Category Archives: Energy efficiency

Illuminating the Mentone Inn in Alabama

Last week I was scanning Facebook when I saw a few pictures from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Birmingham that caught my eye. The pictures depicted a cozy spot that made me just want to sit on with a cup of tea and enjoy the night. Marlin Bennetch, who designs and installs custom landscape lighting in Birmingham and the surrounding areas, was gracious enough to provide me with some details to share.

landscape lighting in BirminghamMentone is a small mountain town northeast of Birmingham. It’s known as a beautiful quaint spot with an abundance of arts and crafts shops, restaurants and bed and breakfasts for tourists to enjoy. The town has the only ski slope in Alabama and cooler temperatures due to the high elevation.

The Mentone Inn is one of the bed and breakfasts that people enjoying visiting. It was built in the 1920s and has 12 rooms as well as a large front porch and outdoor pavilion. The current owner of the Inn is also a residential client of Marlin’s in Birmingham. Having seen the transformation landscape lighting can provide, he asked Marlin to come to Mentone to design a lighting system for the Inn.

Outdoor Lighting in BirminghamIn designing the system, Marlin used a combination of bullet lights, path lights and deck lights to illuminate the walkways, deck and architectural details. When discussing the fixtures themselves, it was clear that they needed to be LED. The owner and innkeeper wanted something that was environmentally friendly and cool to the touch. Families often roam the property at night and they wanted to ensure that if a child touched a fixture, they wouldn’t be burned.

LED is both eco-friendly and cool. Compared to halogen or the typical commercial outdoor lighting fixtures, LED landscape lights use on average 80% less energy, saving on electricity bills. Additionally, LED lights don’t create the amount of heat that other fixtures do.

The Mentone Inn has always been a picturesque property for visitors to enjoy, but the lighting allows it to be enjoyed both night and day. Guests can safely and clearly walk the property and passersby can enjoy the beauty as they walk or drive by.

Turn your lights on when you need them

I’m an early riser. No matter how tired I am, I’m up early. During the week, I’m up by 5:15am most days. With a dog that requires a walk every morning, I usually am outside within 15 minutes of waking up. It’s hard not to notice how dark my neighborhood is at this time.

low voltage outdoor lightingWhile we normally talk about having your outdoor and landscape lighting on at night, it’s important to note, that they can be timed to be on any time that need them, mornings included.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we offer a service called Lighting Control Automation. Just as it sounds, it’s a unique system designed to control your lighting (it can actually handle both indoor and outdoor lighting and outlets).

To get the most of your landscape lighting investment, the system should be designed to fit your needs and schedule and that’s what the LCA system does at its core. Each and every system can be designed and programmed especially for you, making each and every system different.

For example, if you are like me, you may want your landscape lights on to come on in the morning at 5am and stay on until the sun comes up, ensure that as you go about your property, you don’t trip and fall on anything. Additionally, I’d like my lights to come on at night when the sun starts to go down until about 10pm, allowing me to utilize my outdoor living spaces and highlight the front of my home. A system like LCA could handle these tasks easily.

Lighting Control Automation makes your lights a “set it and forget it” thing, however it can be updated and changed as needed.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we pride ourselves on providing beautiful outdoor lighting using the newest and best technologies. From highest quality LED and outdoor string lights to robust control systems, we’re confident we can create just what you need. Please reach out to your local OLP location if you have any questions.

Lighting Outdoor Common Spaces Increases Use

I recently visited a beautiful hotel in Maine. It had several walkways that led to different outdoor living spaces throughout the property. A few friends of mine had gathered in one of these spaces, but when it was time to leave, we noticed that we could no longer see the walkway that got us to the space in the first place. It seemed like all the other guests moved indoors as the sun went down.

lighting-an-outdoor-pathThis hotel property made an unfortunately common mistake; they created beautiful outdoor living spaces but forgot to add lighting. Without lighting, the spaces get less use as guests are forced inside when it gets dark.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we design and install commercial lighting systems to increase the safety and security of properties and allow the entire spaced to be used all the time. As we evaluate a property there are four key components we pay particular attention to:

commercial-outdoor-lightingEntrances. Oftentimes commercial properties have beautiful entranceways with retaining walls and expensive signs. It’s their way to welcome clients and guests. When creating a lighting system, this is one of the first things we look at. If an entranceway is dark, it could be passed by without ever being noticed. By adding a few spotlights, it can clearly be seen at night.

Walkways. Walkways guide clients throughout the entire property. When they’re dark, different areas can’t be used as people aren’t sure what is available. Dark paths are also a safety concern for clients and guests. Installing path lights and bollard lights provide enough illumination to make it safe for guests.

outdoor-lightingCommon areas. More and more commercial properties, especially hotels, are creating outdoor living common areas be it a patio, deck, pool area, gazebo, bar or other space. To ensure that they can be appreciated and used night and day, lighting is a must. From down lighting and up lighting to string lights and spot lights, there are so many different outdoor and landscape lighting options for common areas.

Stairs. Stair lighting is an absolute must when lighting a commercial property. Without it, stairs can be very unsafe for guests and clients.

Commercial outdoor lighting increases the use of your outdoor spaces, but it also makes the entire space more beautiful and welcoming. If you have questions on outdoor lighting, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Learns What’s New in Lighting at LightFair

As America’s most trusted outdoor lighting company, we at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives have to stay abreast of what’s new in the lighting industry. From having conversations with manufacturers and distributors to attending trade shows, we are always making sure we’re providing the very best to our clients. Just last week two members of our team went to Lightfair, the largest industry trade show to explore what’s new in outdoor lighting.

Held in Las Vegas, the 2014 Lightfair was the largest and best attended the show has ever been.

For landscape lighting, this year was all about the LED lamp market exploding. From many new manufacturers to different color options, color changing technology, and numerous new types and styles of LED lamp, the LED bulb is becoming more and more flexible in its lighting approach.  Options are now plentiful in terms of controlling brightness and beam spread, giving the landscape lighting professional ultimate control and flexibility in their design plan.  Quality and performance are becoming more impressive and consistent on an almost daily basis, as the technology that powers the LED light output is evolving and becoming more sophisticated, more durable, and more reliable.

The improving LED bulb is great news for our Outdoor Lighting Perspectives’ clients. As the technology and options continue to improve, we as designers will be able to do more with LED instead of having to rely on traditional halogen at times.

On the fixture side of things, there is a trend towards more sophisticated, modern, sleek fixture design options, as well as an increased offering in product material.  No longer is just brass, copper, and aluminum the norm.  Stainless steel, bronze, nickel plating, and high-tech ceramic are now being offered as finish alternatives.  Also, unconventional form hospitality lighting is getting a huge influx of new options all because of the LED technology boom.  You cannot overstate how much LED has changed the lighting world in terms of energy consumption, design and product flexibility, and installation practices.  LED is truly life altering technology.

When it comes to fixtures, OLP only installs lights with a performance we can trust. We were happy to see the design options become more vast as each client has a different home and different tastes.

Stay tuned…

Why you should consider LED landscape lighting

We at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives remember when LED landscape lighting first came into the outdoor lighting arena. Used for years in holiday lighting, LED was touted as the best outdoor lighting technology out there. And while there were benefits of LED, we, and some of our clients, didn’t feel it was great for illuminating homes and landscapes.

When LED first hit the market, the color wasn’t what people were used to. It was too bright, resulting in a bluish color that skewed the color on the façade or garden. Over the last 5 years, however, LED landscape lighting has continued to improve and is our recommendation for home illumination.

The perception of LED color is often our clients’ number 1 concern for using the light, but as the technology has improved, so has the color. Just like traditional halogen landscape lighting, LEDs now have a warm, pleasing color that will accentuate the colors and textures on a property. No more blue light!

architectural-outdoor-lightingFor residential outdoor lighting, LED lights are the most energy-efficient option, cutting down lighting energy costs by up to 80%! They don’t require the same wattage as halogen lighting, resulting in this savings.

LED bulbs can last for up to 50,000, however that number depends on the quality of the LED, the design of the system, the environment of the installation and other factors.  The long life saves clients money on maintenance and service costs because you just don’t have to replace bulbs nearly as often.

logan-martin-lake-house-OLPAs LED technology has improved, so have the installation opportunities. When LED landscape lighting was first rolled out, you needed specific light fixtures for LED. So, if you had an existing system, you had to purchase and install all new fixtures. Now, with more advanced bulbs, an existing halogen system can be retrofitted easily to LED with new bulbs.

If you are interested in adding outdoor LED lights to your property, or would like to discuss ways to retro fit your exiting system, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office. We look forward to hearing from you.

Commercial Outdoor Lighting Welcomes Guests

A few of my good friends recently purchased a new home and my husband and I decided to go over to see the place after dinner. They had given us directions, which included “you’ll see the neighborhood sign.” Well after being on the road for longer than expected, my husband and I realized we had missed the turn. What our friends didn’t realize was that the sign wasn’t lit, and thus, we couldn’t see it.

commercial-path-lightingIn this case, our friends had purchased a home in a new development and many of the community’s amenities hadn’t been completed. But, it does illustrate the importance of commercial outdoor lighting. The neighborhood didn’t welcome us in any way since we couldn’t see it!

Whether it’s an entryway, the front of a building, or walkways, outdoor commercial lighting is an important part of creating an inviting environment for clients. Personally, I don’t want to go to an under-lit area.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we’ve designed, installed and maintained lighting projects, both residential and commercial, for years. From hotels and parking garages, to shopping malls and residential developments, we’ve done it all and each of our outdoor lighting projects is unique.

If you own or manage a commercial property, here are some areas you should make sure your outdoor lighting company pays attention to:

  • Signs. If you do business at any time when it is dark (and it gets dark early in the winter), your sign should be properly illuminated. You don’t want to lose business because someone can’t find you!
  • Parking lots. There is something about a dark parking lot that can make visitors uncomfortable. There are a lot of great parking lot light options that will properly light the space but still be energy efficient.
  • Walkways. Much like the parking lots, it’s necessary to light any traveled path that your clients may take. This will also make them less like to step on anything that could make them fall.

While those are the three musts in our books, adding façade and landscape lights will really elevate your commercial property. If you have any questions on how to light your commercial property, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.

Survey Names Outdoor Lighting as Hot 2014 Trend

Each year the American Society of Landscape Architects conducts a Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey to see what will be popular in the coming year in the outdoor category. Outdoor lighting topped the Outdoor Living Features category with 98.3 percent of responders naming lighting as somewhat or very in-demand for 2014.

The ASLA explains that homeowners look to the outside of their home to enhance their outdoor living experience and increase their property’s value. As ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville explains: “They’re interested in livable, open spaces that are both stylish and earth friendly.” Source.

Outdoor living in general has evolved drastically in the last 5-10 years with people investing in their own outdoor spaces. And with many homeowners relaxing outdoors after work, it is no surprise that outdoor lighting continues as a hot trend in the category. Just take a look at our outdoor living spaces photos to see the difference it can make!

Whether it is landscaping, an outdoor kitchen, a pool, patio or other outdoor element, lighting enhances it so it can be appreciated/utilized at all times of the day. To respond to Nancy’s quote above, it makes outdoor spaces more “livable.”

deck-lightingAnother trend notice within the survey was homeowners’ inclination to consider eco-friendly and low maintenance products. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we install the latest LED lighting technology to cut down on both energy and maintenance costs. LED uses less energy than incandescent and halogen without compromising the lighting quality. Maintenance costs with LED are also lower because they just don’t need as much maintenance. Bulbs are long lasting without losing light output or consistency of color.

At OLP, we take a full service approach to outdoor lighting. We design a system that fits your needs, tastes and budget. Each design is different. We then install and service the system so you don’t ever have to lift a finger

Sometimes it just helps to see what light can do to enhance a property. Check out our curb appeal, landscapes, outdoor living space, and seasonal photo galleries to see for yourself. If you have any questions, please reach out to your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.

Outdoor Lighting Design – trust the professionals

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we take great pride in our designs. We do not simply stick some fixtures in the ground and call it a design. We take many components of the home, the property and the clients’ lifestyles in mind. If you want a truly stunning outdoor lighting system, it’s simple: hire a professional outdoor lighting company to do it. Here are a few things that pros make sure they pay attention to:

 

Indoor lifestyle. When uplighting a home a trained designer always takes into accounts for what goes on inside the home as well as outside.  They are sure all lighting does not appear as a spotlight in the bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, etc.  People should be able to look out the windows without being blinded by light. Nighttime demonstrations can be extremely helpful in the design process so the client can check to be sure the light does not come inside the home.  It should graze the homes exterior and go up, not in.

 

Entranceways. Lighting should not interfere with the homeowner or visitor as they walk to or from the front door.  No spotlights!  Spotlights shine right into the eyes of person and can impair their visions of steps and walkways. In this case, the lighting isn’t adding to the safety of the space, it’s making it worse!

 

Other Lighting Fixtures. While coach lights aren’t always part of our outdoor lighting designs, we do need to pay attention to them and other lights on the property and how they can enhance our design. For instance, we may dim the home’s coach lights so all the lighting looks elegant together and doesn’t compete. Balance of light is important in this case.

 

Spread of light. Homes with architectural lighting should have an even light across the exterior.  Professionals outdoor lighting designers will make sure that all parts of the home are considering and there aren’t any dark spots. One issue that professionals can get around is large porch overhangs that may block light to a second floor.

 

Walkways. Path lighting can be very beautiful if done properly, but typically it is installed incorrectly.  When installing high quality path lights that have a large light spread, it is easy to achieve the look with just a few fixtures.  It is also a bonus if you can do so with as few as possible so they blend into their surroundings. Unfortunately too many people use too many fixtures and it looks as if you are walking down an airport runway!

 

Landscaping. Trained designers will typically find ways to highlight low growing flowers/ landscape beds where as someone who isn’t trained may just install lights in a line in the grass.

 

Water Designers will highlight cascading water features with both underwater lights and moon lighting casting down upon the water.

 

If you have any questions on outdoor lighting design, please contact your local Outdoor Lighting Perspectives office.

 

The Top Outdoor Lighting Mistakes

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:

Copper directional spot lightPoor 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:

  • Poor fixture placement. Where the fixtures are placed is incredibly important for lighting design. It ensures that they are doing their job, and makes sure that your home is more safe and secure. Have you ever walked out of a house and been blinded by a floodlight? That shouldn’t happen!
  • Over lighting your property. Every inch of your property doesn’t have to be lit. Your outdoor lighting company should discuss with you your favorite parts of your property, what you would like accomplish with your outdoor lighting and the most commonly traveled paths on your property. Just enough lighting to properly illuminate those areas should be installed, not much more.
  • Not adjusting the lighting. A good outdoor lighting designer will come by your property after the lights have been installed for a final adjustment. Every bulb angle and fixture position should be looked at to make sure each one is doing its job. Sporadic lighting adjustments may also need to be made throughout the lifecycle of the system to address changes to the landscaping.

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.

 

Do LED Lights Look Blue?

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?

LED or Halogen outdoor lighting

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.