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With the introduction of LEDs several years ago, outdoor lighting designers now have the choice of numerous color options for the outdoor lighting design.  Most often, designers will choose warm white rather than neutral or cool white.  While conducting design consultations, I am constantly told “we don’t want the blue look of LEDs”.  My response is always the same….outdoor lighting typically is done with warm white lamps.

However, warm white still has its variations. A 2700 K lamp contrasted with a 3000 K lamp show noticeable differences.

2700 Kelvin LEDs

2700 Kelvin LEDs

3000 Kelvin LEDs

3000 Kelvin LEDs

At this point, the experience of the designer takes over.  Some applications simply look cozier and  more inviting with a warmer (2700K) look.  Another school of thought is that uplights should be 3000K and downlights should be 2700k.  Yet another philosophy is to use 3000K on architectural features and landscape lighting because it will be a “truer” color.

You be the judge…

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An experienced outdoor lighting designer understands that there is much more to a good design than simply illuminating architectural features on a home.  Depending on the profile of the feature, the size, and the position, shadows will be created.  The resulting shadows can be either stunning or distracting.

A few points to consider.

  • If architectural features are symmetric, the resulting shadow should also be symmetric.  Carriage lights at the main entrance, and columns along the front of the house are prime examples.  If fixtures are improperly positioned, the shadows will veer in different directions.  It is much more pleasing to the eye to have identical shadows when possible.

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  • Never create a shadow that obliterates other features.  Once again, the carriage light is an example.  The shadow should never be cast across a decorative foyer window. Likewise, shadows cast by landscaping and trees should not be cast on key architectural features.

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  • Shadows from overhanging features such as awnings, false balconies, roofs, etc, should never be cast all the way to the roof line.  Whenever possible, move the light away from the house to minimize this effect,


  • Never try to eliminate all shadows…just manage them effectively.  This is the difference between a skilled lighting designer and someone who installs lights strictly for illumination.


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Fant 1

Do you prefer a crisp, clean look when lighting flagpoles?  With a little bit of creativity, gaudy fixtures can be eliminated, and replaced with recessed fixtures.  This becomes a relatively easy task with the introduction of high output low voltage LED lights.

Our most recent application was to illuminate the flagpole at the Greystone Golf Club outside of Birmingham.  It was an approximate 30′ flagpole.  We selected fixtures that accommodated 10watt 15 degree LED PAR lamps.  The photometrics of these lamps proved adequate for strong illumination at this distance.

By following a few simple guidelines, installation is relatively simple.

First, begin by creating a layout.  Most times, three fixtures will adequately illuminate a flag pole.  They should be equidistant from the pole and equidistant to each other.


Next, using a post hole digger, remove sod and dirt to the required depth for the fixture, allowing several inches for pea gravel.  The gravel will facilitate better drainage.


Next, insert the fixture into the hole, ensuring that it will be “flush” with the sod line, so that mowers can pass over the top.  Also be sure that the adjusting mechanism for the fixture will facilitate bulb adjustment toward the flag pole.


The next step is to clean debris off of the lens, and cover it with a clear plastic or glass cover.  This cover will keep trash and debris from settling into the fixture.


The final step is to place a grated cover over the fixture.  These covers are typically available in aluminum or brass.  Brass is the recommended choice because it will be much more resilient and durable.


Once Spring arrives and the grass begins to green, these recessed fixtures will be virtually non-existent.


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Tips on how to retrofit conventional incandescent systems to LEDs. You too can experience lower maintenance, 80% less utility costs, exponentially longer lamp life, and cooler operating temperatures.

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About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.


Each year, The Best of Houzz Service awards are issued.  To win this award, companies must be nominated by their customers.  The various testimonials are reviewed by the Houzz staff, and they in turn, recognize deserving companies with this award.  Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Birmingham proudly accepts this award for 2014.

Be sure to check out houzz.com if you are planning a home improvement project.  Additionally, you might like to stay abreast of new products and services.  Houzz.com is the best site for this type of research.

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LED Well Light (PAR36)

It is common knowledge that improvements in the quality of LED lighting fixtures have made it a very attractive option for low voltage outdoor lighting and architectural lighting.  It is the opinion of many, that in a few short years, LED will surpass and likely replace halogen fixtures.  As product costs continue to decrease, this transition will gain momentum.

Most customers expect an LED lighting system to be more expensive.  They also know that the advantages of LED lighting systems are that they consume less power and they last longer.  In general terms this is all correct.  What can be confusing is the actual determination of how much the customer can expect save in power and lamp life.

Electricity savings is a function of the difference in wattage between the halogen system and an equivalent LED system, the number of hours per day the system is in use, and the local cost of a kwh of electricity.  To simplify this calculation, we have created a multiplying factor of (.18).  Simply multiply the halogen wattage times .18 and that will represent an approximate annual dollar savings if the system is used 5 hours per day on average.  (Keep in mind that this is just an approximation). 

The other cost savings is lamp replacement.  Whether the customer is a do it yourselfer, or whether they participate in our Annual Maintenance Plan, a simple calculation is to multiply the total number of fixtures times $20 each per year.  This represents the cost to purchase and replace the bulbs.

Following is an actual example of one of our customers that is considering an LED upgrade.  They have a 12 light halogen system that totals 460 watts.  The LED upgrade would total 78 watts.  Their approximate annual savings are:

Electricity                   460 watts (halogen)   X    .18         =  $83 per year

Bulb replacement    12 fixtures   X     $20                         = $240 per year

TOTAL ANNUAL SAVINGS                                             = $323 per year

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