Have you ever driven home late at night? Do you live somewhere where heavy dampness and fog envelop the road, interfering with your vision and making it difficult to see? If the answer is yes, then investing in a set of floodlights for your driveway would be an extremely wise choice.
In a previous article we looked at driveway lighting, focusing on drive marker lights and other tricks to show where the driveway is in the dark (see Marker Lights For Your Driveway on this site). This time we’ll look at floodlights that can actually light up the whole area so you can see to get to the front door or garage.
Solar Power Not the Solution
One of the good things we highlighted about low-level driveway lighting, such as marker lights, is that solar power units are available. They are easier to install as there’s no need to run cables underground or connect an electric supply to the consumer unit in the house.
Unfortunately, solar powered lights simply don’t provide the power to light up a whole area, at least not yet. So you’re really stuck with the hassle of getting an electrician in. You can do a great deal of the work yourself but the connection of the supply to the consumer unit, the testing and certification, really has to be done by an electrician.
Drilling Through Walls Or Frames
There’s no particular floodlights for driveways so you can use any floodlight available at garden centres or DIY stores. Wall mounted floodlights are the easiest to install, even though they will almost certainly involve drilling through a wall. If this seems a little bit daunting, try to site your lights near windows or doors so that you can drill through the frame instead.
This is not something you should try with a plastic double-glazed window or door though, unless you really know what you are doing. Even if you don’t shatter the window, there is a high risk that you will damage the vacuum which makes the double-glazed unit so thermally efficient. If you are drilling through a frame with no pane unit attached, there is less danger but take great care in any case.
Drilling Through Walls
Drilling through a wall isn’t that difficult, just a bit daunting. If the house was built after 1930 it’s likely to have a cavity wall, so if your measuring skills are accurate, you can drill one hole through the external wall and another through the internal wall and they’ll meet up like magic.
Older houses will have a solid wall and it’s here that the three foot long masonry drill bits come into play. Use a small bore drill bit first then follow up with the correct sized bit which you can use from both the outside and the inside. This will do less damage to the surface of the brick or stone than breaking out from the inside, and the same is true with the plaster or other interior finish on the inside.
We have found that when you are drilling through the external wall, it’s best to use an extended electric drill as this will allow you to get far enough away from the hole. The whole point of a floodlight is that it lights up a large area so if your drill shrieks and stalls after only 4 or 5 inches, then it certainly won’t be doing that.
If you want the lights on the other side of the driveway from the house, it obviously makes sense to put them in when you are Digging The Foundations. Of course, unless there’s already an electrical supply outside, you are still faced with the problems of drilling through walls to get the supply outside. Take a look at the garage, if you have one, you may be able to tap into a supply there.
However, the most efficient way of using floodlights for your driveway, is to put them in before you pour the concrete. If there’s already a cable going out to the letter box or a nearby tree this can be extended easily enough.
Watch Where You are Lighting
As we said earlier the problems are with the supply; once they are resolved you can put up any lights you want. Just cruise the DIY stores and garden centres and pick lights that look good and have the spread of light you are looking for. Units with movement detectors (PIR units) and light detectors are good because you don’t have to remember to turn them on and they’ll light up when your car enters the drive.
But just one warning – once they’re all up and working, do go and see how they look from your neighbouring properties. They might be doing a fab job for you but at the same time be blinding the people over the road, even their bedroom windows. So do be aware of this and point them downward as much as possible.
In conclusion, if you are thinking of getting outside floodlights for your driveway, don’t let the task put you off. It’s relatively easy and affordable to do and will make a huge difference to your enjoyment and security in this neglected corner of the garden or drive.