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How To Choose The Best Material For Your Residential Outdoor Lighting Fixtures


Are you trying to determine what kind of outdoor lighting fixture to use on your residential outdoor lighting system?  It definitely can be quite overwhelming, however if you would like to maximize your investment, then you will want to take into consider the quality of the material used for making the fixture.   

When you consider how harsh the weather elements those fixtures are subject to here in Houston, it is very important to select a material that can endure the demands of being used outdoors.  Some of the more common material options for landscape lighting fixtures are copper, brass, aluminum and composite.  We have outlined them below with our personal recommendations and additional information on them.     


Composite Fixtures:

Composite fixtures are made out of a mixture of plastic and offer better structural strength compared to lighting sets that are sold in big box and hardware stores. Compared to metal fixtures composite fixtures are a lot more affordable but the quality is lacking. Composite fixtures over a fairly short period of time will start to break down and degrade under the stress from the outdoor elements.  That can result in shortened bulb life and expensive fixture replacement.     

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Aluminum Fixtures:

Aluminum tends to be lower in quality but is affordable.  It isn't as durable as other kinds of materials, and is designed to last for a long time, especially with the sand, corrosive soils and salt air here in Houston.  The paint will fade and it will oxidize.  

Over time, aluminum will corrode over time and doesn't hold up very well when it is around salt.  That is why it isn't recommended to be used for coastal application.  An aluminum fixture's life can be extended by powder coating, since the paint seals the aluminum.  The sun's UV rays highly affect aluminum fixtures, and Houston gets tons of sun.  With just a couple of years following installation, these fixtures will tend to discolor, or even crumble, peel or chip, depending on what their quality is.     

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Brass Fixtures:

Brass is made out of a mixture of zinc and copper.  It is a hard metal that does hold up well in every environment.  High quality brass fixtures last many years and an extended warranty comes with the better ones.  However, be careful about the cheap brass fixtures that can be found online - there is a reason why they are so cheap.  We only purchase from manufacturers using the best alloy ratios that doesn't include any junk metal in it.  

Over time brass will patina (turn darker) naturally when it is exposed to the elements.  However, it doesn't corrode and is an excellent option for your residential outdoor lighting system, particularly in coastal environments.   Compared to some other metals that are used, brass fixtures do cost more, but it lasts the longs and is the most durable and highest quality metal.  

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Copper Fixtures:

Another excellent quality option is copper.  It isn't as solid as brass is, so some manufacturers make brass fixtures coated with copper which gives you the best of both worlds: the beauty of copper and longevity of brass.


People have been using copper now for thousands of years.  There is a good reason for that! Copper is used in a number of different products due to being resistant to corrosion, good strength and great thermal conductivity.  Bulbs, particularly halogen, will generate a lot of heat.  Metals are used to design copper fixtures to allow the heat to efficiently escape the fixture.  That is important since high heat retention can can have a negative impact on the lifespan of the bulbs that are utilized.  Moisture is kept out by the copper exterior while allowing the heat to escape through the actual metal.

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What type of material should be used for outdoor lighting fixtures?

We here at Silver Moon Lighting prefer using fixtures that are made out of corrosion resistant materials such as brass and copper.  Given that brass is an alloy that is made out of zinc and copper, those metals are greatly superior compares to materials like low-grade metals and plastic that are used in inexpensively made lighting fixtures.  We have spent years testing and trying various kinds of fixtures, and have concluded that higher quality materials such as brass and copper have proven their worth over and over again over the long term.   

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Why material quality matters for fixtures:

With electrical in general and all outdoor lighting in particular, corrosion is definitely a major concern.  Usually moisture is to blame whenever corrosion has been discovered.  Copper doesn't react to water, however it does react slowly to atmospheric oxygen and forms a layer of black-brown copper oxide.  Unlike the rust that forms whenever iron gets exposed to moist air, it helps to protect the copper that is underlying from even more extensive corrosion.  That is why we use copper alloy and copper fixtures in our installations.  Our brass and copper fixtures do turn a slightly darker color as part of the patina process.  The process provides the fixtures with a very subtle and natural finish that allows them to accent your landscaping and home seamlessly.    

High-quality materials are resistant to corrosion and last longer than others do, which leads to fewer headaches in the future.

If you want to discuss your lighting needs or have any questions, please contact us.  You can also schedule your free consultation online.

We specialize in landscaping.  It is what we do on a daily basis.  

Our team has many years of experience designing and installing elegant and unique residential outdoor lighting designs and providing repair and maintenance services to businesses and homes.

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