Lighting can dramatically bring your garden to life - for those summer Barbeques or long winter nights. For security, you may just wish the peace of mind that extra lighting brings.
There are three types of lighting:
These are basically photocells that store the sun's energy during the day and release it in the form of light at night. There is no wiring, just put them where you wish.
The problems with this type of lighting are that they are not very bright and they tend to go flat halfway through the evening!
Low voltage lighting is another easy to install system. It works by plugging in a transformer to a mains socket, which converts to 240 volts to12 volts. The lights are then distributed along a given length of wire. The problems with this type of lighting are that the transformer must be protected from the weather (they must be inside, or in a weatherproof box) and the cable cannot be extended, as this would incur "volt drop" which would cause the lighting to dim.
However, there is a new range of coloured LED lighting which can be used to great effect as mood lighting.
LEDs, or to give them their full name, "Light Emitting Diodes" can be found almost everywhere - on your Hi-Fi, TV, washing machine and almost all electronic appliances. Because they are diodes and not bulbs, they never wear out!
Mains voltage lighting
This is undoubtedly the best system, as you can add more lights (within reason!) without incurring volt drop or dimming of lamps. But like most things - the best is not always the cheapest! If you install mains voltage in the garden you must protect the circuit with a RCD and the cable must be mechanically protected (i.e. armoured cable) so that garden tools cannot cut the cable. There is also a larger variety of mains lights to choose from.
Once you have mains power to the garden, you can also add weatherproof switches and sockets for water features and barbeques, Christmas lights, etc
Low voltage Chinese lanterns are just one of the extensive ranges of lights available to personalise your patio. On the right you can see an Infra-red heater, used to warm your guests. It works in the same way that the sun's rays warm you, And it's not as bulky as the fashionable gas patio heaters you see in the DIY shops
Please note that all electrical work to gardens now comes under part P of the buildings regulations.