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Archive for the ‘Driveway Lighting’ Category

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LED Driveway Light

LED Driveway Light

All outdoor lighting designers have struggled to provide a good solution for driveway lighting. Path lights just don’t seem to do a very good job of illuminating the surface, spot lights create too much glare, and tree mounted lights become maintenance issues after a few years.

Now a new design has just been released. This 6 watt LED “path” light has some great features. It has an adjustable knuckle at the top which adjusts the angle for directional adjustment. There is a small adjustable shroud around the throat of the fixture which blocks virtually all glare. Most importantly, is that this LED spreads illumination at a full 120 degrees. This wide spread is accomplished through total elimination of the optic on the LED.

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The 2013 Birmingham Home and Garden Show just concluded. The attached video made its debut at the show. All of these landscape lighting and architectural lighting projects were designed and installed by the staff of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives in Birmingham.

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SM4Accent lighting might not be considered an essential element for homeowners, but there are numerous benefits to installing a professionally designed outdoor lighting system.

Enhanced Curb Appeal-this is probably the number one reason. Do you want your house to have a real “WOW” factor at night? There is no reason that our greatest investment disappears once the sun goes down.
Increased Security-statistics show that a well lit house is much less prone to intruders and break-ins than a dark house in the same neighborhood.
Add Investment Value-once again statistics prove the point. Dollars spent on a quality outdoor lighting installation are reflected more than a “dollar for dollar” rate in the home valuation.
Enhanced Safety for Your Family and Guests-do you have that trip hazard along your sidewalk? Do you have some steps that are difficult to use? Do you have a very dark driveway? These are just a few areas to consider illumination.
Expand Outdoor Living Areas-why be confined inside your house on those warm spring and summer evenings? Get outside and enjoy your outdoor living areas with deck lighting, hardscape lighting, flood lighting, etc.
Bring Landscaping to Life at Night-Perhaps you have some phenomenal landscaping that you are very proud of. Why not showcase it at night with properly placed spot lights. Some of my favorites in the Birmingham area are Japanese Maple trees, Crepe Myrtles, Wax Myrtles, and River Birch trees.
Make Your Home More Inviting-a well lit home provides a peaceful ambiance. There is no need to have guests pull up to your house and see complete darkness, or that “haunted” look that many unlit homes posess.
Improved Visibility-don’t cease outdoor activities when the sun sets. Perhaps you have children that want to play outside, perhaps you want to entertain guests outside, or perhaps you just prefer unwinding from a long grueling day outside.
Make Your House Look Occupied-since most systems are installed with timers or other control devices, there is never a time when your house should look unoccupied. Whether taking the family out to dinner, or going on an extended vacation, keep the lights on.
Aid Guests in Identifying Your House-have you ever been irritated when you couldn’t find a house number or mailbox number at night? Why not consider a small spot light used to illuminate these critical placards? Additionally, you can always tell guests to look for the best lit house on the street.

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While conducting a recent design consultation, I prepared a proposal for a homeowner that included a package for a traditional halogen system and another for a LED system.  It was apparent that the homeowner was a very savvy buyer, and he pressed me to “assist” him in justifying the additional initial investment for an LED system.  The fact of the matter is that he already knew the advantages, but he was trying to gage OLP’s dedication to LED technology.  Although I have shared the advantages of an LED system countless times, it was a very good question.

This led to a review of our ten most recent LED designs/installations.  Following is the rationale for making a modestly greater investment for a LED system:

  • Two of the jobs were sold to widows.  Their primary concern was the security of having an outdoor lighting system, however, the decision for LED was based on a very low maintenance system since they are unable to change bulbs.  (Most LEDs have a 5 year warranty, and 40,000 hour rating)
  • Two of the projects were sold at “secondary” homes.  Again, the homeowner was looking for low maintenance since they and their families only use the house several days per month.  Additionally, the greatly reduced utility bills were an attractive feature.  (A typical LED system will reduce power consumption (utility cost) by approximately 80%).  One of these systems was an existing five-year old system that was easily retrofitted to LED lamps.
  • Another customer is an environmental attorney.  The primary criteria was to purchase a system that made a minimal impact on the environment (power consumption in this case).
  • Customer #6 had an application that required a light fixture installed 40′ above ground.  He had no desire to ever change a bulb this high, nor pay for a service call, so the warranty and long life of LED cemented his decision.
  • Another customer was a retired lighting engineer.  Due to his training and experience, he was well versed in the advantages, costs, etc so this was also an easy decision for him.
  • An existing customer in the Hoover area outside of Birmingham had an existing halogen system consisting of 40 lights.  He knew the impact on his power bill, so he opted to do his new 60 light system in LEDs.  Like the previous customer, this amounted to an 80% reduction in utility cost for the new system.
  • Yet another customer has an extremely long (400′) driveway that has a very steep grade and passes through very rocky terrain.  Interestingly, in this application the price for an LED system was virtually the same as a halogen system. (smaller transformer required, less wire required, much less labor to trench and bury wire).  What a scenario…an LED system for the same investment, but with all of the advantages and benefits of LED.
  • Last but not least, was a customer who is a self-proclaimed “techno junkie”.  His home is a virtual show case of technology, so he wasn’t even interested in discussing halogen outdoor lighting.

Although this was a very interesting exercise for me, it continues to be apparent the primary advantages to LED systems are the lower utility costs, highly reduced maintenance needs, and reduced installation labor.  Even at today’s pricing, a typical payback has been reduced to 3-5 years.  Quite an attractive option!

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GM Ribbon Lighting

One of my existing outdoor lighting customers from the Shoal Creek community called last week.  He stated that he has a very unique challenge that desperately requires some ingenuity in solving his problem.  He went on to say that he recently added a fence around the entire perimeter of his property in an attempt to keep deer from destroying his landscaping.  Additionally, he added a cattle grate at the end of his driveway.  Cattle grates by their very design permit cars to cross, however, due to the gaps in the grate, it deters animals from crossing it. 

What he failed to realize is that any guests trying to cross the grate at night are at a risk for injury.  One guest slipped and nearly broke a leg on the grating.  This led him to the realization that he needed some illumination, yet he didn’t want to install any harsh directional lighting, spot lighting, or pathway lighting.

Fortunately there was a very good solution.  We chose to use GM Lighting ribbon lighting.  The ribbon is  highly flexible and has LED diodes embedded inside the silicone.  We chose exterior warm white to nicely complement his existing halogen uplights.

Aluminum Channel

The next challenge was how to mount the ribbon.  The side walls were very rough recycled bricks.  There was no way that the ribbon could be installed directly to the brick.  We evaluated several alternatives, and then found the perfect solution—some 3/8″ aluminum channel.  This channel is actually designed to be applied to plywood to provide a nice edging, but it worked perfectly as ribbon lighting channel. 

A creative lighting design, some quality materials, a good solution, and a happy customer!LED Ribbon Lighting Installed in Channel

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Solar path lights from the local box store    $4.99 each

Water, band aids, and poison ivy medication needed during the installation               $10.00

Stunning night-time effects                                 N O N E

The only advantage of solar lights is that they are very cheap.  That is also their primary disadvantage.

On the other hand good quality low voltage path way lights have numerous features.

  • They don’t rely on sunny days to work properly
  • They don’t die in the middle of the night
  • They do their job at night–very good illumination of sidewalks, steps, and driveways
  • They are very robust and come with an attractive warranty
  • They come in various shapes, sizes, heights, configurations, and materials
  • Copper is the most popular.  When it patinas, it blends in with the surrounding landscape
  • Path lights have a means for adjusting the amount of illumination being emitted from the fixture
  • Each pathlight costs only $.30 per month to operate

This project was completed in the Preserve community in Hoover, AL.  The customer realized that inexpensive solar lights were not the solution to his outdoor lighting needs.

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Everything you always wanted to know about landscape lighting in one minute or less.  Watch Jimmy Rockett owner of Bug Juice Gardens in this recent segment of Good Day Alabama on Fox 6.  He featured some of our outdoor lighting fixtures in his presentation.

Good Day Alabama for June 28, 2011.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is proud of our working relationship with Rocketts Bug Juice Gardens.  Be sure to contact them with your garden and landscape needs.

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