With the economy the way it is, staying put rather than moving up in terms of house buying, is the reality for most people in this day and age. With this in mind, improving your home with small projects that enhance your house and its appeal, make life a little safer and easier for you and your family and maybe improving security as a bonus, is all worthwhile. One such project might be installing quality lighting in your soffits/eaves to create a superb wall-washing effect at night.
Very few companies offer such specialist fittings but with a little diligence they can be found in the form of IP44-rated downlights, specially designed for the job. These are small and unobtrusive using either powerful 50W tungsten halogen lamps for use on mains (240V) or 12V low voltage connected to the mains via a transformer. There’s also an ultra-eco-friendly option that uses a 4W LED (light emitting diode) lamp that is very cheap to run and will last up to 50,000 hours!
The ‘IP44’ rating demonstrates that the fitting is protected against spraying water from all directions and is thus suitable for use outside in this type of application. It also means that these downlights are equally suited for use in bathrooms in Zones 1 & 2 and in outer areas so can provide modern and effective lighting in one of the rooms where good visibility is essential.
Used as soffit lighting you could wire them via a simple switch which gives you control of when to use them or a time switch that can be pre-programmed for automatic use. As a courtesy to visitors, an alternative could be to wire them through a separate PIR (passive infra red) detector and switch which would switch them on when someone approached the house after dark.
They need not be expensive to run as the period that they are switched on is likely to be quite a short part of the day. However, if you are concerned about the running costs, choose the version with the LED 4W lamp which will be very economic to run.
There are few companies who make light fittings especially for this application so do choose carefully and ensure that the ones that you choose are fully weatherproof and the they are deisgned for a wall-washing role.
There is a growing trend to light the outside of the home and features in the garden to enhance your property and soffit lighting is among the many things you can do to achieve this. We will look at other solutions at another time.