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We just got some awesome new neighbors who also love Halloween, so I'm excited that the main house (not just the back yard and our above garage apartment) has the potential to be decorated.

Our neighbors on the corner have an old Victorian that they light up in green, and it looks so spooky. I've never done any outdoor lighting other than string lights, so I'm kind of at a loss for where to search and what kind to buy. I'm such a frugal person, but I'd like to splurge on lights to give the front and back of the house a purple glow - would they be considered spots? If any of you could help a newbie out by giving me a starting place, I'd be forever grateful!
 

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I'm still using old purple/green/orange/red flood lights that I bought from Big Lots years ago to light up big swathes of the house walls or our fence as a backdrop lighting, so old technology now that LED with vibrant colors have come out. So I'll let others recommend products. Lighting has changed a lot over the last few years.

I set up for halloween night only; and try the best I can to take the time a few days before to place major props in the yard during the day and add lighting which I check out at night, rearrange as necessary, and mark locations of the main props and lighting so I can replicate placements on halloween day. Then I put everything in the garage until halloween night so it will stay a surprise til then. Having well placed lighting does have a huge impact on how your yard looks, so my advice would be to plan ahead and to test out all the lights as well.

Also have some backup lighting (bulbs) available if you can or work towards that over a period of years. Nothing like lighting up your vampire castle area with red background lighting and a bulb burns out with nothing to replace it--happened to me one year--and the darkness it creates becomes a black hole visually.

Flood lights will cast a large light pattern where as spots will have a narrow beam and are good for highlighting individual props or tombstone, etc.

There's an great tutorial on lighting placement a fellow HF member did a while back that I'd recommend. Maybe someone here can link to it? It's kind of become the lighting bible for newbies to lighting.
 

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Blue Pill? or Red Pill?
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And if you can, go LED. They give off such rich color. Put all the bulbs on a timer, so they will go on/off when you want them. I also use lanterns with battery operated candles that have a timer feature - some are 6 hrs on then off 18. They will last about 2 weeks with one set of batteries. The cheapest of thos I have found is at Walmart in the garden section. I also have bought LED floods from here: great customer service: http://www.ledholidaylighting.com/ also these are pretty cheap and relaible they are out of California: http://www.goldengadgets.com/

Or you can buy white flood LED's at Home depot and buy these and you put them in front to change the color (color gels): http://www.amazon.com/Colored-Film-Gels-Colors-sheets/dp/B004A9PMGE
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, MM! I knew about the color gels to go over lights, but didn't know if they'd be worth the money (compared to colored bulbs.) I've never heard of battery operated candles on a timer before - that's a great idea. I've never set up a timer before, so this will be a first.
 

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Wisp in the Mist
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My lighting has always been BAD. I didn't spread my stakes out last year, so you could only see the areas right next to the lights, once it was dark. Definitely use multiple lights, and spread them out. I vote for multiple colors, too. I only used green, and it didn't give much depth.

This is a picture of the outdoor dusk-to-dawn timer that people are talking about. Mine is made by Woods. I found it at Big Lots for around $6-7. It will provide you with a few more outlets to use, too!

Dusk2Dawn.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Osenator - your lighting is great! I'm a pretty visual learner (and hands-on,) so inspiration pics always help.

Scatterbrains - I think your lighting looks pretty good for not having any idea about it. :) Especially since it's mostly string lights, which I love, myself.

LairMistress - thanks for the tip about the timer.

I don't have any big props, really, so I'm trying to start small by just focusing on lighting the main house and a couple of areas in the back yard, where the majority of the decorations will be. I won't be doing a display in the front yard (there's no way for me to block it off right now, anyway that's in my budget, so I'd hate to have anything stolen.) You guys have been really helpful!

We took a gander at some lighting options at Home Depot today, and their LED floodlights on stakes ranged from 20 to 50 watts, and were $15 and $20. I don't really know how good that is price-wise, and I'm not sure what wattage to go with for LED. Any suggestions?
 

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Imitation Imagineer
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I'm a pretty visual learner (and hands-on,) so inspiration pics always help.

We took a gander at some lighting options at Home Depot today, and their LED floodlights on stakes ranged from 20 to 50 watts, and were $15 and $20. I don't really know how good that is price-wise, and I'm not sure what wattage to go with for LED. Any suggestions?
I'm not sure if it will help, but coupling your 'visual learner' disposition with the question around LED, I thought I would post these images. :)

We've landed on a mix of LED stake lighting available in the big box stores (those used in the images are from Lowe's) and colored CFL bulbs in yard stakes.

The picture immediately below is a 70/30 mix of the CFL with 20W LED stakes. The bright green is LED, while the purple/blue is CFL.

The LED spots focus on specific things (Spanish moss on the fence; lower left corner) while the CFLs provide a more general wash.

For me, they go together like peanut-butter and jelly:

Gravedigger2.JPG

For comparison, the color wash on the house, and doorway, in this image is basically all compact colored bulbs:

Tree and Pumpkins with House.JPG

I'm still learning how to mix-and-match them to get what I want, but it's fun to experiment! :D

The one thing that I have completely decided on is to retire my standard floods. The color was basically gone from them, and given the heat they put out, and total cumulative draw they were adding, I was constantly worried about tripping a breaker.

It wasn't necessarily cheap to switch over, but both solutions will last a long time, and I prefer the look of the CFL and LEDs. I also breathe much easier with the incandescent floods electrical draw out of the picture...
 
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