ProGreen Expo Wrap Up

ProGreen Expo Exhibit

We finished the ProGreen Expo last week and it was a very rewarding show. Not only did we renew friendships with old acquaintances and trade alliances, we also had the pleasure of starting new relationships as well. The major hits of the show were our expanded product offerings of line voltage commercial fixtures (with Ceramic Metal Halide Bulbs) that have applications ranging from commercial buildings, community entrances, and parks.

After completing this 3-day show, we’re off and running to the 9-day marathon also known as the Colorado Garden and Home Show.

Mead’s Article – Outdoor Lighting Makes a Statement for a Community – Published

Hi – it’s Cathy here. I just wanted to let you know that Mead’s article – Outdoor Lighting Makes a Statement for a Community was published in the December 2009 issue of Common Interests – a publication by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Associations Institute. Mead’s article in its entirety follows.

 

 

 

Outdoor Lighting Makes a Statement for a Community

Mead L. Noss, P.E.

Owner, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado

 

Communities take great pride in the aesthetics of their public spaces and landscaped areas during the daytime, and in the evening a community’s outdoor lighting should also set the appropriate tone. Does the community seem warm and inviting (safe and secure)? Or does the lighting detract from the overall experience of the neighborhood? Are the residents enjoying the public spaces after dark with well-illuminated path and bikeways?

More often than not, outdoor lighting in communities can be improved greatly with modern bulb technology, fixtures, and more effective lighting design. How many times have you driven by a community entrance with beautifully landscaped flower beds in the daytime only to be aghast at the same location in the evening as the once-beautiful landscaping is now bathed in the harsh yellow light from high-pressure sodium floods? In the current economic times with increasing energy costs and reduced operating budgets, communities now have the option of enhancing their outdoor lighting without sacrificing safety, security, aesthetics, usability, or energy efficiency.

Safety and Security

With any outdoor lighting system, safety and security are paramount. A good community lighting plan begins at all of the entrances to the community. You certainly want homeowners and their guests to find the community easily after dark but more importantly you want emergency fire, police and medical crews to find their way there even more quickly.

Well-placed and directed lighting will enhance the view of security cameras at an entrance gate or community center. Additionally, the security and accessibility of community mailboxes will be enhanced with overhead lighting.

Clubhouses, parks and other public areas must be properly illuminated to prevent falls and injuries after dark, as well as to deter vandalism and other crimes. Street lighting especially at intersections throughout the community enables motorists to find street signs after dark and to allow pedestrians to safely enjoy their evening walks.

The security of individual homeowners’ houses is also improved by architectural and landscape lighting that illuminates both the home and the perimeter of the property. Any police department in the state or country will tell you that burglars will almost always target the homes without lighting rather than taking risks with homes that are well-illuminated.

One of the myths about security and outdoor lighting is that if a little lighting is good, adding much more lighting is better – right? Well, that’s not actually the case. If the lighting fixtures produce lots of glare, adding additional fixtures of the same type or increasing the wattage of the bulbs will actually produce more glare thereby reducing visibility and security. A truism of good lighting design is that the quality of light is always better than the quantity of light.

Aesthetics and Usability

The aesthetics and usability of the overall lighting found in a community is of the utmost importance. The impression of the community after dark should be warm and inviting without harsh lights or glare. How often have you driven into a community only to be blinded by unshielded carriage lights at the entrance or by unshielded carriage lights along the street on driveway columns?

There are two types of glare – nuisance glare and disabling glare – and carriage lights along the street really do approach the level of disabling glare, especially for older drivers. As we age, our eyes become more susceptible to the effects of glare and it takes us longer to recover our full vision.  

Misdirected flood lights from one neighbor’s house into the adjacent neighbor’s yard (called light trespass) is unpleasant and can be categorized as nuisance glare – and it certainly affects the usability and enjoyment of the affected neighbor’s yard or his/her night’s sleep if the lighting is visible from their bedroom.

Any time that a bulb source is visible to anyone living in or driving through a community, it means that the lighting and resulting energy costs are wasted because the lighting is not directed to only where it’s needed.

Energy Efficiency and Cost

One of the first rules of lighting design is to not specify more light than you need; i.e., do not use line voltage metal halide lighting fixtures where low-voltage quartz halogen or LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures might do. It all depends on the ambient lighting conditions, what needs to be illuminated, and how the space is to be used in the evening. Evening lighting demonstrations with different lighting and cost options can provide communities with meaningful and visual comparisons from which to base their future capital improvement decisions.

Recent technology has improved to the extent that lighting designers and contractors can now provide energy efficient lighting that is effective from both a lumen output and Color Rendering Index (CRI) standpoint. What exactly is CRI? CRI is the comparison of how well a particular light source emits a color approximating a noon time sun (See the following table).

COLOR RENDERING INDEX TABLE

LIGHT SOURCE CRI
Noon Day Sun 100
Great Color (color matching above 97)   95+
Good Color   80 – 94
Poor Color (where colors do not show)   79
Fluorescent and Induction Fluorescent   50 – 98
LED   70 – 80 (getting better)
High Pressure Sodium   50
Quartz Halogen   80 – 92
Metal Halide   80+
Ceramic Metal Halide   90 – 96

 

Ceramic Metal Halide bulbs (39W or 70W) with a 15,000-hour life powered by low-voltage or line-voltage systems provide the true color (90-96 CRI) that is desired for lighting entrances, parks, and clubhouses in the evening.

Quality low-voltage LED (light emitting diode) fixtures with 50,000-hour rated life bulbs have recently become available and with an acceptable and improving CRI. The tradeoff investment-wise is a higher initial cost with lower residual operating costs.

When comparing bulb sources and efficiency, another helpful term is the lumen. A lumen is the measurement of reflectant light off of a surface. This is how all light sources are rated as you can see in the following table:

LUMEN COMPARISON BY LIGHT SOURCE

LIGHT SOURCE LUMENS/WATT
Incandescent   8
Quartz Halogen  15 – 19
Mercury  30 – 40
LED  30 – 80
Fluorescent  40 – 80
Metal Halide  80 – 110
Induction Fluorescent  80
Ceramic Metal Halide  80 – 110
High Pressure Sodium 120

 

As you can see from the table, incandescent bulbs are very inefficient and high pressure sodium bulbs are very efficient, as long as you like everything looking yellow in the evening. With respect to energy efficiency and light quality, line voltage or low voltage ceramic metal halide and low voltage quartz halogen lighting systems are the best solution, with low-voltage LED lighting systems becoming more and more acceptable for certain applications. In fact, LED lighting installations powered by off-the-grid solar photovoltaic systems are the optimum solution for community areas requiring lighting but having no readily available source of power.

Maintenance

Warranties and maintenance costs become very important over the long term with respect to lighting systems – and communities and their respective homeowners should try to obtain the best warranties available. In addition, the best maintenance for any lighting system is usually provided by the original company that installed it since they are most familiar with the product and installation. However, not all companies that install lighting systems also provide maintenance so that is an important consideration when evaluating a contractor.

As with any other asset in the community, lighting systems need to be maintained on a regular basis to provide optimum performance and to serve the needs of the community. In closing, the appearance of any outdoor lighting system (daytime or evening) really does set an appropriate tone for the community.

Sources:

  1. Go Green, Save Green presentation, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives Commercial Lighting Division, 2008.
  2. Illuminating Engineering Society

Solar Photovoltaic/LED Dark-Sky Compliant Entrance Lighting

Continuing our theme of highlights for 2009, the most interesting project was our solar photovoltaic lighting installation for the Village of Genesee. We had received a request from the Villages’s property management firm to provide lighting at two entrances – one with power and one without power. The site without power therefore would require the installation of an off-grid solar photovoltaic lighting system.

Site without Power

Both sites required that the fixtures be dark-sky compliant; i.e., the fixtures must point downward so as to not discharge any light into the night sky. In addition, both installations had to withstand the extra wear and tear of heavy snowstorms, the excessive mountain winds, and last but not least, the large herd of elk.

What made this installation feasible was the introduction of the next generation LED (light emitting diode) fixture that draws only 3.7 watts. Our manufacturing partner is now providing us with very high-quality LED lighting fixtures with excellent color and lighting effect. By changing the lens optics, we could vary the lighting effect to create just the right lighting for the monument signage. A photo taken during the actual evening demonstration is shown below.

Evening LED Demo

On the solar photovoltaic (PV) side, the technology in terms of cost and quality has also improved significantly over the last few years. Coupled with the advances of the LED lighting technology, a high quality, long lasting solar PV/LED installation was now a reality.

A 20W solar PV panel was installed along with a solar gel battery that would provide at least five days of stored power for the system – enough to outlast long periods of clouds and snow during the winter months.

The battery, the controller (the brains of the system), and the lighting surge suppression system were installed in the aluminum equipment bay which was itself installed at the top of a structural aluminum pole. A photo of the completed installation is shown below.

Completed Installation with Solar PV Mast in Background

Interestingly, the solar PV panel has been blocked by snow only once this season. Prior to last Halloween, the foothills received 37-inches of snow and the HOA president had to brush off the panel with a broom with an extension handle.

In addition, the LED lighting installation at the second site that already had power was completed – and that installation is shown below. For this installation, two box floods each having 35-watt high pressure sodium bulbs were replaced by the two 3.7-watt LED lighting fixtures. The monthly electric bill for the HOA at this entrance dropped from $80.00 to $11.00!

LED Lighting Installation with Power

Complimentary Nighttime Lighting Design in Colorado

ask_for_preview

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most people do not know it’s possible to have a free lighting design preview for their home, business or community entrance/park/clubhouse, etc. While it is possible to lay out a preliminary design on paper, there is absolutely no substitute for conducting an evening lighting design demonstration to ensure that the desired lighting effect is achieved.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that the first step in  lighting design is to select the fixtures. Until you know what you want to illuminate and what bulb and wattage you need for the desired lighting effect, the last thing you want to do is select the wrong fixture for the intended application. Unfortunately, this happens all of the time. We get calls almost every week from homeowners who are unhappy with their lighting system – and they are quick to add that they had no idea what the lighting would look like until AFTER the installation. We always tell them not to feel too badly because their contractor had no idea either.

With our national company, we always like to say that we’re not in the business of selling fixtures, we’re in the business of selling lighting effect. Unlike most of our competitors, we do not just point and recommend where the fixtures should go – we set them up so that you can judge for yourself whether we have achieved the lighting effect that meets your needs.

Even seasoned building architects and landscape architects are surprised by the different possibilities of lighting effects – especially when they can see them prior to the final installation. To give you a case in point, I once received a call from a nationally known commercial landscape architect who needed path lighting for his home’s front sidewalk.

He told me difinitively that he needed five path lights. When I asked him what neighborhood he lived in, I knew that the house setbacks were not excessively far from the street and suggested that he could probably get by with only three path lights. No, he replied, stating that this is what I do for a living. When we did the evening lighting demonstration, the commercial landscape architect was incredulous that he only needed a total of three path lights. Interestingly, landscape architecture programs throughout the U.S. typically require only ONE three credit course in landscape lighting – and it’s rare that students actually get to see an evening lighting design demonstration during this course.

Depending on the ambient lighting conditions and lighting needs of a customer, we may actually set up either low voltage (quartz halogen or LED) fixtures or line voltage fixtures (Ceramic Metal Halide). If we’re trying to illuminate a large commercial building that is located next to a busy street with sodium street lights for example, we know that a low voltage lighting system will not provide the intended lighting effect next to these bright sodium street lights.

For any evening lighting design demonstration, we always sit down with the home or business owner to determine what their primary lighting needs are. For example, are they primarily interested in safety and security or are they more interested in highlighting the unique architectural features of their house/business and/or expanding their usable living space in the evening? Sometimes the answer is all of the above. Until you have an answer to this question, you cannot possibly know how to even begin a lighting design.

By seeing a lighting design laid out with a temporary lighting system, you will know exactly what you will be getting if you decide to proceed with an installation – no guessing and no surprises. Any changes to this preliminary design are easily made as a home/business owner adjusts the system to their particular tastes.

Once the desired lighting effect is achieved, flags can be put in place to accurately mark the position of each and every fixture. By that point in the demonstration, you will have seen that in a lot of cases moving a fixture a couple of feet one way or the other can make a huge difference in the lighting effect.

Another key point is that not all fixtures and installations are created equally. The customer needs to be confident that a lighting installation will look as good ten years from now as it looks today.

A lot of our friends and business associates marvel at our late-night design demonstrations and ask – isn’t that a lot of work? Our answer is always no because this is what we do to ensure that our customers are 100% satisfied with their lighting systems. And it’s always easier to do something the right way the first time.

Our hope is that home and business owners will find these complimentary nighttime lighting designs in Colorado educational, enjoyable and useful. A quality lighting system can add value to a home or business, and we believe that you the one best suited to make this decision for yourself.

LC 7 Bollard Night Park