Besides exceptionally small bathrooms, deploying bathroom light fixtures will involve more than installing a single central ceiling light. Beyond ceiling fixtures, there are three types of lighting to consider for illuminating a bathroom, in order of importance: task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting. The locations of the lights are another key consideration. The color and finish of the fixtures need to be taken into account. Finally, the types of bulbs used will play a significant role in the quality of light in the bathroom.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is primarily concerned with illuminating a person performing a task, like applying makeup, brushing teeth or shaving in the mirror. Overhead fixtures are sometimes installed above the sink and mirror instead of using proper mirror lights, resulting in an unflattering shadow effect on the person’s face. A better light distribution can be achieved by lining the perimeter of the mirror with light bulbs, as is done in theater dressing rooms. A more subtle way to get the similarly even light distribution is with a vertical sconce on either side of the mirror, and a horizontal sconce (a vanity strip) along the top of it. A sconce is a narrow light fixture that mounts against a wall. The vertical sconces should be placed about 60 inches from the floor, while the vanity strip is typically mounted 78 inches from the floor.

Other main application of task lighting is for bathtub and shower stalls. Shielded recessed downlights (lights that are angled downwards) are the best solutions for baths and showers. The shielding protects the bulbs from shower spray. Recessed lights are flush mounted into the ceiling, usually with a false ceiling that can accommodate the wiring. Tubs without showers may use a hanging light or a mini chandelier.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient ceiling lights are typically recessed lights or hanging lights. Multiple ceiling lights will be needed for larger bathrooms. The hallmark of ambient lighting is indirect lighting—i.e. light bounced off of a wall or ceiling. Wall washers are commonly used for ambient light. Like scones, they’re attached to the wall, but throw light up to the wall and ceiling above them. Rope lights, which are flexible clear tubes with a chain of LED bulbs inside, have many applications for ambient lighting. For instance, they can be used for cove lighting. Cove lighting uses partial ceilings that jut out two or three feet along the tops of walls, and contain rope lights in their recesses. The rope lights aren’t see directly; only their glow is visible from eye level.

Accent Lighting

Not all homeowners need accent lighting, but it’s particularly popular in luxury bathrooms. An accent light is used to highlight some item of interest, such as a painting, a bust or flowers. Accent lights are often recessed into the ceiling, and tilted toward the object in question.

Light Distribution and Bulb Selection

There’s more to light distribution than aesthetic considerations. The power needs to be distributed somewhat evenly. The most frequent convention is to use a maximum of 300 watts per square foot—e.g. three 100-watt bulbs or five 60-watt bulbs. This is an especially important guideline for mirror lights if you’re planning to place multiple bulbs in a relatively concentrated area.

For task lighting, one of the most important factors for bulb selection is how the quality of light accentuates skin tones. CLFs are more energy efficient, but they give off a rather cold light that’s more appropriate for illuminating inanimate objects. Incandescent bulbs or LEDs are recommended.

Color and Finish

For those who aren’t renovating, the choice of color and finish of light fixtures will gravitate toward the bathroom’s existing design elements. If you’re working from a clean slate and unsure of a finish, chrome and nickel are the most popular choices, since they blend with many bathroom styles—but are ideally suited to bathrooms with cool-colored walls like light blue. For warmer toned walls (e.g. yellow), copper or bronze are generally more compatible. Other popular finishes include rustic and traditional. The glass finish shouldn’t be ignored. Frosted glass creates less glare than clear glass. Use the former for task and ambient lighting, and the latter for accent lighting.

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Choosing proper outside lights involves determining the appropriate type of power source, bulb technology, and the application for which the light is intended. For power sources, the choice is between line voltage and low voltage lighting. For bulb types, LED lights are becoming the primary option for low voltage lights, which tungsten and CFL bulbs are preferred for line voltage lights. Each exterior lighting application will require a different lighting solution, such as a flood light, accent light or string lights.

Line Voltage vs Low Voltage Lighting

Line voltage requires a direct connection to the house’s fuse box, tapping into the 120 volt power supply without a transmitter or transformer. Most contemporary outdoor lighting will make use of low voltage power, but flood lights and wall lights will mostly use line voltage. Line voltage lighting is less flexible in terms of beam spreads: there are only flood lights and spot lights, with nothing in between.

Low voltage takes the output from a wall socket and transforms it down to 12 volts. The lack of transformer circuitry often makes low voltage lights cheaper. Low voltage lights are available in many different beam variations for each wattage, from 12-degree pin spots to 60-degree floods. Given the regulatory trend toward power conservation in the US, it’s only a matter of time before low voltage lighting becomes the standard for everything but garage lights and security flood lights.

LED Outdoor Lighting

As mentioned, tungsten (incandescent) and compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs remain the primary technology for line voltage lighting—except for flood lights, where halogen is used most often. However, for patio, garden, driveway and deck lighting, the emerging standard is LED lighting. Light-emitting diodes last between 10,000 and 100,000 hours—over 10 years—whereas low voltage incandescent bulbs only last 1,000 to 3,000 hours.

Types of Outdoor Lighting

Some types of outside lights are more appropriate than others, depending on the placement and applications. Here are some of the main options:

Walkway lights. Sometimes called path lights, walkway lights come in a variety of styles, all designed to outline the edge of a pathway or the perimeter of a patio. They can be recessed into the ground, or the may consists of short posts that rise 15-25″ from the ground.

Post lights. Post lights are essentially the same as walkway lights except for their size, which posts rising several feet from the ground in a manner similar to old-fashioned street lights. They’re usually old-fashioned in their styling as well.

String lights. Great for decoration, outdoor string lights can range from paper lanterns to Christmas lights.

Flood lights. Used to illuminate larger areas, such as patios, decks and driveways, flood lights are most ideal for security applications. Some flood lights work in conjunction with motion detectors, allowing them to follow an intruder.

Accent lights. Outdoor accent lighting can range from line voltage mercury vapor lights design to outline a lawn to low voltage solar rock lights used for walkways and flower beds. Accent lights are also appropriate for walkway and patio lighting.

Wall lights. Wall lighting can be identical to accent lighting, with sconces or lanterns that help define and outline the house. Depending on the size of the area, such as a carport, flood lights may be more appropriate.

Anyone shopping for outside lights should avoid the temptation to browse through individual products before defining their power requirements, the type of bulb technology, and the placement of lights. Once the use case is worked out, selecting a particular light is a much easier task.

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Deck lighting can be creative, but it’s also a necessity for safety. A properly lit deck prevents trips and falls, particularly for pets and children, but also lets potential intruders know that someone is home. Since decks need lighting anyway, they might as a well be shown in the best light possible. Let’s look at the most popular lighting technologies, such as LED and solar lights, and a few popular styles of lighting.

Solar Deck Lighting

One of the easiest ways to get started with lighting a desk is to use solar deck lights. Since there are no wires to run from the house, it’s possible to add lights individually on an as-needed basis. Solar deck lighting gets collects sunlight during the day, then provides up to 14 hours of light during the night, assuming a charge on full sunlight. On rainy or overcast days, solar decking lights typically provide five to six hours of nighttime lighting.

A lovely and popular solar lighting option for deck is a solar patio umbrella. Some solar patio umbrellas have their lighting fixture around the center of the pole, below the canopy, while others have an array of small lights scattered inside the canopy.

LED Deck Lighting

For indoor lighting, the preferred low-power alternative to incandescent lighting is compact fluorescent lighting, but LEDs rule for decks. LED decking lights provide a warmer quality of light than CFLs, while being clearer and more brilliant than incandescents. While CFLs are well known their low power consumption, LEDs draw far less power, and with energy costs being about one-sixth of fluorescents over the course of their lifetime. LED deck lighting also generates far less heat than CFLs, and especially incandescents, so that they’re a safer choice for families with pets and children if floor-mounted lights are being installed.

Deck Lighting Types

Some types of deck lighting are more appropriate than others for different applications. Some deck lights are designed to highlight broad areas, others are meant to showcase individual objects, while others are primarily intended for safety. The main types of deck lighting are:

Post cap lights. Lighting the corners of the deck is a crucial safety measure, even if no other lights are installed. If the rails of the deck aren’t lit, it’s still possible for people to perceive the boundaries if the corners are defined. Post cap lights are round or rectangular lights, mounted where the rails intersect, that emit downward-angled light in 360 degrees. Once the corners are highlighted, the rest of the deck’s perimeter can be filled in with pod lights or accent lights.

Accent deck lights. Accents lights can be placed on deck railings or posts to highlight edges, but their main speciality is showcasing individual objects, pointing down on some featured item like a potted plant or a bench. They’re great for fleshing out the outline provided by cap lights.

Stair deck lights. Like post cap lights, stair deck lights are critical for safe walking, but they also add some depth and definition to the deck, since each light is set inside the riser between each step. Some homeowners prefer to use solar or LED lights that stay on continuously, while others install an ambient light sensor that only turns the stair lights on when someone approaches.

Recessed deck lights. Recessed lighting is obvious the most labor intensive to install, but also the most elegant-looking–easily worth the additional effort. Recessed deck lights have unsightly wires exposed (wiring for inset deck lights are behind the boards), no gaps to risk short-circuits in the rain, and no jutting edges to become trip hazards.

Tiki torches. The mere mention of tiki torches conjures up tropical themes, but these low-tech, flame-based lights are not limited to Kona or Maui designs. Many tiki torches use industrial or European design themes. Some are small and intimate enough to be placed on tables, while others are large enough to light a whole deck. In addition to traditional torches that use paraffin, citronella oil or propane, some tiki torches are electric, available in solar and LED varieties.

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Grow tents provide the perfect controlled environment for indoor and outdoor settings alike. They are, in effect, portable greenhouses that give the grower precise control over the humidity, ventilation, light and temperature or any give flowers, herbs and plants. The come in sizes small enough to fit in a closet or large enough to repurpose a spare room as an ad hoc garden, making them ideal for the urban grower.

Physical Features

Conventional grow tents, on the smaller end, are usually around two feet deep by four feet wide and five feet high. On the larger end, tents can be four feet deep, eight feet wide and seven feet high. Most tents are framed with steel tubing and enveloped with a black canvas exterior, though there are occasional variations in the color and material. The canvas can open in the front or the sides—or both, depending on the design—and are usually closed with zippers. The sides of the canvas will feature one or more cuff-like ports for adding accessories like exhaust fans and filters. Most frames are made with cross members that snap into place, so only minimal assembly is required.

An HID grow light usually illuminates the inside of the grow tent. The interior of the canvas is most often lined with Mylar or a similar reflective surface. Mylar is preferred, since it offers up to 95% reflectivity, and since HIDs are less efficient than LED grow lights, it’s important to preserve as much of the light as possible. The taller the tent, the more plant trays it can accommodate.

Key Advantages

Grow tents (sometimes called grow boxes) are heat resistant, which can protect their contents from hot climates but also from drops in internal temperature. The temperature inside the tent can be regulated with ventilation, or by simply opening or closing the sides at strategic times. In an outdoor setting, for instance, the sides can be opened during the daytime; and just before the temperature drops at night, the sides can be closed. Many grow tents feature brackets near their ports for mounting an exhaust fan, which can be set to a timer if desired.

A grow tent also offers fantastic protection against pests and mold. A common pest indoors is the spider mite. Spider mites can wreak havoc while going unnoticed by growers, since they’re too small to be easily visible without magnification. Since spider mites thrive in hotter climates—70 degrees and up—their infestation inside a grow tent can be discouraged by keeping the internal temperature down to around 60 degrees. By keeping the humidity level inside the grow tent at or below 50%, and maintaining sufficient light, the tent can significantly prevent the growth of mold, particularly bud mold (also known as gray mold) that can be a serious thread to plants. Dehumidifiers and fans can also keep mold growth in check.

Beware of Plasticides

One of the biggest controversies in the recent past of grow tents is offgassing from plants from linings with plasticides like PVC and polyurethane. Offgassing (also known as outgassing) is the release of potentially toxic chemicals from plastics and volatile organic compounds. The “new car smell” is an example of offgassing whose danger is mitigated by ample ventilation and the low dose inhaled by drivers, but small plants trapped in tightly closed quarters are prone to whitening of the leaves and thinning of the branches.

It used to be common to find grow tents with a white plastic inner lining, but these tents have almost all be recalled or replaced with reflective Mylar interiors, which have the added advantage of being 30% more reflective. Despite the fact that white plastic lined tents are largely out of production, it’s not uncommon to see used models for sale through online auction sites and resellers stuck with old inventory, so be on guard for these units.

The Grow Tent Is Ideal for Home Growers

In the past, many residents of smaller homes and apartments would insist that they lacked the space or the climate to grow anything substantial, but grow tents are perfect for germinating seeds and growing flowers, plants and herbs in the city, in cold regions, or just about any other conditions. With only a few square feet of space, homeowners and apartment dwellers can now try their hand at becoming a grower.

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There was a time when LED lights were completely unsuited for use with plant. Early light-emitting diodes only produced either solid red or solid blue light. Homeowners who wanted to grow flowers, cooking herbs and vegetables indoors had to use other technologies that still remain more popular than LEDs: high-pressure sodium (HPS), metal halide (MH), high-intensity discharge (HID) or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Now that LEDs can cover a wider range of light bands (from three-band up to full-spectrum), many growers are discovering their advantages over other types of lighting.

Ironically, while LEDs did need to evolve from single-color bulbs, they don’t need to cover many light bands for to facilitate plant growth. It’s commonly assumed that plants need full-spectrum lighting because that’s what they get from the sun. But sunlight is so abundant that it doesn’t have to be efficient. Most plants only need the red, orange and blue parts of the spectrum to flourish. Experts generally consider triband LEDs to be optimal for plant growth.

LED grow lights specialize in providing the narrow light spectrum of Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). A high PAR output matters more than a high overall lumen output. Up to 90% of the light emitted by an LED grow light can be used by plants for photosynthesis, compared to only 15% of the light emitted by an HID or CFL bulb. The light produced by LED grow lights are less impressive to the human eye, since we key on lumens of green and yellow more acutely than red, but red is what chlorophyll “sees” and needs.

This spectrum efficiency greatly contributes to the LED grow lights’ energy efficiency. LED lights consume 40% to 75% less electricity than HPS or MH lights for the same yield. A 120 watt LED system can outperform a 600 watt HID system while having hundreds of dollars a year. The greater efficiency of LED grow lights can be seen most clearly in their much greater lifespan. While HPS bulbs for grow lights typically get around 5,000 hours of use before burning out, LED bulbs get anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours.

LED grow lights plug directly into standard household outlets without the need for a ballast to regulate the current. They also run much cooler than HPS and MH lights, and often require no additional heat removal system (though some models do feature built-in cooling fans). There’s no need to worry about raised humidity levels or burned out leaves. Most importantly, LEDs don’t burn themselves out from constant use. If you looking for higher performance and lower maintenance, consider an LED grow light.

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Walk in shower enclosures are essentially two or more walls surrounding a shower head and little or no ledge at the base. Having to reach one’s legs over a leg to begin showering might seem like a minor impediment, but it’s still an irritation that should be avoided in luxury bathrooms. Moreover, walk in shower enclosures are more than a mere luxury to the infirm or disabled. A relatively high ledge represents a serious accessibility issue and a major trip hazard. Aesthetically, a walk in shower enclosure is also better suited for displaying any custom tiles or fixtures that accentuate the look of the bathroom.

For comfort and safety, walk in shower designs should be at least 36″ in one side. A conventional enclosure square enclosure for corner mounting in tight spaces is 36″ x 36″, while a rectangular enclosure will probably run 30″ x 46″. Other common widths are 32″, 48″ and 60″, while common heights are 59″ and 72″, though some go as high as 96″.

These spaces can be enclosed with framed or increasingly popular frameless shower doors, which are available in rectangular, curved and square configurations. Some have a “neo-angle” outline, which is basically means that the base is a quarter cross-section of a hexagon, and the enclosure will consist of three vertical panels assembled at 45-degree angles.

The most coveted material for walk in shower enclosures is tempered glass—clear glass being more popular than frosted. Frosted glass provides additional privacy for bathrooms with more than one user at a time. Fiberglass and acrylic models are the cheapest, but they tend to be the least elegant—particularly fiberglass units. However, if the homeowner’s priority is accessibility rather than aesthetics, fiberglass is quite acceptable. Prices on the low end are between $300 and $600, but depending on options (e.g. the materials used for fixtures, the amount of finishing needed for custom installations), luxury walk in enclosures can range between $1200 and $1800.

Single-piece enclosures may not be practical for installations in existing bathroom constructions, as maneuverability may be limited. Multi-piece walls for more conducive to transporting up staircases and through existing bathroom spaces, and they’re easier to assemble in place. You may wish to consider replacing the shower base along with the rest of the enclosure to optimize drainage.

Many homeowners who love tile on their walls regret using tile for the shower floor due to its higher maintenance and hard texture. Shower bases (also known as shower pans) are a much more low-maintenance option, better contoured for drainage and free or porous materials that get waterlogged. Adding a walk in shower enclosure is the best time to reexamine all of the wall materials, floor materials and fixtures for possible upgrading.

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Frameless shower doors and shower screens have been popular in Europe for many years, but they’re only beginning to catch on in the United States. Traditionally, showers have been enclosed by curtains, swinging doors and sliding doors, but a modern shower screen that’s essentially a large plate of glass that only partially spans the length of the bathtub or shower stall is often much more appealing, both aesthetically and functionally. Let’s look at some of the options available.

Since the main purpose of any shower enclosure is to contain water spray, a frameless shower door uses the least amount of hardware necessary to do the job. These doors and screens come in frameless and semi-frameless versions. A frameless shower screen, which typically weighs between 55 and 80 lbs., is entirely supported by a pair of wall mounted hinged screwed into the wall though some use continuous hinges or other types of fixtures.

Ideally, there should be a stud behind the tiled wall for optimum support. With or without stud reinforcement, drilling into tile without cracking it is precision work. For the sake of the wall and the glass, you should seriously consider hiring a contractor to install glass shower door hardware for you unless you’re already a home improvement enthusiast.

In addition to wall hinges, semi-frameless shower screen has support from a continuous hinge that runs along the ledge of the tub. Instead of using hinges, some shower screens are affixed with aquarium corners sealed with clear water silicone. Shower screens and wet room screens are also easier to clean. There are no tracks to rust or collect water, soap scum or mold.

Frameless shower doors and screens are made of tempered glass (heat treated for shatter resistance) and range from 50″ to 72″ high, 28″ to 32″ wide and 3/8″ to 5/8″ thick in many models. Frosted, tinted and etched variations are available, but most showerscreens are clear by design making them virtually invisible. With their clear screens and lack of pronounced metal outlines, frameless glass shower enclosures give the entire bathroom a more spacious ambiance.

These screens and doors are ideal for showcasing the tile on the other side, and from the inside, the person showers gets additional light that reduces or eliminates the need for an overhead light. Hinges and doorknobs are usually made of chrome or brushed aluminum, but other popular options are brass and pewter—you can almost always find frameless shower door hardware to your existing bathroom fixtures.

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While there are hundreds of solar panel manufacturers to choose from, there are only a few brands that are exceptionally popular with homeowners. Most of the solar power market is business-to-business, since manufacturers know that for regulatory or public images reasons, the demand for commercial solar panels is far greater than residential panels. Homeowners looking for the advantages of solar panels on a residential scale often find comparison shopping a confusing experience.

A typical mini solar panel for home use consists of any array of solar cells that deliver between 150 and 240 watts in a unit priced between $500 and $1500 plus shipping. Unfortunately, getting exact prices online is not recommended for inexperienced shoppers. The exact same panel will differ in price by hundreds of dollars. Often, reading the fine print will reveal that these panels are only sold in bulk, and that that price shown is wholesale.

In addition to a solar panel, the homeowner will need to purchase in inverter, which converts the panel’s DC output to the AC power used by the house. The benefits of solar panels can extend around the clock with batteries. To keep the supply of power constant during low light or nighttime conditions, panels can feed their power into one or more 24v batteries. The number of panels needed for a particular house will depend on the size and energy requirements of that house, so homeowners are highly encouraged to contact a professional domestic solar panel installer instead of attempting to estimate the energy requirements themselves.

There are three main types of silicon wafers used in domestic solar panels: monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. Most panels for residential use are comprised of polycrystalline silicon wafers. The most popular types of home solar systems are grid tie systems (also known as grid-tied, grid-connected or on-grid), which are connected to the public electrical utility grid, and can route any excess power back to the utility for credit by way of net-metering.

The Top 4 Solar Power Manufacturers

Based on extensive customer feedback, here are the best solar panel manufacturers that make units for home use.

Suntech. Founded in 2001 in China, Suntech has become the world’s preeminent manufacturer of residential and light commercial solar panels. Their most popular panel, the STP180-24/Ab-1, outputs 180 watts at 35.6 volts. The MSRP is $1046.00 per panel, but many online resellers offer them for as low as $800. With this and the other panels that follow, it definitely pays to comparison shop thoroughly.

BP. It may seem odd for an oil company espouse solar energy benefits. But even if some cynics question their motivations, no one argues that BP makes second-class panels. The BP 175B is the latest follow-up to their extremely popular SX 170B panel, upgrading from the original 170-watt/24-volt output to the current 175-watt/24-volt specification. Online reseller prices less frequently cited for this unit (most sites ask you to call), but a couple of sources show that this panel can be purchased for around $600. The company also makes EnergyTile roof shingles, whose design mimics the shape of flat concrete roof tiles. Check with a BP-partnered retailer, like Home Depot.

Kyocera. Formed in 1959 as a ceramics company in Kyoto, Japan, this manufacturer eventually branched out to telecommunications and office electronics before moving into the solar energy space. The Kyocera KD-205-GX-LP is the company’s most popular solar panel for households, delivering 205 watts at 26.6 volts. The MSRP is $530, but it’s fairly easy to find online resellers offering it for under $500. As always, make sure that an individual unit can be purchased for the listed price, as many prices are for volume purchases.

Evergreen Solar. Like Suntech, Evergreen Solar core competency is solar panels, but with their own unique technology. The company’s proprietary Solar Ribbon panels are comprised of wafers that are manufactured by stretching molten silicon between two parallel high-temperature filaments, rather than die cast and cut like traditional wafers. Their main panel in North America, the ES-A-201-fa3, is compliant with both U.S. and Canadian UL standards, outputting 210 watts at 12 volts. The MSRP is $940, but online resellers list them for as low as $550.

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Homeowners who use solar energy don’t just do so for ideological reasons. There are very practical, concrete benefits to installing photovoltaic or cells or solar water heaters. A home powered by the sun has economic and quality-of-life advantages are becoming increasingly well known. Within decades, the advantages of solar power will probably become more the a luxury; it will become a necessity, as fuel prices continue to increase.

Financial Incentives

One must take the long view to fully appreciate the benefits of solar power. The initially high upfront cost of solar energy systems becomes amortized over time. The best way to look at energy savings is to break down the price of a system into its equivalent in price per kilowatt hour to compare it to utility rates. For instance, an $8,000-10,000 system with a $1,000 installation cost will be the equivalent of 20 years of municipal power rates at $0.30/kwhr—which doesn’t even account for reimbursements from government assistance programs that are often available.

If your home more power than the residents consume, the surplus power can be sold back to your utility company for a credit though a system called net-metering. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council maintains a database with municipal, state and financial incentive programs throughout the United States, and well as information on net-metering projects managed by the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy program from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Convenience Advantages of Solar Energy

Many solar products, especially solar powered lighting systems, are easy to install, since they don’t require additional wiring work. One of the main advantages of solar energy is that it can work off the grid, making it ideal for ranches, cabins, farms, or other remote areas.

Beyond the off-grid benefits of solar energy, solar is clean technology, with no fuel to transport, and no emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury, or other greenhouse gases. In addition to having no exhaust, solar systems have no moving parts, which greatly reduces the number of maintenance and repair issues that can possibly occur. Even wind power technology involved turbines that need lubrication and cleaning from time to time. And unlike wind turbines or more conventional energy solutions, solar systems are completely silent in their operation. A homeowner can essentially install a solar system once, then forget about it for the rest of its lifetime.

Naturally, the fact that solar energy is renewable is its most appealing aspect. Even homeowners aware of solar energy advantages and disadvantages are aware of the need for Americans, and everyone in affluent, industrialized countries, to reduce our dependence on rapidly depleting fossil fuel sources.

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Gate hinges can be likened to the weakest link in a chain, where the gate is the chain and the hinge is the link. Hinges might seem like small and insignificant elements, but they’re what keep gate panels in place, so it’s important to give them serious consideration.

Like other aspects of gate hardware, a hinge can be decorative or purely functional. A butt hinge is the simplest, most commonly installed type. These consists of two evenly sized leaves joined by a pin. Unlike more ornamental types, butt hinges aren’t handed, which is to say they’re not designed for mounting exclusively in one direction. Many hinges require that one plate is attached to the gate, and the other to the post; and the arrangement cannot be reversed.

An alternative that’s better suited to gates than doors is a strap hinge, which can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. The latter version has one leaf in a half-diamond shape, which is attached to the gate panel. The other leaf is in a truncated rectangular shape like that of a butt hinge. These are sometimes referred to as T-hinges or tee hinges, especially when their pivot pin is considerably wider than the strap. These are particularly ideal for garden gates. A tee hing ranges between 4 and 10 inches, with its length determined by the size and weight of the gate. Unlike a butt hinge, whose leaves often need to be drilled for screw holes just prior to mounting, a T-hinge typically comes with screw holes already drilled.

The simplest, most utilitarian versions are plainly designed, made with galvanized or plated steel. Decorative wrought iron strap hinges can cost several times as much, but they’re often worth it since plain versions can stick out like sore thumb on gates made of wood, or ones with a powder coat finish. But iron gate hinges aren’t the only option if you’re looking for ornamental touches. Black coated aluminum and stainless steel hinges can often be purchased for under $10.

Among heavy duty gate hinge products, a barrel hinge is recommended if the width-to-height ratio between the panel and post is less than one. Wider panels create too much of a radial load for ball bearing gate hinges. Barrel hinges consist mostly of the pivot pin. Only the stubs of the plates are welded to the pin, since the stubs themselves are designed to be welded directly onto the gate and post.

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