbs they often use are PAR36 which can be used with regular or low voltage landscape lighting systems.
Whichever type of outdoor lighting fixtures work best with the needs and design factors of your home and garden, remember that you get what you pay for. Quality of the fixture (plastic vs. cast aluminum vs. copper) makes a difference on how long your fixtures will last. Bulb quality also needs to be a consideration when purchasing a fixture because a mercury vapor bulb, while more expensive, could last up to 5 years, unlike cheaper halogens, which might only last one season.