Why Wired LED vs. Solar LED Outdoor Lighting?

If you’re thinking about installing outdoor lighting at your home, whether you want to boost curb appeal, enhance security, or create outdoor spaces for relaxing and entertaining, the first question you probably have is whether you should choose solar or wired LED outdoor lighting.

At Frisella Outdoor Lighting, we exclusively use wired LED for our lighting projects. Of course, there are some great uses for solar lighting, too! When you’re looking for a lighting solution, we think it’s important to start by understanding the differences between solar LED and professionally installed wired LED lights.

Appearance and Installation Process

Solar lighting is often a first choice for homeowners who love to DIY because of its ease of installation. In most cases, solar lights require little to no wiring or complicated steps – just choose your fixtures, drill a starter hole, stake them into the ground, and you’re done.

The drawback to DIY landscape lighting is that you don’t get the benefit of input or assistance from a lighting professional. When done well, exterior lighting can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal, security, and outdoor living spaces. When done poorly, though, it can cast uneven or unsightly shadows on your home’s architecture, create interior glare from incorrectly placed or angled lights, and even reduce security by creating shadowy areas that security cameras can’t view.

Solar fixtures also need to be placed in highly visible areas to ensure they receive enough sunlight to function. Dust, dirt, and changing landscaping (vines, overhanging leaves, growing flowers) can obscure the sun and reduce a solar light’s output. Similarly, a run of cloudy, foggy, or rainy days can leave you without exterior lighting just when you need it the most.

Professional outdoor lighting installers are trained to avoid all of these issues. Not only will they handle the installation process from start to finish; they’ll also offer expert advice on which types of lights to choose and where to place them in order to enhance your home’s existing beauty and create attractive, functional outdoor living areas.

Some firms will even go above and beyond, as with Frisella Outdoor Lighting’s free custom lighting demonstration. This allows homeowners to see exactly what they’ll get with their lighting installation, and make changes during the design process so that it perfectly suits their style and exterior lighting needs.

Security & Longevity

Longevity should be one of the most important things to consider when it comes to outdoor lighting, but it’s not always the first thing that comes to mind.

But think about how you choose your lights for fixtures inside your home. Most likely, you want a bulb that will be long-lasting – for example, you might choose one rated for 50,000 hours of use over a bulb only rated for 10,000 hours. And that’s for an interior bulb that requires hardly any effort to replace! More importantly, no one but you will be able to tell when your hallway light needs changing.

When your exterior lights fail, on the other hand, everyone who passes by your home can tell. Not only does a burned out bulb create an unsightly gap in your overall exterior lighting, it can also create a serious security concern. Missing outdoor lights can signal to potential intruders that your home is unattended. They can also create additional shadowy spaces for someone to access your home without drawing attention from neighbors or security cameras.

Solar LED lights do often have an edge over wired LED lights in that they are simple for homeowners to replace themselves. However, they tend to have much shorter lifetimes overall, requiring replacement more often. And of course, solar lights are prone to losing brightness (or failing altogether) when they don’t get enough sun exposure or as they near the end of their usable lifespan.

Ongoing Maintenance

All exterior lighting requires occasional maintenance. Solar lighting systems tend to require simpler but more frequent maintenance: checking the panels for dust, dirt, or cracks; moving or re-angling lights that aren’t getting enough sun or aren’t illuminating the correct areas of your home’s exterior; and replacing lights that have become broken or worn down.

The monetary maintenance cost for homeowners repairing and replacing solar LED lights is minimal (depending on how often lights need to be replaced), but it does require a regular investment in time to inspect and replace fixtures.

Wired LED lights, on the other hand, are typically built to last much longer than their solar counterparts. That’s especially true with top-quality products like the ones Frisella Outdoor Lighting uses for our projects. All of the lights we place are brass fixtures that come with (at minimum) a ten-year warranty, wired to a transformer that comes with a lifetime warranty.

Ongoing maintenance for wired LED systems is usually offered by the installation company. Frisella offers several maintenance options for our clients. During service or maintenance visits, we will:

  • Replace bulbs – Burned out bulbs can impact your home’s curb appeal and security, as well as adding strain to the rest of the system. We’ll replace bad bulbs with new ones.
  • Review fixture placement – Winter freeze and thaw cycles can cause light fixtures to shift from their original locations, as can heavy mulching or lawnmower impacts. We’ll check all of your exterior lighting to return fixtures to their original angle and location, or select a new location that may be better protected from movement.
  • Clean fixtures & trim overgrowth – Leaf drop, mulching, and plant overgrowth are all factors that can prevent your landscape lighting from making its full impact. Our maintenance teams will verify that your lights are clear, and trim extra growth from plants and grasses that have grown up around your fixtures.

Professional ongoing maintenance for wired LED systems will, of course, be more expensive than the DIY option that solar lights generally present. However, our clients have almost always found that professional maintenance frees up their time, grants them peace of mind, and helps stop service issues before they get out of hand.

Lighting As Unique As You Are

As one of St. Louis’ premier landscape lighting firms, we may be a bit biased. We think one of the most important things architectural lighting can do is to help make your home more beautiful, more livable, and more reflective of who you are.

Maybe your passion is art, so your garden lighting needs to highlight the gorgeous sculptures you’ve collected through the years. Maybe you live to entertain, so it’s vital that your pool and patio lighting create the perfect spaces for parties. Or maybe you just want to enhance the existing architectural beauty of the home you love.

No matter what you’re looking for in an outdoor lighting installation, Frisella Outdoor Lighting would love to help. Give us a call today for your free, no-pressure custom lighting demonstration, and let us show your home in a new light.