Pros and Cons Series of Light Fixture Materials

Pros and Cons Series of Light Fixture Materials

When we design any light fitting we are extremely conscious of not only the light output but also the quality of the fixture. The materiality of outdoor lighting fixtures is important not only from a visual perspective but also from a durability standpoint. So what should you know when selecting the best fixture for your project and clients? In this series we will discuss the pros and cons of various materials used in outdoor lighting and provide you with the necessary information when specifying and selecting fixtures with your clients.

Aluminum light fittings

Let’s start with is aluminum as aluminum fixtures are seen on many if not most lighting installations out there today. As with anything, there are different grades of aluminum. If you are using a fixture that uses a machined piece of aircraft quality, virgin aluminum, it will obviously perform much better than the typical cast aluminum fixture. Unfortunately there are very few fixtures made using the premium quality aluminum which will affect the durability of the fitting.

The benefits of aluminum

There are some benefits of using aluminum as a material in the production of light fittings. These include:

  • Light weight
  • Resistant to rust
  • Inexpensive compared with brass or copper
  • Good conductor of heat (aluminum fixtures can be used to draw heat away from LED lights
  • Easy to mould into the shape required for the design of the fixture
  • Easy to finish with a paint or powder coat in any color imaginable

The number one reason aluminum fixtures are so popular is that they are typically 1/3 the price of the quality brass or copper fixtures.

The drawbacks of aluminum fixtures

  • The surface pits causing the powder coat or paint finish to no longer adhere to the fixture
  • The material corrodes causing the fixture to first look chalky before it starts to dissolve
  • The paint or powder coat finish will fade over time in the sun
These drawbacks are why most manufactures will have short warranties on the finish if they provide any warranty at all. Aluminum is not recommended by most companies to ever use in salt water environments as the salty air will destroy these fixtures quickly. Just some of the reasons at Sterling Lighting we don’t include aluminum fittings in our lighting collection. 20130126-185934