Flying High with CAI – Spring Showcase and Trade Show

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado will be exhibiting at the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Associations Institute Spring Showcase and Trade Show with this year’s theme FLYING HIGH WITH CAI. Being billed as the biggest trade show in the chapter’s history, the event will take place on May 5 from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum located at 7711 East Academy Boulevard in Denver.

OLP of Colorado will be showcasing the latest energy efficient lighting products for illuminating community entrances, parks, clubhouses and common areas. LED, ceramic metal halide, and quartz halogen fixtures will be on display, and multimedia photos will show what actual installations look like after dark.

The event provides an opportunity for hundreds of community/HOA managers, property managers, and contractors to interact and attend the trade show and educational sessions.

Between the hours of 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, friends, family and business associates of OLP of Colorado are welcome to come visit us (Booth #74) and stroll throughout the air and space museum to view the historical aircraft and aerospace exhibits. As a former aerospace engineer, I know I can’t wait!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Celebrate Earth Day Today!

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day today – April 22, 2010. I’m actually old enough to remember the first Earth Day when I was a sophomore at Penn State. Earth Day has certainly come a long way since then. Fortunately more and more people worldwide are beginning to live their lives and run their businesses as though Earth Day were every day of the year!

At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado, we certainly emphasize the use of energy efficient lighting products such as low voltage quartz halogen, low voltage LED, line voltage Ceramic Metal Halide, line voltage induction fluorescent, and Lighting Control Automation™ for our residential and/or commercial customers. For interior lighting, Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs are helping to greatly reduce homeowners’ energy usage as well.

Sometimes, even the little things add up. In OLP’s business operations we recycle copper wiring and the copper cores of low voltage transformers, stainless steel transformers, office papercardboard, and aluminum cans. For service calls and installations, we route and schedule our crews/vans to minimize travel time and mileage.  To improve fuel economy, we off-load unnecessary inventory/tools and ladders on roof racks before heading off to that day’s job tickets.

To take part in Earth Day festivities being held this week in Colorado, please take a look and participate in the events shown below:

EARTH DAY 40TH ANNIVERSARY NREL Visitors Center, Golden; April 19 – 23; free events during the week; www.nrel.gov

EARTH DAY ON EAST MOUNTAIN – 240 – 262 E. Mountain Avenue, Old Town Fort Collins; April 22. Block Party – celebrate Earth Day with live music/food, demos and presentations about growth and sustainability. www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=105316966166440&ref=ts

DENVER BOTANIC GARDENS – 1007 York St., Denver; April 22; FREE DAY for Colorado residents; www.botanicgardens.org

EARTH DAY AT RED ROCKS – Saturday, April 24; Red Rocks Amphitheater; Morrison. Eco-friendly events – musical performance by Aspen Meadow, wolves from W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, clean up event at the park and environmental displays. www.windstarcoloradoconnection.org

PIKES PEAK EARTH DAY – Saturday April 24; Cornerstone Arts Center – Colorado College, Colorado Springs. Theme – 40 Years of Earth Day – ReVision, RePurpose, ReNew. www.Pikespeakearthday.org

EARTH FEST 2010 – Sunday, April 25; downtown Boulder – Central Park, Bandshell and Farmers Market. Eco activities/events – renewable energy demos, 5th Annual Dirt Day Advanced Challenge/EXPO, live music and organice food. www.earthfestboulder.net

So whether you celebrate at one of these events or by doing something for Mother Earth at home, have a good time and remember that Earth Day should be every day of the year!

Outdoor Lighting Systems Do Require Maintenance

Yes, outdoor landscape lighting systems do require maintenance to keep them operating at peak performance. Most of our Outdoor Lighting Perspectives’ customers avail themselves of our Annual Maintenance Plans (AMP) so that the lighting system and the lighting effect look as good as the day the system was first installed.

Well Light Requiring Cleaning/Vegetation Pruning

In Colorado, houses and landscaping get dirty through the winter months – and at the left is a photo of a well light prior to the AMP work being done. The lens cover is dirty and needs to be cleaned, the fallen leaves need to be removed, and the juniper needs to be pruned so that it does not block the light meant for the crabapple tree. Interestingly, last week we had a rain shower in Denver that left a deposit of reddish-tan dust on cars, house windows and landscaping – and the weatherman told us that evening that the dust had been carried all of the way from Mongolia!

Running an outdoor lighting system with dirty lens covers or lumen-depreciated bulbs is a total waste of energy. Imagine having to drive your car during all of the winter months without ever cleaning your headlights.

Quartz halogen bulbs lose roughly a third to a half of their lumen intensity on an annual basis. That’s why when the AMP is performed, all of the bulbs are replaced with new ones so that the lighting output and effect will be the same as when the system was brand new.

During the freeze-thaw cycles in Colorado and in communities with lots of active wildlife, it’s not uncommon for fixtures to become crooked or knocked out of place. Animals sometimes have a knack for pulling up wiring which also needs to be re-buried during the annual maintenance service.

Wiring That Needs to Be Buried

Wiring connections also need to be rechecked for tightness, especially in the transformer bays where internal temperatures can reach as high as 135-degrees Fahrenheit.

All landscaping has a way of maturing and spreading so that a well light that was properly located five years ago to light up a spruce tree, has now been swallowed by that same tree if proper maintenance has not been performed over the years. That’s one of the advantages of a low voltage system to be able to relocate the lighting fixtures as the landscaping matures.

Control systems for outdoor lighting systems should also be checked during this annual service visit. Even though low voltage lighting systems are very energy efficient, it does not make sense to be running the landscape lights an extra two or more hours a day during daylight hours if the system has not be set properly. That’s why we only use the Lighting Control Automation™ system for residential systems. There’s no mechanical timer to get out of synch because of a power outage or a photocell on a transformer that gets blocked by a roof overhang or tree that causes the system to turn on when it’s really not dark.

So either hire a professional or get out there and do the maintenance work yourself on your lighting system. Either way this annual maintenance will keep your lighting system at its optimum level for years to come.

Landscape Lighting, Foxes and Bears! Oh My!

Mama bear at outdoor lighting installation

As an outdoor lighting contractor in Colorado, we’re truly blessed to be able to see some of the most beautiful locations  and wild animals in the country. Our latest installation was no exception. Located at one of the highest residential sites on Cheyenne Mountain (yes that Cheyenne Mountain that is the home to NORAD), we just completed the back yard landscape lighting installation this past week. We first met mama bear and baby bear last summer when we completed the outdoor lighting system in the front yard.

Mama bear and baby bear at outdoor lighting installation

The site has a magnificent view of Colorado Springs below and the great plains beyond. During the day you can hear the carillon playing from the Will Rogers shrine and in the evening at 10:00 pm you can even hear taps being played from the Fort Carson army base. When we’re there in the evening to aim lights, we typically see the family of foxes.
We installed 30 lighting fixtures in the back yard to illuminate a patio, paths, and a beautiful water feature. In the front yard we installed 23 lighting fixtures to highlight the paths, trees, and rock outcroppings.
It’s definitely a pleasure living in Colorado!

Celebrate Earth Hour Today!

Tonight from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in each local time zone around the world, supporters of the World Wildlife Federation’s annual EARTH HOUR campaign will turn off their lights to take a stand against global climate change. While the energy savings for this one-hour effort may be minimal, more important will be the global show of support by making a visual statement for the sustainability movement.

Started in Australia in 2007, EARTH HOUR’S support has grown worldwide and some of the most famous buildings will go dark for one hour during their local 8:30 to 9:30 pm time period including Toronto’s CN Tower, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Rome’s Colisseum, and Paris’ Eiffel Tower.

In Colorado, both the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol building will go dark for one hour. Governor Bill Ritter said that Colorado has become a great example of how a state can implement aggressive energy reduction goals while growing a New Energy Economy. I am proud that Colorado can be a part of this worldwide effort to bring attention to the dire consequences of global climate change.

Please join Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado in supporting this worldwide effort. We of course are trying to do our part by reducing the energy/carbon footprints of both our residential and commercial lighting installations. By introducing and installing energy efficient LED lighting systems for residential applications as well as Lighting Control Automation™ we are greatly reducing our customer’s usage of electricity. On the commercial side, we are installing energy efficient Ceramic Metal Halide fixtures.

LED Fixtures Do Melt Snow!

Close Up of LED Fixture at Diamond Ridge Installation

About a month ago there was a story reported around the country that many northern cities had been experiencing problems with their new LED traffic lights. Apparently in some of these cities, the LED traffic lights would not generate enough heat in order to melt the accumulating build up of snow and ice during the winter months. It was also reported in the local news that fortunately this has not been a problem in the Denver metro area with all of the hours of sunshine we typically receive.

Before we actually began using LED fixtures for architectural and landscape lighting, we also wondered how well our new and innovative fixtures would melt the snow. As you can see in the above photo, they do quite well – thank you.

The actual reason that these fixtures melt the snow is inherent in their initial design as well as manufacturing. The main factor that limits the life of the LEDs/electronics is the heat build up inside the fixture. Our manufacturer has placed the LED driver in the mounting stake for the fixture – not inside the fixture itself as have most manufacturers.

In addition, any remaining heat generated by the LED bulb itself is dissipated by means of cooling fins as shown in the Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) thermal model below that was used to design a deck light. As a forner aerospace engineer, my expertise had been in thermal and fluid flow modeling for jet engines, rockets, spacecraft, and solar energy projects – so I tip my hat to the innovative engineers at our manufacturing company!

CAE Thermal Design Model for LED Deck Light

The fixtures are machined out of solid brass (aluminum is also an option) to provide the thermal heat exchange capabilities. Not only are the fins an engineering design feature, they add to the aesthetic appearance of the fixtures as well. By pulling the heat away from the LED bulb itself, the fins and fixture reach an outside surface temperature of 96-degrees F – enough to melt snow.

The design and testing of these fixtures have been on-going during the last seven years. Brass fixtures have a lifetime warranty, and the LEDs and electronics have had a five year warranty. However, we have heard that this warranty may be getting a lot better in the near future – so stay tuned!

LED Entrance Lighting at Diamond Ridge Estates

LED Lighting at Diamond Ridge Estates

Our largest LED lighting project to date was completed about a month and a half ago for the Diamond Ridge Estates HOA. The entrance is located east of Castle Rock along North Crowfoot Valley Road. A total of 39 8.7W  low voltage LED fixtures were installed to illuminate the entrance monument as well as trees along Diamond Ridge Parkway on both sides of the street and island. In addition, a 3.7W LED underwater fixture was also installed to illuminate the water feature located at the end of the entrance island.

The HOA made the decision to be GREEN and select the LED lighting option – not only for reduced energy costs but longer bulb life as well. By installing low voltage LED fixtures instead of low voltage quartz halogen fixtures, the HOA will reduce their energy usage for lighting this entrance by roughly 75 to 80 percent.

So the next time you’re driving along North Crowfoot Valley Road after dark, be sure to watch for the beautiful and energy-efficient lighting at Diamond Ridge Estates.