Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio outlines the ABC’s of LED outdoor lighting conversions

San Antonio outdoor lighting

See how LED outdoor lighting can add magic to your home and landscape for all seasons.

Have you ever looked at your outdoor lighting system and thought “I really wish I would’ve chosen an LED system instead”? This may be the case with many homeowners who either did not get on the boat with LED when they initially had their existing lighting installed, and those whose existing system was installed at a time when LED outdoor lighting was not as accessible. The good news is all is not lost. Converting your existing outdoor lighting system to LED is a viable option for many homeowners and it also means you can enjoy the many benefits of LED without having to start from square one.

Outdoor lighting Perspectives of San Antonio LED outdoor lighting

LED outdoor lighting is changing the way we see outdoor lighting.

After hearing this good news, you are probably asking where do I start? First, your system will have to be inspected to see if LED conversion is possible. Most traditional outdoor lighting systems such as halogen and incandescent can easily be converted to LED. Your outdoor lighting professional can inspect your existing system and determine if your system is a candidate for conversion. Once your system is deemed fit to undergo the conversion, you can start enjoying the many benefits of LED outdoor lighting.

Benefits of LED outdoor lighting

  • LED outdoor lighting systems consume 80-85% less energy than traditional outdoor lighting systems. This energy efficiency can be felt each time you pay your electrical bill.
  • LED outdoor lighting systems have longevity which is evident with longer lasting bulbs that need replacement less often. For example a typical halogen bulb will burn for approximately 2,000 to 4,000 hours, whereas an LED will last a whopping 50,000 operating hours!
  • LED is a green burning technology because it leaves less of a carbon footprint on the environment.  LED’s are responsible for less greenhouse gases by reduced carbon dioxide emissions. LED’s also contain no harmful chemical such as mercury that makes handling and disposal dangerous.
  • LED’s are UV free which means no ultraviolet rays which are prone to attract insects. This means using LED in your landscape, deck and patio lighting installation will give you peace of mind in not attracting  insects that can invade your outdoor living enjoyment.
  • LED’s are more durable and resilient than ordinary lighting systems. They are shock resistant, and also react better to changes in temperature, weather conditions and repeated cycling. LED’s will better withstand the demands needed by a bulb placed in outdoor situations.

    LED lights are long lasting, energy efficient and among the safest lights

    LED lights are long-lasting, energy-efficient and among the safest lights on the market.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio keeps up with the ever-improving changes in LED outdoor lighting. Over the last few years LED has become more accessible in terms of affordability and availability. It is true LED costs a little more up-front than a typical lighting system but the money you save on energy usage and bulb replacement will enable you to recoup those initial costs quickly.

If you are ready to make a change for the better, an LED conversion may be the perfect fit for your outdoor lighting needs. So what are you waiting for? Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio and The Hill Country to learn more about LED conversion today. Call us at (210) 971-8759
Email: sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

See more examples of LED outdoor lighting hard at work by visiting our outdoor lighting galleries, including our garden and landscape lighting gallery and deck and patio lighting gallery, by visiting our website.

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LED outdoor lighting is the clear choice to a greener tomorrow, with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio lighting the way

Sustainable living practices

Choices we make in regards to our home and landscapes can impact the environment from our backyard to across the globe.

In the big scheme of things, sometimes it is the little things that can really motivate and cause you to reflect about your individual role on the world around you. As I was flipping through the channels last Saturday afternoon to find something to watch on TV I ran across a movie called “Arctic Tale” which takes the viewer on the journey of a polar bear and a walrus that live in the arctic and how the impact of global warming is changing their natural habitat. After the movie was over, it made me think about my role on the environment and just how important sustainable living practices are all living things in our own backyard, down the street or even thousands of miles away .Each and every choice we make in regards to taking care of our needs and wants impacts the world on a global level. As with many facets of our lives, decisions we make in regards to our home and property can support a greener lifestyle and support sustainable living practices. Outdoor lighting is no exception.

LED's

LED Lights up close

The new outdoor living trend shows that many more homeowners are choosing to complement their home and landscape as well as make it safer and more secure through the use of  outdoor lighting. With that in mind, stunning outdoor lighting designs can be accomplished using “green” technologies that have less impact on the environment and save homeowners in electrical costs. Sustainability is defined by the capacity to endure. Which encompasses a long-term maintenance of responsibility of environmental, economic, and social aspects of the world around us. In 1993 Rosenbaum, a notable Sustainable Architect, defined sustainability clearly by “Sustainable means using methods, systems and materials that won’t deplete resources or harm natural cycles”.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio uses LED technology to deliver a “greener” approach through our outdoor lighting designs. If you are thinking of adding outdoor lighting to your home and landscape from scratch, LED is definitely the way to go. Even if you already have outdoor lighting, our LED conversion program is a viable choice by converting your existing lighting to LED. In many cases the conversion is easier than you may think, and will save you a lot of money in the long run by choosing to convert to this greener more, sustainable technology.We are easily able to convert over 90% of our customers existing systems to LED systems. If you are on the fence about choosing LED for your outdoor lighting, here is a list of reasons why LED is the clear choice…

  • Bulb Life– LED bulbs last 10 times longer than regular bulbs. Some LED bulbs can last as long as 50,000 hours!
  • Cool Burn– LED’s burn cooler than other bulbs. There is no heat-build up in relation to operating an LED bulb. This reduces the risk of overheating, damage and even fire.
  • Durability– Since LED’s contain no filament, when other bulbs would break or shatter, LED’s will hold up to more vibration, bumping or other circumstances.They also burn more efficiently in colder surroundings than other bulbs.
  • No Harm– LED’s contain no dangerous mercury that can impact the environment.
  • Efficiency– LED’s use very little energy to operate which saves you on energy costs, and makes them a sustainable choice in outdoor lighting. Less energy on your end means less impact on the world around us.
  • Beautiful– LED’s burn evenly and cohesive illuminating areas with just the right amount of light for security, safety and to promote ambiance. With a CRI ( color rendering index), rating from 80 to the mid 90’s, which means they exude a high-quality illumination on a CRI scale of 1-100 in terms of light quality.
Outdoor lighting San Antonio

This already stunning home becomes gorgeous under the spell of outdoor lighting

Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio to learn more about our LED outdoor lighting designs. Remember, that the choices we make today will impact the world tomorrow. Call us at (830) 624 – 1300 or you may email us at sanantonio@outdoorlights.com

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

Replace your own bulbs, or take the scheduled maintenance plan?

Whether it’s for automobiles, home heating and air conditioning systems or landscape lighting systems, ROUTINE SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE is the key to keeping things running in tip-top shape.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio,  we recognize and applaud the do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to maintain their own OLP installed Landscape Lights.  That’s why we offer these tips and suggestions for replacing your bulbs:

Be sure to use quality lamps (bulbs) with the same wattage and flood angle as those that came with your original installation.

For the large PAR 36 (headlight style bulbs) in well/canister lights:

  • GE or Phillips Brand
  • 4000 hour rated life
  • PAR 36, 12-volt (low voltage bulbs)
  • Screw Terminals
  • 20 watt, 35 watt, or 50 watt, as was originally installed
  • Wide flood (30 degrees), Very Wide flood (55 degrees), or Narrow Spot (8 degrees) as was originally installed
  • Generally not available at Home Depot/Lowe’s.  Buy from a quality lighting store
  • Cost will run from $10-$15

For the small Bi-pin halogen bulbs in Path and sign fixtures:

  • Osram Sylvania Ministar S Halogen
  • 4000 hour rated life
  • 10 watt, 20 watt, or 35 watt as originally installed
  • G4 or G6 bi-pin base
  • NEVER EVER TOUCH THE GLASS WITH YOUR BARE FINGERS!!  (oils from your skin will dramatically shorten the life of the bulb)
  • cost will run $6-$12

For the MR-16 (projector style bulbs) in small spot light applications:

  • GE or Osram Sylvania
  • BAB (flood beam) or ESX (narrow beam) 20 watt, FMW (flood beam) 35 watt, or EXN (flood beam) 50 watt
  • GU5.3 Bi-pin base
  • 4000 hour rated life
  • CG (Cover Glass) preferred
  • Cost will run $5-$8

Of course, changing the bulb is only part of the periodic maintenance, and a complete inspection of the system should be accomplished at this time.

Many homeowners desire the complete servicing package that our Scheduled Maintenance Plan offers.  When we do a bulb replacement during scheduled maintenance, we take care of all the following items:

  • Bulb replacement with bulbs matching the original installation
  • Trim shrubs to ensure illumination is not shaded by plant growth
  • Treat fixtures with fire-ant retardent
  • Re-aim fixtures correctly for those that may have been bumped or moved
  • Re-bury exposed wire
  • Check Voltages
  • Check Transformer connections

Our service plan runs $19/fixture, and includes all the service mentioned above.  When a homeowner is on our maintenance plan they only pay for the scheduled maintenance, and any additional service calls for system repair are free for the length of the plan.  That means the $90 service call charge is waived!

The Length of the maintenance plan is dependent upon how late each homeowner runs their landscape lighting system each night.

  • Systems that run until around Midnight = Annual (1 year) Service Plan
  • Systems that run until 3 am = 9 month Service Plan
  • Systems that run all night = 6 month Service Plan

These lengths equal the average service life of a 4000 hour quartz halogen bulb.

When the typical service call costs $90, plus $19 per bulb replaced, you can see how quickly the costs can add up, which is why the Scheduled Maintenance Plan is easily the way to go!

If you haven’t taken advantage of our Scheduled Maintenance Plan, call us today at 210-971-8759 and have your system brought back up to the level of performance you had when it was originally installed!

Scott Bellamy, President

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

Why we are the Best Value

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio has everything necessary to meet your residential and business landscape lighting needs.

In today’s world, businesses often throw out buzzwords like “Quality” and “Value”.  At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we take those terms seriously.  With that in mind, we’d like to share what we mean by “Value”.

WHY WE ARE THE BEST VALUE

OUR DESIGNS. Even if a home is built using the highest quality materials, without a well thought-out blueprint the final reslut is compromised.  We use certified lighting designers.  They listen carefully to your concerns and what you want to accomplish with your new lighting system.  then they will develop a design to achieve your goals.  Best of all, you are able to see the design at night before you decide if this home improvement investment is right for you.

OUR FIXTURES.  Light fixtures are perhaps the single mosst critical component of a lighting system.  the following are the three basic considerations for choosing a light fixture:

  • Which lamp will achieve the desired effect?
  • which fixture can best accomodate this lamp?
  • what is the quality of fixture materials?

We exclusively use corrosion-resistant materials such as hand-spun copper and cast brass.  Our fictures can stand up to years of harsh outdoor settings – rain, fertilizers, sun exposure, etc. – that could easily destroy other products such as those made of steel or aluminum.  although we can source painted fixtures, ours will not fade, chip or peel – ever.

OUR TRANSFORMERS.  Often termed the “engine” of a professional outdoor lighting system, we use commercial-grade multiple volt transformers.  with a multi-volt unit our installers can select the proper startig voltage to ensure perfect and balanced illumination – regardless of the individual fixture distances.  Also, unlike lesser units, our transformers are “potted,” which means the electrical components are completely sealed with epoxy to prevent corrosion.

OUR INSTALLATIONS.  Outdoor lighting is our focus, and our installers are fully trained with the primary goal of leaving your property in better condition than they found it.  nearly all work is done by hand with careful attention to costly plantings and hardscaping.  If you can’t tell the installer was at your home, we have succeeded.

OUR MAINTENANCE.  The single biggest complaint customers have about the home improvement sector is poor maintenance and seervice after the sale.  We are not like most contractors because we want a long-term relationship with you and take pride in prompt, capable servie even years after the initial installation.  We offer ongoing and very cost-effective maintenance programs, where each year the lighting system is completely checked out and all lamps are replaced.

OUR LIGHTING CONTROL.  We offer standard on-off options and also are an exclusive provider of LCA – Lighting Control Automation.  This allows you to set the on- and off- times once and never change them again.  Should you, for both convenience and security reasons, want any number of interior lights controlled, we can accommodate these needs as well – during the initial installation or years later as your needs change.

OUR STRENGTH.  We are the numbe one provider of professional outdoor lighting with a worldwide location count approaching 100.  Since 1995 we have grown to be the category leader by providing the best overall value.  We walk the talk.

Scott Bellamy, President

Outoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio

210-971-8759

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