Going Al Fresco

Creating an outside eating area that can be used in the hours of darkness requires special attention to lighting.  Martin Bennett explains
The phrase al fresco is borrowed from Italian for “in the cool [air]”, although it is not in current use in that language to refer to dining outside. Instead, Italians use the phrases fuori or all’aperto. In Italian, the expression al fresco usually refers to spending time in jail.Decimina Brass in SituDSCN2077
It’s important to achieve a well-lit area for eating and drinking al fresco which serves purpose and is pleasing to the eye.
This can be done in a variety of ways to end up with a sophisticated dining and entertaining area. Firstly the decking can be lit by in ground uplights lights. Simply drill appropriate sized holes and wire from underneath. Use only flush mounting types to avoid any trip hazard. Make sure you only use lights which have replaceable LED bulbs. Low cost string type lights will not be long lasting and look bad when one light fails and cannot be replaced.
For the Pergola Spotlights can be placed to give a local attractive light. Up and down lights can be especially effective. Do not use spotlights directed at the dining or seating area, they will cause unpleasant glare for the diners.  The best way to illuminate a dining table or seating area is to use hanging lights. The ones with holes in the sides are especially attractive.  To directly illuminate a table a hanging light is the best option. These are small spotlights using MR16 12v  or GU10 240v  bulbs which direct the light in a narrow beam onto the eating area.
As a decking area is often damp it is important to use low voltage 12v MR16 lights on the decking itself as these rarely trip even when wet and cause no electric shock hazard.
To create a festive atmosphere coloured dichroic lenses can be used inside both the decking “in ground” lights and the spotlights.
Martin Bennett is the founder of Lumena Lights                         
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