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Types of lighting for garden ponds

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Introduction

All pond keepers enjoy relaxing around the pond in the daytime, marveled by their creation, but why not add pond lighting to extend a daytime pond into an evening viewing ponds as well.

There are many types of lighting on the market today, the choice is endless but once installed pond lighting can create a wonderful sight in your garden. For all electric systems, we must be aware that they need to be installed safely, and if need be use a qualified electrician for connecting your pond lighting to the power source. Better safe than sorry.

Avoid direct sunlight if possible

Of course there is always natural lighting that hits your pond most days of the year and this is produced by the sun. Sunlight and ponds can cause problems especially if it is too intense and for too many hours, this can cause the water temperature to rise rapidly and it will also encourage a lot of algal growth.

Some people have no choice but to position their ponds in direct sunlight and have to deal with the problems that it causes, this can be time consuming and irritating, fish do not need direct sunlight so if you can avoid this situation then it is best to do so.

Many species of fish do not have a problem with the sunlight as it supplies them with food as the algae starts to take over the pond but it should not be encouraged from the aesthetic factor.

Artificial pond lighting does not bring on the same problems that natural sunlight does so can be used for many hours in the night without any problems.

So which lighting system will you choose?

Basically the first thing that you have to ask yourself is what will I be using it for? By this I mean, is it purely for illuminating the pond or do you need it for some sort of security, or even a safety aspect.

A lot of ponds are level with the ground so illuminating the walkways clearly defines where the pond ends, and the walkway begins. Remember not to clog up the walkways with wiring etc.; this will create a bigger hazard.

A few years ago, the only lighting kits available were run from the mains, these are classed as high voltage. As mentioned above these need to be connected by a qualified electrician, all cables from the mains to the pond need to be trenched under ground if possible, if not they need to be protected from the elements with a sheath. The main disadvantage of using this form of pond lighting is that they will use more electric then the newer low voltage systems.

Thankfully the amount of low voltage systems is increasing all the time, plus a lot of the pond lighting systems are actually solar powered now which certainly makes life a lot easier.

The low voltage systems are connected to the mains, normally by a standard plug. Inline a transformer will reduce the voltage right down to 12 or 24 volts depending on which pond lighting system you are running. On my pond I did have all the wiring connected to an outdoor weatherproof junction box, purely to keep everything tidy, but this was also checked out by an electrician before I used it. The transformers supplied should have a rating on them, indoor or outdoor use. Never use an indoor transformer on an exterior socket, the outdoor ones are designed to be weatherproof but do not immerse them in the pond unless the manufacturer rates them as completely waterproof.

So let’s look at the options available:-

Spotlights

Spotlights are so versatile, they have so many uses. The kits can range from one light unit or a number of light units all connected to one transformer. These can be used for security reasons, illuminating the whole pond area, or they can be used to highlight certain features within the pond like waterfalls, rockeries, they can even be raised to illuminate down onto the water surface. Spotlights are usually supplied on a multi directional bracket enabling the user to point them exactly where they are required. A great accessory to these are the different colored lens covers, this can create a stunning visual display. Prices for these can range from 20 pounds (40 dollars) for a single unit with transformer, up to 100 pounds (200 dollars) for multi units.

Many of these spotlights are also designed for use under the water surface, they can be fully submerged and light up the whole of the pond, and these are very effective if different colours are used at the same time. When purchasing these you must ensure that the packaging does state that these are underwater fish pond lighting, this means that they are completely water proof and you do not run the risk of electrocution from them. Also check that they met all safety requirements. These work on the same principle as the underwater aquarium lighting but, as expected, are a lot more powerful.

Floating pond lights

As the name suggests these are used for floating on the water surface, normally the bases are shaped like a bowl for buoyancy, with the light being central on top although the newer sets have started to be available in globe like shapes. Each unit will be supplied with its own low voltage cable, and they create a good effect floating over the water, in-between the floating plants. I have seen these advertised for anywhere from 50 pounds (100 dollars) to 60 pounds (120 dollars) for a 3 unit set. These are also available in various colors so creativity is the name of the game.

Submerged lights

Submerged lights can give a good effect under the water, but careful planning is required. If you are planning to use them, ideally they should be mounted on the correct brackets as the pond is being created, this will save a lot of work in the future. With these kits the transformer is normally okay to put under the water with the lights, but please check first that this is the case.

If not mounted properly they could free themselves, this in turn will lead to them ending up face down in the bottom of the pond.

A good point to remember with these is that the deeper the water the higher the wattage required else you will not get the full effect. These too can use the different colored light covers that are available to give your pond that special look.

I would recommend attaching this pond lighting to the sides of the pond, slightly facing upwards; in fact when I was building my pond, I used a bit of fore thought and actually built them into the side of the pond, making sure everything was still water tight of course. This way I was able to hide all of the wiring under the ground, out of sight for a tidier finish. These are normally available in sets of two, three, or four lights. Price wise they range anywhere from 95 pounds (190 dollars) up to 150 pounds (300 dollars) for a full set up.

Solar lights

One of the newer innovations to hit the market is the introduction of the solar pond lighting. These have proved to be very popular, no wiring to worry about, easy to install, basically it’s a matter of placing the light where you want it and either rest it on the pond border, or push it into the ground for fixing with a spiked base.

Another great feature of this form of pond lighting is the fact that they have an inbuilt dusk switch; this means that as soon as the daylight fails, the light will switch on automatically.

Basically they have inside them a re-chargeable battery which is charged up during the sunlight hours, and then as night falls, the battery powers the light through to the early hours. If looked after properly the battery should give you at least 3 years of life, storing them away in the winter time will increase the life span.

Fountain head lights

A fountain is a good feature to have in your pond, why not make it more outstanding. Adding a ring of light units to the neck of your fountain pump will give you a varied array of colors in the display. These are very easy to add, simply slide them over the neck, where they will sit in place, ready for use. Prices are not too expensive for these, they start at 30 pounds (60 dollars) up to 60 pounds (120 dollars)

So a quick recap:-

  • Always check your transformer to see it is rated for inside or outside use.
  • Plan your lighting in the building stages-it will save time and work later.
  • If using the higher voltage systems, get an electrician to set it up for you.
  • Cheap isn’t always best, buy the best kits you can afford from a reliable supplier. It will save a lot of replacing in the future.
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