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Old 01-29-2019, 02:10 AM   #1
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Best way to light very long driveways


I have two very long driveways that I want to light up. The main driveway is 90 feet long and we have the brightest LED flood light we could find on the garage, but the light barely even make's it half way down the drive. The second driveway is 125 feet long and we have another of the LED flood lights as far forward on the corner of the house as we can and it too barely lights up half the length.

I had considered post lamps, but after studying all the other post lights folks have I think it'll take a hundred of them to light up the area enough to make taking the trash to the road or getting the mail comfortable (we have moose, bears, and occasional wolves who tromp around in the wild area between the two driveways.)

I'm rather keen on some kind of overhead lights, like a smaller version of street light arms I could attach to the trees? I want motion detectors and switched so I can turn them off when it's windy. I'm keen on low voltage because I'm going to be running that out to the mailbox and a driveway marker "feature" already, but we're not opposed to installing some exterior outlets on the road side for seasonal decorations.

I'm open to any suggestions as it's been a problem needing a solution for a very long time >.<

So far I'm not having much luck finding anything that works. I threw on some pictures so folks can see what I'm talking about. First one is the road side, main driveway and the second driveway is past the mailboxes:
Best way to light very long driveways-20190120_092330.jpeg

Picture of the main driveway taken from the backyard (the flood light on the garage makes it out just over a car length before it's swallowed up in the dark):
Best way to light very long driveways-20190126_151721.jpg

Second driveway taken from the backyard (the side flood light is above the blue Trailblazer and doesn't even come close to making it to even the white car, much less my son's red truck):
Best way to light very long driveways-20190126_151646.jpg

(Hard to believe there was only a week between the first picture and the other two - go, go, wild Alaska weather.)
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:31 AM   #2
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


I'd do post lights with 2 floods on each post, both pointed down at the driveway, one pointed towards the house the other towards the street. I'd put the posts maybe 4 feet high. You said your LED flood makes it 45 feet down so let's say 25 with good illumination - on a 90 foot driveway you would need maybe 3 posts. I'd run #12 awg wire and power all the lights off a separate breaker.

Low voltage is a non-starter here. If it's 24v at the house by the time it makes it to the street on the usual small-gauge low voltage cabling people use it will be 2 volts. And if you use larger gauge wire to fix that then you won't have enough power at 24v to get the illumination level you want.

I would not attach lights to trees. Trees wave around in the wind and it would be quite annoying to be walking down the driveway and have the lights all waving around. And the higher the lights are the less illumination gets to the driveway in any spot since the light spreads out.
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:40 AM   #3
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


That Subie is getting a workout with all that snow. Are they as good as they say they are?
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:10 AM   #4
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


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Originally Posted by tmittelstaedt View Post
I'd do post lights with 2 floods on each post, both pointed down at the driveway, one pointed towards the house the other towards the street. I'd put the posts maybe 4 feet high. You said your LED flood makes it 45 feet down so let's say 25 with good illumination - on a 90 foot driveway you would need maybe 3 posts. I'd run #12 awg wire and power all the lights off a separate breaker.

Low voltage is a non-starter here. If it's 24v at the house by the time it makes it to the street on the usual small-gauge low voltage cabling people use it will be 2 volts. And if you use larger gauge wire to fix that then you won't have enough power at 24v to get the illumination level you want.

I would not attach lights to trees. Trees wave around in the wind and it would be quite annoying to be walking down the driveway and have the lights all waving around. And the higher the lights are the less illumination gets to the driveway in any spot since the light spreads out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmittelstaedt View Post
I'd do post lights with 2 floods on each post, both pointed down at the driveway, one pointed towards the house the other towards the street. I'd put the posts maybe 4 feet high. You said your LED flood makes it 45 feet down so let's say 25 with good illumination - on a 90 foot driveway you would need maybe 3 posts. I'd run #12 awg wire and power all the lights off a separate breaker.

Low voltage is a non-starter here. If it's 24v at the house by the time it makes it to the street on the usual small-gauge low voltage cabling people use it will be 2 volts. And if you use larger gauge wire to fix that then you won't have enough power at 24v to get the illumination level you want.

I would not attach lights to trees. Trees wave around in the wind and it would be quite annoying to be walking down the driveway and have the lights all waving around. And the higher the lights are the less illumination gets to the driveway in any spot since the light spreads out.
Hmmm. I didn't realize low voltage dropped so hard... that might be problematic. I have one 20amp in the house panel for the main driveway and one 20amp in the shop panel for the second driveway, but we were going to put the "roadside" lighting on them (two lights at my address marker and one on the mailbox.) I guess I better do some voltage calculations...

I don't think the lights on the house make it 45 feet though, I'm thinking it's more like 25 :/ I'll try to get pictures when my husband leaves for work in a few hours. Maybe we need better lights on the house as well. The dark up here is extra deep, when my son takes down the trash can I can't even see the glow from his flashlight once he passes my spruce tree (that's about 45') and in the back yard the flood on the back porch doesn't light all the way to the shop so we had to add a second one on the back corner of the house (this shows both the corner LED flood lights we put in):

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Old 01-29-2019, 04:31 AM   #5
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


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That Subie is getting a workout with all that snow. Are they as good as they say they are?
Ah there's actually not much snow atm thanks to the pineapple express, but we're used to having a foot or six.

Yes, Subaru's are the absolute best for snow zones. The all wheel drive is huge, and Subaru's can plow through snow that's over their hoods with only minor complaints. We have six of them right now, well five because our CA refugee is going to buy the mint green one no one else likes. We have two manuals that are my husbands, three of the boys each have one (two of which are parked next to the shop as we're not sure if they're going to get sold,) the third son's is in the shop getting it's engine rebuilt. MY Subaru got turned into a convertible by a moose a few years ago and I haven't gotten a replacement yet [ I want a 2007 Tribeca and we can't find a decent one anywhere ]
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Old 01-29-2019, 06:47 AM   #6
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


Solar post lights......


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Old 01-29-2019, 07:04 AM   #7
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


Solar sounds like a reasonably inexpensive way of doing the drive for effect. Security lighting would be a different thing. Mine is 1/4 mile long and the only effective way of lighting it up would be tracer rounds
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:34 PM   #8
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


I didn't make it out to take a picture, it's too icy on the driveway - my husband wiped out while brushing off the windshield (because of course the garage door spring broke) and I said 'nope'. It looked like the light goes a bit further than I'd thought though, probably close to 40' so you weren't too off @tmittelstaedt



Solar doesn't work so well, we only have 5 hours of daytime right now (it's back on the upswing atm, like sunrise 9:30am sunset 5:30pm or there about's) and we're down a hill a bit so we don't actually get much sun on the house as the sun doesn't get high enough off the horizon. In the summer there's only an hour we'd even need light on the driveway, but the foliage cover over the driveways makes solar a bit dodgy then as well.

We had battery powered lights up on the trees and that was alright light wise, but the batteries die so fast when it's below zero that it's not a long term solution.
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Old 01-29-2019, 04:59 PM   #9
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You say you had solar powered in the trees. What type of bulbs were they? If they were not, get LED. They use far less power.
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Old 01-29-2019, 11:55 PM   #10
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


@Wiredindallas Oh no, we had typical battery powered leds in the trees (believe it was 4 C's but it might have been 4 D's)

I do recall that Vivint (security company) had put a solar powered sign on our tree at the end of the driveway as advertising, the thing was never lit up. I have also tried solar lights around the deck and they're basically worthless - if I'm lucky I get an hour out of them in the winter. The blue glow decorations I have work for a couple hours but they don't really light anything up, just look pretty.

I've got like six sets of solar powered garden lights boxed up to be listed on craigslist if you want to buy them heh
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:28 AM   #11
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


Solar don't work so well in AK the sun comes in at a low angle too much of the day for the batteries to reach full charge.

Your problem is simply one of power - to get a lot of lumens out there you need a lot of energy. Only a 120v line is going to supply it. And only 12 awg is going to run the entire length without appreciable voltage drop

You COULD run 24v on 12 awg to the end of the driveway and probably still have 24v. But - 24v at 20A is far less power than 120v at 20A. The only real benefit to 24v is not having to buy 200 ft of underground romex and plastic boxes and all of that - but thin crummy 24v wire is not going to survive in the environment so your going to have to run it in conduit anyway so what is the point here? You can direct bury underground rated romex without bothering with conduit.

With 2 lamps pointing in opposite directions on a pole you get 2Xwhatever distance it will illuminate.

I recommend putting them low because it makes it easy to just reach up and unscrew them and replace them when the local bear decides to scratch his butt on the post and busts them out of the socket. Also putting them low increases the light intensity on the ground. Also they are a lot cheaper than the specialty low voltage bulbs and sockets and such.

Light does not bounce off empty air. It has to bounce off something - the ground. Put the bulb closer to the ground and you increase the light level reflected from the ground at the cost of a reduced field of light, further away and you increase the field of light and reduce the light level reflected from the ground. Point the lamp down the driveway and you create an oblong light field that is more intense closer to the bulb.

Your basically thrashing around trying to avoid a 120v AC power solution. There is no need for expensive outdoor arc lights on sky high poles. 4 foot high treated 4x4's should be easy to drop into the ground with a post hole digger and gravel and you just put the romex down about 6 inches and run it up the pole inside conduit on the pole to a j box and mount the light on the j box. Get the 4x4 about 6 feet long and put the bottom 2 feet into the dirt. do not concrete it. Concrete is alkaline and will rot the post out very quickly.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:08 AM   #12
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


Best way to light very long driveways-img_7245.jpg


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Old 01-31-2019, 06:15 AM   #13
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


@curiousB that's what we're doing now, it doesn't make it to the bears, moose, and wolves in time for us to run :P

@tmittelstaedt I'm alright to run legit power out, was already planning to do so for outlets at the end of the driveways regardless. Just need to make sure I don't overload the circuits is all. Not real fond of metal conduit though, we have to redo the driveway so I'm thinking to dig an 18-24" trench and use PVC on a sand base.

So can I set a PVC conduit in cement? My thought is to run the conduit straight up through a concrete footing into a hollow metal post for each light (daisy chain style,) then have an exterior outlet at the end of that circuit for xmas lights/decorations.

I'm eyeballing these lights for the posts, they're 100W but we'll run LED bulbs in them:
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I haven't found up lights for my birch tree and address marker rock yet.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:34 AM   #14
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


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Attachment 548479


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I had no idea I would use one of those so much. But I still have most of those home made ones, for back up I suppose.
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:08 AM   #15
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Re: Best way to light very long driveways


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*************************************************
I had no idea I would use one of those so much. But I still have most of those home made ones, for back up I suppose.
Head lamps are pretty awesome, very versatile for darn near everything.
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