Celebrate National Outdoor Lighting Month in Colorado

national-outdoor-lighting-month-2013-logo@2x-c7e66e50Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Colorado with warm days and pleasant evenings. As the sun begins to set earlier and earlier, there is no reason to stop using  your beautiful outdoor spaces that you’ve enjoyed throughout the rest of the year.

That is why Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado is helping to support and promote National Outdoor Lighting Month throughout the month of October. Coinciding with the end of Daylight Saving Time (that occurs on Sunday, November 3rd), National Outdoor Lighting Month will be an annual consumer awareness effort to educate homeowners about the safety, security and lifestyle/property enhancements that outdoor lighting can add to their homes.

To support the educational aspect of the campaign, a free guide on How to Choose An Outdoor Lighting Professional can be downloaded from the website. The guide provides helpful design tips on pathway lighting, up-lighting and grazing, outdoor living space lighting, deck and step lighting, and festival lighting. The Guide also provides helpful tips on product selection, installation guidelines, and on-going maintenance considerations.

DNV-005

Outdoor lighting can also add to the curb appeal of any house this time of year. Anyone who has ever tried to purchase or sell a house this time of year can also attest to the value that outdoor lighting can bring to the real estate transaction. Which house will get noticed more – the house with only one carriage light or the one that is beautifully illuminated that basically says welcome home?

You can read more about National Outdoor Lighting Month in a recent article in Turf Magazine.  If you have any questions about lighting techniques or how outdoor lighting can add to the beauty and usability of your home, please call us at 303/948-9656.

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Celebrate National Night Out 2013 in Colorado

30th-Anniversary-POV-LogoThe 30th anniversary of National Night Out , Americas’s NIGHTOUT against crime, will be celebrated throughout Colorado and the country on Tuesday, August 6, 2013. Founded by the National Association of Town Watch initiative, National Night Out (NNO) has become an annual event to bring communities together to fight crime. NNO now involves over 37 million people and 15,000 communities in all 50 states, US territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

Since it is well known that outdoor lighting can be a deterrent against crime, homeowners have been asked to show their support with this community effort by turning on their porch lights. Of course, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado has always been a strong proponent of the use of landscape lighting every night of the year to enhance a home’s safety and security throughout the property.

To participate in a NNO event near you, the following is a partial list of Colorado cities and counties holding events tomorrow evening:

City of Arvada, City of Denver, El Paso County, Jefferson County, Larimer Country, City of Lakewood, City of Littleton, City of Longmont, City of Lone Tree,

So turn on your outdoor lights and get to know your neighbors, and celebrate National Night Out 2013!

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Outdoor Lighting Enhanced with LEDs at Ya Yas Euro Bistro Restaurant in Greenwood Village

Ya Yas Restaurant LED Sign Lighting

Ya Yas Restaurant LED Sign Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado recently completed an outdoor lighting project at Ya Yas Euro Bistro restaurant at 8310 East Belleview Avenue in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Ya Yas has been a very popular restaurant in the south metro area of Denver for the better part of two decades, and they recently installed a new monument sign at the intersection of East Belleview Avenue and East Crescent Parkway.

Since there was no available line voltage power in the imDaytime View of Ya Yas Euro Bistro Restaurant Signmediate vicinity of the newly constructed monument, OLP of Colorado installed their factory’s low voltage model of the LC-50, 24W LED rocket-mounted flood light with a 50,000-hour rated life. This newly illuminated monument sign will make it easier for both long-time and first-time patrons of Ya Yas to find this great restaurant in the evening hours.

Ya Yas Restaurant LED Path Lighting

Ya Yas Restaurant LED Path Lighting

OLP of Colorado also replaced the restaurant’s three outdated line voltage pagoda-style path lights with OLP’s low voltage BB-09 (9-inch diameter copper path hats), 8W LED at the main entrance of the facility. The previous path lights used 60W incandescent bulbs for a total of 180W – compared to the new LED path lights that use a total of 24W. That represents a reduction in energy use of 87-percent!

So the next time you dine at Ya Yas Euro Bistro, check out our new LED lights.

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Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado Finds Local LED Lighting Solution for Problematic Step Lights

TerraLUX LIne Voltage Linear LED Engine

TerraLUX LIne Voltage Linear LED Engine

Sometimes when you are looking for a particular lighting solution, you need not look any further than your own back yard. We had met some homeowners at a recent show who said that they had problems with their line voltage step lights (21 total) that had been installed throughout their brick outdoor living area (steps, patios, and retaining walls). The Progress step lights used 20W bulbs that are typically used in exit signs, and the way the lights were designed made it virtually impossible to keep water and moisture from entering the lights. That’s not a good thing when water comes into contact with a line voltage incandescent bulb – and the homeowner practically had a full-time job replacing bulbs.

After doing a quick Google search, I was pleased to learn about TerraLUX – a leading edge manufacturer of retrofit LED products that is located a few miles up the road from us in Longmont, Colorado. TerraLUX has developed a line of linear line voltage LED engines that can be used for retrofitting recessed step and wall lights, and for other lighting applications as well. The linear light engines are available in 4-, 6-, and 8-inch lengths and they are fully-integrated, self-contained and plug and play. Best of all they are IP-65 rated which means they can tolerate water sprays in somewhat leaky step lights. We chose the 3000K LEDs and they have an L70 of 60,000 hours, and a five-year warranty.  By the way, L70 = 60,000 hours is a shorthand way of saying in lighting nomenclature that at an operational elapsed time of 60,000 hours, the LEDs will still be generating 70-percent of their maximum lumen output.

In the photos below, you can see what the step lights looked like (with the louvered faceplates removed) when we started the work.

Pre-Retrofit Step Light in Bad Condition

Pre-Retrofit Step Light in Bad Condition

Pre-Retrofit Step Light In Good Condition

Pre-Retrofit Step Light In Good Condition

 

 

 

 

 

 

The linear LED engine mounts to the same reflector that the original incandescent bulb socket was mounted to, and this assists with heat dissipation away from the LED module itself. TerraLUX has patented the LEDSense® thermal management circuitry that optimizes the lumen output in conjunction with the LED’s operating temperature. In the photo below, you can see the results of the completed LED retrofit:

Step Light Retrofitted with TerraLUX Linear LED Engine in Denver Country Club

Step Light Retrofitted with TerraLUX Linear LED Engine in Denver Country Club

These linear LED engines are dimmable and can be used to retrofit a wide variety of lighting applications including wall sconces, ceiling fixtures, and recessed step and wall lighting fixtures in both residential and commercial settings.

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National Night Out 2012 in Colorado

Please join your neighbors and other community members in Colorado on Tuesday, August 7th to help celebrate National Night Out 2012. Please click on Local Registered Sites to see if your local Colorado community is listed.

Started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) (a non-profit anti-crime and anti-drug organization), National Night Out is also known as America’s Night Out Against Crime. Over the years, people have participated by turning on their porch light and other outdoor lights and standing watch by conducting front porch vigils. Sometimes it’s as easy as strolling down your street on a warm summer evening and introducing yourself to a new neighbor – or to someone who’s lived there for ten years that you never got around to meeting.

In recent years, these events have  become more all-encompassing with neighborhoods and communities offering block parties, BBQs, parades, neighborhood walks, and anti-crime and safety talks by law enforcement officials. We at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives certainly appreciate the role that proper lighting can play in deterring crime, but we also know that knowing your neighbors and being aware of any suspicious activity can go a long way in making our Colorado communities safer.

To Zone, Or Not to Zone… Important Landscape Lighting Design Question

Preliminary Landscape-Outdoor Lighting Design with Zones

One of the first questions a landscape lighting designer or contractor must ask a client is how they intend to use their outdoor space – and what the primary motivation is for them to be adding this new lighting. One of the mistakes that inexperienced lighting designers make is to assume how the client will be using their outdoor living space and lighting. After all, the client is the one who lives there 365 days per year and not the designer.

Landscape and outdoor lighting provides aesthetics, safety, security, and usability for a homeowner’s property. Oftentimes, homeowners will want the lighting for all four of the above categories or as few as one; e.g., security. If security lighting is the primary purpose, then chances are the homeowner will want to have the lights operate from dusk to dawn – and from a control standpoint you would only have to have one zone.

 If the primary purpose of the lighting is for aesthetics only and the homeowners go to bed around 11:00 PM every night, then there’s no point in increasing their electricity bill to operate the lights until 3:00 AM if they are not awake to enjoy them. The same thing can be said for usability of the outdoor living space. If the pond has been drained for the winter and there are three-foot deep snow drifts on the back patio, most homeowners will not be outside barbecuing in the dead of winter – and probably will not be using their lights quite as much. As far as safety, most homeowners do typically like to leave a few of their lights on all night long whether they be carriage lights by their front door or a few landscape lights to light the way along the sidewalk. 

 

All of the zones have been programmed to turn on and off automatically, but the homeowner can turn off any of these zones manually using this 8-button switch. So even after the installation of the low-wattage LEDs, no energy will be wasted at this homeowner’s house.

 Most homeowners typically want to control their back yard lights separately from the lights in the front yard – and they typically have their front yard lights operate for a few hours longer. We have also installed quite a few systems where the homeowners operate the path lighting all night long but have the uplighting for the house and trees turn off at midnight or earlier. We once did a landscape lighting installation for a former Denver Bronco offensive lineman. We had lit up his kids’  jungle gym but he wanted to be able to turn those lights off when he had get-togethers at his house with his team mates. He didn’t want anything to get broken – neither the play equipment or his fellow team mates. For smaller properties that require fewer landscape lighting fixtures, there is typically not much of a need for separate lighting and control zones – and separate zones can unnecessarily drive up the installation cost for a small system. For larger systems, however, separate control zones can help a homeowner save money on their monthly electric bill while also helping the environment. 

Dove Ridge Entrance Lighting Project – and A Very Special Flyover

 

 

Dove Ridge Entrance Lighting

 

On the 27th of September, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives completed its latest community entrance lighting project for the Dove Ridge HOA. Each of the three monuments had two existing metal halide floods (75W bulbs), and at each monument we replaced them with a single 39W Ceramic Metal Halide(CMH) LC-10 fixture.Not only did these new fixtures create more effective and aesthetic lighting, it also provided energy savings to the HOA of 72-percent.

Dove Ridge Entrance Lighting - 2nd Monument

CMH bulbs, unlike regular metal halide bulbs, experience no color shift over their expected lifetimes (roughly 18,000 hours for the CMH bulbs). You might be asking – what exactly is color-shift? If you’ve ever been to a nighttime high school football game or a little league baseball game, I’m sure that you’ve seen the metal halide lights that have experienced color shift. The newer metal halide bulbs appear to be pure white, while the older ones can appear to be pink, green or blue.

 
Oh, and about the flyover. On the 27th, President Obama was coming to Denver to speak at a high school that afternoon only a few miles from our office. As it turns out, I had to meet up with our crew at the Dove Ridge site in the early afternoon – and Dove Ridge is located about two miles from the Buckley AFB. When I heard a large plane overhead, I looked up and said to the crew – there goes Air Force One! It’s certainly not every day that Air Force One flies over one of our lighting job sites.
 
 

Celebrate National Night Out in Colorado

Celebrate the 28th Annual National Night Out in Colorado and throughout the country on Tuesday evening, August 2. National Night Out has been billed as America’s Night Out Against Crime. The NNO 2011 Campaign involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, and business and neighborhood organizations from over 15,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and U.S. military bases worldwide.

The goals of the National Night Out are to:

  • heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness
  • generate support for local anticrime programs
  • strengthen neighborhood spirit and police communication partnerships

Solidarity and support of NNO is commonly shown by the traditional display of outdoor lighting including front porch lights, landscape/architectural lighting and through the participation in front porch vigils and neighborhood get-togethers.

Landscape Lighting Makes This Home Safer and More Secure

As the owner of a lighting company, I’ve been trained and well-versed in the art of illumination to remove “dark and scary” spaces around the perimeter of a home and property. Local law enforcement repeatedly advises homeowners that lighting is a key component of crime prevention. The City of Golden’s Police Department states that:

it is a recognized fact that good lighting is a deterrant to crime. It not only makes the area safer for the homeowner, but also forces the intruder to work in an area where he may be exposed and reported to the police.

To participate in one of this year’s NNO 2011 events, please check one of the links below:

COUNTIES:     Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El PasoJefferson, Larimer

CITIES/TOWNS:  Aurora, Colorado Springs, Denver, Golden, Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Longmont, Parker, Sheridan, Westminster

Thanks in advance for your participation and for helping to make our communities safer.

Why Did My Landscape Lighting System Stop Working?

During the past week, Colorado has been subjected to a daily occurrence of severe thunderstorm activity with heavy rains and extensive lightning. It is not at all unusual for us to start receiving calls from customers asking why their landscape lighting systems have stopped working.

GFCI Outlet

If all of the landscape lights in a system stop working, typically there is a problem with the power to the low voltage lighting transformer. And 90-percent of the time the loss of power is due to a tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI. In some circles, some electricians and homeowners will also refer to these outlets as just a GFI. During stormy weather with heavy moisture and power surges created by lightning strikes/outages – GFCIs can sometimes trip due to their sensitivity.

That sensitivity of GFCIs is actually a good thing because it protects people from possible electrocution. When a hand tool or appliance is in use, the GFCI monitors the amount of current flowing from the hot to the neutral. If there is any imbalance in the current (as little as 4 or 5 milliamps), the GFCI can trip in as quickly as one-thirtieth of a second. If a person is standing outside on the ground and using an electric circular saw while it is raining, the saw is wet and a path is created from the hot wire through that person to the ground. If all of the current is diverted through the person, that could be fatal. That is why the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires the installation of GFCI outlets in new construction for electrical circuits in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, garages and on home exteriors. Older homes may only have one or two GFCI outlets (typically in bathrooms) to protect the circuits in the garage, kitchen and exterior.

So if your lights are not working, first check the outlet where your low voltage lighting transformer is plugged in. Plug in a radio or small appliance to see if you have power there. If there is no power, find and try to reset the GFCI. If the outlet where the transformer is plugged in does not have the GFCI test and reset buttons, you will need to find it. Remember that the actual GFCI for the circuit could be located in the garage, bathroom, laundry room, or on another outlet on the exterior of the house.

Once you have located the GFCI, push the reset button – and recheck the outlet by the transformer to ensure that the power has been restored. If there is still no power, you will have to keep looking for the GFCI that controls the circuit for the lighting. In newer houses, some garages may have as many as four or five separate GFCIs to accommodate power tools and central vacuum systems.

If you have reset the GFCI and the power has been restored, your lighting system is good to go. However, if your lighting system is controlled by a mechanical timer, you will have to reset the current time on the timer to ensure proper operation. If your system is controlled by a digital timer with battery backup or with Outdoor Lighting Perspectives’ (OLP) Lighting Control Automation™, just restoring power to the transformer is all you will need to do.

In the event that you tried to reset the GFCI and it would not physically reset, you should check your electrical panel to see if a breaker tripped for that circuit. If a breaker has tripped, reset it and then try again to reset the GFCI outlet. During this process if you have any problems resetting either the breaker or the GFCI, it would be a good idea to call in an electrician. Electrical breakers and GFCIs can break down and malfunction over time. In fact, the more times that breakers and GFCIs trip, the more susceptible they are to tripping the next time.

In the beginning of this article, I mentioned that 90-percent of the time that landscape lighting systems stopoped working due to GFCI outlets tripping. The other 10-percent of the time can be attributed to the fact that someone unplugged the low voltage transformer and neglected to plug it back in or to a problem connected to the control system.

Control system problems occur frequently with the older technology – mechanical timers, photocells, and X10. Those control system issues have been solved with Lighting Control Automation – but you still have to ensure that the automatic/manual controller inside your house has power 24/7 for the system to operate properly.

So the next time you have an issue with your landscape lighting system, try these steps first before scheduling a service call. However, please feel free to call our office at any time if we can be of further assistance.

Can Landscape Lights and Mulch Coexist?

 

Mulch Covering Well LIght Causes Acrylic Lens Cover to Melt

During the spring months in Colorado, most homeowners start turning their attention to their outdoor living spaces, gardens, and lawns. A big part of this effort includes cleaning up any remaining leaves and other wind-blown debris from the property, and freshening up  the planting beds by re-mulching.

 

For those homeowners who also have landscape lighting systems installed on their property, it is critically important that none of the landscape fixtures become carelessly covered up by mulch during this process. If an outside landscaping contractor or handyman has been hired to do the re-mulching, it is encumbent on the homeowner to alert them to the location of each and every fixture – and instruct them not to cover up the fixtures. Many years ago one of our customers was out of town, and on a Friday afternoon, their landscaper carelessly dumped a 6-foot tall pile of mulch on one of the well lights. The landscapers didn’t plan to go back to the house until Monday to distribute the mulch – and early on that Saturday evening a girl riding her bicycle saw the resulting mulch fire. Fortunately, she summoned her father who was then able to douse the fire with a garden hose.

Our national company initially installed well lights without lens covers – and then quickly transitioned to the acrylic lens covers. For about the last four years, we’ve been using tempered glass lens covers on every well light that we install. The glass is thick enough that it prevents the outside of the lens from becoming as hot as the previous acrylic ones, and it keeps flammable materials from contacting the bulb directly. Surprisingly, most of the other major landscape lighting manufacturers are still not using lens covers of ANY kind. It’s not been uncommon when our crews are servicing non-OLP systems to find other manufacturer’s well lights that are totally covered by mulch. In some instances, we have found situations where a mulch fire had started previously.

OLP Well Light with Tempered Glass Lens Cover

As with everything else around the home, it does not take a lot of time to do some preventive maintenance to ensure that the lights are not being covered up by mulch, tumbleweeds, or leaves. Another rule of thumb is not to purchase the least expensive mulch (usually the lightest) that tends to blow away during the first good wind storm. In the early 2000′s, the National Electrical Code also addressed this issue by requiring that low voltage transformers have secondary circuit protection (the wiring that goes to the fixtures in the landscaping).

 
As lighting systems transition from quartz halogen to LED, mulch-related heat buildup problems and issues will decrease. However, in addition to safety, another main reason to ensure that your lighting fixtures are not covered up by mulch or dirt is because the light will be blocked – but you will still be paying the electric company for it anyway!
 
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