If you are looking to make improvements to your garden, then an outdoor lighting system will likely be on the top of your list. When making a decision about which light source will be best for your landscape lighting project, the three major choices are traditional halogen lights, LED plug-in bulbs (ie. “retro” bulbs), and integrated LED fixtures. Each option will have different benefits. Here, we will give our opinion on the one we would install in our own homes and what might be the right fixture for you.
Option 1 – Halogen lights
Halogen lights are the most time-tested option available on the market. Halogen bulbs have been the standard residential light source for almost a century and incandescent light bulbs are not that much different than Edison’s original light bulb.
Today, incandescent lights are being regulated out of the industry. Halogen bulbs are very similar, in that they have a sealed chamber with halogen gas inside of the bulb. This allows the bulb to last a little longer and to be slightly more energy efficient. Our company has installed thousands of halogen lights at client homes, which have produced great results.
One of the downsides of halogen lighting is energy consumption. An LED light will typically be 75-80% more energy efficient. Halogen lights also only have a lifespan of 2,000-4,000 hours. The median life span of the halogen lights is going to be 1-2 years.
Option 2 – LED plug-in bulbs
LED bulbs are the next option you can consider when selecting an outdoor lighting fixture. On paper, this seems to be the best choice. The bulbs tend to be inexpensive. There is a 75-80% energy efficiency improvement and the rating on the bulbs is typically between 25,000-50,000 hours. They are also less expensive than an integrated LED light fixture. LED light bulbs when installed correctly, have the ability to produce a great look within the landscape.
The drawbacks to the bulbs are that almost all of them were created to be in an open-air fixture. Most manufactures of LED mr16 bulbs will not warranty their bulbs if they are in an enclosed fixture. There are distributors out there that will ignore the manufacturer’s warranty and take their chances of putting the bulbs inside a landscape light. Installed in this manner even the best, most renowned LED mr16 bulb averages a 2.5% failure rate. The issue with an enclosed fixture is that there is nowhere for the heat to escape as the bulb warms. This will cause the bulb to burn out much earlier than the 25,000 hours. In fact, many will burn out in the first year or two.
Option 3 – Integrated LED light
The final option for you to choose from is an integrated LED light. We have been installing LED lights for over five years and we have found that the integrated LED is the most reliable, best option available for use in an outdoor setting. The integrated LED is where an LED is built into the fixture itself. One advantage of this type of light is the heat sinking method (the way the light cools down) is built into the fixture. The integrated LED we designed, uses the entire brass fixture as a heat sink. We also had a team of seven engineers build the LED light specifically for the fixture. This assures you, as the end-user, you have an LED that will deliver the result that will meet your expectations, not only upon installation but for many years later.