Ways of lighting your patio

Whether you’re a homeowner or manager of a hospitality premises, a darkened patio is wasted space. Good patio lighting makes a property more inviting, and is often an important facet of an entertainment venue. The patio may connect to a garden, or it may be a small garden in itself. Here we’ll show you how to use outdoor lights (and other tricks) to illuminate the various features of your patio, so you can reap the rewards of this valuable outdoor space.

But first… indoor dimming

It may seem an odd place to start, but dimming is useful if you want to enjoy outdoor lighting from the comfort of a living room, or conservatory. In restaurants and hotels, patrons may gaze out over a beautifully lit patio and garden during winter months. Indoor lighting that is too strong will cause excessive reflection and impair the outdoor view.

Lyco sells a range of dimmer switches, which help you balance indoor and outdoor illumination. Varilight models are exceptional for LED dimming. They also have a ‘soft start’ feature that reduces the chances of filament bulbs expiring in the cold.

Customised patio lighting

Simpson LED Walkover LightsJust like indoors, you should never over-light a patio or garden. Contrasting areas of light and dark create ambience and visual interest. Ground rules aside, various features of a patio might benefit from good lighting. Here are some examples:

Decking areas

These can be lit by walkover lights. Decking Lights serve this purpose. Discreet and durable, they are useful around the edges of a decking area for creating mood and adding an element of pedestrian safety.

Paved areas

Such areas can be installed with ground lights, like the Messina LED Ground Light from Searchlight. This can be safely walked over, and with an IP68 rating it tolerates immersion. The Messina is totally impervious to dust and torrential rain.

Low walls

Low walls are common around patio areas. Many ground lights are also suitable for embedding in walls, like the Stratford Recessed Square LED. Again, these are robustly weatherproof and provide excellent low-level lighting.
Stratford Recessed Square LED Light

Flower borders and shrubbed areas

These areas are perfectly served by post lights. The Parma Post is one of many options here, with a black finish that blends well with green foliage.

Trees

Often a neighbouring feature of patios, they provide a good opportunity to create visual interest. Use a strong spotlight to dramatically light trees from below. Solar lights are excellent for this, since they’re self-sufficient and not tethered to a mains supply.

Statues and garden ornaments

These can be lit by the Deltech GL7 LED Spotlight. The GL7 comes with a ground spike and wall bracket, so is usable in numerous scenarios.

Take a closer look at the Ground or Wall-mountable - GL7- LED Spotlight - Warm-White

Trellises and gazebos

Such fixtures are ideal for fairy lights, which create restful but eye-catching illumination. The Solar Centre’s Everbright Solar Fairy Lights are usable all the year round. A built-in photocell automatically triggers these lights on and off at dusk and dawn. If you’re going for a party mood, colourful festoons are effective overhead or along a fence.

Exterior walls

Regularly overlooked, these offer a simple means of lighting a patio. Here we’re looking for something decorative as well as functional. The Festa Opal Wall Light is economical and long lasting, with a shatter-resistant polycarbonate shade. In traditional vein, the Coach Half Lantern from ASD offers an equally durable solution.

For more inspiration, advice and news, visit our Lighting Advice section.

andrew-author-bio

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Lighting your picture properly

Picture lighting is important to most people whether they’re a homeowner with a favourite water-colour, a gallery owner with a priceless Rembrandt or even a hospital art coordinator looking to make the corridors a pleasure to walk down with fetching scenes. Picture lights provide a convenient solution to displaying artwork but choosing the right light fitting to get the best out of your artwork can be testing. Below we look at two of the most important factors to consider when it comes to lighting your pictures properly: size and colour temperature.

What size of picture light should I choose?

Rule of thumb

The most common rule of thumb is ‘choose a picture light that is half the size of the picture, excluding frame’, but if you dig around you’ll confusingly find one or two others. In truth, with smaller artworks you’ll often be able to choose lights that are as little as a third of the picture width. The opposite is true of extra large artworks (e.g. over 36” width), where the ideal is two-thirds.

Don’t go too small

This sliding scale of requirements comes from the varying distance between the edge of the light and the picture edge. With a large picture, there is a greater risk of creating a vignetting effect and leaving large corner areas underlit. In general though, the half-picture-size rule is a decent guideline.

Don’t go too large

A light fitting that is too wide for the picture is equally undesirable. Remember that light will spread when reflected off a surface. By limiting the amount of light that falls outside the picture, you are focusing attention on the artwork. This is especially important with dark pictures, where brightly lit surroundings will immediately draw the eye away from the subject.

How important in picture lighting is colour temperature?

Most people enjoy art without paying great heed to the lighting, but lighting directly affects the colour of art. Warm white light emphasises warm colours, and cool emphasises cool. It makes sense, then, to pick a light colour that enhances the dominant colours of your picture.

Shades and technologies

Each lighting technology has different colour properties, as follows:

  • Incandescent: warm white light with a typical 2700-2800K colour temperature. Less than ideal for blue or violet-coloured pictures, but excellent for emphasising reds, oranges, and yellows (flattering to skin tones in portrait pictures).
  • Halogen: warm white light with typical 2800-3200K colour temperature. Stronger radiation at shorter wavelengths (violet and blue) makes halogen appear whiter and brighter than incandescent lighting. It is better balanced than incandescent for artworks containing warm and cool colours. Both technologies offer superb colour rendering, though with a warm overall hue.
  • LED and low-energy fluorescent: manufactured with warm or cool colour temperatures (i.e. anything from 2700K to 6500K). A cool colour temperature lends a natural overall appearance, not unlike window light. These technologies are widely used in art museums (the Louvre Museum in Paris recently switched to LED). However, filament bulbs are inherently more reliable for reproducing individual colours and nuance. Vastly reduced running and maintenance costs may tip the balance!

Lighting Vincent

Below we compare the effect of warm and cool lighting on a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait. You’ll notice the blue areas are emphasised by cool light, whilst the complexion, hair, and palette are more vibrant under warm light. You’d probably base your picture lighting decision on the focus of the painting, which is the artist himself. You may well choose to sacrifice some of the blueness to avoid a pallid complexion. The decision is ultimately subjective.

Vincent under warm white light Vincent under cool white light
Vincent under warm white light Vincent under cool white light

Image courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington

Feel free to view our full range of picture lights. Alternatively if you want to more inspiration and advice, take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

andrew-author-bio

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Light switches – a choice of style and function

You may think there’s not much to say about light switches, but they’re more sophisticated than might be assumed. There are various styles to choose from, terminology to negotiate, and then with dimmer switches the complex topic of compatibility arises. This guide aims to cast light over some of these issues, describing the types of switch available, and where they’re used.

Design choices

Light switches are designed in a variety of ways. Some are purely functional, whilst others have style in mind, too. Here are some of the common design features:

    • Flat plate: extremely low-profile, usable only on perfectly flat walls or tiles.
    • Low profile: a slim but raised profile that allows installation on uneven surfaces. The smart BG Low Profile 10A 1 Gang 2-Way Light Switch is an example of this.
    • Metal clad: usually designed with a white plastic switch and an impact-resistant metal wall plate, these are used in industrial environments or in domestic rooms where damage is more likely (e.g. garage, games room).
    • Moulded: an inexpensive plastic switch for use in areas where appearance is of secondary importance (e.g. workplaces, utility rooms, larders). The BG White Moulded 10A 1 Gang 2 Way Light Switch offers great value under this category.
    • Screwless: provides a neat finish with no visible fixings, and installs easily by clipping onto a rear mount.
    • Weatherproof: electrical components are well protected against dust and rain, either directly or through use of a sealed enclosure.
    • Time Delay Switch: saves energy by automatically switching off light after a set duration. Lyco sell a 1-way Electronic Time Delay Switch with a neon-lit button perimeter for easy visibility.

Brush Steel (low profile) 10a - single gang - 2 way light switch

Terminology

Terminology is pretty straightforward in light switches. The word ‘gang’ describes the number of switches on a wall plate. For example, a 2-gang switch is really two switches on a single plate, capable of controlling one light each.

The term ‘way’ describes the ability of a switch to operate in conjunction with other switches in different locations. For instance, a ‘2-way switch’ is usable in pairs to control the same light from two places. These switches can also be wired for conventional 1-way use with a single light.

Anyone researching switches on the internet should be aware that US terminology is different. The 2-way switch is known as a 3-way switch (owing to its use of three terminals), whilst an intermediate switch in the UK is equal to an American 4-way switch. Intermediate switching is used when the light is required to be controlled from three or more places (e.g. in large halls).

Dimmer switches

Dimmer switches are useful for controlling mood and saving energy. They can extend lamp life, too, depending on the lamp technology.

The type of switch you’re most likely to encounter is the phase-cut dimmer. This works by cutting out parts of the voltage and reducing power to the light source. There are two types to consider:

Leading-edge dimmer

Chrome screwless - single gang - 2 way 400w Dimmer
The leading-edge dimmer is commonly used with incandescent or halogen lighting. By far the most popular dimmer in existence, it is designed for inductive loads (e.g. magnetic low-voltage transformers), or resistive loads (e.g. incandescent).

Many modern LED lamps are backward compatible with this style of dimmer. This is especially true of products from larger manufacturers. However, the low wattage of LED lamps makes it difficult to meet the minimum load requirement of existing dimmer switches.

The BG  Screwless 1 Gang 2 Way 400W Dimmer is an example of a leading-edge dimmer switch. This flat-plate screwless switch has a minimum 60W load, making it ideal for halogen or incandescent lighting circuits.

Trailing-edge dimmer

Varilight 400w led compatible dimmer in white The more sophisticated trailing-edge dimmer is intended for capacitive loads (e.g. electronic low-voltage transformers or LED drivers), and resistive loads (e.g. incandescent).

Some of the benefits of this dimmer include smooth, silent dimming and a lower minimum load for modern technologies. A ‘soft start’ feature is usually included, which prevents filament bulbs from prematurely expiring during a cold start.

The Varilight LED Compatible Dimmer range is an excellent choice for LED lighting circuits, whilst also offering compatibility with other technologies (including some dimmable CFLs). The award-winning Varilight V-Pro range is widely revered as one of the best LED dimmers on the market. This particular model has a minimum 2.5W load.Varilight 3x300w gang led compatible dimmer in polished chrome

Various models from the Varilight V-Pro range are available from Lyco, including a 3-gang switch with a minimum 2.5W load per gang. By controlling multiple luminaires you can fine-tune areas of light and dark, which is a sure way of creating drama and ambience.

Bringer of light

Light switches are bringers of light, and though they’re part of everyday life, they also allow you to express yourself by adding finishing touches to décor. A wide choice of switches is available, from basic no-thrills to refined and stylish. You can even assume the role of lighting technician, using a dimmer switch to creatively control layers of light.

Why not take a look at our full range of switches and dimmers.

Looking for more advice or inspiration? Take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

andrew-author-bio

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.