Landscape lighting really is kind of magical. It transforms trees into silvery, shimmering sculptures, and makes a home look friendly and inviting in the dark. It brings another dimension to the beautiful landscape you created for your client, and allows him to continue enjoying it, no matter the hour or season. It adds value to his home, makes it safer and, thanks to LEDs, does it all without spiking his power bill.
LEDs changed everything
About ten years ago, when LEDs entered the picture, it rocked the world of low-voltage landscape lighting. Although halogen lamps are still around, most contractors prefer LEDs, even for the older systems. Incandescent lamps are a thing of the past.
While it does take a bit of training to learn how to work with the components properly, the learning curve isn’t steep. And training is available at low or no cost from all the major manufacturers and distributors.
You used to have to worry about voltage drop, where a lamp furthest away from the transformer would be noticeably dimmer than the one right next to it. Now there’s a wider operating range; it doesn’t matter if a fixture is getting nine volts or 15.
No longer do you have to employ a lot of different wiring methods, as you do for halogen lamps. The halogen lamps require 10.8 to 11.8 volts, which leaves you with a very small one-volt corridor within which to work. Too much voltage, and the lamp burns out; too little, it dims.
A greater amount of wire was also needed to complete jobs, and all of that together increased installation costs, according to Todd Goers, national sales manager for WAC Lighting in Port Washington, New York.
By contrast, LED fixtures can be daisy-chained together, and the light output will be the same from end to end. It doesn’t matter if the first fixture is right next to the transformer, and the last one is hundreds of feet away. Every light along the cable will have the identical brightness and intensity.
The old problem of cold, blue-tinged light that the early LEDs gave off was corrected years ago. Now, the range of color temperatures, measured in degrees of Kelvin (K), is vast, with at least one company claiming as many as 30,000 possible degrees.
‘Color temperature’ is not the same as color; it has to do with how ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ a white light is perceived to be. While there is a wide variety of color temperatures available, two lamps are most commonly used in residential landscape lighting. The first is 2700K or ‘warm white;’ the second is 3000K, or ‘pure white.’ Some higher-priced systems contain chipsets that produce different hues to fit various moods or seasons, such as red and green for Christmas, or orange for Halloween. A less expensive way to achieve shades other than white is by snapping on removable, colored filters.
Types of fixtures include spot lights, well lights, flood and path lights. The exciting and creative part is placing these fixtures in various ways, in order to create different effects.
Spot and well lights are mostly used for uplighting tall trees. ‘Down lighting,’ also called ‘moon lighting,’ uses spotlights mounted high up in a tree’s branches and aimed down, creating a circle of light.
Down lighting is very dramatic and, “When the wind is moving through the branches, it creates a spectacular effect on the ground. By placing spot or well lights behind an element, such as a statue, tree or fountain, a ‘silhouette’ effect can be achieved. Or, you can ‘shadow’ something by aiming a spot, well or flood light directly at the object, provided there’s a flat surface behind it. ‘Grazing’ is another technique that uses well lights to bring out a texture on a wall or hedge.
Winter is landscape lighting’s time to shine. “All the foliage is off the trees, and they look like natural statues out there against the backdrop of the snow, It’s absolutely stunning.
There’s also money to be made retrofitting and repairing outdoor lighting systems. LEDs have made that much easier for both residential and commercial applications. In most cases, you just screw out the old lamps out and put the new ones in.
Older commercial systems often have HID (high-intensity discharge) or HPS (high-pressure sodium) fixtures with ballasts (devices placed in line with loads, to limit the amount of current entering circuits). Often, when there was a problem, it wasn’t caused by a bulb going out or a wiring break, it was a faulty ballast. “You’d have to spend time fixing a part of a fixture, and that’s just not very profitable.
Once these systems are retrofitted with LEDs, things get much simpler. There’s no need for additional wiring.
Last, but far from least, don’t forget to tell a prospective client how retrofitting with LEDs will make his home or facility’s energy bills go down. The more lights you replace, the lower the bill. While LEDs may cost a bit more upfront, their life in lighting
These lamps in this article are products of Harmony Lighting Co.,ltd.