Pergolas can be uplit from the ground or downlit with garden lights on the beams or at the top of the posts or columns. Uplighting creates a bigger lighting effect where climbers creep across beams, but stick to lower power lamps such as 20w or 35w in both uplights and downlights to avoid excessive brightness near seating or walking areas. Good uplighting options include Elipta's Compact spike spotlights, or the Microspot range if you want only the subtlety of 20w lamps and a miniature spotlight: both have an optional internal glare louvre to control glare. Use uplighting where the crossbeams have ornamental value or there is particularly good coverage of the crossbeams by attractive foliage and flowers; otherwise pergolas are usually best illuminated by downlighting from the posts, columns or crossbeams.
Where there is a seating area beneath or a path through a pergola, use low power downlights. For lighting from a pergola onto a patio or alfresco dining area, you might prefer 12v spotlights for ease of wiring and the rustic brown or copper finish to fix on wooden beams. For downlighting an alfresco dining area, use a 20 watt wide beam lamp in a downlight from a crossbeam or overhead arbour to project a circle of light onto the table. Lighting patios from structures may require combinations of downlights as well as uplights to add contrast and emphasis, by uplighting or downlighting stone pillars for example. The Elipta copper downlight weathers to match brown timber and is small enough to be fairly unobtrusive. They can also be fitted with a glare louvre as standard, which is a useful accessory near a seating area, and there are matching adjustable wall spotlights. Elipta's compact wall spotlights and downlights are also available in stainless steel for modern settings, black to suit conservative tastes, or rustic brown powder-coated aluminium for a less expensive finish to tone with wood. Elipta spots also give you the option of 12v and 240v models to suit your wiring configuration, with the added bonus of a wide range of low energy options. For symmetric pergola walkways, the most stylish technique uses downlights in pairs on opposite posts to illuminate path, column and plants; again the Elipta's copper or rustic brown downlights are one of the most compact choices for this application. Make sure you follow the symmetry and geometry of a pergola - avoid zig-zag patterns which will look like bulbs have blown!
An optional clip-on frosted lens may be used to light the area in a diffused way and clips onto the front of the lamp in all MR16 halogen downlights and wall spotlights from brands such as Elipta (be careful about trying to fit them into some other brands of spotlights which have no room for them, and you may end up breaking lamps and lenses). Use 12 volt spotlights with clear lenses where there are particular features onto which you may wish to project a circle of light - a paved circle, a table or a focal point. Hanging downlights are another option for putting light down off a pergola walkway, below an arch or down onto a table in a gazebo; the Pergolight copper downlight is a miniature unit which can be suspended from a brass hook; an MR16 20w lamp will give you enough light for most arch and pergola applications but you may wish to opt for the brighter 35w lamp if lighting from the apex of a tall gazebo roof. The Pergolight is also a great fitting for downlighting onto hanging baskets from the wall bracket above. For a bit of fun and to add a little sparkle to the ambience, downlights with perforated barrels let pinpricks of light through the sides as well as giving a small pool of light beneath to illuminate a planted pot or climber; MOONRAY offers a longer length for hanging nearer to posts and columns. Hanging lights may have an advantage in not being obscured by planting creeping across the beams, while spotlights and downlights on the side of the beams will be less obtrusive where planting is less dense or regularly pruned.
Clients often ask for lighting of an ornamental seat under a pergola or tree, but this can be incompatible with visual comfort during use. The answer can be diffused downlighting to avoid glare if you decide to sit there - moonlighting from a tree branch overhead can be a good option using a tree mount spotlight - or provide switching options, allowing appropriate lighting to be selected for different uses. The difference between mood lighting - where 20w is often enough - and lighting for reading - which will often need 35w or even 50w lamps - can be important in these areas, so it is essential to decide type of usage at the outset; downlighting in a gazebo or under a pergola beam to facilitate reading will not facilitate the ability to sit there in mellow mood and look out upon ornamentally lit features around you. You will need to plan alternative lighting options, the least being the ability to switch off downlighting over a seating dining area separately to enjoy the outlook from a darkened enclave.
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