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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.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we welcome the opportunity to provide service on systems that we didn’t design and install originally. Many times a new homeowner doesn’t know who installed the system, or perhaps DSCN2035the homeowner chooses to contact someone other than the original company. Whatever the reason, we gladly assist these clients. In fact, during 2012, we gained 25 new customers in the Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, and Lake Martin areas for this reason alone.
Our philosophy as a service provider is to provide skilled and experienced technicians, use top quality parts, and do the job right the first time. In addition, we strive for professionalism in all that we do, while being good stewards of the homeowners property. Likewise, we are proud of the fact that we have been awarded with the Angies List Super Service Award.angies list super service
If you have a service need, contact us and we will provide a system assessment and a budgetary cost estimate.

 

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

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!

Under Seat Deck Lighting

It seems that every manufacturer of  low voltage deck lighting carries the traditional outdoor lighting fixtures that mount to deck posts.  Most times this will provide adequate solutions for the lighting designer.  However, there are those rare occasions when there are no deck posts to use, or other constraints hamper the traditional design.

This project that we recently completed was in the Greystone community outside of Birmingham.   The deck is literally an extension of the backyard, as the grade drops dramatically just beyond the deck.  The deck  was supported by some steel posts which certainly didn’t lend themselves to attaching fixtures.  The greater constraint was that a bench was constructed along the entire span of the deck.  This design certainly precluded the use of traditional deck lights or wall lights, because all illumination would have been blocked by the bench seat.  Additionally, fixtures couldn’t be mounted to the bench since guests will be sitting on it.

 

PM8SL Hardscape Light Fixture

We were able to provide a solution by utilizing some of our experience in hardscape lighting.  We used a PM8SL manufactured by PM Lighting.  Although this fixture is designed to be installed under the cap blocks of columns or walls, it provided the perfect solution.  Its long slender design fit nicely behind the edge of the seat.  Since it is manufactured out of copper, once it goes through the patina process, the fixture will never contrast with the stained deck.  Additionally, the use of a 20 watt G4 bulb, aided by the reflective design of the fixture, cast a very nice was of illumination across the deck.

Any experienced lighting designer makes columns a focal point in the outdoor lighting design.  This house in the Preserve community in Hoover, AL is no exception.  The six two-story columns are the primary architectural feature of the house.

This project was a reconfiguration of a system that we originally installed five years ago.  During the past five years, the boxwoods have grown to a height and thickness that they were blocking virtually all of the illumination from the well lights.  The customer challenged us to provide a solution to the problem.  Moving the well lights to a better location wasn’t an option.  Raising the fixtures by use of extension stakes wasn’t practical.  Mounting fixtures to the columns would be too obtrusive.

This led us to the optimum solution.  We replaced the well lights with PAR flood lights.  The key was that we mounted them to the brick facade of the house.  The fixtures were mounted just beneath the “trim line” of the shrubbery so the fixtures aren’t visible to guests or passersby.  One last challenge was that we had to overcome the fact that the upper columns are recessed approximately 8″.  To overcome this geometric challenge, we used extension pipes to extend the fixtures away from the house.  This spacing overcame the challenge of the overhang, and enabled us to accent the entire height of the columns.

One of the pleasures of being in the outdoor lighting business is the privilege of seeing so many beautifully landscaped homes and gardens.  This back yard paradise is in the Preserve community in Hoover, just outside of Birmingham.  It is truly a magnificent piece of landscaping complemented by some newly installed hardscaping and outdoor living area.

Backyard pool and fireplace

Hardscaped path with crepe myrtle

Hardscape steps leading from garden to pool

Lush gardens surrounding pool

Garden pergola

This garden lighting project was done at one of our existing customer’s homes.  Within the past several years, we completed uplighting to accent the front of their house, and some column lighting around the front perimeter of their house.  Now the focus shifted to their lush gardens in the backyard. 

Their garden included numerous palm trees, Japanese Maples, crepe myrtles, and tulip trees all begging for accent lighting.  Additionally the newly installed hardscape walkway includes a series of steps that needed to be illuminated for safety considerations.  The outdoor fireplace located behind the pool is the focal point, so it was essential that we illuminated it as well.  The inclusion of illumination of several garden fountains was also an essential part of the outdoor lighting design.  Although the existing accent lighting at the front of the house, is a traditional halogen system, the customer expressed interest in an energy efficient, low maintenance LED system

In this case, LED provided an extremely attractive alternative.  Due to the thick foliage in the garden, there was minimal disruption due to much less wiring required.  Additionally, the distance from the fixtures to the basement transformer is approximately 250′, so LED helped us overcome the voltage drop issue.  The customer’s only concern was the traditional “icy blue” look stereotypical of the original LED lighting.  To over come this concern, we specified LED fixtures that ranged from 2700-2800 degrees Kelvin, thus providing the very warm look that was desired for this back yard paradise.

The final scope of the project included 45 lights.  The cumulative wattage of these lights is only 158 watts—absolutely incredible!  The system included numerous LED well lights for uplighting the trees, several LED bullet spot lights for illuminating the fireplace and garden fountains, and numerous LED wall lights used to illuminate hardscaped steps.  All fixtures were specified in copper, with the exception of the well lights.  The well lights were installed with tempered glass well light covers to provide a very low maintenance system.

Column lighting

Hardscape Lighting