Ask the Experts: Outdoor Lighting

ASKHurley1Tony Hurley
Artistic Landscapes
978 317-9875
Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

During these warmer months, a well-lit landscape provides an additional sense of comfort from being able to see the depth of your yard while you are outside enjoying a fire or the tranquility of the evening. During the winter months, it is almost magical the way ice and snow glisten from the illumination of a strategically placed light.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

Outdoor lighting fixtures are normally either low-voltage halogen or LED. Halogen lights provide the truest color of light, the color that we normally see, but current LED lights have closed the gap to the point where quality LED lights have just about the same color as we normally see. LED lights are also less expensive to operate and the fixtures do not get hot.  

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

A professional installer should know the optimal way to illuminate the hardscape, trees, and shrubs in your yard. For instance, the professional installer should know which plants look nicer with backlighting, which should have the light accenting its bark, and which trees look best with the light fixtures installed up inside the canopy.  

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

Outdoor lighting has changed over the last several years as many homeowners now like to up light the front façade of their home along with trees and plants in their yard. Homeowners have seen that by extending the lights from the house toward the street, their yards have more depth. We do have fewer requests for painted fixtures, which we do not install.  

 

 

ASKNooney1Jacquelyn Nooney
JNL Inc.
207 439-6075
Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

Outdoor lighting improves safety and security and adds dimension to outdoor spaces at night. A well-thought-out outdoor lighting plan that lights gathering spaces, paths, specimen plants, and architectural elements adds a warm, comfortable feel to outdoor living spaces. Lighting trees and building elements adds to the enjoyment of your landscape from inside during the long dark nights of winter in New England.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

The obvious advantage of LED over low voltage is less energy use and longer bulb life. You can find the same style and quality in both of these fixtures. Currently the cost of LED is higher than low voltage, but the cost is coming down and with that the length of time that the savings in electricity takes to offset the higher cost.

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

You can avoid many common lighting design mistakes, you benefit from a professional’s experience and knowledge, you will have access to more fixtures and bulb styles, and you will be able to design the switching from your house to control the system. A professional lighting design and installation will add value to your property.

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

The biggest change is in the improvement of the design of lighting fixtures. There are many fixtures that are decorative and also function in specific ways to provide light in outdoor spaces. The quality and ease of repair has also improved. LED fixtures allow you to run more fixtures off a single transformer because they use less power, which is a benefit.

 

ASKweaver1Joel Weaver
LightnLeisure
603 765-6291
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Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

One of the best reasons is to enhance your property—it makes the outside more inviting, friendlier, and more useful.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

With low-voltage lighting you can only go 30 or 40 feet from the transformer, so voltage drop is a big deal. The LED aspect isn’t as sensitive to the voltage drop; so, for the most part it can go farther. The disadvantage of LEDs is that they don’t melt their way through the snow; with LEDs you have to go uncover them so there is more maintenance to keep them looking good.  

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

We can get you what you want, usually for less cost than at the local big box store. We can also do just a consult—it can usually get you to the bottom line more efficiently.  

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

The quality of landscape lighting from some companies has gotten to the point where it can handle the New England weather. Some of the better companies make fixtures out of cast brass; it’s my personal favorite because it can really survive weather here. The number of homes with landscape lighting has probably quadrupled in the last few years—people are trying to improve what they have.  

  

 

ASKDickinson1Alan Dickinson
Lighting by the Sea
603 601-7354
Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your home and property while making your home more secure. Exterior lighting can assume a dramatic role. It is ironic that it is the most neglected and overlooked area for residential lighting. Appropriate exterior lighting adds a warm and welcome mood to your home. The design of the lanterns should complement the architecture of the home.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

We are seeing more decorative styles of lanterns that come with a dedicated LED light source, and this will continue to increase. Landscape lighting is typically low voltage halogen. LED has the advantage of a long-life light source without re-lamping, but it is more expensive to purchase.

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

We can guide the homeowner through the selection and purchase of the appropriate design, size, and finish of the decorative lantern in our showroom. Proper sizing of the lantern is critical to the finished appearance of your home. Material and finish are particularly important when the home is near salt air and water. Raw solid copper and brass is best for longevity.

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

Many outdoor lighting considerations have not changed over the last 30 years. The appropriate sizing of the decorative lantern and selection of a practical material and finish are keys to the customers’ long-term satisfaction. New considerations are LED light sources, which will continue to grow. Dark-sky considerations [reducing light pollution] are also important to some people and neighborhoods.

 

ASKRegnier1Cindy Regnier
Rockingham Electrical Supply
603 436-2310
Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

Homeowners spend thousands of dollars to create elaborate exterior environments: gardens, water features, fire pits, swimming pools, hot tubs, outdoor kitchens, and more. These spaces have become extensions of our interior living spaces, and it makes sense to light these areas with specific products designed for each application. Be it indoors or out, the integration of well-planned lighting adds ambiance, functionality, and value.

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

Utilizing low-voltage fixtures allows for flexibility of design, the use of varying lamp and fixture options, and ease of expandability, but re-lamping is generally required yearly, and voltage drop is a common phenomenon when lights are installed at very long distances from a power supply. The use of LED landscape lighting offers the same great benefits as low voltage without the inherent maintenance issues.  

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

There are so many factors to consider when planning an exterior lighting plan: power supply, voltage drop, plan scalability, glare reduction, beam spread, and code requirements. Most homeowners tend to overlight, using too many items of the wrong kind of fixture with too high a bulb wattage. There is vast value in collaborating with a professional to create a lighting plan that best suits each property.

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

The biggest change in outdoor lighting pertains to energy savings, maintenance, and technology. LED light sources will soon become the preeminent choice for lighting projects. There is also a rising interest in whole-home-lighting integration systems tied into the landscape lighting: homeowners can control lighting and other systems in the home from their iPad or smartphone from any remote location.

 

ASKHemingway1Booth Hemingway
Piscataqua Landscaping & Tree Service
207 439-2241
Besides safety, why should I install outdoor lighting?

Actually, safety is maybe at the bottom of my list. Effective landscape lighting allows you to enjoy the outdoors and the architectural beauty of your landscape at night. At my house, I have 50- to 60-foot-tall ash trees lit up—outdoor lighting brings out the artistry of your landscape.  

What are the advantages and drawbacks of low voltage versus LED outdoor lights?

They are one and the same now. Everything is transitioning to LEDs; they’re phasing out your standard halogen lamps. They’ve gotten LEDs to more truly have that warm tone—more like halogen lamps now. There is also the whole ease and energy efficiency aspect of LEDs.  

What are the benefits of using a professional versus doing it myself?

The advantage to using professionals is that we know how to create the zones of lighting and how to have enough voltage to run them effectively. Plus, there is the whole artistry side of it and the drama you can create with it. When you see a 50-foot tree lit up, it’s amazing.  

What changes have you seen in outdoor lighting since you began working in the field?

The whole transition to LED is huge. When I started, this technology didn’t exist, and last fall I installed my first all-LED system—FX Luminaire’s Luxor, which allows the average homeowner to individualize every fixture. The advances in technology and LED, those are the huge changes.

 

Tags: artistic landscapes, JNL Inc., LightnLeisure, Lighting by the sea, Rockingham Electric, Piscataqua Landscaping, Outdoor Lighting, lighting

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