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PalmWarbler

Lighting palms at night

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PalmWarbler

What are you guys using for "uplighting" to light up the palms at night? I'm looking for some solar powered lights and would love some input, pros and cons of what you're using now and what to look for.

Also, what color are you using?

 

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Pando

I don't use solar lights as they are too dim, not reliable, and have a short lifetime, plus it's hard to get them to charge up in a shade under a canopy.

I bought a bunch of Paradise cast aluminum low voltage spotlights from Amazon (GL22724BK and GL22720BK, I think they were like $7-$8 at the time on sale). I tossed out the 20-50 Watt halogen bulbs that came with them; they use ridiculous amounts of power. I bought Torchstar MR16 LED bulbs instead, which use about 4-5 Watts each. They are wired up to a Malibu timer/transformer with a photo sensor, set to come on at dusk and off at 10pm.

The property is lit up every night, costing me only about a buck or two per month, and at the same time it has been very reliable and worry-free.

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OverGrown

Don't waste your time with solar landscape lights for all the reasons mentioned above.. they are a joke.   In all my projects, I only used kichler and vista.

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SHEP

I have FX Luminaire.   I am not even sure they are still in business.  I really had an interesting experience with this.  There was an evening event for night lighting at a garden called Heather Farms in Walnut Creek, CA probably in 2000.  The owner/president, came along with one of their reps.  They did a talk on effects to obtain with many of their products.  They then set up the outdoor garden of the facility with a type of quick connect so that you could try all of their fixtures to see the effects in the garden with each type of fixture and plant.  This is what hangs me up about buying electrical stuff is that you can't try it out, you have to buy it first, and its problematic returning it.

But, the best part, I was talking to the owner, and he offered to come by my house, on his way to SFO just to see my yard..  He came the next morning, and we walked my entire yard, and he told me each fixture, and why for my entire yard.  So, we sketched out a yard plan, and I even got the type of bulbs to use. A couple of things I remembered, if your lighting a table with seating, you don't want to use a fixture from the side, because of the shadows it will cast.  It is best to try to light down from above.  (not easy to accomplish).  Another example, I have an old Sago Palm, 36 y/o,  I have a broad (6") wide round fixture that lights the plant, between it and the wall.  This allowed all the shadows of the leaves, with pretty good detail, painted on the wall.  Your initial feeling, doing it on your own, would be to uplight, or to light from the front to shine on the wall.  Also, he suggested a long, thin fixture to shine up into my redwoods, and said to do just three of them.  So, I think palms would fall into this category. He said the biggest problem with people doing this, is that you need to concentrate and work on a single, focal point, and not build too many. You also don't need to light the entire yard, it gets distracting.  I learned alot.  You might see if they are still around, and get a larger garden or something like that to host a talk.  For them, it was a good sales tool to promote their business.

Now, don't think my garden looks like his.  I have all the fixtures, which I was able to get at cost, which made me buy lots of stuff, I probably don't need all that I got, but it felt like an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  But, we had a mold house in 2003, and most of the interior was gutted, with lots of sheetrock ripped out.  But, finally got it remodeled two years later.  So, I have three big boxes of all these copper fixtures, two transformers, etc.  But, I am really excited, because, we now feel like the yard is ready to light. Palms will look great.  I have to admit, that I am a little worried about getting ripped off, out front, because of all the copper, that people steal. 

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Sabal Steve

I used a 900w portfolio transformer, and (13) 50w Malibu lights.  The lights came from Home Depot, and the transformer came from Lowes.  The transformer was $300 and the lights were $20 each, but you could surely find them cheaper online.  I'm satisfied.

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Pando

Even when using older traditional lights, it's worth changing the bulbs out to LEDs, which are fairly cheap now. The electricity savings are significant and pay for the LEDs in less than a year.

When I bought my lights about 2 years ago, they came out to be about $8 per light plus a $5 MR16 LED bulb. They are almost as bright as a 50W halogen but use 10x less power. A 120W Malibu transformer costing $55 is currently running 12 5W lights and I can double that without upgrading the wiring or transformer.

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PalmWarbler

Fantastic info guys, thank you. Agreed about LED upgrades, I would consider them a must-do.

I'm going to look into this tonight and try to get the place lit up for Christmas visitors.

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Danilopez89

Do you guys prefer the bright white lights or the yellowish more mellow lights?

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Pando

I use these LED bulbs, they are 3200K, warm white, they look just like halogens. Bright white look blueish, a bit too harsh and unnatural...

http://www.amazon.com/12V-Dimmable-MR16-LED-Bulb/dp/B005YVCUOE

These bulbs fit absolutely perfect into these lamps. The glass holds the bulb in place. You can see it in the image below.

http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-GL22724BK-Low-Voltage-Cast-Aluminum-Floodlight/dp/B00378KH2I

owW7Per.jpg

Edited by Pando

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grant b.

pando,

what model Malibu timer/transformer did you pair with your lights? looking at the cost of other similar paradise and moonrays transformers, the Malibu ones are quite a bit more expensive. what made you choose the Malibu one and are you happy with the investment?

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Pando

Grant, it's model 8100-9120-01, 120W. I picked Malibu over others because of one specific feature - the ability to turn ON via photosensor (when it gets dark), and OFF at a specific time (say 10pm). That way I don't have to fiddle with the timer as the sunset times/weather changes, and it's not on all night long.

I looked at Moonrays, Paradise, and others and they can do time on/off, or photosensor on/off, but not the combination like I wanted.

I think I bought mine at Home Depot for $50 or so (it was less than comparable Moonrays, Paradise models), but I can't find them anywhere, even online right now (??). I know the reviews aren't that great for them, but mine is working well so far, and I love the photo-on and time off feature.

ALSO, LEDs allow you to use smaller wire - 100ft 14/2 wire is about $33 at Amazon. The total was about $250 for the entire back yard with 12 lights, the price you pay for just two Kichler LED spotlights.

Edited by Pando

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grant b.

I must have been looking at some completely different models. the one you have sounds perfect and is totally affordable.

its definitely more expensive when you start getting into the 400-600W range.  If using LED bulbs, you would have to have a huge yard with a ton of lights to eat up that much wattage though.

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Really full garden

I use 15w LED floodlights in warm white. My pool garden has six up lights for a general wash of light.

This was just after they were installed .You can still see the "scars" on my lawn. The lights are set in PVC pipes with all weather rubber sockets set in gravel.

IMG_0524.thumb.JPG.05187d5f3403b971fa273

IMG_0533.thumb.JPG.9dec6d8301b376f677b4a

IMG_0535.thumb.jpg.a10cb28f7d59a28ee14f7

I doubt that my electric bill rose more than $5 and another plus for LEDs is that they do not attract insects.

 

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Sabal Steve

Scott, your place is surreal.

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WestCoastGal

SHEP, actually the FX Lumuniare system is still very much around and made great strides in lighting since you had them out in 2000. Very much what I would consider commercial/high end residential systems. We were considering them back in the 2013 time frame when we were setting up our initial landscaping. Back then they had just come out with the FX Luxor ZD dimmable/scene setting controller and had a demo set up for us. The demo changed my husband's mind about adding nighttime lighting for our palms. They had just come out with an iPhone app for the controller so that's been out there for a while now. They added programmable color control to their fixtures as well. After seeing your post I checked out their website again and see they now have LED bulbs that work with their controller in other manufacturer's fixtures. That product line was just announced so probably isn't available quite yet. At the time they came out for the demo, we already had some lighting installed and without replacing existing stuff we wouldn't have been able to get it all to work together. Hopefully we'll adding lighting later this year to our yard now that all of our landscaping is in and it's good to see what's new out there now. BTW FX Luminaire is owned by Hunter Industries, well known in the irrigation realm.

Palmwarbler, I agree that you would be wise to look to LED low-voltage lighting over solar for your palms. Think you will be much happier. I can see solar lighting more for low-cost pathway lights maybe (depending on location and amount of sun charging them and time of year) and the solar cells on them only last for a few years.

BTW the FX Luminaire site is actually well designed, informative, and interactive to some degree on a number of set ups (http://www.fxl.com/introducing-luxor). Might be worth your checking out to help you plan what kind of lighting set up you'd like to go for (pathway, uplight, downlighting, and different types of accent lighting, etc) even if you don't plan to buy their products.  http://www.fxl.com

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PalmWarbler

Probably the most helpful series of responses I've ever received on a topic. After work I'll be ordering some Paradise lights with the LED bulbs. I may stay with the solar lights for a low-cost path lighting option as I think they'll get enough sun to work and I don't expect anything to last forever outdoors here. For the cost of them I'll be happy if they make it a few seasons.

Hoping to get this stuff up and running before the Holidays as I have some family coming.

Fantastic help guys, thank you!!

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Pando

Glad that helped! Post some pics when you get it running! :)

 

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PalmWarbler

OK, with help from forum members input I wound up ordering 10 of the Paradise GL22724BK lights, 4W LED bulbs along with the low voltage wiring and a Moonrays 95432 200-Watt Power Pack (which has the feature Pando has pointed out that it comes on at dusk and you can shut it off at a certain time or let it run till dawn). I figured this power pack gives me capacity to add more lights as my projects progress.

I also ordered an 8-pack of the Moonrays 91381 Payton Solar-Powered LED Path Lights to test out. I'll report back after install as well as further down the road to give a heads-up to other members who might be interested in how they hold up.

All told I'm into it for about $300 which isn't bad at all considering it's a complete outdoor lighting system, along with the path lights.

I'm excited to get this stuff in and installed, should be up and running before Christmas which will be perfect.


Thanks all for the input and the help!

Edited by PalmWarbler

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Ben in Norcal
1 hour ago, PalmWarbler said:

OK, with help from forum members input I wound up ordering 10 of the Paradise GL22724BK lights, 4W LED bulbs along with the low voltage wiring and a Moonrays 95432 200-Watt Power Pack (which has the feature Pando has pointed out that it comes on at dusk and you can shut it off at a certain time or let it run till dawn). I figured this power pack gives me capacity to add more lights as my projects progress.

I also ordered an 8-pack of the Moonrays 91381 Payton Solar-Powered LED Path Lights to test out. I'll report back after install as well as further down the road to give a heads-up to other members who might be interested in how they hold up.

All told I'm into it for about $300 which isn't bad at all considering it's a complete outdoor lighting system, along with the path lights.

I'm excited to get this stuff in and installed, should be up and running before Christmas which will be perfect.


Thanks all for the input and the help!

I'd love to see pics of this installed/on if you get a chance!

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Pando
1 hour ago, PalmWarbler said:

and a Moonrays 95432 200-Watt Power Pack (which has the feature Pando has pointed out that it comes on at dusk and you can shut it off at a certain time or let it run till dawn).

Unfortunately it doesn't do that...

      "program your Moonrays low voltage landscape lights to turn on at dusk, stay on for 1-9 hours, always-on, always-off, or remain on until dawn."

It can do photocell on and then stay on for 1-9 hours, but it has no actual clock. If you set the timer for 6 hours from dusk in winter, in summer you'll have lights going until 3am. This is what I was up against when I did research two years ago and eventually ended up going with the Malibu transformer which had a clock built in.

 

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PalmWarbler

Pando, you're correct and I didn't notice that when I chose it (the one you suggested wasn't available on Amazon). For my intended purpose it was really only important for me to be able to shut it off a certain # of hours after dusk as I don't see myself wanting the lights on at 3 AM or something. Hoping my thoughts work out to be OK in real-life application....

Ben I'll surely post pics once it's in.

One thing I could us clarification on (post purchase isn't the time to be asking I suppose) is that if I'm using only 4W LED bulbs instead of the factory installed 50W bulbs , in theory the 200 watt power pack should be able to power ~50 lights correct?

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Pando
1 hour ago, PalmWarbler said:

if I'm using only 4W LED bulbs instead of the factory installed 50W bulbs , in theory the 200 watt power pack should be able to power ~50 lights correct?

Yes, that's correct, just add together the watts of the bulbs. But your wire must also support the total wattage if you only run one cable off the transformer. If it's in a central location you can run multiple parallel cables off the transformer, which allows you to use smaller cable. :)

Did you end up getting Torchstar LEDs or something else? There are a lot of them out there now. I just had a first bulb fail, after having 13 lights going for 2 years, not bad at all actually.

You'll love it, I remember the first time I turned on the lights after it got dark - cue dramatic music, the garden came alive!

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PalmWarbler

Pando, the bulbs seem like the weakest part of the system in that a lot of them had poor to middling reviews. You had success with the torchstars but I was a bit leary after reading the ratings on Amazon.

 

I wound up ordering these: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P7QLNPS?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00 . Same wattage, kelvin and beam angle, they have less reviews but a better overall rating and were less than 1/2 the price of the torchstars. Hoping they work out as well as the torchstars have for you.

 

Everything should be here tomorrow... can't wait!

 

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Pando

Thanks for the LED bulb info, new ones are coming up all the time, and sometimes they are just rebranded bulk items from China. They could be the same thing. Great price though!

Good luck putting it together, it should be easy. Here's a tip - cover the cut cable end with black electrical tape to prevent moisture from wicking into the cable.

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PalmWarbler

OK so I got all the goodies in today. Install starts on the uplighting tomorrow but I did hastily install the solar LED path lights and will say that they are super-nice! The glass emits a great circular/starburst pattern on the ground and are a classy touch. They had great reviews on Amazon and I agree. One word of caution that I read in a review and worth passing on; push the stakes into the ground THEN place the LED/light portion on it (if you assemble first then try to push into ground you risk breaking the light). Another tip if you need them to be higher is to cut and paint some PVC pipe to a longer length and place light stake inside PVC pipe to get it higher.

I'll post pics tomorrow night of at least the path lights. I have more planting and final mulching to do for the area before I post the uplight photos :-)... hoping to complete the entire area by Sunday.

 

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Sandy Loam

Scottgt, I love what you've done with your lighting (not to mention your beachfront location also).  Someone should start a thread showcasing evening spotlighting in multiple gardens. 

 

 

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Really full garden
33 minutes ago, Sandy Loam said:

Scottgt, I love what you've done with your lighting (not to mention your beachfront location also).  Someone should start a thread showcasing evening spotlighting in multiple gardens. 

 

 

Thank you! I really enjoy seeing the garden at night. Before there was just a dim glow from the pool lights and then a black abyss. I can see the palms from every room in my house.  

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PalmWarbler

Quick shot of the pattern from the solar LED path lights. I really like them!

IMG_4645.JPG

IMG_4646.JPG

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WestCoastGal

Palm Warbler hope you have a nice comfy chair to sit in outside at night because you are going to love being out there once your lighting is in. Look forward to your photos.

I should have thought to mention this company earlier, Volt Lighting. They originally sold only wholesale to contractors/landscapers but over the past few years have opened it up to the public. I fell in love with their Specialty Up/Down light fixture for our pergola and our contractor was able to adapt the installation to our stucco columns that were unfortunately wired for a round junction box. We bought our LED lamps from them too. Have to say we are very impressed with the quality of the fixtures and have gotten a number of compliments on them. The fixtures are UL listed. Here's their website for anyone interested: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/about-us-a/132.htm

Volt has been adding new items to their product line since we bought our fixtures. Originally they were all brass and halogen, but have added cast aluminum (black and bronze), and expanded their LED selections. Their cast aluminum line is very reasonably priced, they have a $19.97 spot right now, and the aluminum has a 10-year warranty. Really quality construction and features. Here's a link to one of their aluminum spotlights: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/All-Star-aluminum-LED-spotlight-black-finish-p/val-2000-abk.htm 

Their website has videos of the products so you get a good idea of what you are buying. They also provide spec sheets and installation pdfs. Their Landscape Learning Center is very useful as well in planning your installation: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/Landscape-Lighting-Learning-Center-a/144.htm . They also have Interchangeable Optics which is something new: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/volt-interchangeable-optics-p/opx-volt-r1.htm They also sell telescoping extensions to adjust as your softscape matures: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/Brass-Telescoping-Extension-Riser-p/9r-tele-brass-riser.htm

Here's the Up/Down fixture we ordered: http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/outdoor-lighting-sconce-p/650.htm. Photo was taken before we painted the back plate which was not part of the fixture. This fixture has a lifetime warranty as well as does a number of their products.

56725cac55d37_VoltUpDownLight1.jpg.7296c

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junglegalfla

I stopped in home depot today and was told by the end of Jan, they will quit carrying the brand as Malibu filed bankruptcy. 

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WestCoastGal
1 hour ago, junglegalfla said:

I stopped in home depot today and was told by the end of Jan, they will quit carrying the brand as Malibu filed bankruptcy. 

I was unaware of that. I'll pass that on to a friend who I know bought some for his yard last year. I did a little reading on them after seeing your post and apparently HD terminated it's relationship with them over the summer, prompting them to file for Chapter 11. I saw something about hoping to sell the business off and some court hearing expected next in November. There was a restructuring meeting in November but not seeing anything that came out of it and nothing else about them since. I would think this means you'd be on your own if you run into any problems with the lighting down the road. Not sure what would happen if you needed parts. That's really big news as a lot of people I know have Malibu.

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PalmWarbler

Just to update this since it came to the top again... In my infinite wisdom I ordered all the lights, the transformer, the LED bulbs and..... only 100' of wire (when I needed about 200' to do the job).

New wire arrived today (gotta love Amazon) and I'm still hoping to get this wired and complete prior to Christmas. Lights are all ready just have to run the wire.

Will post pics of course.

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WestCoastGal

Small glitch. Hope you'll get it installed before the holidays as anticipated. Was checking back here to see if you had it up and running. 

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amazondk

I have been working with LED lighting now for a few years.  I am a distributor for a Florida based led manufacturer for Brazil.  I do not have any good pictures yet of applications for landscape lighting, but I will have soon.  Our products are high end LED lights with a 10 year warranty and over a 20 year lifespan when used 12 hours a day.  

Here are a few pictures.  They are using lights with a color temperature of 5700 kelvin.  If you use a temperature of 4000 kelvin (the color used on the Los Angeles led installation for street lights, the plants are a more natural green.

This is the main street of a gated residential condominum in Manaus.  It is with 60 watt lamps which replaced 250 watt metal hallide lamps.

IMG_2815_zpsxbwjxq8l.jpg

And, this of the pool area in the same condominium.   Led lights have exceptional clarity to the light.  Especially ours.

20151127_195721_zpskkaypsdt.jpg

LED lighting can do great things with a landscape.  There is a big difference with different types of products.  

 

dk

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mcrawford

I used Malibu brand years ago and was disappointed in the quality/longevity.

Some time later I hired a landscape architect to do the design for a new home.

He 'spect'd out FX brand transformers and fixtures.  Although they are more

expensive than Malibu, they are made in the USA and have lasted 18 yrs now!

I set up an account at Ewing Irrigation and got them wholesale, making them

more affordable.  If they ever do wear out, I will be quick to buy them again!

 

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PalmWarbler

'Twas 2 nights before Christmas and outside the house, not a creature was stirring except for my spouse...

OK so the uplighting is complete, even though my sitting area is not quite yet. I'm very pleased with the outcome, so much so that I'm going to go ahead and purchase a few more lights to accent a few more palms.

<a href="http://s216.photobucket.com/user/TomFL/media/IMG_4684_zpst1ve49qt.jpg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc315/TomFL/IMG_4684_zpst1ve49qt.jpg" border="0" alt=" photo IMG_4684_zpst1ve49qt.jpg"/></a>

I have to say that for the investment ~$400 all in for the path lights as well as the complete 10 light low voltage uplighting system ($150 of which was for 350' of wire, if you had a smaller area you could get by with 1/3 that expense), I'm extremely happy. The LED bulbs have a warmer, more less white hue to them then the LED path lights and I think they really accentuate the palms nicely. I'm going to tinker with light placement and angle over the weekend but for now it's good enough.

As promised, a few pics. Please keep in mind I'm just finishing this walk/sitting area so there might be some "tools of the trade" in the pics still.

IMG_4684.JPG

IMG_4688.JPG

IMG_4687.JPG

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Ben in Norcal

Looks great Tom!  I am starting to order lights to do this as well.  I converted an old Malibu incandescent set-up earlier this year to 2.5w LEDs, and when I first saw this thread it occurred to me that I could stick on a bunch of LED spots without even running new line.  There's already line in the ground, and tons of "space" on the transformer now.

You went with 4w LEDs? How many lumens did they have?  I am going for a cooler white set up to be consistent with my other lights - per the link below looks like the lights I ordered have 341 lumens.  http://www.ebay.com/itm/301826139247?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

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PalmWarbler

Ben, thanks for the compliments. I'll try to get some better pics tomorrow night.

The bulb rating looks to be 4W, 330 lumen. 2900-3200k.

If you go to Amazon and copy/paste this, it will take you to the listing: Lot of 10 PCS 12V 4W MR16 LED Bulbs - 3200K White LED Spotlights - 50Watt Equivalent - 330 Lumen 60 Degree Beam Angle for Landscape, Recessed, Track lighting.

I chose them based on review, the K range as well as the price. It seems the LED bulbs are all over the place with costs, and spending more didn't really seem to up the review ratings at all.

The ones you chose look to be a lot more white than the ones I went with, and would likely have matched the path lights very well.

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Pando

Looking good Tom, glad you like those lights and they work for you. Those LEDs fit those lights perfectly with the glass holding them in place. That also adds to their reliability.

Those LED bulbs are probably exactly the same as the Torchstars I used, but for 1/2 the cost now that they are available. Probably relabeled brand anyway.

The color on those bulbs is pleasing, not too yellow, and not too white as they will look blueish. Just perfect :)
 

 

Edited by Pando

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