Category Archives: Exterior Lighting

Lighting Your House for the Holidays

lighting-your-house-for-the-holidaysThe holidays are a time when family and friends gather at each other’s homes for nights of eating, drinking and being merry. While the festivities are, of course, of central importance, it is also an ideal time to show off your house to its best advantage.

Here are a few ideas on how to accomplish this task by simply using light:

Highlight a decorated entrance –  The first step in welcoming guests into your home is by creating an inviting entrance with wreaths, garlands and lighting the whole thing with colored bulbs. Not only does it make your house stand out from the others in the neighborhood but it also makes it a whole lot easier for your guests to find. A lighted snowman or other holiday figure by the door will also add to the festive mood.

Add plenty of holiday-themed lights – The more of these decorations, the merrier is our philosophy. For those homeowners who want to add tons of color to their exterior décor, there are any number of differently colored lights that can be used. Simply accentuate a part of the exterior landscape or even create a kaleidoscopic vision on the side of your house. your imagination is the only limit.

Line the walkways with lighted candles – Similarly, a candle-lit walkway also evokes the holiday spirit. In addition, a lighted walkway will safely guide family and guests to the front door of your home.  In the backyard, they are also important as guideposts for leading guests to other holiday decorations dotted around the yard. Use solar-powered walkway lights to make the task as easy. maintenance-free and affordable as possible.

Spotlighting those special decorations – While spotlighting is a great – albeit usually subdued – lighting feature to use during the rest of the year, you can really add a dramatic holiday touch to your home by adding a few more spotlights around the property that highlight your reindeer family on the front lawn, a creche under a secluded bush or some other holiday-themed feature.

Create other focal points – If you are fortunate enough to have a front light post, it makes an excellent place to add some spiral holiday lights. Not everything has to revolve around the holiday, however. Use holiday lights to create a focal point around an existing outdoor art piece, fire pit or other area of interest.  It is an invitation to visit that space for your guests and provides an outdoor meeting place during parties.

Keep the interior lighting subdued – After all the excitement outside, you may think that you should continue the radiant holiday theme into the interior. On the contrary, however, it pays to keep it subdued. In our opinion, your family and guests would rather concentrate on the food and conversation in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.

As you can see, there is a multitude of options for lighting your home both inside and out. It takes some thought, time and effort but the results can be truly stunning.

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Filed under Accent Lighting, Decorative Lighting, Exterior Lighting, Holiday Lighting, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor Lighting and the Style of Your Home

outdoor-lighting-and-the-style-of-your-home

The short days and long nights are back in session. It’s a time many homeowners (and renters!) really begin to notice just how well (or not) their driveways, pathways, and porches are lit at night. Having a well-lit exterior makes a home safer to navigate, more welcoming, and more versatile.

But with so many different types and styles of exterior lighting available on the market, finding the right options for your property can sometimes feel overwhelming. The following is a short breakdown of the primary types of outdoor lighting and how to choose options that best match your home’s style and lighting needs.

  • Post Lanterns.  Post lanterns are dramatic standalone exterior lights that are sure to make a dramatic statement whether you put them along your driveway or in the middle of your back yard. These standout lights are ideal for bringing much-needed brightness to outdoor entertaining areas, such as near a pool entryway or grilling stations, but shouldn’t be used for more intimate spaces or where you want a more subdued aesthetic.
  • Outdoor Wall Lights.   Wall lanterns and sconces can be easily attached to any exterior wall to provide an effective and efficient source of indirect uplighting and downlighting. These wall lights are available in a variety of styles and materials so that you can match the unique look and feel of your house with the right style. Of course, most people find the best look comes with a bit of a mix and match. Consider using dimmable wall sconces near often utilized spaces, such as above an outdoor seating area, windows, and doors. If you have your address numbers attached to your home, wall lights are an ideal solution for illuminating them ensuring your friends and delivery drivers never miss your address. LED lights are ideal for these uses thanks to their long life and enhanced energy efficiency.
  • Outdoor Hanging Lights. Outdoor hanging lights, also known as pendant lights, are often used more to enhance curb appeal and act as an interesting design element than to provide general lighting — although they certainly can be used as task lighting in the right circumstances. These style lights have perhaps the greatest range of materials, colors, and styles as you can opt for everything from Eastern-inspired bamboo lanterns to more industrial-based designs. Whichever style you choose, be sure to stay consistent with all your outdoor hanging lights to keep a more cohesive appearance. For a truly intimate appearance, consider adding an open flame torch or its flameless LED cousin near porches, gazebos, and similar spaces.
  • Flood Lights.  Flood lights are generally not chosen for their appearance, but rather for security purposes. Flood lights are generally built to be equipped with a motion sensor so that whenever a person or large animal enters a defined space, they cast out a bright light over the area. Flood lights don’t come in too many options, as they are more of a utilitarian accessory, but you can still find the right shape and color to match your home’s architecture. For best effect, install all flood lights a minimum of 9 feet off the ground both so that they cannot be easily accessed by would-be intruders and can create the widest possible field of illumination.

Before purchasing and installing any of the above lights, grab a friend and walk through your property at night with a flashlight and all other lights turned off. Experiment with how the flashlight interacts with your exterior features and landscaping and use this as a basis to map out your lighting options.

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Filed under Exterior Lighting, led lighting, Light, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting

LED Pool Lighting

led-pool-lightingWhether you already have a swimming pool, or whether it’s still on your wish-list of things to do around your home and garden, making the best use of your space is key in getting the most out of your investment.  You may even have toyed with the idea of having a swimming pool and discarded it with the usual arguments – it’s too cold for too much of the year, and it’s too dark to enjoy swimming by the time I get home at night.

Use Your Outdoor Space All Year Round

Although you may wish to close your pool for the late fall and winter if you live in a particularly leafy area, a good pool heater can make all the difference when it comes to using the space all year round.  It’s a very European thing to continue to swim outside in a heated pool throughout the colder months, so embrace your inner Scandinavian, and do investigate whether a solar or electric heater might enable you to use your swim space for most of the year.

Get The Right Light

More crucial still, especially if you’re concerned about just being able to use your pool on the few warm weekends through the summer as you work so late, is to get the lighting right.  If your garden and pool area is as much social as family space, it’s important to get this spot on both from a practical and an aesthetic point of view.

One form of lighting that covers both of these concerns in one is LED.  Economical to run, these energy efficient lights have the advantage over other cost-effective methods through providing a brighter light altogether, and a considerably enhanced bulb life-span.  Advances in LED technology also mean that you’re now looking at a softer ambient light available in red, green and blue as well as traditional white.

The savings on your energy bills are not to be disregarded either; even if you’re looking at an outlay to upgrade or even install poolside and underwater LED lighting, the savings over even a relatively short period of time will mean that your costs are covered and then some by the time you may be looking to upgrade again.

In terms of where to situate your lights, if you’re looking at regularly using your pool at night then you will want to consider underwater lighting as much as poolside visibility, if only because there’s something just a little creepy about stepping into a completely dark pool!

Additionally, although bulbs will need to be changed – and you will have to drain your pool to do this – the average lifespan of an LED bulb is so impressive that it’s better calculated in years rather than the 50,000 or so hours you’ll get from a single item on average.  You could even schedule replacement every third winter or so as part of essential off-season maintenance if you wished to enjoy seamless and trouble-free lighting throughout the months your pool is in use.

Additional Things To Consider

Don’t neglect enhancing the rest of your poolside area with subtle lighting, especially if your plans include summer pool parties for friends and family.  If you’re stuck for inspiration, blogs and photo streams can give you ideas about what you can achieve with lighting, or even how to design your own pool in your back yard prior to booking that contractor.

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Filed under Exterior Lighting, Light, Lighting, Outdoor Lighting, Pool Lighting

7 tips for hanging christmas lights

7-tips-for-hanging-christmas-lights

Give the exterior of your home a magical look this holiday season with Christmas lights. To create a magnificent and festive light display safely, follow these seven tips on how to properly hang your holiday lights:

Plan Your Design. Decide which parts of your home you want to decorate with strings of lights. This will help you to decide the types of lights, tools and hanging devices you’ll need to create your light display. Also, make sure you use a stepladder or extension ladder to hang lights that are too high to reach by hand.

Check Lights. Plug lights into a heavy-duty extension cord to make sure they work properly and that there aren’t any frayed or broken wires. Also, if you’re hanging lights outside, make sure your extension cords and any string of lights are approved for outdoor use, which should be stated on the package they came in.

Locate Outlets. Know where the outlets are closest to where you want to hang your lights. Ideally, it would be best to use a switch-controlled outlet, or you could plug the lights into either an outside or inside automatic timer, depending where you’re going to hang your holiday lights.

Measure. Use an extra long measuring tape to measure the areas of your home you want to hang lights on to ensure you get enough string of lights for the job. For example, if you want to wrap lights around an outside bush, make sure to measure the height and length of it, then figure out how many 25-foot light strings will be needed for these measurements.

Hardware to Use for Hanging Lights. Use heavy-duty plastic clips to hang strings of lights along your roof and gutters. Use nail-on plastic clips or tube light clips spaced about 12-inches apart to hang string of lights on windowsills and around archways. Never use nails, any type of staples or tacks to hang your lights because it could pierce the cord or wear out the insulation, which could cause an electrical short.

Attaching Lights to Trees. Try using a light-hanging pole to attach lights to extra tall trees. This type of tool is easy-to-use, and it’s a great alternative if you don’t feel comfortable using a ladder to hang your holiday lights.

Hanging Lights on Railings and Patios. You can use plastic zip ties to attach strings of lights to any railings or around your balcony. Zip ties can be used for hanging your lights either inside or outside because they’re weather-resistant. They can also be easily adjusted and removed.

Follow these tips on hanging Christmas lights, and soon you’ll have a magical light display that looks professional and will wow everyone who drives by or comes to visit your home during the holidays.

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Tips for Lighting Up Your Landscape

tips-for-lighting-up-your-landscape

Landscape lighting can transform the look of your home once the sun goes down. Lighting is also a practical consideration for safety and security. Finding the right combination of lights can be challenging with so many options available on the market. Here are some tips you can use for lighting up your landscape.

Lighting Tips for Your Landscape

  • Identify the purpose of your landscape lighting. Why do you want to add lights to your yard? It might be to illuminate a commonly used path, or to light up a dark corner. You might want lower lighting for an intimate feeling around a fire pit or dining deck. You might have a spectacular rock facing that you want to highlight. Knowing why you want the lights will help determine what kinds of lights will work best for your particular set-up.
  • Consider the layout of your home, yard, and landscaping elements. A quick sketch can help you visualize how the lighting will work around your home. Remember that some surfaces, like glass windows, will reflect the light, while vegetation will tend to absorb it. You can vary the height of the lighting to compensate for these elements.
  • Determine what kind of lighting you need in each area of your yard. Short stake lights would work well along a path. A bench is easily illuminated by a pole-style lamp. An up-light is perfect to highlight a tall tree or shrub. Your deck steps would do well with lights inset into the treads. There are literally dozens of options available, so you can find the perfect light for each situation.
  • Decide the amount of effort you want to put into the installation. High-end landscape lighting requires 120-volt lines. Due to the higher voltage, these lines have to be buried in the ground at least 18 inches and are best installed by a professional electrician. Low voltage systems are often used in home landscapes. They don’t require professional installation because the lines can be run below mulch or in a narrow groove covered by turf. Solar-powered lighting requires no connection to electricity.
  • Set your budget. You can find lights to fit just about any budget you have. You can pay $10 per light or $300 per light, depending on what you want to pay. High-end lighting often requires the 120-volt lines, so be sure to add in the cost of a professional electrician. The least expensive lights are solar-powered.
  • Determine if you want to do-it-yourself or have a professional do it. Part of this depends on whether you are going with lights that require 120-volts or not. If you are going with a lower voltage system or completely solar, you can still have a professional do it to save yourself time and hassle.

Lighting your landscape will give your home and yard a completely different look. With a bit of planning and thought, you can make your outdoor space usable, safer, and more secure once the sun goes down. How will landscape lighting transform your yard?

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Filed under Exterior Lighting, Light, Lighting