Outdoor pathway lighting does exactly what’s advertised: illuminates a path or walkway to guide you in the dark! It's no surprise that path lights are among the most popular types of landscape lighting. When used properly, it's amazing how much impact even a small number of path lights can have on a landscape’s overall atmosphere, safety, and appeal.
That’s not all. LED pathway lights are among the easiest types of landscape lighting to install. For installers, low voltage path lights provide perhaps a greater return on investment than any other type of landscape lighting. Just about any landscaping professional can learn how to install and offer low voltage pathway lights to clients!
Our mission here at in-lite is to help lighting companies and professionals like you grow, and outdoor pathway lighting is a great place to start. So, here, we’ll introduce you to the different types of outdoor pathway lighting and the benefits of each, along with a few tips on the best way to install low voltage path lights.
Let’s Start At The Top. Why Path Lights?
As a professional, low voltage path lights offer three distinct advantages: a powerful light source, cost-effectiveness, and ease of installation.
High impact: Outdoor pathway lights, used correctly, can have a significant impact on the appearance and ambiance of any outdoor space. These fixtures can suggest a peaceful forest path, a romantic stroll in the park, or the warm glow from street lamps on a crisp evening.
- Easy installation: Unlike overhead lighting and direct-to-deck lighting, path lights are typically installed on the ground and thus do not require complex mounting structures or wiring. For beginning lighting professionals, this makes it an easy job for you to pick up and offer to your new clients for their outdoor lighting needs!
4 Types of Outdoor Pathway Lighting
1. Directional Lights
Directional lights shine in a particular direction to produce lighting in a specified area. Pathway lights can produce different shapes of light depending on the design of the fixture. For example, the ACE fixtures produce an angled, triangular light beam that can be used with multiple fixtures to create a unique walkway pattern!
2. Bollard Lights
Bollard lights produce a 360-degree light spread that can illuminate garden beds and walkways simultaneously. Typically, they are placed at the beginning or end of a path as a focal point, guiding walkers in the right direction. ￼ In the lighting business for a while, or if you work with "old school" lighting installers, you’ve likely heard someone claim that outdoor lighting fixtures should be out of sight. Bollard lights like the LIV break the dated mentality that you "shouldn't see the light source," as their sleek design actually adds to the landscaping rather than detracting from it.
3. Recessed Lights
Installed in the surface of a path, recessed or in-ground pathway lights softly illuminate up and outwards, without the intensity of a spotlight. Be mindful that not all recessed lights are designed to sustain foot traffic; some are intended for garden beds or other inaccessible areas, making them unsuitable as path lights.
4. Wall Lights
Lighting for paths does not need to be in the ground. If the path in question is adjacent to a fence or retaining wall, wall lights can serve as path lighting as well! See how the ACE DOWN is used to incredible effect here as it spills down the wall and onto the path.
Line Voltage vs. Low Voltage Path Lights
From a safety, cost, and easy installation perspective, low voltage is the way to go.
Low voltage (12v) lighting is ideal for outdoor pathways use because of the potential for wet weather conditions. Using line voltage for power requires the wiring to be buried (on average) least 18 inches deep or to be encased in a conduit, while low voltage systems can plug directly into an outdoor socket via a low voltage transformer. If the wires are not buried, they can be easily tucked under soil or gravel to keep the lighting design looking seamless and beautiful.
*Note, although the regulations for low-voltage are typically more lenient than line-voltage, you should always check your local guidelines prior to installing any outdoor lighting system.
For more information check out our blog post on the benefits and drawbacks to low voltage and line voltage landscape lighting.
Selling Your Clients on the Benefits of Outdoor Path Lighting
In addition to leading the way in the dark, pathway lights offer other benefits, including:
- Improving home security. By having more well-lit areas surrounding the home, you can improve security and create a safer environment at night.
- Protecting path border plants from heavy-footed walkers. Adding path lights will help keep guests from accidentally damaging the landscaping.
- Marking path boundaries. Path lighting provides guidance to guests by showing them where they are (and are not) supposed to go and adds an element of safety to the space.
- Highlighting low-level prized garden plants. You can create a manicured look in your landscaping by adding path lights as focal points.
- Adding curb appeal. Outdoor path lighting provides a high return on curb appeal and will have all their neighbours saying, “I want that”.
- Providing ambient lighting for outdoor entertaining. Ideal for creating an inviting outdoor entertainment area for family and friends!
But here’s the tricky part: the average homeowner can probably install a low voltage path light system themselves. Your job is to convince them of the benefits of having you do it instead.
A great way to start this conversation is to provide examples of other professional lighting designs to demonstrate the importance of a cohesive, professionally planned lighting design.
People are less likely to believe they can do things on their own when they see what's only possible with a professional's help! Building a portfolio and getting design and installation knowledge will help your business flourish and bring on new customers.
It is also helpful to discuss the advantages of having a professional on hand in case of any future lighting issues. As an example, if a light malfunctions, they won't have to look for manufacturer warranties themselves; you’ll take care of it for them.
As always, getting to know your client’s goals and concerns around adding outdoor lighting to their landscape will allow them to communicate with you and build trust. When you have their trust, it's easy to show them the benefits of installing path lights in their home.
Tips for Outdoor Pathway Lighting Designs
- Space fixtures out accordingly to create pools of light that guide the eye from point to point rather than a continuous beam of light.
- To create a sense of balance, stagger the lights on both sides of the path. Most clients want to avoid the ‘airport runway’ look. In this example, the landscaper gets it right!
- Take into account the height of the lights in relation to the terrain around them. Lights set in foliage need to be slightly taller than the plants to be effective, but combining lights of varying heights will also add depth. Be creative!
- Don't over-light. The FUSION lights here are subtle, but they still emphasize the path clearly.
- Use in-lite’s free educational resources to brush up on your professional knowledge, and always reach out if you have any questions – we are happy to help!
That’s a Wrap!
Now that we have covered the basics of outdoor pathway lighting, it’s time to take it to the next level! With the right training and experience, low voltage path lighting can open more doors for you and your company. Check out our other blog posts for more outdoor lighting tips and ideas!