Creative Ways to Conceal Landscape/Architectural Lighting Fixtures and Wiring

Column Lighting Dilemma - Shrubbery.jpg

Column Lighting Dilemma – Shrubbery at Columbine Valley Project

It seems like every new lighting design and installation has its own unique challenges, and some jobs have more than one. At this recently completed low voltage LED landscape/architectural lighting project in Columbine Valley, the homeowners of course wanted to uplight each of the four columns for dramatic effect. The inner two columns were easily uplighted with the Outdoor Lighting Perspectives BB-03 6W LED well lights with tempered glass lens covers – and those fixtures were mounted at ground level.

Stick-Light Solution for Lighting Column That Is Blocked by Shrubbery

Stick-Light Solution for Lighting Column That Is Blocked by Shrubbery

However, it was not possible to use our standard ground-mounted well lights for the two outer columns since the shrubbery in those locations occupied the entire space in the planting bed. Fortunately, our company’s manufacturing facility recently released the newest fixture in our product line, the BB-02 6W LED, also known affectionately as the stick light. This barely visible fixture can be installed where no fixture has gone before, it can be custom manufactured to any height, and it is available with several beam spreads. The best news of all is that the lighting effect from this fixture looks identical to our BB-03  6W PAR36 LED bulb/well light.    

 

 

 

Column Lighting Dilemma - Hardscape

Column Lighting Dilemma at Columbine Valley Lighting Project – Hardscape

In the back yard, we also encountered another dilemma for uplighting the four primary columns. The area next to the columns was surrounded by hardscape and there was no pre-wiring of any kind. In new construction, we can coordinate the installation of lighting with the concrete/hardscape contractor so that the lighting fixtures can be flush-mounted and all of  the wiring routed through pre-installed conduits. Fortunately, our experienced installers can typically find a way to install and conceal both the lighting fixtures and the wiring on a project where the hardscape has already been installed.

Well Lights Concealed in Flower Pots to Uplight Columns

Well Lights Concealed in Flower Pots to Uplight Columns

The easiest way to hide well lights if they cannot be flush-mounted into hardscape is to plant them like a plant in a flower pot.  And yes, you can water and fertilize the actual plants in the flower pot without damaging the lighting fixture. That’s the easiest way to conceal the lights but how do you hide the wiring? The good news is that most extensive hardscaped areas have drains to channel the water out into the yard from the upper story of the house – and that’s how we were able to get the wiring to within 6-feet of where the lighting fixtures were installed. To run the wiring from the drains to the pots required grinding out grooves in the mortared joints and running the 18-gauge wiring to the lighting fixtures up through the bottoms of the flower pots. The wiring in the grooves was then held in place and sealed by using a high-quality caulk.

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado we’ve started our 15th year in business, and we can almost always find solutions to the most difficult lighting design and installation problems. Many of our customers ask us after an installation has been completed:

How did you do that? We don’t see any wiring or anything disturbed on our property. All we see is the beautiful lighting effect.

As the owner of a lighting company, that is one of the highest compliments that a customer can pay to our company and our installers.

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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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Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado Installs New Energy-Efficient LEDs at Arrowhead Shores Community Entrances

 

New LED Lighting at Arrowhead Shores Community Entrance

New LED Lighting at Arrowhead Shores Community Entrance, Douglas County – Colorado

 

Last week, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado installed its first commercial LED fixtures at three community entrances in Arrowhead Shores (located in the Roxborough Village area of Douglas County).

The new 24W LED fixtures with a rated life of 50,000 hours, manufactured by OLP’s factory in Nashville,  replaced the old 70W metal halide fixtures with a rated bulb life of around 7,000- to 10,000- hours. The new fixtures will save the community roughly $66 annually in their electric bill, as well as savings with on-going maintenance costs to replace the metal halide bulbs and ballast.

Newly Installed LED Lighting Fixture at Arrowhead Shores

Newly Installed LED Lighting Fixture at Arrowhead Shores

Close-up of OLP Commercial LED Lighting Fixture

Close-up of OLP Commercial LED Lighting Fixture

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other advantage that LED fixtures have over metal halide fixtures is that LED’s do not experience any color shift. If you’ve ever been to a sporting event where some of the lights appear to be white, pink, green, or blue, etc., you’re actually seeing metal halide bulbs in different points in their life cycle.

Since the original lighting fixtures were powered by line voltage, we used line voltage for the new fixtures as well. However, each fixture had a small, self-contained low voltage transformer to power the four, 6W LEDs in each unit. As you can see in the photo above, these very green, energy-efficient fixtures do a great job lighting a community entrance – and we look forward to installing more of these at entrance monuments and other commercial applications as well.

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See Us at the 2011 CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter Fall Conference

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado will be exhibiting at the Community Association Institutes’ (CAI) Rocky Mountain Chapter Fall Conference on Saturday, November 5th. The conference is being held at the Denver Marriott West in Golden from 7:00 am until 12:30 pm, and OLP of Colorado will be lcoated at booth number F7.

The fall conference will be attended by property management firms, homeowners, HOA managers, and vendors and it includes the annual meeting, educational breakout sessions, and the exhibit hall. OLP of Colorado’s exhibit will include the latest in energy saving lighting retrofits as well as holiday lighting decorating capabilities.

If you’re involved with the management and governance of home owner associations, we look forward to seeing you at the conference.

How Do You Maintain a Solar Photovoltaic LED Lighting Installation?

Genesee Entrance Monument – Solar PV LED

Outdoor Lighting Perspective’s solar photovoltaic (PV) LED lighting system has been operational at the Village of Genesee’s entrance monument for two years now. A few weeks ago we completed the Year Two annual maintenance for the system – and it continues to illuminate the monument nightly with the free energy captured by the sun.

 
The solar PV LED system consists of the following: a 3.7W LED lighting fixture supported by a strut to provide downlighting (Genesee is dark-sky compliant); a solar mast that supports the 16- by 20-inch solar PV panel and equipment bay; the equipment bay contains the solar gel battery and system controller. Every solar PV LED lighting system should be checked and maintained on an annual basis, and this is especially true for a mountain installation where the site can experience very high wind loads.
 
To see some of the issues we faced at this year’s maintenance visit, please watch the video below:
 
 
As you could see in this video, we did have to replace the LED fixture on this visit because the electronics had become corroded due to moisture entering the fixture. We suspect that a seal had failed perhaps due to the buffeting by the high winds. The on-site checklist that we follow for this type of maintenance is shown below:
  • Confirm that the current levels of the solar array and load do not exceed the controller ratings.
  • Tighten all terminal connections. Inspect for loose, broken or burnt wire connections. Be certain that no loose strands of wire are touching other terminals.
  • Test that the LED fixture is working.
  • Inspect the equipment bay for signs of dirt, insects, moisture, and/or corrosion.
  • Ensure that the air flow around the controller is not blocked.
  • Check that the controller functions and LED indicators are correct for the system conditions at that time.
  • Clean the PV array and reconfirm that the array is oriented correctly.
  • Re-confirm that the correct battery type is indicated.
  • Check and re-tighten as needed the ground wires by the fixture as well as by the PV array.
  • Inspect and re-tighten as needed the mounting system for the fixture.
  • Re-touch paint as needed on the solar mast and equipment bay.

As with any type of lighting system, annual and preventive maintenance will ensure that the lights will be on when you need them.

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.