Friday, May 6, 2011

Light up the night

Pond lighting for all budgets

Pond lighting has come a long way in the last couple of years. We've gone from having only submersible halogen lights to having the choice of halogen, LED and Fiber Optic. There are low voltage lights and solar lights, submersed lights, external lights, floating lights, spotlights, pinpoint lights & even rope lights. All make great additions to your pond viewing pleasure. With all these choices it makes it difficult to know what would work best in your pond. What you decide to use will depend on what you are trying to achieve, if you are Eco-conscious and of course, how much you want to invest. Here is a comparison of some of the most popular choices.

Halogen lights:
These are the most economical lights as far as initial purchase. They are available in a variety of wattage sizes including 10w, 20w, 50w up to 150w, are low voltage, can be simple white light or add a colored lens for special effect, can be purchased singly or in sets and with or without a transformer or photocell. For a small pond these are great. You can purchase a small kit with three 10w lights, timer and photo cell for around $60. Halogen bulbs do not last long so you will have to reach into the water to change the bulb, be careful to make sure the light cap is on securely otherwise water will enter the light & blow the bulb again.

Newer technology that can be used submersed or external. Place them under a waterfall or in a tree pointing down at the falls. Most companies offer only white light but some, like Alpine, offer color and color changing LED. They also come in a variety of wattage sizes and are available with or without transformers. The upside is that the bulb will not only last longer it will use less wattage when compared to the halogen. For example a 1.5watt LED is comparable to a 10W Halogen and a 3watt LED is expected to last approximately 50,000 hours while the 20w Halogen last only 2000 hours. LED is a bit more expensive than the halogen for initial purchase but will cost less to run and maintain.

These are great if you don't have electric available near your pond. You can find small decorative floating lights or elaborate systems with separate solar panels.

Fiber Optic:
This is the grand daddy of pond lighting. What makes this light source unique is that it uses one single light bulb (halogen or halide) in a box that sits outside the pond making it easy to change the bulb . Up to sixteen separate fiber optic light cables are bundled together at one end into a common fitting and placed in front of the light source. Light shines into the end of the fiber optic cables, travels through the cables, and out the other end, illuminating whatever the designer wishes to light up. Light fixtures as small as a pen cap attached to the end of the cables can be placed underwater, next to the water, in between rocks, or almost anywhere in or out of the pond. No heat or electricity travels through the fibers, making fiber safe for many environments. A color wheel can be placed between the light source and the fiber to create single or changing colored light. Of course, this is also the most expensive option with small 4 light kits starting around $750.00 but boy is it beautiful.

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