Illuminating an outdoor living space, no matter how big or small, immediately makes it feel more welcoming and comfortable. We like beautiful things, and assuming your clients have trees, landscape beds, yard art/sculpture, hardscapes, etc. it’s nice to see it lit. Even if they don’t, it’s still nice to have outdoor lighting. It’s safer, more comfortable, and it allows people to take better advantage of the outdoors when it’s warm outside.
Additionally, we like to know what’s around us. Illuminating the landscape at night not only makes us feel more at ease and content, it can make the space feel larger. By “larger” we mean the eye travels to what’s illuminated. So, if trees well beyond the perimeter of a deck or patio are illuminated, then your eyes inform your brain that the space is larger than the hardscaped area would have you believe. The beauty of night time illumination is that you’re starting with a blank (or “black”) slate.
A Light in the Darkness
It’s all DARK so you get to decide what’s important; what to direct vision towards, what needs lit for safety, what’s pretty to look at, etc. This leaves everything else dark. That’s impossible to do during the day because you see everything. Homeowners with a properly illuminated home and landscape generally love the look and functionality of their homes more at night than during the day. This is particularly true of the outdoor living spaces, not just the front facade. Why? Because of how it looks.
The lighting world has moved into LED (Light Emitting Diodes) with a vengeance and away from incandescent lighting. That’s been a huge advantage for adding light to outdoor spaces. Fixture sizes are smaller now. This allows us to tuck tiny fixtures, light bars and even tape light just about anywhere. The only limitation is the designer’s imagination (and well placed conduit!).
LED has Changed Everything
LEDs have little to no ultra violet or infrared in the light spectrum. This is the wavelength and heat many insects are attracted to. Without those two things, many insects aren’t attracted to LED landscape fixtures (like they are to the incandescent sconce right next to your back door). LEDs have about one-fourth the load of a comparable incandescent lamp. This means the electrical cost to run the system is also one-fourth. So, even though good quality LED lamps and fixtures cost more up front, the cost to run them is minimal. And, the transformer can be smaller, and the breakeven point is about three to four years.
LEDs don’t emit a lot of heat so they don’t damage/burn plant material. LEDs have a really long lifespan so there is less hassle changing lamps out, less waste going into a land fill, less cost to maintain them, etc. If you have an LED lamp with an estimated life span of 40,000 hours, running six hours/night, 365 days a year, it will last over 18 years. They have a much smaller carbon footprint than their incandescent predecessors. And, they also do not have any mercury in them like compact fluorescent lamps so they are better for the environment.
Options are Nearly Limitless
Illuminating an outdoor living space allows for all sorts of techniques to be used:
- Down lighting the patio/deck/plants from the eaves
- Up lighting trees/artwork
- Hardscape fixtures on walls/steps/railings/ columns, etc.
- Down lighting from pergolas
- Outdoor-rated chandeliers above tables
- Underwater lighting in water features and ponds
- Path lighting in planting beds, etc.
Another option for illuminating an outdoor entertainment space are “festoons” or patio string lights. These can be 12V or 120V. It’s generally best to mount a sturdy aircraft cable and attach the string lights to the cable to take the strain off of the electrical cable. So, have fun with different lighting techniques and experiment! There are all sorts of options and hardware available to make your design dreams come true.
Adding Extra Mosquito Protection
While we’re talking about comfort in an outdoor living environment, we can’t ignore mosquitos. NuTone Manufacturing introduced its HAVEN repellent system a couple of years ago. It is a 12V “fixture” that resembles a path light that can connect directly to a low voltage lighting transformer. Each Haven fixture emits a vapor of metofluthrin – the same mosquito repellant that’s in the OFF ™ Clip-On. It can be used day or night (since different species of mosquitos are active at different times of the day or night). By simply installing them every ten feet around a patio or deck you can repel those pesky blood suckers and the itching and diseases they bring with them.
The easiest system to offer is a dedicated 150W IT Transformer with Bluetooth which can hold up to 12 Haven fixtures. Load the app to your customer’s smart phone or iPad, set up when you want it to run, or let them turn it on/off manually. They don’t even have to get up to turn it on – they can do it right from their phone! It’s best to turn on the system about 15 minutes before going outside so the metofluthrin can activate and vaporize the area and force the mosquitos out of the living space.
Contact your local Wolf Creek branch for more information.