An army of stake lights can’t pull off the magic we create with just one of our lights

OLP Path lighting

Our path lighting creates an entrance of safety and beauty by focusing on the light and not the fixture. Notice how few of our fixtures are needed to achieve results like this.

This past weekend I had to venture into one of the “big box” stores to grab a gallon of milk and some necessities on the way home from work. I usually avoid these stores, but it was close and on the route home.  As I quickly grabbed some dog treats for my pooch, I noticed a long aisle filled to the brim with solar stake lights. There were lights as far as the eye could see, silver toned, gold toned, green topped and even some with  insects on top. It reminded me of an army ready for battle. Unfortunately, in the business of outdoor lighting this type of lighting never wins the victory the homeowner is looking for.

I carefully watched a young lady from afar go over the number she thought would do the trick for the area she had in mind. It is probably safe to assume she was planning on illuminating her entry or possibly her landscaping border. By the time she was finished making her selection her buggy was brimming over with at least 30  stake lights. I automatically wanted to speak up and tell her there is a better way. I decided not to approach her, it could make her uncomfortable and the big box store might think I am trying to take their business. As I left the store that evening I couldn’t help but reflect on that young lady filling her buggy with stake lights. She had the right idea, but was going about it with the wrong answer in mind.

Runway

Does your outdoor lighting resemble an airport runway?

When you are dealing with inferior quality outdoor lights, for example the stake lights which are predominately used to border a dark path or walkway, you are never going to be able to get enough quality light out of them to efficiently light your intention. Just one of our path lights will achieve what nearly 100 solar stake lights still cannot provide. It is what we refer to in the business as “the airport runway effect”. It takes so many of these lights that you end up with your lawn looking like an airport runway. With outdoor lighting less is more. You want the eye to focus on the area you are lighting, not the lighting fixtures.

A professional outdoor lighting design leads your eye to a focal point, an effect, even changes your mood. When you look at your home at night do you notice the lighting fixture or the illumination it exudes? Many homeowners think that professional outdoor lighting is beyond their reach. This is certainly not the case. We can properly light your homes exterior and landscape on a budget, or complete it in phases that will accommodate your need and budget as well. Just as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for”, our lights will endure the test of time and will last for many years to come, whereas those stake lights will stop working as early as within this year. Take into consideration how often they will need replacing and you would be surprised that our lights are actually more economical in the long run.

san-antonio-photos

Move up to quality lighting, the return on your investment is incredible!

Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio to learn more about the right way to do outdoor lighting. The results will stun you and leave you inspired. Contact us to set up a night-time demonstration at (830) 624 – 1300 sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

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San Antonio tree lighting enhances the majesty of the tree in the landscape with exquisite tree lighting

Outdoor lighting Perspectives of San Antonio tree lighting

Trees native to San Antonio are made more gorgeous through expert tree lighting by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

Among the many other positive attributes associated with  living in beautiful San Antonio, residents can also add a stunning selection of native trees to the list. Trees such as the live oak, red oak, Texas laurel and mesquite trees are some of the most commonly seen trees within our San Antonio landscapes. Many residents also plant other beautiful trees that thrive in our warm climate such as palms and other foreign conifers. You may find yourself wondering how to create a focal point of interest in your landscape design by using these stunning tree specimens within the landscape, and the perfect enhancement for any stunning tree is the addition of tree lighting. Tree lighting is one of the most crucial elements we use in our landscape lighting designs to focus the individual beauty of a single tree, or multiples within a grouping of trees in order to showcase the haunting grace of the tree.

Outdoor lighting Perspectives of San Antonio tree lighting

Up lighting provides a way to enhance the haunting beauty of San Antonio's mesquite tree

Along with the ethereal beauty tree lighting can create within your landscape it can also serve other purposes other than those strictly for aesthetic value. Tree lighting can aid in safely illuminating a path or walkway for safer travel throughout the landscape at night. It can also help create a more secure setting for any outdoor activity, whether in the back yard or around the pool, lighting specific choice trees planted within your landscape will contribute to more outdoor light in order to take advantage of more night-time activities in a well-lit environment. Tree lighting can add ambiance and set the mood for your outdoor entertaining as well.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio uses many different techniques when lighting trees within the landscape. From the use of up lighting which is used to draw attention to the width, and height of the tree to make it appear to have even a larger presence and  appear more majestic within the landscape, to the use of magical moonlighting. Moonlighting is used to create a dreamy effect by casting light through the upper branches of a tree to cast a hauntingly beautiful glow on the area below. We also create memorable holiday lighting designs by using outdoor holiday outdoor tree lighting as well. From evergreens to palms with an island feel, we can light trees within your landscape to invite and welcome the holidays in style. Many of our holiday lighting designs are available in LED lighting which are economical to operate, and are eco-friendly making your holiday tree lighting choice as easy on the wallet as it is on the eyes!

Tree branches and trunks wrapped in festive lights.

Tree branches and trunks wrapped in festive lights is one way to add enchantment to your landscape for the holidays with tree lighting

This cord has actually grown into the tree, which leaves the tree damaged and vulnerable to disease and insects

Improper tree lighting installation techniques such as this can result in damage to the tree leaving it vulnerable to insects and disease, such as this cord which has actually grown into the tree.

When considering the use of tree lighting within your property it is important to use an outdoor lighting professional who is experienced in tree lighting. Tree lighting must be installed in a manner that does not harm the tree you are lighting. Inexperienced installers will sometimes damage the tree during the installation leaving the tree damaged and susceptible to disease and insects that can in some cases cause the tree to perish. Proper installation also means that wiring and cording is not left atop the ground in any manner which could be deemed unsafe of cause an accident. There is a great deal involved in having your tree lighted properly from trunk to branch and everywhere in between. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio treats each individual tree we light with the utmost caution and care, to keep it healthy and keep the surrounding area around your tree safe.

Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio to learn more about the art of tree lighting, for holiday and everyday. You can give us a call at  (830) 624 – 1300  or email us at sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

To see more images of tree lighting in the San Antonio area, visit our landscape lighting gallery located on our website.

lighted palm tree by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Home for the holidays with palm tree lighting by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

Bring home the magic of the holidays with our super convenient holiday lighting program

lighted palm tree by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

The holidays are almost here and it is time to think about Christmas lights again.

The smell of gingerbread and cinnamon is in the air. All around us are the sights, and smells of Christmas. Now is the time to start thinking about your holiday decorating. As with any cohesive interior and exterior design, professional lighting is the glue that holds everything together. With Christmas decorating, your holiday lighting can turn a nice holiday display into an amazing holiday display. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio offers a super convenient way to get a professionally designed and installed outdoor holiday lighting display, while you concentrate on the other aspects of this wonderful season.

In case you are not familiar with how a holiday lighting program works this is what our holiday lighting program entails…

Loveliest holiday lighting ever by Outdoor LIghting Perspectives

We can design, install, remove and store your magical display and let you concentrate on the reason for the season.

First we consult with you to get your input as to what style of Christmas lighting tickles your fancy. Whether your taste leans more towards old world elegance and traditional designs, or designs that are unique and full of playful whimsy, we can accommodate any style with our huge selection of holiday lighting elements. After the consultation we go to work on designing your holiday lighting display by ordering the lights needed to fill your winter wonderland. All of our lights are ordered new, not like other holiday lighting programs that recycle used lights from customer to customer, year to year. Once these lights are ordered especially for you, we then install your holiday lighting in plenty of time to enjoy many nights of awe-inspiring beauty throughout the holiday season. We can even program your lights to go on and off at specific pre-set times for you so you don’t have to lift a finger. After the holidays are over Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio will take down your holiday lights and store them in our temperature controlled warehouses until next year, when we do it all over again for you. Offering you the convenience of storage away from home will give you the gift of more storage space for other items and give you the freedom to add to your holiday lighting design as the years progress. Our holiday lighting program is the ultimate in holiday luxury, and makes the perfect gift for yourself because it is the gift that keeps on giving for years to come!

Icicle LED holiday lights by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

This home was decorated by using LED holiday lights

Much of our holiday lighting is available in the energy-efficient LED lights as well. LED lights are eco-friendly with less impact on our environment and are long-lasting, and promote a clearer, even and  more vivid illumination than the holiday lights of Christmases past. We offer LED roofline lighting, LED string lights, Classic LED lighted wreaths and garlands and much more.

If you are ready to take the stress of your Christmas lighting this holiday season, and are tired of driving from store to store to find what you really want, contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio today and let us do the hard part for you. Happy Holidays from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio!!  Call us at (830) 624 – 1300 or send us an email @ sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

Contact us today because our holiday lighting program is on a first come, first serve basis and spots are filling up quickly.

OLP holiday lighting 013

Dont delay contact us today to create a stunning outdoor holiday lighting design for your home and landscape this season.

To see more images of ethereal holiday lighting by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio visit our holiday lighting photo gallery located on our website.

We represent the following wonderful Texas cities:
Adkins, Alamo Heights, Atascosa, Balcones Heights, Bracken, Bulverde, Canyon Lake, Castle Hills, China Grove, Converse, Elmendorf, Fischer, Fort Sam Houston, Garden Ridge, Grey Forest, Helotes, Hill Country Village, Hollywood Park, Hunter, Kirby, Leon Valley, Live Oak, Macdona, New Braunfels, Olmos Park, Saint Hedwig, San Antonio, Sattler, Shavano Park, Solms, Somerset, Spring Branch, Startzville, Terrell Hills, Von Ormy, Wetmore, Windcrest

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio creates tree lighting that makes even old man willow blush

Outdoor architectural and tree lighting in San Antonio

Outdoor architectural and tree lighting in San Antonio

Tree lighting is definitely one of the best ways of emphasizing your landscape and residence in terms of outdoor lighting. Proper design and application can create a surreal layering effect, from light dancing along pathways to up a driveway, to using uplighting to focus the illumination on a specific conifer. With tree lighting the choices are as endless as the trees mother nature has blessed us to work with.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio creates ethereal tree lighting within many of its outdoor lighting applications. The key is to work with the natural lines of the tree you are lighting. Dense trees do not make good candidates for lighting because they not only snuff out the light, but are quite difficult to light. When choosing a tree to light you look for character, size and ultimately how the limbs are formed. An ideal scenario occurs when limbs branch over one another, in layers, and you can light the upper branches and let the light trickle down and envelop the area you are trying to illuminate. This technique creates a hauntinglydreamy effect.

Tree lighting with exposed cording is dangerous and unsightly

Tree lighting with exposed cording is dangerous and unsightly

Not only is there a method to the madness when it comes to tree lighting, there are important safety issues as well. We see tree lighting all the time that is just an accident waiting to happen, with exposed cords, drop cords and wiring that has grown into the tree wounding the bark and branches and causing it to be susceptible to diseases and insects. Outdoor lighting Perspectives of Nashville recently covered the subject of tree lighting in this informative piece… http://outdoorlightingnashville.com/2011/07/26/outdoor-lighting-perspectives-of-nashville-proves-it-is-good-to-fool-with-mother-nature-in-terms-of-tree-lighting/

This cord has actually grown into the tree, which leaves the tree damaged and vulnerable to disease and insects

This cord has actually grown into the tree, which leaves the tree damaged and vulnerable to disease and insects

When we install the tree lighting we make sure there are no exposed wires that may inhibit lawn work and maintenance and risk an injury. We also treat the tree with special care and  consideration and never cause damage that could deteriorate the tree in the future. This is why it is crucial to make sure a professional lighting specialist installs your outdoor lighting, in every aspect. After all your home is the single most expensive investment in your life, why trust your outdoor lighting that is supposed to enhance this investment’s beauty to an amateur?

Tree lighting by Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

These mesquite trees take tree lighting to a new level, simply breathtaking

Texas has many trees native to the state that make excellent specimens for tree lighting such as the Hackberry tree, Walnuts, Maples, Oaks , Palm trees and of course the breathtaking Mesquite tree. San Antonio is fortunate to have so many beautiful specimens that are candidates for tree lighting. Whenever we enter the property of a prospective client we anticipate the outdoor lighting installation like an artist would a blank canvas.

When considering the prospect of adding light to trees within your landscape Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio has compiled a list of do’s to prepare you with the knowledge to ensure your professional outdoor lighting specialist covers all the necessary areas of importance.

Do balance the lighting so that the effect is seen in the overall application. Outdoor lighting that promotes unity and harmony within the landscape will help you achieve an overall effect, instead of spots of light that have no rhyme or reason.

Do try to layer the effect with tree lighting on multiple branches to get that haunting, dappled effect that is so aesthetically pleasing.

Do make certain the tree you are lighting is treated with TLC so as not to become damaged and vulnerable to disease and insects.

Do keep lines and powers  sources  invisible to the eye as much as possible to ensure they do not hinder the effect or become a safety hazard.

Do choose the candidates for tree lighting carefully, to get the biggest “bang” for your buck. It is also crucial not to go overboard on lighting trees, remember, less is always more.

Do choose an outdoor lighting specialist with experience with tree lighting.

No matter what type of outdoor lighting design you choose, tree lighting can give you stunning effects. Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio to learn more about tree lighting as well as landscape and garden lighting. Call (830) 624 – 1300 or send us an email at sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

You can  also see more tree lighting by visiting  our landscape and garden lighting photo gallery to see more at http://san-antonio.outdoorlights.com/local/gallery/landscape-garden-lighting.html

Comparison Shopping for Landscape Lights

In today’s economic times, it pays more than ever to do comparison shopping.  The same advice holds true when looking for a landscape lighting company to handle your landscape lighting needs.

The following list are some things you should inquire about when evaluating a Landscape Lighting Company:

  1. Reputation.  How long have they been in business?  Do they have references?  Are they a member of the local Better Business Bureau?
  2. Type of Fixtures.  Do they use a variety of fixtures based on the application, or is it “one type for all applications”?  Do they use well lights for facade lighting?  Do they do uplighting?  Downlighting?  Do they offer low voltage?  Line voltage (household current)?
  3. Quality of Fixtures.  Are they painted fixtures?  Copper?  Aluminum?  Plastic?
  4. Warranty.  What kind of warranty is offered on the fixtures?  Is the warranty for at least ten years?
  5. Service Plan.  Do they offer an annual maintenance plan?  What does it consist of?
  6. Type of Transformer.  Is the transformer a pluggable type?  Is it a multi-tap?  Is the timer built in or is it a separate unit?
  7. Lighting Control.  How is the lighting controlled?  Timer?  Photocell?  Lighting control from inside the home?  Can I integrate my porch lights and existing lights/switches with the system?
  8. Night Time Demonstration.  Do they offer a night time demonstration?  Is it complimentary?
  9. Made in the USA.  Are their fixtures made in the USA?  Are they handcrafted?
  10. Dark Sky Compliant.  Is their system Dark Sky Compliant?

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio, we’ve done your homework for you!  We’ve asked ourselves these very questions, and are proud to say we can answer each and every one of them in a manner that will benefit YOU, the homeowner!  Here are our answers to the ten areas mentioned above:

  1. Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio has been in business in San Antonio for almost two years, and is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau.  The Our parent company, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Franchise Corporation, has been in business for almost fifteen years, and has over 70 locations around the world.
  2. We use a variety of fixtures depending upon the specific application.  We use well lights with large PAR-36 bulbs for lighting the façade, large trees, and other objects, smaller bullet type fixtures with MR-16 (projector style) bulbs for smaller shrubs, number signs, or statues.
  3. We use extruded PVC in the construction of our well lights, and all our path and specialty lights are made of solid copper.  We never use painted or powder coated fixtures, as they still peel with time.
  4. We offer a one year warranty on our bulbs, assuming a normal operation time of sunset to approximately midnight; a ten year warranty on our fixtures; a lifetime warranty on our transformers; a two year warranty on our Lighting Control Automation.
  5. We offer an annual maintenance plan, where we will come and change all bulbs, rebury exposed wire, trim shrubs, treat with fire ant retardant, and check voltages and transformer operation to completely recondition the system for another year.
  6. Our transformers are all pluggable, multi-tap transformers, which allow us to use a variety of timing systems, especially our state-of-the art Lighting Control Automation.  A multi-tap transformer allows us to fine tune the voltages at each fixture to be sure every one is between 11.0-11.5 volts.  Because the timer is a separate system, a timer failure does not render the entire transformer unusable, as happens with the cheaper integrated timer/transformer systems you find at the box stores.
  7. While we offer timers and photocells, our state-of-the-art Lighting Control Automation allows the homeowner complete control of the lighting from inside the home, along with allowing the integration of porch lights, security lights, and switches into the system, for an added level of home security.
  8. We always offer the homeowner a Night Time Demonstration, so they can see exactly what their home looks like with our lighting installed.
  9. All of our fixtures are handcrafted right here in the USA.
  10. Our low voltage systems are fully Dark Sky Compliant.

For answers to addtional questions you may have, feel free to read our blog posts, visit our website, or call us at 210-971-8759 for more information.

Kenneth Wells

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

The ABC’s of Landscape Lighting

Homeowners spend considerable time making sure the exterior of their home is something beautiful to behold, addressing such key elements as the architectural details on the home’s façade and attractive landscaping.  But homeowners often overlook something that can make their home continue to stand out after the sun goes down.   Quality outdoor landscape lighting can turn that dream house into a jewel that shines after dark.

There are many reasons to consider installing outdoor landscape lighting.

Reasons for Landscape Lighting

Outdoor Lighting can serve many different purposes.

linsmore-10 Beauty. Lighting the front façade of the home will accentuate its beautiful architectural details after sunset.  Outdoor lighting can highlight attractive landscaping like crepe myrtles, mountain laurels, and our beautiful hill country live oak trees.

Safety. Landscape lighting can be an effective tool in enhancing the safety and security of the home.

Function. Outdoor living spaces have become very popular.  Landscape lighting can allow homeowners to enjoy their outdoor living spaces well after dark.

While homeowners have different reasons for wanting to install landscape lighting, all of the benefits above can be realized by adding outdoor lighting to the home.  Let’s look at the different kinds of landscape lighting available.

Types of Landscape Lighting

Outdoor and Landscape lighting can be broken down into four main types:  Line voltage, Solar, LED, and Low voltage.  Let’s discuss these types and note their advantages and disadvantages.

Line Voltage:  One advantage of line voltage (high voltage, or what is commonly referred to as household current) is the ability to use higher wattage bulbs, ranging from 60-75 watts up to 175 or even 250 watts.  Another advantage is the ability to use different types of bulbs including incandescent, fluorescent, sodium (the orange street lights), mercury vapor (the bluish “moon lighting” look), or metal halide/ceramic metal halide (a stronger white high-voltageincandescent-like light).  The disadvantages of line voltage are the higher fixture and bulb costs, higher energy bills, and higher costs for installation.  Most installations require an electrician.  Line voltage must be run in conduit buried 18 inches deep to meet electrical code.  Trenching to each fixtures location is required, which can be expensive.  Also, certain bulbs require a ballast component to light the fixture.  In summary, line voltage fixtures are best used for security lighting, spot lighting, or moon lighting very large landscape areas where cost and energy use are not a concern.

Solar:  The advantages with solar lights are that they are energy free and relatively inexpensive.  The dissolaradvantages are that their light output is not bright enough to give a truly useful amount of light at night.  Also, the fixtures can have a relatively short life span, often failing after only a few months of use.  Also, they are unsuitable for areas that don’t receive a lot of sunshine during the day.  For these reasons, most professional landscape lighting installers do not consider them a viable option for true night-time illumination.

300px-rbg-led1 LED:  The advantages of LED’s (light emitting diodes) are extreme energy efficiency and very long bulb life.  Since they don’t use a “filament” in the classic sense, the piece of metal inside a bulb that burns out causing a normal bulb to fail, an LED bulb can last for tens of thousands of hours.  The disadvantages of LED’s are that they produce a very narrow spot type of illumination.  An LED works well in a flashlight, for example, or to illuminate a small spot such as on a house number sign, but LED fixtures have not yet been developed that can illuminate a wide area, as in a tree or the façade of a house in a cost effective manner.  Another disadvantage is the bluish color of light.  The lighting industry does expect that LED’s will evolve in the next few years to become more useful in landscape illumination situations, but the technology is not yet there to do it cost effectively.  LED bulbs can be rated for use in solar, low, or line voltage applications.

Low Voltage:  The advantages of low voltage (12-18 volts) are increased energy efficiency, lower bulb and fixture cost, ease of installation since trenching is not required, ease of adding to and/or moving fixtures, and no danger of electrictransformer1al shock.  Because the bulbs are lower wattage, you can use more fixtures (7-10) to light a greater amount of area using the same wattage and energy as two or three 100 watt line voltage bulbs.  A common misconception with low voltage is that it means less brightness, which is simply not the case.  Low voltage fixtures using quartz halogen bulbs produce a true white light, with just as many lumens per watt (brightness) as a line voltage incandescent bulb.  Low voltage lighting systems are connected to a transformer, or power pack, that plugs into a household outlet and reduces the household 120 volt current to 12-18 volts.  The disadvantages of low voltage are limited wattage per bulb.  Most home improvement stores sell low voltage fixtures that use 7-20 watt bulbs, while most professional landscape lighting fixtures use bulbs of 20-50 watts.  Another disadvantage is that sodium bulbs and mercury vapor moon lighting bulbs are not available in low voltage.  In summary, low voltage fixtures work well to provide lots of light while being very energy efficient.

Landscape Lighting Fixtures

There are many types of landscape and outdoor lighting fixtures, and a true professional will understand which fixture is correct for a given application.  Most fixtures are designed around the bulb they contain, and this helps identify the fixture’s proper use.  Here are some of the most common types:

bb12Bullet Fixtures.  These fixtures are in the shape of a bullet.  The smaller ones usually contain an MR-16 bulb, which is a slide projector bulb, and are best used to spotlight small shrubs or number signs.  They are often part of a low voltage lighting system, though some are used in solar applications, usually with LED bulbs.  Larger bullet fixtures are commonly used in line voltage systems and contain regular household type spot and flood bulbs, as well as mercury vapor and metal halide bulbs.  They are used to illuminate walls, the façade of the house, and large trees and shrubs.

bb03s-slotted-well-light_lgWell Light or Canister Fixtures.  These fixtures are contained in a 4-6 inch canister of heavy PVC, are designed to be partially buried and are used to illuminate walls, the façade of the house, and large trees and shrubs.  They typically contain a PAR36 bulb, which looks a lot like the older style automobile headlight bulb.  PAR36 bulbs come rated for use in either low voltage or line voltage systems.

google-logo-picPath Light Fixtures.  These fixtures come in a wide variety of shapes, and are generally made out of plastic, powder coated aluminum or copper.  They are used to illuminate sidewalks and pathways, driveways, and low shrubs or flowering plants.  They typically use a “brake-light” style bulb or a bi-pin quartz halogen bulb in low voltage or line voltage systems.  They also come in solar fixtures.

lwp-largeBox Light Fixtures.  These fixtures are rectangular, and are generally used with line voltage systems to illuminate larger areas.  They frequently use metal halide or mercury vapor bulbs.

Determining which type of lighting system to install is dependent upon factors such as quality, value, and cost.

Speaking of cost, the old adage still applies; “you get what you pay for”.  The less expensive fixtures found in catalogs and the big box stores may be plastic or painted aluminum, and will last only 2-3 years, but they cost just a few hundred dollars.  Powder coated aluminum finishes are considered “middle of the road” and will last a little longer, but will eventually chip and peel.  Cast Brass and spun copper fixtures are more expensive, but they will be the highest quality, will last the longest, and will take on a rich patina over time.

Bulb quality is also very important.  Cheaper quartz halogen bulbs often sold in discount stores may be manufactured overseas and may not be rated for at least 4,000 hours, which is the minimum life needed to get a one year warranty out of the bulb, assuming the typical dusk to midnight system use.  Line voltage mercury vapor or metal halide bulbs should be rated for 12,000-20,000 hours and last 3-5 years, but they are much more expensive bulbs.

Fixture Placement

A critical element of your system is the proper placement of the correct lighting fixture to achieve the desired results.  Frequently, line voltage bullet or box fixtures are placed many feet away from the house to shine directly on it.  The result is harsh light hitting flat upon the house, preventing any depth or character from showing on the façade while flooding the inside of the house with unwanted light.

The correct way to illuminate the front façade is to place well light or canister light fixtures about 8-12 inches away from the sides of the house to shine up the walls, revealing the texture in the brick or stone and creating a softer, more attractive light.  The PAR36 bulb in the canister light will give a wider and more even wash ofhighlands-cove-51 light, whereas a bullet fixture using an MR16 bulb produces just a narrow streak of light on the wall.  Large trees and shrubs should also be lit with the canister light placed not more than 1 or 2 feet from the trunk, to light upward.  Bullet fixtures should be reserved for the smaller spot shrubs and house number plaques.

Another important element of lighting the façade is to use fixtures to illuminate the upper dormers or peaks, so that all of the home’s architecture will be illuminated, leaving no dark holes.  Your lighting professional should address the best way to accomplish this.   Path lights can be used to illuminate walkways, but make sure they are spaced out enough to avoid the “runway effect”, which is what results when too many path lights are placed across from one another all the way down the walkway.  Generally, the front façade of the house is lit to showcase it to the street, while the back yard is illuminated for ambience and to light up outdoor living areas.  Generally this means more path lights, deck lights, and well lights on landscaping.

elizabeth-ann-5There are two other elements to consider when assessing a quality lighting installation.  First, is to light for effect.  This means the homeowner should be drawn to what is being illuminated, and the fixture should become invisible.  The fixture should be placed so that you don’t really notice it, only what is being illuminated.  Second, is preventing light encroachment.  Light should not be bothering the neighbors, and light should never be hitting you in the eyes.  Downlighting can be used to illuminate specific areas such as play equipment, waterfalls, or outdoor seating areas, but downlighting should be minimized, as uplighting will achieve the same effect and not have light hitting you in the face when you are under the bulb.  If lighting is placed in trees, it needs to be at least 20 feet up, and the higher the better.  Of course, this presents increased cost for installation and bulb replacement.

The real question now is can I do it myself?

Benefits of using a Landscape Lighting Professional

While small low voltage or solar systems can be a do-it-yourself project, larger systems should be installed by a landscape lighting professional.  When choosing a company to install your landscape lighting, there are several things you should expect:

installerExpertise. Make sure the lighting professional you choose specializes in landscape lighting, and isn’t someone who just does it on the side, while specializing in something else like landscaping or pool installation.  Believe it or not, electricians are usually not experts in outdoor landscape lighting.  As a minimum, your professional should be highly knowledgeable of all the aspects in this article thus far.  He or she should listen to what your desires are, and then design a plan that meets and exceeds your expectations.  Ask for a full night time demonstration!

Quality. Make sure the fixtures are top-of-the-line, and come with at least a ten year warranty.  Make sure the low voltage transformers are multi-tap, allowing the voltages to be adjusted so that every fixture is between 10.5-11.5 volts for an even look, and they should have a lifetime warranty.  All bulbs should come with at least a one year warranty.  Ask how many lights per wire run for a low voltage system he or she uses (should never use more than four fixtures per wire run).  Does the system come with just the basic dial timer, or does the system come with lighting control automation?

Value. Does the professional show up on time?  Does he return your calls promptly?  Do the installers and service people dress professionally?  Make sure that the company offers an annual maintenance plan to keep your system in peak condition.

Conclusions

Residential landscape lighting can vary from the solar do-it-yourself projects on a garden home up to a line voltage system using mercury vapor moon lighting over many acres of land.  It depends on the desires of the homeowner.

olp-installations-003Line voltage systems can be more expensive due to labor and materials, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.  Most line voltage systems are used when lighting very large landscape areas where expense and energy use are not a concern.

LED Systems are not readily available in wide applications other than spot lights, making them of limited use today, although that is changing.

Solar lights can be some of the least expensive systems available, but they sacrifice light output and don’t have a long life span.

In most instances, a low voltage lighting system is probably the best landscape lighting system for residential installation because it offers the best combination of bright illumination, energy efficiency, ease of installation, and relative cost.

While every home’s landscape lighting design will vary, a rough estimate of the cost of a professionally installed landscape lighting installation in the San Antonio area is around $1/square foot of living space to do the front façade of a home.  This means a landscape lighting plan for a 3500sf home would average $3500 for the front façade.  The actual cost for your home could be higher or lower depending on your specific desires in lighting.  The best part of all is that a professionally installed outdoor lighting system will increase the value of your home by adding beauty, safety and functionality that only gets better after dark.

olp_logo_mediumScott Bellamy is the owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio.  http://www.outdoorlights.com

Remodel with Light – Spotlighting ways to transform your space

Remodel with Light – Spotlighting ways to transform your space

athome1We are featuredcover in this great article by Janis Turk in the San Antonio At Home section of the January/February 2009 issue of San Antonio Woman Magazine.