Ever since I started working with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives I’ve been somewhat of an outdoor lighting snob of sorts. I not only notice outdoor lighting much more than I used to, but I take note of the issues that I see over and over again. Here are some of the top outdoor lighting mistakes:
Poor Quality Fixtures or Bulbs. There are hundreds of low voltage outdoor lighting systems for homeowners to choose from. Although some people may go straight for the cheapest option, that is usually a good way to describe their quality: cheap. Ensure that the fixtures and bulbs can do the job they are intended for, whether it is to spot light a tree or illuminate a path for safety purposes. Take solar lighting for example, how often do you see path ways that are lined with tens of lights? That’s not efficient lighting. In most cases, a halogen or LED fixture can take the place of 5+ solar fixtures.
Take your location into consideration when you are choosing outdoor lighting fixtures as well. Will they have to withstand ice and snow? Are they exposed to salty air? You’ll want to make sure that fixtures will last once they have been installed. For instance, copper is a great option for coastal areas because it can handle the salty moisture.
Lack of Professional Design. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, our systems are all about design. We want to make our clients’ properties as beautiful as they can be and you can’t do that without a clearly planned out design. In terms of bad lighting design the most common mistakes are:
No Lighting Controls. Every one of our outdoor lighting systems comes with a timer because it is incredibly important. You don’t want a system that is only on when you flip a switch. By setting the lights to be on from and to a certain time of day it increases the safety, security and beauty of the property. Imagine that you come home from work at 7pm and your lights aren’t on. The neighborhood kids were playing outside earlier and a ball accidentally landed on your walkway, but you can’t see it. It’s an injury waiting to happen and it wouldn’t happen if you had the system on a timer.
All of these outdoor lighting mistakes are easily avoided by working with a professional outdoor lighting company. If you any questions, please reach out to your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.
LED landscape and outdoor lighting have been gaining in popularity over the last 5 or so years, but there continue to be misconceptions about what LED is and what it looks like.
When visiting potential clients and discussing lighting options, we often hear “oh, I don’t want LED lighting, it looks blue.” If someone had told us that a few years ago, we probably would have agreed. We are dedicated to designing lighting systems that make your property looks its best, and blue lighting wouldn’t cut it for us. LED technology, however, has come a long way in the past few years and the white/blue light is now a warm white color. Can you tell which one of these pictures is using LED and which is halogen?
As you can see, the lighting doesn’t have a blue color like many expect from LED. LED is a great option for many outdoor lighting applications. It is more energy-efficient and the bulbs do last longer than the more commonly used halogen bulbs, saving you money. LED fixtures are a great idea when it comes to difficult installations especially. For example, moonlighting includes lights mounted high in the trees shining downward. LED fixtures would work well in this instance as the bulbs last longer and require less maintenance.
Another misconception we hear often is that to have a new LED outdoor lighting system, existing systems have to be completely scrapped and all new fixtures have to be installed. Again, this may have been the case several years ago, but isn’t anymore. Depending on the quality and current state of your system, the fixtures can be retrofitted to LED lighting. An outdoor lighting company should be able to work with your existing fixtures, adding new bulbs and drivers to convert them to LED.
While LED is a great option, our outdoor lighting designers don’t always use LED fixtures, in fact some will use a mixture of LED and halogen lights on the same project! It’s all about the lighting effect, not the lights themselves. While speaking with one of our designers last week she told me: “it’s fun to play with both, but ultimately I chosen the fixture or fixtures that work best on each part of the property. For me, that is usually a mixture of different types. I may find that a halogen path light provides me with the spread I desire while I need an LED up-light to illuminate the large trees on the property.”
If you have questions on LED or other outdoor lighting technology, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.
In case you were wondering, the picture on the left is LED outdoor lighting.
At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we are the experts in low voltage outdoor lighting. With over 85,000 residential lighting designs and installations, we’ve done it all: front facades, deck, porches, patios and more. One of the questions we hear often is why low voltage is a better option for residential properties. Here’s the answer:
The cost of low voltage compared to line voltage is much less. Not only are the fixtures less, but they cost significantly less when it comes to your monthly electricity bills. This is due the voltage running through the system. Low voltage, I bet you can guess, is much less than line voltage and thus costs less to run. We get some questions regarding LED landscape lighting and LED is one kind of low voltage lighting. It is the most energy efficient residential option for outdoor lighting, but the cost of fixtures is slightly higher than your standard halogen lighting.
No one wants their home to look odd with outdoor lighting and color is big component of that. The color quality of low voltage lighting is great and will bring out the natural colors of your property’s exterior and surrounding landscaping. With different light options, there is sure to be a low voltage bulb that makes your house look wonderful!
Not only are the fixtures and energy costs less, but so is the cost of installation. That’s because low voltage outdoor lighting is much easier to install. Lines don’t have to be buried as deep and don’t take as much time.
Low voltage is more flexible than line voltage. Not only are there more fixture options in low voltage, but they are smaller and more versatile. Smaller fixtures are an important feature of a stunning outdoor lighting system. The focus should never be on the fixture itself, but on the lighting effect. The fixtures should almost disappear into the landscape. That’s why we love our copper fixtures. Over time, they will patina and blend in seamlessly.
Adjustments to a low voltage outdoor lighting system are much easier than those made to a line voltage system. Additional wires can be run pretty easily and moving fixtures isn’t as much of a hassle. It isn’t uncommon for a client to live with a system for a while and find that they wish they had a few more fixtures in different areas. That’s no problem with halogen and LED lighting. That ease of expansion and change is a huge benefit to homeowners.
If you have questions regarding the benefits of low voltage outdoor lighting, please reach out to your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office. Our trained lighting specialists will talk to you about your options and also provide you with a free lighting demonstration if you want. During our lighting demonstration, our designer will place temporary fixtures throughout your property so you can see exactly what your system will look like when it is installed. Any adjustments can be made so you know you will be thrilled with the outcome.
LED lighting will on average save you 80% on your electricity bill when switching from a halogen outdoor lighting system. That’s a ton of cash! Also and LED bulb’s life span is much longer than a halogen bulb. The more rounds it can go the less money and time you have to spend maintaining it. In this battle of the bulbs you have two warriors to choose from: LED or halogen.
If you don’t currently have an outdoor lighting system at your home, make sure you feel comfortable with how it works and looks before purchasing it. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we offer our clients a free nighttime demonstration. During the demonstration, our outdoor lighting designers install a temporary lighting system so you can see how it will look each and every night. Not only does this make our clients more comfortable with their purchase, but it also allows us to make sure the design is just right.
If you have an outdoor lighting system that’s halogen, but are interested in LED lighting, you may be in luck. A lot of existing systems can be retrofitted to LED pretty easily. Make sure to reach out to your landscape lighting company to see if it is something they can do.
As always, we at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives are available for any questions you may have regarding residential, commercial and holiday outdoor lighting. Please do not hesitate to contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office if you have any questions!
LED landscape lighting has been growing in popularity over the last few years and has been a staple in the lighting industry. Technology has improved greatly and due to its energy efficiency, LED is a wonderful option when considering outdoor lighting. LED bulbs last much longer than standard low voltage lights and require much less maintenance, making it very useful in many installations (including fixtures that may be in hard to reach areas). Recently our Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Long Island location installed two residential outdoor lighting systems using LED lights that have enhanced the respective properties beautifully.
The first takes place in the front of the client’s home. Amy and Dennis Downling, who are the local experts in outdoor lighting in Long Island, were called to this home because there wasn’t sufficient lighting after dark. The house itself has a lovely stucco finish with large front columns. The columns not only have ornate details at the top, but also stone bases as anchors. These dominating features, however, couldn’t be appreciated at night. The addition of LED lights fixed that.
The Dowlings designed a lighting system that highlights the features and textures of the home. LED up lights were installed at the base of each of the four front columns. Despite being low voltage (the system uses less than 100 watts!), LED provides enough light output to illuminate the columns from the stone base to the very top architectural details. From the warm stucco color to the green landscaping, the white LED light allows the colors on the property to pop.
The second LED lighting project from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives took place at the back of the house. This homeowner had a multi-level deck that included 2 sets of stairs and a hot tub. LED lights were installed onto several of the posts as well as the top and bottom of the stairs to provide sure-footing. Take a look at the picture and notice how well lit the deck and stairs are. The LEDs are bright enough to light the entire area although they are only situated on the posts. The complete system included 20 deck light fixtures and uses less than 80 watts!
While energy efficiency is important to us, we want to make sure that quality of the light output is high enough to ensure enhanced safety and security (as well as beauty). That’s why, for example, we utilized LED landscape lighting and not solar lighting. Solar lighting technology isn’t at the point where the performance is reliable. LED, however, is. The brightness as well as the color is very good. While the initial cost of LED lighting fixtures may be higher than an incandescent or halogen fixture, the energy cost is much lower.
For those homeowners who are reading this and saying “I wish my existing lighting system was LED,” you do have options. Depending on the existing lighting system, it can be retrofitted using new LED bulbs.
If you have questions regarding LED landscape lighting or outdoor lighting in general, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.
A few years ago my in-laws moved into a new construction home in a new neighborhood. The house and yard are fabulous. Off the back of their house, they have a lovely covered porch that opens up to a nice deck. On the far end of the deck, there are a few stairs that lead out into the yard. It’s a great space to sit and enjoy a drink and some appetizers, but at night, it was a little unsafe. The neighborhood they live in doesn’t have a lot of street light that spills over into their yard, so when the sun goes down, it’s dark. You can barely see the stairs that lead to the yard, until we urged them to add outdoor deck lighting.
Sure footing is important in any space, but when it involves older people or children and changes in elevation, it becomes even more important. When we at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives visit our clients’ properties, we always look for the areas that need extra lighting, and decks are usually one of them.
There are a few options when it comes to outdoor deck lights. The most common is installed at the top of the posts or along the railings, like the ones seen here that shine down on the decking below. Depending on the amount of railing between posts, one light may only be needed for every two or three posts.
Another deck lighting option is LED rope lights, seen here lining this pool. These are easily installed along the underside of the railing for a more modern look. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we’ve installed this type of deck and patio lighting on a lot of residential as well as commercial properties with patios. The LED rope lighting is available in several colors if the customer wants something other than the warm or cool white.
One aspect of deck lighting our outdoor lighting designers pay particular attention to are the steps. Steps, not surprisingly, can be the most dangerous part of the deck. They need to be clearly visible to make sure that no one trips and falls. There are two ways we light stairs. The first is installing lights on the railings like we do along the deck in other areas. The second option is to install the light on the vertical part of the step.
Not only does deck lighting increase the safety of our outdoor living space, but it allows you to enjoy it at all hours of the day and night. A well-lit outdoor area is much more inviting that a dark deck or patio. We are firm believers that if you have invested money in your outdoor living structures, you should be able to use them!
If you have areas of your yard that need some extra lighting to be safe, please reach out to your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.
At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we are always intrigued by new lighting technologies, so it isn’t surprising that an article discussing crime fighting street lights piqued our interest. The city of Chattanooga tested new LED technology in a crime-ridden park in their city and now they are looking to switch out lights across the rest of the city.
Coolidge Park in Chattanooga is a large park in the city that had become dangerous for visitors at night. Gang violence had pushed the city towards incorporating large stadium lighting throughout the park to make sure all the areas were well lit. Worried that the stadium flood lights would ruin the park’s atmosphere, a local company brought a new lighting technology to the table (you can read the whole story here).
Instead the company proposed trying wirelessly controlled LED street lights that were not only energy-efficient, but could help combat the growing crime problem. Each light bulb is able brighten a crime scene or tail a suspicious person running through the park. Controlled out of patrol police car, the new park lights have not only cut down the crime, but increased the park’s use. People are now enjoying the park at all hours of the night.
For the city of Chattanooga, the benefits of a new lighting system like this are many. LED bulbs in general are much more energy efficient than other lighting options, but there are additional savings due to their controls. The lights dim at times when they aren’t being used cutting down on wasted energy and light output. Additionally, the city will save money on maintenance as LED bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours.
Because the entire lighting system can be controlled manually, they city is looking at possible ways to take advantage, for example using them to flash warning signals during emergencies.
Street lighting, as shown through this Chattanooga example, is a big crime deterrent and makes people feel safe in areas after dark. Unfortunately, a lot of municipalities have outdated systems that require a lot of maintenance or don’t provide enough light. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we try to work with what fixtures are already on the property if we can and just retrofit the light source. For instance, a parking garage may have metal halide high bay lights that we can retro fit to LED or induction lighting. Both LED and induction lighting not only last much longer than metal halide, but they are also much brighter for a safer look.
If you have questions regarding commercial outdoor lighting, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.
One of my favorite parts of my job is talking to our outdoor lighting professionals about the projects they are working on. Some have some wonderful new clients who want some unique and contemporary outdoor lighting systems. Over the last few months I’ve noticed a trend: outdoor lighting systems in outdoor living spaces.
At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we are huge proponents of making sure you get the most out of your outdoor living spaces with professional outdoor lighting. Yet, we still find that a lot of homeowners have decks, porches, patios, outdoor kitchens and other outdoor structures that they can’t use at night. That seems to be changing. More of our clients are asking us to enhance their outdoor living spaces with beautiful and efficient low voltage outdoor lighting.
Here’s a great example from Rick Johnson, who designs and installs outdoor lighting in Austin. He had a call from a client who recently had a beautiful outdoor kitchen built in their backyard. They entertain a lot and wanted to open that space up to guests all night long. They had a few existing flood lights, but they weren’t enough to properly (and beautifully) light the whole area and didn’t show off the details of the outdoor kitchen. Rick and his team were able to give the homeowners a lighting system that features the sleek lines of the kitchen while making the space safer for guests.
Our most frequently used outdoor lighting fixtures are our copper path lights and our well lights. Neither of those were used in this installation. Instead, the Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Austin team used LED rope lighting and small down lights in this space. LED rope lights are just that, rope-like encasing with LED lights within it. They are great for entertaining spaces as they emit enough light to properly light an area, but they are also available in a variety of colors for a funky look. In this instance, LED rope lights in a cool white were the perfect complement to this modern outdoor kitchen.
To highlight the design and texture of the outdoor kitchen, the rope lighting was installed on the underside of the bar area, along the step from the pool patio to the outdoor kitchen and along the top of the retaining wall that defines the space. The stone work on the retaining walls can now be appreciated at all times of the day.
The rope lighting, with its down-lighting nature was not enough to make this kitchen useable. The counters and cook space needed to be lit too! Small down lights were installed on the beams of the existing pergola for some overhead lighting. It is just enough to light the space efficiently without overwhelming the area.
Whether it is an outdoor kitchen like this, a deck, patio or other outdoor living space, outdoor lighting is imperative if you want to enjoy the space at all hours of the day safely. If you have a space that needs outdoor lighting, reach out to your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office. Our custom designs will ensure that you have a system that not only beautiful, but efficient and effective.
Next up in our series of outdoor lighting techniques is up-lighting. Up-lighting is one of the most versatile strategies in outdoor lighting design as it is used in a variety of applications. Up-lighting is an excellent way to highlight the beauty of trees and architectural details.
A number of fixtures can be used when up-lighting, but the most commonly used fixture is the well light, or BB3 (seen here). The fixture is installed into the ground, no deeper than 12 inches. Different beams of light can be achieved by placing the fixture closer or further away from the structure and by changing the angle of the light bulb.
Grazing is a form of up-lighting that enhances the textures of a vertical space by placing a fixture only 6 to 8 inches from the surface and aiming the fixture directly upward. It is an absolutely gorgeous outdoor lighting effect on a brick, stone or stucco building as it brings out all of the details. It does not, however, work well on a siding due to the shadows it would create because the surface isn’t flat. Here’s a great image of grazing up-lighting from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Birmingham. This outdoor lighting system in Hoover, AL included a wall that surrounded part of the outdoor living space. If you can pull your eyes away from the beautiful sunset through the window, take a look at the texture that the lighting brings out. That architectural detail of the space can now be admired at all times of the day and night.
Tree lighting is another popular form of up-lighting. As opposed to moonlighting in trees and the shadows it creates, the tree trunk and branches are the focal point in up-lighting trees. The outdoor lighting fixtures are installed near the base of the tree. Most of our clients enjoy the warm wash of light up the trees, but some have added a pale blue lens to for a more subtle look. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we’ve up-lit trees with dramatic results. For our clients who have clients bordering their outdoor living spaces, up-lighting trees is a great way to draw the eye outward and add interest to an otherwise dark surrounding. Take these beautiful trees for example, the installed up-lights make them stand out against the dark sky, adding visual interest to the space.
Depending on the structure, where it is located, and what surrounds it, up-lighting can also be used for fountain or statue lighting.
The key to all outdoor lighting design is using the right techniques, with the right fixtures, installed in the right place. The designer has to consider where the excess light will go and make sure that it does not shine into the home, a neighbor’s home or property, or into any of the areas that people gather in when entertaining. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we place temporary lights in place so that we can be sure that the system will look and perform exactly how intended.
If you have questions regarding outdoor lighting on your property, contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office. Our trained lighting designers will create a beautiful system that you’ll enjoy night after night.