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Prepare Your Outdoor Lighting for Winter

Prepare Your Outdoor Lighting for Winter

As winter approaches, properly preparing your outdoor landscape lighting system is crucial for functionality, safety, and savings. Follow this comprehensive guide for tips to ready your lighting fixtures and transformers for the colder months ahead.

Adjust Settings on Programmable Transformers

With daylight hours rapidly decreasing as winter nears, be sure to adjust the timer settings on any programmable transformers powering your outdoor lights. The timer should be set to match the new sunset and sunrise times in your area so lighting activation occurs at dusk and deactivation happens at dawn. For transformers with photocell sensors settings will automatically adjust based on detecting ambient light levels so no manual reprogramming is needed.

Clean Fixtures Thoroughly

While high-quality solid brass and copper fixtures are designed to gracefully patina over time without needing regular cleaning, you may want to polish fixtures to maintain a shiny appearance before winter arrives. Here are some effective cleaning methods:

  • For removing hard water stains, make a solution of water and a small amount of dish soap. Use a soft cloth to gently scrub away any mineral buildup. Let sit for 1-2 minutes before rinsing off soap residue. Repeat as needed until desired cleanliness is achieved. The soap helps dissolve deposits while being gentle on metal surfaces.

  • For a deeper clean, use a metal polish like Brasso applied with a soft cloth. This specially formulated cleaner will remove tarnish and patina. Carefully rub a small amount of polish into each fixture and buff thoroughly with a clean dry cloth. Avoid over-polishing as this can strip off the protective finish and expose raw metal underneath.

Add New Fixtures to Improve Safety

With earlier nightfalls plus snow and ice in the forecast, walking around your property after dark poses increased safety risks. Make sure to analyze your outdoor lighting at night before winter hits. Look for poorly illuminated areas where snow and ice accumulation could cause falls and injuries later on. Expanding your lighting system ensures high-traffic zones are brightly lit for you and visitors.

Switch to LED Bulbs

If you haven't transitioned fully to LED lighting, winter is the perfect time to make the switch. LEDs give you decades of use without bulb changes. Even better, LEDs cut energy consumption tremendously compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. A 150-watt LED system saves about $483 annually compared to a 1000-watt incandescent system. Those energy savings really add up when heating bills climb in winter.

Install Pathway Lights

Path lights placed strategically along walkways, stairs, and driveways are a winter necessity. Their directed beams illuminate possible problem areas where ice and snow can accumulate unnoticed. Path lights prevent snow buildup so you always have clear visibility. Install path lighting along the routes taken to enter your home after parking and to access any outdoor amenities.

Use Flood Lights by Entryways

Entryways that experience heavy foot traffic are prone to icy conditions if not properly lit at night. Powerful LED flood lights positioned to fully illuminate stairs, porches, decks, and exterior landings will make these zones safer when slick spots form. Floods provide wide spread lighting without harsh glare.

Enhance Driveway Safety

A well-lit driveway is a must for navigating in and out all winter. Long, uniform runs of driveway border lights clearly define the driving surface during snowy conditions. Slim path lights can be easily installed along driveway edges. For superior visibility down lengthy driveways, spotlights or flood lights installed on key posts highlight potential hazards.

Get Ready for Next Year

Once the last of the winter snow melts and spring sprouts arrive, your lighting system will need some TLC after running through harsh conditions. Plan to give fixtures another thorough cleaning and polish once the weather warms. Also replace any burned out bulbs and repair any broken wires or malfunctioning transformers. Having your lighting repaired and upgraded in early spring ensures maximum enjoyment all summer and beyond.

With a properly winterized landscape lighting system, your property will maintain its beautiful illuminated curb appeal regardless of what winter weather comes your way. Follow these tips and enjoy the hassle-free functionality of your outdoor lights all season long.

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  • Kevin Simon