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Archive for the ‘Outdoor lighting services’ Category

Having guests over for a party this summer?  Certainly a growing trend is to move the party outdoors.  There’s something about hanging out poolside with friends that makes for a fun evening.   This trend is growing and makes outdoor living spaces; decks, patios, pools, outdoor kitchens, one of the hottest segments of the remodeling business.

We meet people all the time that have spent a lot of money in their back yard. One area you don’t want to forget about, or push off till the end of the project, is outdoor lighting. Without good quality lighting that matches the new environment created in the yard, the whole project will just fall flat. Imagine a cool new patio deck and pool lit only by a couple of cheap porch lights hanging by the back door. Ugh!

There are now tons of creative and interesting lighting fixtures and techniques that you can deploy to really “finish” the back yard and make your parties hum. A good start is always consulting with a designer to help you sort through some of the options. Consultations are usually free.

Outdoor string lighting

Outdoor string lighting

Always start with some good landscape lighting for areas like trees, paths, and stairs, to set the mood with some soft lighting.  Around the living spaces there are some very creative fixtures available now that you can find by searching some of the home style websites.  Use your designer to bring both areas together in terms of lighting color, intensity, and effect.

One of the more popular ideas we’re seeing more and more is string lighting.  Much like a lot of restaurant patios, string lighting can provide an ambiance for the back yard that’s unmatched with other lighting fixtures.  We suggest using a commercial grade product for a long lasting quality installation.  Another consideration is the bulb.  Some like the old style “edison” incandescent bulb.  Others go with energy efficient LED bulbs.   Here’s a sample of string lighting under a pavilion canopy using LED bulbs on a dimmer.  Imagine what this kind of lighting in your back yard might look like, eh?

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LEDs are upwards of 80 percent more efficient than incandescent lights, but they comprise only a very small percent of retail sales.  One research report I read says LED is less than 10% of retail bulb sales.  With all the “talk” about greener codes and standards, better energy management, and general awareness of environmental issues, why the dichotomy?

As a designer, I see two major issues holding the consumer back.

First, there is the technology itself.  There are lots of choices available on shelves with different bulb types, light output, beam width, and color temperature.  The choices can be confusing.  If not done correctly, this can lead to a lot of expense with sub-par results.

Color temperatures between 2700K and 3000K provide the warmth familiar to most homeowners, while temperatures between 4000K and 5000K work well for mostly interior daylit rooms. LEDs with a color rendering index (CRI) exceeding 80 will produce the best color output.

There are a number of performance and testing websites to help get accurate information on LED products, including the Department of Energy, but the best way is working with a professional and doing on site testing for your specific application.  Every home exterior and interior is different and one light that works well in one case, may not work as well in another.  Height and width of object lit, distance from object, area size, all will impact the final result.

The second objection is price.  When we discuss an outdoor lighting system, LED can add as much as a 20% surcharge to the overall system price.  LED bulbs are more expensive than their incandescent counterparts and this has a direct effect on consumer acceptance and adoption rates.

Some interesting research worth noting.  In 2002, a study by D&R Research found that about 10% of the homes had converted to some form of efficient lighting.  By 2012, this number had increased to nearly 30%.  Their forecast stated that in another 10 years, the percent of homes with energy efficient lighting would be around 60%.

What this means is that manufacturers will be able to mass produce product and prices will begin to fall.  We’ve seen this repeatedly in the past (i..e. computers) when technology gains widespread acceptance.

Prices will fall, technology continues to improve.  With multi-year warranties and decade long lifespans, LEDs have made lamps a long-term investment that can exceed the life expectancy of the fixture it illuminates.  Whether you do it yourself, or work with a professional, researching the right LED product is time well spent.  The results of lower energy consumption and reduced ongoing maintenance costs are real and available today.

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Are you looking for a way to brighten up your holidays this season?   You may not be thinking about this with Labor Day just behind us, but now is the time to start planning.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives is proud to offer our holiday lighting program.  Our program involves, design, ordering, installation, removal and storage of your holiday lighting display.  The lighting display is yours, not a rental, and your elements are purchased new, not used like some of the other cut rate lighting companies offer.

We have been supplying outdoor lighting solutions since 2005.  Years of experience gives us the ability for elegant design, from the classic to the playful, for holiday lighting your yard.  Our supplier relationships have thousands of different solutions and we’ll match your ideas with quality products including energy efficient LED lighting.

We do a professional installation scheduled when you want us to install.  We come back in January to remove everything after the holidays.  Once we tear down, we remove the lights and store in a controlled environment so you don’t have to bother with finding storage space yourself.

Contact Outdoor Lighting Perspectives today to schedule your design appointment.  Call us at (512) 247-1815 or email us at olpaustin.outdoorlights.com.  Please visit our website at Austin.outdoorlights.com to see our gallery of holiday lighting and to learn more.

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We were recently called out to a home on a service call.  It’s a large yard with 4 transformers and close to 50 different fixtures installed.  The customer pointed out various problems to us that certain lights are not working – mostly centered on the main portion of the backyard.  We quickly got to work.

We quickly determined it was some type of power or cabling problem.  When we opened up the main transformer, the first thing we noticed was a burnt smell – not a good sign.  Turns out one of the 3 circuits had fried itself and was not functioning.

That’s when we really started investigating.  This transformer was a 900w transformer.  Transformers are rated to safely run about 80% of that output, or 720w.  By counting up the total wattage of the lights installed on this transformer, we were right at 700w, safely within upper limits.  Then we noticed 2 lights in a pond that were not installed by us.  We traced it out and sure enough, the customer had added an extra cable in our transformer and added those 2 lights on his own.

Innocent enough until you realize 2 extra lights at 35w each added 70 watts to a system that was already fully loaded.  The extra strain of now running close to 800w of output eventually with time caused major damage and a circuit meltdown.

The takeaway:   If you already have a lighting system, don’t randomly add to it without first taking some precaution.  If necessary, get help from a professional to adequately size the lights you want to add and ensure that you have the capacity.    Your lights will stay on and brighter much longer if you do.

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When we think of outdoor lights, we generally think of fixtures that are relatively resistant to sun, weather and the other outdoor elements. Indeed most are relatively resistant. But, there are a couple of things that an outdoor fixture can’t resist – falling leaves and fire ants.Well light lens cover

We all know fire ants are pests – especially when they build a nest in a high traffic area around our home. But, sometimes they can be bigger pests when they build nests around low traffic areas – right  inside the outdoor lighting fixture near the house or in a tree bed.

Fire ants will actually crawl up inside the lighting fixture with nesting materials such as dirt and make their nest inside the fixture. At best, this can cause the fixture to short out. In the worst case scenario, this can cause a fire. Either way, it’s an expensive proposition when $25 could have avoided that and avoided other problems as well.

Purchasing lens covers for your well lights will not only keep out insects, ants, and insect nests, but they will also keep out leaves, debris, brush, snow and other things that could fall in the fixture.  They are made of tempered glass which maintains the white light of the bulb and you can install them yourself, or we can install them for you.

If you have a lighting system from another source and are experiencing maintenance issues like this, call us at (512) 247-1815.  We do service existing systems.

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives well light near a tree

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives installed well light near a tree

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LED PAR36 bulb –

We recently returned from the Outdoor Lighting Perspectives annual conference.  Certainly, the biggest news on the technology front was the introduction of a new LED PAR36 bulb.

Some of the features of this bulb:

  • 6watt (over 80% reduction in power consumption)
  • 3000 degrees Kelvin (warm white)
  • 50,000 hour rating (compared to 5,000 for halogen)
  • 5 year warranty

The light quality?  Side by side against a new halogen bulb, the light output (temperature) is so close that it’s hard to tell one from the other.  This light is also an easy retrofit in existing fixtures using PAR36 halogen bulbs.  Benefits:  the energy efficiencies saves electricity and super long burn rate lowers maintenance costs.  Typical payback on an LED conversion is less than 2 years.

LED bulbs replacing the MR16 bulb is also available now and an LED retrofit bulb for path lights will be coming in April, 2012.

Clearly, LED technology has finally arrived for Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

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Hope you all are enjoying the holidays with your friends and family.  As we head into the new year, it’s always been a time for optimism for us and certainly some of the recent economic indicators have been positive to fuel that optimism.  Since we still call ourselves the “new” owners of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Austin, we are especially optimistic about what the new year may bring for us.

One of our early goals for the new year is to be especially active publishing articles and updates on different lighting topics.  Whether it be new technologies, going green, or changing legislation, we hope you find our articles useful.  In that respect, we will be doing a lot more exclusive offers on Facebook for different seasonal promotions and discounts off some of our services.  We encourage you to become a fan of our site by clicking the Facebook “LIke” icon below or visiting our facebook page at facebook/OutdoorLightsAustin.com and then watch the feed for new offers from your friends at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives.

A simple closing by wishing a Happy New Year to all.

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