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Archive for the ‘Going Green’ Category

The Birmingham area has experienced a rebound in the amount of light commercial projects during 2013. There is also an increasing tendency that many of the new projects specify low voltage accent lighting. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives has been fortunate to be the beneficiary of 11 of these projects since January.

The feedback that we keep hearing from architects, contractors, and landscape architects is that “we want LEDs for this project”. During the past several years, the advantages of LED technology for outdoor lighting has been well documented. The reduced maintenance, longer lamp life, and lower operating costs are very attractive to building owners and management companies. Gone are the days of the icy blue look, because warm white LEDs have the same color rendition as their halogen counterparts. Additionally, the amount of lumens generated by low-wattage LED lamps is phenomenal. In many cases they are comparable to commercial grade line voltage fixtures. Since most commercial facilities opt to leave the lights on from dusk to dawn, it is more palatable since LEDs consume approximately 80% less power than halogen systems.

We are very pleased to have partnered with the following companies/organizations during 2013:
Mentone Inn
Capps Cove Bed and Breakfast
Hampton Heights Condominium Park
Overlook Office Complex
Gardens HOA
Farmlinks Golf Course
Forest Lakes HOA
Greystone Legacy Country Club
System Controls
Varicosity Vein Center
Sarver Orthodontics

The Gardens Neighborhood Entrance, Tuscaloosa, AL

The Gardens Neighborhood Entrance, Tuscaloosa, AL

Greystone Legacy Country Club, Birmingham, AL

Greystone Legacy Country Club, Birmingham, AL

Mentone Inn, Mentone, AL

Mentone Inn, Mentone, AL

System Controls, Trussville, AL

System Controls, Trussville, AL

Farm Links at Pursell Farms, Sylacauga, AL

Farm Links at Pursell Farms, Sylacauga, AL

Capps Cove Bed & Breakfast, Springville, AL

Capps Cove Bed & Breakfast, Springville, AL

Overlook Office Complex, Birmingham, AL

Overlook Office Complex, Birmingham, AL

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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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DSCN2274DSCN2273We have been working with the Board at Hampton Heights Condominiums to evaluate their lighting needs. Hampton Heights is a 30-year-old condominium complex in the Homewood area outside of Birmingham. The common area lighting is also 30 years old, consequently it is very dated in design, efficiency, and the effects being generated. Many of the fixtures are in a state of disrepair. Currently there are approximately 30 lamp posts and 300 uplights and pathway lights. All fixtures are 120 volt.

Initial conversations focused on their desire for new energy-efficient lighting. Special attention was given to durability, energy efficiency, and placement as it relates to providing safety and security. The conversation naturally migrated toward a total conversion to low voltage LED fixtures.

Hampton Heights agreed to commit to upgrading a beta site on their property. This beta site encompasses approximately 5% of the total potential project scope. It included 7 LED up lights and 3 LED lamp posts. The LED lampposts were manufactured by Solas Ray Lighting. To achieve maximum illumination, units with 3 modules were selected, and each module has 2 LEDs in each. Total wattage is only 21 watts, but the units have comparable illumination to a 130 watt incandescent fixture. Warm white (2700K) was selected to provide a warm ambiance throughout the complex. There are two choices of lenses. The candelabra lens is a knock off of incandescent candelabra bulbs. The other option is the mantle lens which is a knock off of the look of a gas mantle. Both options were installed to provide the Board with a visual comparison. The illumination from the candelabra lens has a wider spread, creating more glare. The optics of the mantle lens cast more light downward, thus softening the glare being emitted directly from the LED. The luminary top that was selected was the Westmoreland. It is a traditional and classy look for this type of setting. They were mounted on 6′ posts. providing an overall height of 8′

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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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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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Mentone InnThe historic Mentone Inn is nestled atop Lookout Mountain in the mountains of northeast Alabama. It is in the midst of a quaint village that is surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The Inn was built in 1927 during the height of the roaring twenties.
Although it was built and managed as a hotel, it is now a very popular bed and breakfast inn. The owners have gone to great lengths to preserve the original architecture and construction. They have recognized that there is one fundamental change that needs to be made. That’s right, the addition of some outdoor lighting. The grounds are very dark, so guest safety is an obvious issue, but just as importantly, the innkeeper desires to showcase the Inn at night.
That is where Outdoor Lighting Perspectives entered the picture. Since the Inn is 130 miles from our office in Birmingham, we were unable to provide the installation. However, we were asked to design a tasteful outdoor lighting system, specify the fixtures and other components, and provide consultation to a local installer.

The design consisted of low voltage LED fixtures with warm white lamps. LED was chosen primarily due to the low maintenance advantages, but also less heat buildup on the fixtures. Since many families visit the Inn, hot fixtures could present a problem, so the cooler LEDs alleviated this concern.

We were glad to accommodate this request, and we are anxiously awaiting completion of the installation. Besides, we were able to spend a weekend at the Inn while working on this project. It’s a tough job, but somebody has got do it…

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