Is It Too Late to Add Deck Lighting to an Already-Built Deck?

Multi-Story Deck on Hillside in Douglas County, Colorado

That is a question that we at Outdoor Lighting Perspectives (OLP) of Colorado are frequently asked this time of year as homeowners look forward to using and enjoying their outdoor spaces.

Our response is that it is never too late to add deck lighting. At a project that we completed this week, the homeowner wanted to have deck lighting installed in the back yard in addition to landscape and architectural lighting for the front yard.

The only existing lighting on the upper deck consisted of two unshielded line voltage carriage lights. When these lights were turned on, the glare ruined the entire ambience of the evening as well as the view of Castle Rock beyond. The homeowners requested the following:

  • They wanted three deck lights installed on each of the stucco columns on the upper deck.
  • They wanted to be able to control the deck lights manually via a switch inside the house – next to the door leading out to the upper deck.
  • They did not want to see any exposed wiring.
  • They wanted to have both automatic and manual control options for the landscape lighting in the front yard.

Our installation crew was able to open a small access hole at the bottom of the center column and at the top – and to successfully pull the low voltage wiring home run to the upper deck. From there, the connections to the other two deck lights could be made and wiring pulled to each of the deck light locations. In a few spots, the wiring was hidden at the base of the columns with moulding strips painted to match the stucco.

Deck Light Installed on Stucco Column

The final result looks like the lighting was installed at the same time as the deck – no visible wiring and no visible conduits. The deck lights were also painted to match the stucco after this photo was taken so that they would blend in to and become part of the column itself.

 

New Switch for Deck Lighting Is a Snap with LCA

Lastly, the manual control of the newly installed deck lights was easily accomplished through the use of OLP’s Lighting Control Automation™ (LCA). The low voltage transformer powering the deck lights was mounted under the lower deck – and on a different electrical circuit than the switches shown in the photo. The switch on the left side controls the carriage lights on the deck – and the switch on the right controls the lights in the dinette. The switch on the right side originally looked exactly the same as the one on the left.

In the photo, the switch on the right was replaced with one of our LCA intelligent switches (note the LED at top), and instead of a solid Decora switch plate – it is now split in half vertically. The left side now controls the dinette lights as before and the right side now controls the new deck lights. Through the use of LCA technology, the deck lighting switch sends a signal from this totally unrelated electrical circuit over to the circuit powering the transformer. It was as simple as that – no new extensive hard-wiring nor interior drywall/painting repairs were required to accomplish this.

 
So it’s never too late to add to add deck lighting to your outdoor spaces – and summer is right around the corner!
 

From day to night – lighting done right

One of the things we offer is a free nighttime demonstration so that you actually get to see what a particular lighting design will look like for your home and property – prior to an installation.  That eliminates all of the guesswork and surprises – and you will know exactly how much you will have to invest to achieve that desired lighting effect.

Most of our typical lighting installations in Colorado range in price between $3,500 and $6,500. Not surprisingly, most homeowners have no idea how many lights they may need or want – or what their investment range might be until we do the evening lighting demonstration.  And that’s perfectly OK because we do not want you to purchase a lighting system sight unseen.

Additionally, we do our nighttime demonstration for these other reasons:

  • It is your house, not our’s – and you know best how you would like to have your house and property illuminated in the evening.
  • Exact placement of the fixtures can be determined in order to safely light steps and other hazards, and to effectively light architectural features.
  • We can show you several different lighting options that you may not have considered previously.
  • The evening lighting demonstration is an event that your entire family can participate in and provide input to the lighting design.

Here is what you will see.

 

Outdoor lighting Colorado before and after
Outdoor lighting Colorado before and after

Landscape Architects Select Lighting as Top Outdoor Living Feature for 2011

Landscape Lighting Makes Outdoor Living Spaces Warm and Inviting

A recently published survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects asked residential landscape architecture professionals to rank the relative popularity of a wide variety of design features to be included in outdoor living spaces in 2011.  Lighting was selected by 96.2% of the landscape architects, making it the most popular feature to be included in upcoming outdoor living projects. Ranked below lighting were fire pits/fireplaces, seating/dining areas, barbecue grills, and installed seating. Based on our experience, we know that most homeowners also need landscape lighting after dark to safely reach their outdoor firepits and seating areas, and to have adequate  lighting for both barbecuing and dining outdoors.

Landscape lighting not only makes your outdoor setting warm and inviting but it also allows you to enjoy your outdoor oasis from day into evening.

What Is the Best Lighting Design for Outdoor Steps?

     The answer to that and just about any other lighting design question is that it just depends. While that answer may not be satisfying to most homeowners, it’s the best answer that we can provide until we’ve fully evaluated the site and have fully understood how the homeowner intends to use the space after dark.

Typical Recessed Step Light

     Most homeowners immediately think that the commonly used step lights shown at left are the easiest and best way to illuminate the stairs leading to their deck or raised patio. With any good lighting design, however, the final design should be based on the bulb itself and resulting lighting effect. In other words, the fixture selection and type should actually come last in the design process.
     These lighting fixtures are relatively easy to install on a wood or Trex deck – either during or after construction. However, if the lights need to be installed in poured concrete steps, then a lot of pre-planning needs to be done before the new steps go in.
     During the last twelve years we have been in business, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado has only installed a handful of recessed step lights. The primary reason for that is because there is a much better way to proper illuminate the steps for after-dark safety – and that design effect is commonly called downlighting or sconce lighting.

Entrance to Property Requiring Proper Lighting for Steps

     We recently completed a lighting installation at a home built in the 1920s near the Governors Mansion in Denver. The property is accessed from the public sidewalk through a large wrought iron gate. To reach the upper terrace and front entrance to the home, you can access the steps immediately to the left or right side of the gate. With an existing and historical home with stone and concrete work quickly approaching one-hundred years old, the last thing you would want to even consider would be recessed step lighting. The good news is that installing these  copper BB08 sconce lights is much easier and they provide much better lighting as well. A close up of the completed installation is shown below.

Close Up of Completed Sconce Light Installation

     That being said, there have been a few occasions where recessed step lighting was our only option for providing any lighting to steps. In those situations, the steps from side to side were over ten feet wide, with no handrails or any other possible location to mount any sconce lights. In that situation, we made sure that we installed at least three step lights on each riser so that the steps could be safely illuminated. 

     The last photo shows the lighting effect of these copper BB08 sconce lights (made in the USA at our factory in Nashville) on a deck with many steps among the pines.

Deck Lighting and Step Lighting Among the Pines

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!

See Us at the ProGreen Expo

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado will be exhibiting at the upcoming ProGreen Expo to be held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver – on Wednesday, February 10th (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), February 11th (9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) and Friday (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) in Booth #2227.

The ProGreen Expo is one of the largest product/trade shows in the country for the GREEN and landscaping markets with over 600 exhibitors. OLP of Colorado will be launching its new Product Sales Division that will be able to distribute our high quality products/services directly to landscaping contractors. OLP of Colorado will be showcasing its low voltage quartz halogen and LED lighting fixtures/transformers, as well as its line voltage commercial grade Ceramic Metal Halide fixtures.

LEDs Selected by 9News as Hot Product of 2010

For the second year in a row, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of Colorado is proud to have one of its newest product lines selected by 9News for the 2010 Hot Products Zone at the upcoming Colorado Garden and Home Show. The product line selected is our new and innovative LED line of  landscape and architectural lighting products.

LED Landscape Lighting - 9News Hot Product

Out of over 600 exhibitors at the show, we’re proud to be one of the nine companies showcased in the Hot Products Zone in the lobby of the Colorado Convention Center.

On display will be several of our innovative and next generation LEDs for illuminating both landscape and architectural applications.

After viewing the Hot Products Zone, please visit our main exhibit on the show floor – Booth #1442. We look forward to seeing you at the show.