Monthly Archives: November 2013

Increasing House’s Value Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Increasing Your House’s Value through Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Posted by JaneGWalker on October 10th, 2013 @ 7:07 AM
Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

Most homeowners want to increase the value of their home, not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for the future, just in case they decide to sell their house. According to a recent blog post on WDSUNews.com, installing certain lighting trends will increase the worth of a house and make it more eye-catching to potential buyers. These trends use safe and economical low-voltage outdoor lighting solutions, which is quickly becoming the favored alternative to conventional options.

 

The blog mentioned key areas of the home where people can install the trendy fixtures, and one of these prime locations is the deck. Houses with decks will benefit from being properly illuminated, since certain lights will enhance the beauty of the natural wood deck. Homeowners who go this route should buy low-voltage lights that are safer for outdoor use and durable during bad weather.

This helpful blog post also suggested a few more creative deck lighting options like recessed deck lights. Although they will cost more money, recessed lights will add significant value to a house’s curb appeal. They are made from durable plastic and they will not obstruct anyone’s path. They will subtly illuminate walkways from wherever they are installed onto steps or the floor.

The article also recommends using deck post cap lights on top of railing posts. These add a more decorative touch during the daytime and provide a romantic glow when they are turned on at night. The blog also suggests using deck post lights that can illuminate the bottom portion of the posts to give them a striking appeal. These can be mounted on posts or recessed into them.

Deck lanterns are another option that can make a house more attractive, especially for potential buyers. Lanterns are a very suitable choice for covered decks, since they can be hung from the ceiling instead of using clunky plastic patio lights. Lanterns are available in many styles, including tiny LED lights or designer stainless steel.

The blog made sure to note that these deck lights should be installed by a professional. Homeowners should always take their time choosing the right supplier, so they make sure they get the fixtures that they want at a reasonable price. It is best to select products that come from reputable sources like Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, which has a solid track record of providing quality lighting solutions.

- See more at: http://blog.outdoorlights.com/2013/10/increasing-your-houses-value-through-low-voltage-outdoor-lighting/#more-1553

Don’t Just Dream About A Perfect Outdoor Space

Don’t Just Dream About A Perfect Outdoor Space.

For a great season, transform your yard into a beautiful and fun place.

There’s no better place than your own backyard for relaxing, entertaining and enjoying the outdoors.

And there’s no

Outdoor Lighting

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting

better time than summer to spruce up your space.

If you’re looking to upgrade a humdrum yard into something special, here are some things to consider.

Comfort

Trees and awnings aren’t just great adornments for your yard; they provide much needed shade for you to sit outdoors comfortably and safely.

Avoid summer mosquito bites by placing birdbaths and other standing water structures far from lounging and eating areas. Install LED yard lightingfor night, which is less likely to attract mosquitoes than incandescent lights.

Safety

When planning your space, make safety a top priority. Since evenings are prime-time for summer entertaining, lighting is an essential safety measure.

Start by considering where you need to increase visibility. Choose post-mounted lanterns near driveways and wall-mounted lanterns next to doors for ease of access and to welcome guests. If underground wiring is required, consult an electrician or experienced landscape lighting contractor.

For deck stairs or terraced paths, don’t forget step lights to aid in navigation.

And thoroughly check outdoor railings, steps, decks and porches to make sure they are steady and that no nails or boards have come loose.

Beauty

Your yard is an extension of your home, so don’t let design and style fall by the wayside when planning its look.

For a touch of natural beauty, consider planting a flower garden to attract butterflies and humming birds.“Illuminate paths and define edges where the garden or grass meet walkways,” says Jeff Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting.

The interplay of light and shadow adds magic to the night. By carefully placing accent lights at upward or downward angles and using wall wash lighting, you can silhouette trees and direct shadows.


Tip  Capture the nighttime loveliness of water features like ponds with LED lights specially built for underwater illumination.
For best results, consult a landscape lighting expert to receive referrals to Kichler-certified landscape lighting contractors.


Energy savings

Don’t let your exterior spaces drive up your home’s energy bills. New LED deck and landscape lights are low-maintenance, cost-effective options.

Lasting up to 40,000 hours – about 15 years – these fixtures use 75% less energy than incandescent lights.

“Since outdoor lighting is often left on all night or for many hours at a time, savings from LED lighting can really add up,”Dross says.

Kichler Landscape 15064BBR

Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting


Tip  Remember to avoid cheaper LED lights with a bluish cast that many find unattractive. Opt instead for a warm white light, such as Kichler’s Design Pro LED landscape lights.

LED Lighting 101

LED Lighting 101: What is an LED?

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode. An LED is an electronic semiconductor that efficiently emits light.

So what does this mean to you?

Compared to the standard bulb or halogen light, LED lights are:

  • Smaller in size
  • Consume less energy
  • Are proven to be more durable and reliable
  • Last longer
  • Contain no harmful toxins
  • Do not emit dangerous UV rays
  • Simply brighter!

LED Lighting 101

low voltage outdoor led lighting

Choosing the Right LED Color Temperature.

LED lighting offers many benefits and features that were difficult, if not impossible, to offer with other lighting technologies. Many of the obvious benefits, such as substantial operating energy and cost reductions, longer life and lower overall heat generation are generally well known. Another feature that allows for dramatic appearance and productivity benefits, now and in the future, involves the color temperature of the light produced by LEDs.


Tip Choosing the right color temperature can sometime be difficult. These helpful tips will get you started in the right direction.

  • Light color is measured on a temperature scale referred to as Kelvin (K).
  • Lower Kelvin numbers mean the light appears more yellow; higher Kelvin numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer.
  • For a warm-yellow light, use bulbs marked 2700-2900K.
  • For a whiter light, use bulbs marked 3000-4100K.
  • For bluer white light, use bulbs marked 4200-6500K.

low voltage outdoor led lighting

low voltage outdoor led lighting

low voltage outdoor led lighting

low voltage outdoor led lighting

LED: Fact or Fiction

What’s the truth about LEDs?

Fiction: LED Lights Last Forever

FACT LED Lights have an extremely long lamp life in comparison to incandescent and fluorescent lights, but they are not immortal.  LEDs will slowly fade over time, just like the rest of us.  However, LEDs can ware out much faster if they are not installed or maintained properly.  If an incompatible driver is used, or the LED is over heated, lumen depreciation can accelerate which could eventually cause the overall lamp life to decrease from 80,000+ hours of usage to a mere 10,000 hours.

  • When the correct driver is installed and proper thermal control is maintained (which can be avoided by using a LED specific Dimming Driver or a heat sink), LED lamp life can easily achieve 80,000+ hours of usage, while still maintaining 70% of the original light output.

Fiction: LED Lights Use Little Power

FACT LED Lights use only 15% of the energy a standard halogen light uses, and provide up to 85% more light output.  While this makes LEDs highly energy efficient in comparison, power is still utilized.

Fiction: LED Lights Aren’t Bright and Are Poor Quality

FACT LED Lights are bright enough to be seen outside during daylight hours, which are why many are now used in most traffic lights, tunnels, and even throughout entire buildings.  Also, according to the Color Rendering Index (CRI: a metric that measures the quality of lights on a scale from 0-100), LED Lights have been achieved a score of 75+.  The average LED Light typically scores from 75-85 and some high quality LED Lights can have a CRI of 90+.

  • LED lights also have color temperatures ranging from 2,500 to 6,500.  These temperatures describe apparent visual warmth or coolness.  The warmest being Warm White (2,500K) to the coolest being Daylight (6,500K).  This range allows LEDs to be incredibly versatile and useful in any setting.

Fiction: LED Lights Do Not Give Off Heat

FACT Fact:  LED Lights give off 90% less heat then the standard halogen light.  They do not give off any radiant heat, and in fact are cool to the touch in the direction where light is dispersing.  However, they do need to blow off some steam every once in a while.  That is, behind the LED Light conductive heat is released in order for lamp life to be maximized.  With proper thermal design (such as through a heat sink) this conductive heat release is automatically monitored and managed.

  • LEDs of the Future: LED Lights are continually becoming increasingly more efficient by enabling more light output per unit of energy.  Through further development, this will cause LEDs to emit even less heat over time and will eventually reduce the need for heat sinks.

Landscape Lighting – Enhance Your Outdoor Environment

Great Ways to Enhance Your Outdoor Environment Today – A Landscape Lighting “How-To”

Jeff Wonsetler
ALA Specialist at Lightology23 years as a Lighting Specialist
jwonsetler@lightology.com
Phone: (312) 229-7431
Fax: (312) 254-0195

At Lightology, I field a lot of requests from customers that are intimidated by exterior and landscape lighting. However, helping my customers add value to their property through outdoor lighting is exactly what I do, and it is why they come to me in the first place. I’m an expert, and I know how to make their outdoor areas – front yards, backyards, decks or gardens – look great with great outdoor lighting fixtures and techniques.

The bottom line is that this does not have to be an overwhelming project. It can be as simple, or as detailed as you like. After you read through these basics, check out my ideas for putting it into practice – things you can do today!

My goal in creating this “Basics of Landscape Lighting” is to introduce a few key outdoor lighting concepts that you can implement right away. To help, I will use specific examples that illustrate the principle behind the idea. This will give you more than enough information to begin thinking about what would work best for your exterior environment and how to achieve a beautiful outdoor space through lighting!

 

I want to add some life to my yard and hope to do that with lighting. What should I know before I start? Where do I begin, and what can I do?

Outdoor lights for garden landscaping

When thinking about how to design exterior landscape lighting the first thing to know is that less can be more. Because the eye is drawn to areas with the greatest amount of visual contrast, it doesn’t necessarily take many lighting fixtures to create a really beautiful effect.

With that basic “less can be more” principle in mind, the next step is to determine what you are trying to light. What you do not want to do is light up your whole yard like a Las Vegas casino. If everything is highlighted, then nothing stands out and nothing is special. Instead, consider what features you want to show off, and determine how you plan to use specific outdoor areas. Select those few choice features, light them well (in terms of light quality, appropriate beam spread, and fixture placement), and then think about filling in other areas.

Keep in mind the perspective from which you will be viewing what you are lighting. As an example, if a featured tree will be seen from all sides, a single accent light will not achieve the desired effect. You will need to add lights to the additional viewable sides.

Landscape accent lighting fixture

Browse Landscape Lighting Selection Now

 

How much light do I basically need to create a pleasant outdoor atmosphere?

Exterior lighting for garden

Not all that much if you’re just lighting objects in the yard. As we find with small, desk mounted task lamps, you can make a little go a long way by placing a small amount of light just where you need it. Keep in mind that at night, your eyes are already adjusted to the dark. If you keep overall light levels low, then the contrast between light and shadow of a highlighted exterior feature can create a much more dramatic effect.

If you have a favorite outdoor reading area, consider putting a spot in a tree or above in a pergola, and direct the light down, over your shoulder. For outdoor dining / entertaining, you really do not need a lot of light, and there are many ways you can create a great summertime entertainment center with light. In the end, you do want to create a casual, relaxed mood for your outdoor space.

Did You Know?

According to the US Department of Energy, LED bulbs can be six to seven times more energy efficient than incandescent lights, save over 80% more energy, and last 25+ times as long as traditional light bulbs.

Soraa LED outdoor lightsNow you can add LED lighting to your outdoor landscaping fixtures. The SoraaOutdoor LED is the first LED MR16 that works in enclosed, unventilated or sealed metal fixtures (except aluminum). It uses only 9.5W and replaces 35W halogen lamps!

What is color temperature?

Don’t forget about color temperature, as light quality is just as important as light quantity. Color temperature is measured on a Kelvin (K) scale. You can find the color temperature for a light bulb listed on its packaging. Color temperatures 3500K and above are generally considered to be cooler temperatures that become bluer in tone (towards a clear midday sun) as the value goes up. Temperatures 3000K and below are considered warmer. As values decrease, the light assumes a more amber tone.

Stay away from cooler color temperatures when lighting outdoor landscapes. The bluish tones from cooler temperatures can make environments appear sickly or unnatural, imparting a sense of uneasiness, and being on edge. Instead, opt for lighting with a very warm color temperature: 2700K LED is ideal, and 3000K is okay, too. The 2700K temperature offers a very soothing and natural tone that mimics the warm, comforting glow of a campfire. As such, it is ideal for creating relaxing, comfortable outdoor environments.

Remember that color temperature refers to variations in the appearance of white light, and it is completely different from RGB LED lighting. Relatively new, RGB LED fixtures offer the possibility to add colored LEDs into lighting designs. Use RGB LEDs sparingly outdoors; reserve them to create a temporary party atmosphere.

 

What is layered lighting, and is it important for my outdoor space?

Outdoor lighting fixtures

In its most basic form, layered lighting is a means by which one can create “highs” and “lows” in the lighting plan to add emotion, drama or beauty to a space. It is definitely an important tool that should be used in an outdoor environment. It is all about the ability to set the mood for different situations.

It might be as simple as putting different lights on different circuits. Maybe pathway lighting is on a circuit independent from your deck lighting. Layered lighting is also about controlling established lighting in your environment for different purposes. There are a wide range of dimmers and controls available that will allow you to create different light settings for various events. Perhaps a patio will have different preset levels for an evening’s festivities: from setup through dining, party through clean-up.

Layered lighting is a really great way to exercise your creativity. I’ve done a job where step lights were connected to motion sensors. Here the stairs would illuminate as someone would ascend. I’ve even done a job where lights moved in time with music!

 

Are dimmers or other controls useful outdoors?

Dimmers and other controls can be great additions to outdoor environments, as they allow you to create or change the feel and mood of a space with ease. Keep in mind however that if different light sources are all operating off the same dimming circuit, all the fixtures on that circuit would dim at the same time. It is best to plan ahead – consider what fixtures you want to control and the means by which you wish to control them. In addition to dimmers, some other control options you might consider include:

  • Motion-activated sensors for security lighting, or pathway lighting.
  • Sunlight-activated sensors that shut off lights when enough daylight is present.
  • Time clock and astronomical time clock sensors that automatically predict sunrise/sunset times each day and switch lights on/off accordingly.

One of my favorite projects involved using a really cool dimmer that dims the lights up on a 3-second fade-in! I integrated this Lutron Maestro with motion sensor dimmer to lights on a front stairway for a great effect. However, because this dimmer is designed to be used indoors, I had to install the unit inside the foyer of the office to control the exterior lights.

 

Would Low Voltage or Line Voltage be a better choice?

Outdoor landscape lighting

For outdoor landscape and garden lighting, low-voltage (12 volt) fixtures are definitely the way to go, especially in a residential application. The cable can be run on the ground, or buried slightly below surface. Because 12 volts is safe to touch, there is no danger of shock if someone accidentally cuts the cable with a lawn mower, or a shovel.

 

What are the pros and cons of outdoor LED lighting versus other lamp sources?

Let’s start with the pros. First, LEDs are much more energy efficient. Because they use so much less wattage than comparable halogen bulbs, many more fixtures can operate off of the same transformer (an item that converts line-voltage power to low-voltage). Second, the life of LEDs is much greater—they generally last about 50,000 hours compared to 3,000-10,000 hours for halogen sources. Third, LED lights are available in the very warm, 2700K color temperature I mentioned before. Halogen only gets as warm as 3000K. Visually, the very warm LEDs give you that nice warm feeling of hanging out at a camp fire. Last, LED lamps are not physically warmer to the touch. In fact, they are much cooler to the touch—another plus!

The only real con to an outdoor LED source is the up-front cost associated with the light fixture itself. They are more expensive than their halogen counterparts. However, in the long run it only takes 4-5 years to make up for that cost in energy bill savings and future purchase of new lamps (aka light bulbs).

 

There seems to be a lot of talk about solar powered LED landscape lighting and outdoor lighting lately. Is solar lighting a good way to save energy?

I have never recommended solar-powered fixtures for the Chicago area (or most areas, for that matter) because of the overall lack of sun, compared to sunbelt areas of the US. I’ve tried them in the past and didn’t have good results. Even if you are in a sunny area, the basic premise is a bit dicey. The problem is that the solar cells are on top of the fixtures themselves.

Where do you generally place landscape fixtures to light things? Under trees and around shrubbery. They generally sit in the shadows of plants all day and don’t receive enough direct sunlight to get a decent charge, anyway. Overall, even a fully-charged solar-powered landscape light just doesn’t put out the amount of light you need.

What’s more, they tend to emit the exact kind of bluish-white light that you should really avoid when lighting your landscape and garden. Remember: opt for warmer, more amber tones (2700K – 3000K) for a pleasant atmosphere.

Although I do not recommend solar powered landscape lighting, I still highly recommend non-solar powered LED lights. They are energy efficient, low-maintenance, and visually appealing (see above).

How to Illuminate Your Yard With Outdoor Landscape Lighting

Create a stunning landscape that can be enjoyed during the day and night with inventive outdoor lighting solutions.

backyard terrace is entertainment friendly

Low Voltage Outdoor LED Lighting

Define the Purpose for Landscape Lighting

Before you invest in any landscape lighting, ask yourself what your purposes are for wanting illumination in your backyard. Perhaps you want to set a soft, romantic mood during the evening hours. Maybe you have a bench or a shadowy garden corner you need to illuminate for security reasons. A path leading through the garden may require landscape lighting to mark its boundaries. You might want to highlight some features of your backyard like a water fountain or pond.

Make a Sketch of Your Yard

After you have defined your reasons for wanting to add landscape lighting, sketch your yard. Include in the sketch existing lights, buildings, benches, trees and shrubs, as well as the vegetation and decorations in the garden. Each of these items will reflect light or absorb it. Estimate the height of each of the objects, especially the foliage.

Decide Where Landscape Lighting Should Go

Match the reason for lighting to specific locations in your backyard. You may want to illuminate a bench along the path with a pole-type lamp placed behind it. A soft mood can be achieved by hiding landscape lighting under shrubs. A path may require a series of short stake lights along its border on one side or on both sides (Image 1). A water fountain can be enhanced with a spotlight (Image 2), and a pond can have soft lighting around its perimeter.

Info provided by HGTV

How to Illuminate Your Yard With Landscape Lighting – Georgia