There are many ways to illuminate a house or property with lighting, whether for aesthetics, security or other practical reasons. Not only are there multiple methods, there are myriad companies and individuals willing to do it. But will the results all be similar or is there more to consider? The reality is that outdoor lighting design is much like interior design. Almost anyone can claim to be able to do it, but there are very few who have the professional knowledge, experience and creative abilities to understand how to really utilize the features of a home to make it stand out, look good and achieve its full functional and aesthetic potential.
What Factors Should Be Considered for Outdoor Lighting Design?
When it comes to outdoor lighting design, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration. The first is the overall goal. What is the property owner trying to accomplish and what does that particular person like, aesthetically? Everyone has different goals (i.e. security, curb appeal, lighting of certain areas, etc.) and unique aesthetic preferences, so every design is unique.
Some people prefer very subtle lighting accents on specific features while others want their home visible from space and as bright as possible. This is where a good, experienced designer will gather all of the information necessary to create a design for the customer that fits their specific needs and desires.
Next, comes the task of taking meticulous notes and pictures of the house, property and areas needing to be illuminated. For the purposes of this article, let’s stick with home illumination design. Is the home a 1-story, 2-story or something else? What color is it and what color is the trim? Are the walls and roofline relatively flat or are there a lot of architectural features protruding from surfaces that will need to be taken into account?
What about the landscaping? What kind of trees, plants and flowers are there to consider? How close are any bushes or trees to the home? What kinds of shadowing techniques could or should be used? How many circuits must be planned and how much voltage drop will there be in the design? These are just a few of the important factors that must be considered on an individual basis to create an optimal outdoor lighting design plan for every client.
Bringing Form & Function Together
Beautiful outdoor lighting design is the result of creativity, experience and technical knowledge. Anyone can install a DIY-lighting kit purchased from a big box store or internet site, but having it look great, function properly and stand the test of time and weather is another thing, entirely.
A good outdoor lighting designer will know how to use the proper light fixtures, lighting colors, angles of light dispersion, shadowing techniques, brightness, and vantage points to perfectly install the right lights in the correct places, to create a design that is beautiful and effective. They’ll understand how to create even lighting plan for the entire system, one that does not fade with voltage drop or make the lower levels of the home too bright, while the 2nd story is too dark. This is where experience really pays off.
Did you know that the traditional amber color of most lights will make a pink house appear orange or a grey house look blue? The proper color and shade of a color are key factors in outdoor lighting design. You want to accentuate the colors of the home, trim, features, and plants and trees. It’s easy to cast some light on all of it and make it look like a dull, uninspired scene in the evening. But making it look even better at night, than it actually appears in the daytime, is the real trick! Technical knowledge and creativity are what are necessary to make form and function work together behind the scenes. You must have both. The last thing you want is a design that detracts from your home’s curb appeal, that fails to accomplish your goals or a beautiful design that is dangerous or does not work properly.
Safety First Always
Installing outdoor lighting, even when it is low voltage, is a task that should not be taken lightly. While low voltage systems are much safer than line voltage, they can still shock, cause a fire, and be dangerous. All too often, we have come across the unfortunate results of a fire in a garage, at the transformer or in a yard that was the result of improper installation or overloading of a circuit on a transformer that had a malfunctioning circuit breaker.
A very simple mistake is to strip too much jacketing off of wire endpoints that mechanically fasten to the transformer. We’ve seen this before with a client. The endpoints of wiring in his system were almost touching, causing an arc whenever the transformer was powered on. Over time, that arcing started to melt the plastic transformer, subsequently setting fire to it! This was a combination of improper materials, improper installation and inexperience. Fortunately, this individual only had some drywall, painting and a new lighting system to replace. It could have been much worse.
Hall of Shame (and Regret)
The last thing anyone wants to do is to invest a significant amount of money into the illumination of their home and have regrets the very first evening they see those lights come on. Following are a few homeowners who may have wished that they had called a professional, experienced designer with a good reputation to help them with their outdoor lighting design.
Call the Pros at Pro Lighting Outdoors
Avoid regrets and headaches. When considering installing outdoor lighting for your home or property, always call a licensed outdoor lighting professional who has dedicated their life to their trade. At Pro Lighting Outdoors, we work with our customers to tailor every lighting project to their individual needs, and strive to make every single project turn out as close to perfect, as possible.
Here, the owner is your first and last point-of-contact. He has created and implemented thousands of beautiful, effective lighting designs and prides himself on getting it just right for his customers. So, for your next lighting project, contact a pro: Pro Lighting Outdoors. Call (904) 924-4496 or email us at [email protected] for a consultation.