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Archive for the ‘Garden Lighting’ Category

Since we are in the Outdoor Lighting business, we proudly boast that we are much more than a landscape lighting company. We provide professionally prepared designs that incorporate architectural lighting, landscape lighting, garden lighting, and underwater lighting. We also strive to accent unique focal points into the design. This might be as simple as illuminating house number plaques, possibly entire statues, or some small garden feature that has sentimental value for the homeowner.

This copper wall art provided a conversation piece on the customers deck.

This copper wall art provided a conversation piece on the customers deck.

This wall art complete with the customer's initials covered an entire wall along the customer's back yard garden.

This wall art complete with the customer’s initials covered an entire wall along the customer’s back yard garden.

This swimming pool project included accent lighting for three water jets mounted adjacent to the pool.

This swimming pool project included accent lighting for three water jets mounted adjacent to the pool.

This wall plaque is mounted on the column next to the security gate.

This wall plaque is mounted on the column next to the security gate.

Statues, especially at home entrances, provide a stunning night time focal point.

Statues, especially at home entrances, provide a stunning night time focal point.

This small statue comes to life at night.

This small statue comes to life at night.

Accenting the pottery was an added bonus from lighting the column.

Accenting the pottery was an added bonus from lighting the column.

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DSCN2058DSCN2059During this time of year, I prepare quite a few outdoor lighting designs that involve patio lighting, deck lighting, and pool lighting. Conventional deck lights are a good choice when handrails are available to mount fixtures. Pathway lights do a good job of illuminating the deck around pools. The major challenge is for outdoor living areas that don’t lend themselves to deck lights or pathway lights. Typically, the fundamental requirement is to create a mood; thus soft, even illumination is required. We have what we consider to be an ideal solution, as long as there is an elevated area to mount a fixture. The fixture of choice is a small box flood. The fixture is only 4″ X 5″ and is a very low profile. It can accommodate halogen or LED lamps, and it is available with and without louvers which minimize any resulting glare.

For outdoor patios, we mount the fixture adjacent to the rain gutter which aids in concealing the wire. Likewise, we use this fixture above garage doors, entrances, and even as an accent for various garden applications.

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Silhouette Lighting

Silhouette Lighting

Even the most experienced outdoor lighting designer will normally illuminate the subject matter directly. We generally uplight houses, illuminate trees and landscaping, spot light architectural features, and directly illuminate sidewalks and steps. On some rare occasions, we are challenged to step out of the box and provide a more creative outdoor lighting design.

The pool shown in this photograph is a prime example. The customer had some large planters positioned directly in front of the pool house columns. The design begged for a soft wash of up light on the pool house. Unfortunately (or perhaps more fortunately), there was no practical way to illuminate the planters from the sitting area on the opposite side of the pool. This was obviously the perfect scenario to utilize silhouette lighting. We installed small LED box floods to wash the wall. They were placed directly behind the planters, thus creating the silhouetted look. The contrast was very pronounced, and created a very unique night-time mood.

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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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We recently completed an outdoor lighting design and installation at the Stillwaters Resort area at Lake Martin.  The customer specified copper fixtures throughout the installation.  Numerous uplights and pathway lights were used to uplight the lake house, illuminate the sidewalks, and pool deck.  One challenge that we encountered was a means for uplighting some stacked stone columns that were directly adjacent to the pool deck. 

I have always struggled with selecting fixtures that provide a tasteful solution.  The smaller, compact box floods look very nice, but they just don’t provide adequate illumination to uplight 20′-25′ applications.  Larger PAR fixtures or standard MR bullet lights tend to look obtrusive when surface mounted, and when copper is required, they tend to appear gaudy.  Finally, a good solution surfaced… a compact copper bullet light.  This compact bullet light accommodates a standard MR16 bulb, has a sleek look, but most importantly, is approximately 2″ shorter than conventional fixtures.  In this application, the MR16 bulb will provide adequate illumination to accent the stacked stone columns and arches. 

compact copper bullet light

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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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