Bollards & Post Covers

Mixing Solar and Hardwired Bollard Lights

Better visibility means fewer tripping hazards and increased safety

When to install both lighted bollard types within the same perimeter

What are bollard lights?

Lighted bollards combine perimeter security with wayfinding features. Like any standard bollard, lighted bollards offer safety for pedestrians by working as visual and physical barriers. However, bollard lights offer one additional feature—illumination. They light up pathways, entryways, and open spaces. Better visibility means fewer tripping hazards and increased safety for the public.

Better visibility means fewer tripping hazards and increased safety
Lighting bollards mark pathways and provide ambient lighting

Lighting and landscaping

Lighting can be one of the easiest yet most impactful ways to boost the mood of a landscape. What has dynamic visual interest during daylight can often fall flat once the sun sets. Without the sun’s natural highlights, nightscapes may look plain and stagnant. What can help are the right lighting features that add strategic landscaping accents.

Pathway lights provide ambient lighting to any property with even, uniform illumination that doubles as pedestrian lighting. Unlike more delicate light fixtures, Reliance Foundry’s lit bollards are durable and tamper resistant. They stand strong against various climates and if installed properly, are very sturdy fixtures. When bollards are installed over security posts, they offer some impact resistance and help protect people and infrastructure against vehicle intrusion. Lit bollards are also lower than streetlamps, making them better at lighting specific pathways and minimizing overall light pollution.

Outdoors at night under a purple sky, lights dotting a deck and pathway
Lighted bollards have lower profiles, minimizing light pollution and adding landscape accents.

Types of lighted bollards

There are two types of bollard lights: solar and hardwired. Their goals of providing security and illumination are the same; the only difference is their power source.

Solar bollards

Solar bollards are fit for green initiatives as they are self-sufficient and require no electrical power source. This makes them very independent, with the ability to stay lit even during power outages and other service disruptions. They do not need to be hooked up to an electrical grid, and this allows installation to take place in a variety of areas. However, solar bollards require enough sunlight to operate properly. Although Reliance Foundry’s solar models can withstand up to 14 days without light by relying on battery storage, this is not indefinite. Weather conditions, debris, and placement must always be considered to determine if solar lit bollards are a good option.

Hardwired bollards

Hardwired bollards are reliable lighting systems that do not rely on sunlight for power. Instead, they require access to electrical power to light up—this is typically sourced from wiring underground that is connected to a central electrical box, meaning that installation is a more complex process than for solar bollards, and there is an ongoing electricity cost. However, AC bollard lights will not be disrupted by weather conditions, shade, snow, or other particulates. A hardwired lighting grid allows for a single point of control.

When to mix solar and hardwired bollards

There are certain situations and sites where mixing solar and hardwired bollards is economical and practical. Installing both types of lighted bollards within the same perimeter capitalizes on the advantages of each. Reliance Foundry’s lighted bollard line offers a consistent aesthetic across all lit bollards; installers can mix them with ease.

Trails and trail heads

Mixing solar and hard-wired bollards is effective on a hiking trail. At a trail head, where a hiking trail begins, wiring often still exists underground. Most trail heads or entryways display signs and maps, so illumination is important. Hardwired lit bollards are also a good choice here as overhead trees can block solar bollards from getting enough light.

Further into the trail, underground wiring is typically no longer available, and rules around nature preservation will also likely restrict the installation of any new hardwiring systems. Therefore, along the trail, solar bollards are a resourceful option. They will cut energy costs and work without underground wiring.

Building fronts

A south-facing building will get plenty of sunlight and solar bollards are a handy option. However, if the building faces north, or if sunlight is always blocked by infrastructure, hardwired bollards will be a more stable option. In cases like this, it can be beneficial to mix the two types of lighted bollards. Hardwired bollards can be used in shaded areas of the building or lot, and solar bollards can be used for areas with enough sun exposure.

Beachside resorts and establishments

Any path connecting infrastructure to bodies of water can benefit from combining solar and hardwired bollards. Beach or lakeside establishments often have paths that connect them to the shoreline, so patrons can walk out to admire the scenery. The beginning of the path, near infrastructure, will have underground electrical wiring. Hardwired bollards are recommended here, as walls, trees, and landscaping can get in the way of collecting solar energy. For the remainder of the path, as it nears the beach or lake, solar bollards can be used. Beach areas are open and receive steady sunlight, supplying consistent energy for solar bollards. Solar bollards are also a safer choice near water as they are self-contained devices; they pose no risk of severe electrical shock and do not require underground wiring.

Lighted bollards near water
Any path connecting infrastructure to bodies of water can benefit from combining solar and hardwired bollards.

How to select the best type of lighted bollard often comes down to availability of a power source, and is usually influenced by location. The most important takeaway is that there is no reason to limit installations to just one family of lighted bollards. Solar and hardwired bollards each have strengths that can be realized in different situations. The approach of mixing them is ingenious and cost effective—and aesthetically, no one will be able to spot the difference.