When it comes to selecting outdoor light fittings, there are a whole host of different styles on the market to suit every budget. But if you live near the sea, standard lighting fixtures simply won’t do and, in this blog, we will be taking a look at some of the exterior lights that are designed especially for exposed coastal locations.
Here at Bespoke Lights we know a thing or two about lighting in coastal areas as we are based in the popular seaside town of Minehead on the north Somerset coastline. Our company began 30 years ago and many of our customers were local seafront hotels and B&B’s who understandably wanted outdoor lighting that would create that all important first impression. Unfortunately, at that time, there was very little choice available and our customers had to settle for no-nonsense plastic outdoor lights where function was considered far more important than decorative appearance. Luckily things have improved and today there are some great quality outdoor lights for exposed locations that are both robust and stylish.
Choosing the Right Materials
We all expect our outdoor lighting to be fit for purpose and to be able to withstand whatever the weather can throw at them. Coastal areas however, also have to contend with airborne salt which can be carried on the wind anything up to 10 miles inland. This salty atmosphere plays havoc with outdoor light fittings as it is corrosive to many of the metals normally used in exterior lighting. Let’s take a look at some of the metals commonly used for garden lighting.
- Stainless Steel – under normal circumstances stainless steel lives up to its name and resists staining and corrosion. Unfortunately, the standard grade stainless steel used in most exterior lights is no match for the corrosive effects of salt laden air. Higher grades of stainless steel are sometimes used but these are rather expensive.
- Brass – a popular choice for outdoor lighting but it usually does not fare well in coastal locations. As with stainless steel, higher grade brass that is rich in bronze is a better choice. It is a little more expensive but still a good option.
The exterior lights shown above are all made from good quality solid brass and combine outstanding durability with good looks. They are designed for use in exposed coastal locations where they will shrug off whatever the weather can throw at them. Over time they will acquire a natural antique patina which we think only adds to their charm – you can polish these lights back to restore them to the original finish if you wish. The classic Stornoway down facing wall light is shown on the left, whilst the nautical style flush fitting Malibu in the centre can be used as a wall light or a flush fitting ceiling bulkhead light. The Gramos decking lights, on the right, are versatile recessed lights with a neat low profile appearance. In addition to being decking lights they can also be used to highlight pathways or as driveway lights. They have a 2 ton weight limit and toughened glass, so no problem if you drive the car over them! All these lights come with a reassuring 10 year manufacturers warranty.
- Galvanised Steel – a much better choice that is widely used where rust resistance is required. The metal (iron, steel or aluminum) is coated with a layer of zinc oxide which when exposed to the atmosphere produces a protective compound called zinc carbonate. This provides a strong material with an attractive dull grey appearance that is corrosion resistant. Galvanised outdoor light fittings will usually have an irregular textured finish which enhances their unique individuality.
The workmanlike industrial style wall lights shown above are from UK manufacturer Davey Lighting and can be used indoors as well as outside. With their roots dating back to the shipyards of 19th century London Davey Lighting know a thing or two about nautical light fittings. They have a well-earned reputation for their traditional craftsmanship using only the best of materials and the two lights shown here are made from galvanised iron with brass detailing and include heavy duty well glass shades. A vintage dockyard look that is perfect for lighting in themed pubs and warehouse apartments. The IP44 rating ensures they are weatherproof for outdoor use.
- Bronze – a copper alloy that superficially oxidizes to give the traditional blue/green verdigris patina. This is often seen on outdoor statues and is perfect for a well worn heritage look.
This traditional outdoor wall lantern is manufactured for use in coastal locations. The Marblehead wall lights are available in small and medium sizes and are made from a new weather resistant outdoor composite material that is designed specifically to withstand the extreme weather and saline conditions. The 5 year finish warranty ensures they will stand the test of time. Although they are designed for extreme weather conditions they can, of course, still be used in other areas and would cope equally as well with city pollution. The dark palladian bronze finish and clear seeded glass makes these lanterns ideal for older homes, coastal cottages and pubs.
- Copper – another good option as copper can either be pre-treated to preserve its polished finished or left to develop its own protective verdigris layer. This natural ageing process gives the lights increased protection from the effects of corrosion and is often preferred as it provides authentic, antique charm to period homes.
- Polycarbonates – the old unattractive, no-nonsense outdoor light fittings have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. There are now many traditional and modern styles that not only look good but are perfectly able to withstand the demands of a coastal location. These are tough, hard-wearing lights that are corrosion resistant as well as being UV and impact resistant.
It is hard to believe that the three traditional flush fitting exterior wall lights shown above are all made from hard wearing polycarbonate plastics. The Wellfleet lantern on the left is made from a new composite material from the USA that has exceptional strength and durability and is designed to withstand extreme heat and brutal cold as well as salty coastal situations. It has an aged bronze finish and tinted glass that nicely diffuses the light. The ribbon detailing surrounding the glass is known as the infinity motif, a mathematical symbol for infinity that dates back to 1655.
The Livingston lantern on the right is made from a similar composite material with a rich imperial bronze finish which is combined with clear rain effect glass making it a great choice for adding a classy look to older properties. Both these lights are backed by a 5 year finish warranty.
The traditional Gothic style Winchester flush fitting wall lantern in the centre is from UK manufacturer David Hunt Lighting. It is made in cast resin with a decorative black jesmonite stone effect finish and opal diffuser panels. As this is a dedicated low energy fitting, it is perfect if the light is likely to be on for long periods. It is backed by a whopping 25 year guarantee against defects.
The Kinsale range includes the single lamp post light, the half size lamp post or pillar light, a pedestal lantern and a hanging chain lantern (all shown above) as well as two matching wall lights. They are manufactured in Italy from a black polymer with transparent polycarbonate diffusers which makes them UV and impact resistant as well as enabling them to withstand extreme weather and saline conditions. They all have an IP44 rating and use Clic-Clac twist and lock technology for easy assembly and installation. All the Kinsale outdoor light fittings are double insulated and have a manufacturers 20 year guarantee. A versatile range in a traditional classic design.
The Glenbeigh is another range of exterior lights especially designed for coastal locations. Stylish robust garden lighting that is both corrosion proof and impact resistant. These lights too are made in Italy and manufactured in a black polymer with opal polycarbonate diffusers and use the simple twist and lock Clic-Clac technology. They are all IP44 rated, double insulated and backed by a 20 year warranty.
Looking After Coastal Light Fittings
By selecting and correctly installing good quality light fittings in coastal locations you should not be faced with the need to be frequently replacing them. By choosing to buy your outdoor lighting from Bespoke Lights you can rest assured you are getting quality light fittings that are excellent value for money. You can, however, do your bit to extend their life by careful maintenance. For safety reasons please ensure any lights are switched off before carrying out any maintenance. A thorough wash with clean water about once a month to remove salty deposits is beneficial – do this even if your fitting looks clean! If your fitting is particularly dirty you can use a little diluted washing up or car wash liquid but be sure to wash thoroughly with clean water afterwards. Avoid any mechanical or abrasive cleaning as this could damage any coatings or galvanising. Ensure the lights are well sealed by applying a coating of non-conducting grease to help seal connections and keep them waterproof – this should make access easier when you need to get inside to change the bulb.
If you want to see more coastal lights, you can browse our collections on line by clicking on the link below. Or, if you would like any further information about any of our products why not get in touch by email, phone or use our online chat facility. Our expert team are on hand to answer any of your questions and to help you make the right choices.