Cody the Airedale Says to Remember Pet and Animal Safety When Decorating for the Holidays

Cody - Santa Claus

Cody – Santa Claus

Hi – it’s Cody the Airedale here. I first want to thank my human mom and dad for helping me to write this article on a topic that’s very important to me and all my other four-legged friends. That topic is a reminder to keep pet and animal safety in mind when decorating for the holidays.

I live with my mom and dad in the Ken-Caryl Ranch Valley. This time of year I have many wild animal friends stop by my house including deer, elk, raccoons, rabbits, red foxes, and coyotes. I know if the electrical cords and light strings are not secured properly, that my friends can trip or become tangled up in them and hurt themselves. If you need to run electrical cords between two shrubs or trees, don’t run the cords above ground but staple them safely to the ground with sod staples. We’ve all seen and heard stories about the inquisitive deer with a plastic pumpkin stuck on his head or a string of lights tangled up in his antlers.

deer tangled in lightsFor dogs like me and cats, interior decorations have their own potential dangers. I was born on December 19th eleven years ago, so I don’t remember too much about my first Christmas except competing with my brothers and sisters for a meal. But by the next Christmas, I sure do remember all those shiny balls on the tree that I could knock to the floor with my tail. My mom and dad quickly learned that my access to the tree should be restricted so that I wouldn’t hurt myself or damage the ornaments.

I’ve been told that cats really like to climb Christmas trees and dogs also might be tempted to jump up at a tree to get a better view. For that reason, trees should be anchored securely so that they do not get knocked over. I’ve been told that cats are also attracted to the shiny tinsel, and this is a very bad thing for both cats and dogs to swallow. Also, if your family has a real tree, make sure that the reservoir containing the water does not become a water dish. Sometimes chemicals are added to help preserve the tree and over time the water can develop bacteria, so make sure that someone in the household covers the reservoir so that it is not used as a water dish.

For any interior lighting or tree lighting, also make sure that the electrical cords are kept safely out of the reach of both puppies and older dogs who like to chew. The result of chewing into a live electrical cord could range between painful and deadly. Artificial and real pine needles, ribbon, bows, and even wrapping paper can become real problems if eaten, so for that reason the floors and carpets should be vacuumed frequently and the home kept tidy.

Also remind your family that the following plants can be harmful to dogs and cats: poinsettias, holly, amaryllis, lilies, and mistletoe. Either decide beforehand not to have these in the home at all or keep them well out of reach of the fur kids in the family. Poinsettias can irritate the stomachs and mouths of both dogs and cats, and some lilies can cause kidney failure in cats. Also, any liquid potpourri should be kept out of the reach of both dogs and cats.

Although food and drink are not part of holiday decorating, they are part of celebrating the holidays. For that reason, please be careful to keep alcoholic drinks, chocolate, grapes, raisins, currants, and fatty meat scraps away from dogs and cats. And, in Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana, please do not allow your dogs and cats to eat any edible marijuana products.

By following a few simple rules, we can all help to make the holidays safe and enjoyable for both my four-legged and human family and friends.

Cody's signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to Buy Color Lens Covers for Your Landscape Lighting Fixtures

Where to buy color lens coversOver the last 15 years, we’ve been asked repeatedly about the availability of color lens covers for landscape lighting fixtures in general, and for the well lights that Outdoor Lighting Perspectives  of Colorado sells and installs in particular. As you can see in the graphic to the right, we do have color acrylic lens covers for the oval (above ground) well lights and the circular in-ground (flush mounted) well lights. These lenses are designed and manufactured to specifically fit the dimensions of the OLP well lights. The lenses are available in the following colors – amber, blue, green, light blue, purple, red, smoke and yellow.

What options do you have if your spot lights are smaller diameter (say the diameter of MR16 bulbs) or if your well lights have a different configuration than the OLP well lights?

There are two viable options for the owners of non-OLP systems. The first option is to simply lay or tape the OLP color lenses over the aperture of the existing non-OLP fixtures. The important thing to remember is that the lens should never come in contact with the bulb!

The second option is to find your nearest photographic or theatrical supply store, and purchase some rolls or precut squares of color gels that come in any color imaginable. You would then need to secure these gels to the landscape lighting fixtures using heavy-duty rubber bands or all-weather tape. The gels are not as durable as the acrylic lenses so you may need to purchase a new set of gels at the beginning of each holiday season.

Happy lighting and Happy Holidays from Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado!

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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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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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What Is the Proper Way to Illuminate a U.S. Flag?

 As Memorial Day 2012 approaches, it is once again a time to remember and honor those men and women who gave their lives while serving their country. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the fallen who helped preserve the liberty and freedom we still enjoy today.

Many homeowners like to honor all military veterans and current enlistees by displaying a flag on their property from dusk to dawn, and many choose to display it during the evening by installing lighting.

The U.S. Flag Code states that –

It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

The Congressional Research Service in interpreting the U.S. Flag Code said that –

It would seem that the display of the flag in a respectful manner with appropriate lighting does not violate the spirit of the Flag Code since the dignity accorded to the flag is preserved by lighting that prevents its being enveloped in darkness.

Unfortunately, far too many homeowners will hang a U.S. flag on a bracket by the front porch, and when the front porch light is turned off – the flag will remain in darkness until sunrise. Fortunately, most homeowners who have actual flagstaffs on their property, realize that the flag must be lit properly.

Lighting Scheme for Residential Flag Poles

Most residential flag poles are up to 20 feet tall, and for this application low voltage quartz halogen or LED lighting will work just fine. As you can see in the drawing to the right, for flag poles in the 14- to 20-foot range and for a typical flag size (3- by 5-feet), we recommend the use of two well lights installed 180 degrees apart to uplight the flag pole and flag. Regardless of which way the wind is blowing, the flag will always be properly illuminated.  For shorter flag poles with the well light mounted less than a foot from the flag pole, sometimes only one well light will be sufficient. This is especially the case for installations in or near the foothills where the prevailing wind is typically from one direction most of the time. 

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we’ve also learned through experience that the wide flood bulbs do a much better job of ensuring that the flag is illuminated properly. While the narrow spot bulbs will make the flag really stand out when it’s exactly in the right spot, the wide floods seem to work better the other 95-percent of the time.

So display your flag proudly, have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and last but not least – save some time to remember what the holiday is truly about.

 

 

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!
 

Can Line Voltage Lamp Posts be Converted to Low Voltage?

Retrofit Low Voltage Quartz Halogen Column Lights

In many of the older neighborhoods in Denver and along the front range, line voltage column lights or lamp posts had been used to illuminate the entrance walkway or driveway to a home. Over many years of time, this underground wiring has become corroded, frayed and/or cut – rendering the lighting fixtures inoperable.

One solution of course would be to trace and identify the defective wiring and either fix it or replace it completely. However, trenching and burying new line voltage wiring (18-inches deep in conduit or 24-inches deep for direct burial) can be very costly, not to mention the disruption and damage to the mature landscaping.

Fortunately, there is a much more cost effective solution for restoring power to these line voltage lamp posts and column lights – and that is by installing a low voltage transformer by the house – and running new low voltage wiring (6-inches deep) to the fixtures. The above photo shows an Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) installation along the 6th Avenue Parkway in Denver. In addition to not having any power to the columns, the existing fixtures were beyond repair as well. OLP installed two of its copper/brass BB-14 lanterns with 35W quartz halogen bulbs to replace the old fixtures. Not only did the homeowners save money by not having to replace the line voltage wiring, they will also be saving money over time by using more energy efficient bulbs.

LED vs. Incandescent Post Light Comparison

By using GE Vio LED technology, OLP can now provide a 50,000 hour lighting retrofit solution for new or existing lamp posts or column lights. In the photo, the fixture powered by GE Vio LED 7.2W total (left) is shown next to a regular 40W incandescent bulb. Fixtures having a frosted lens or globe work best as it allows for a better diffusion of the light.

 
So if you currently have any lamp posts or column lights that are having power issues, you may want to consider the less expensive option of retrofitting them to low voltage LED or quartz halogen – and saving additional money on your monthly electric bill.