When contemplating outdoor lighting, there are many things to consider. Looks should not be one of them. An ornate fixture may be attractive on the showroom floor, but the goal is to make that fixture disappear.
In reference to accent lighting, find a fixture that provides the best spread of light. There are two common styles on the market using two different types of lamps. Most commonly, they are PAR 36 and MR-16. Both are used universally. They are considered the staple of architectural and landscape lighting.
The MR-16 is often referred to as a bullet light. Smaller in size, it is equipped in a cylindrical casing made of copper, brass, or painted aluminum. The MR-16 has a knuckle that allows it to be aimed, as well as a socket in which the bulb is inserted.
The PAR 36, or well light, is a composite fixture. It houses the bulb with an internal well ring. It is a solid, or one piece, fixture that connects by means of a well wire rather than a socket. Since is a solid constructed piece, there is no need for a knuckle. The internal well ring allows to the bulb to be aimed without compromising the angle of the fixture.
The clear winner, in my professional opinion, is the well light. Unlike a painted metal, the composite is impervious to corrosion and chipping. It blends with most mulch colors and sits with a lower profile than the bullet. Since the fixture houses a larger bulb, it emits a greater spread of light. Also, with fewer components, such as a knuckle and socket, there are fewer components that can ultimately fail. It possesses simple yet reliable engineering, making it superior to its high maintenance rival.
John Groce – Senior Designer of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Nashville