Lighting 101

The first step in designing the lighting layout for my customers is to evaluate what to light and what level of light to do it with.   That’s where the creativity comes into play but it is the second step where the challenges often lie: “how do we light this?”

A good lighting contractor will not allow obstacles and logistical challenges to dictate his/her ultimate vision. What are some common challenges? Expansive paved surfaces such as driveways or patios in otherwise ideal locations for fixture placement. Large dense hedges or plant material up against the house. Existing decks, stairways, or structures where light should be incorporated but wiring may be difficult to hide.

Often second and third story architectural elements of a house, (such as dormers or cupulas), are set back off a lower roof line and therefore unable to be illuminated by ground-mounted fixtures.

An average contractor might look at these challenges and tell the customer that these areas can’t be illuminated. We, however, will look at these challenges and figure out a way to make it happen. If it fulfills the vision, it’s critical to find a way to do it.

An outdoor kitchen often provides the greatest challenges with several different types of fixtures and mounting requirements.

12 volt sconce lighting is an excellent way to replace ‘glare bomb’ coach lighting and maintain a consistent effect with the entire lighting system.

Fixtures for existing decks and railings and finding the best way to hide wire.

House up lights mounted in the decking floor, flush with the surface.

We core drilled these lights into the existing concrete drive to up light the stone façade between the garage doors. This allowed the illumination of the exterior house stone to remain uninterrupted.

Special gutter mount bracket used to wash this stone chimney with light which would otherwise be interrupted by the shadow of the roof overhang.

Fixtures on expandable risers are mounted ‘inside’ of the hedge row to wall wash the house exterior with light.

12 volt sconce lighting on tall deck posts.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to be a licensed electrician to install low voltage lights?

In most states, (including Ohio), no, however there are national electrical codes applicable for low voltage installation which should be adhered to.

How much will it cost to operate my low voltage lighting system?

Your utility company charges by the kilowatt/hr used. Let’s base this example on 12 cents per kilowatt hour with a lighting system that has 800 watts of lights, and operates 5 hours per night.
1 kilowatt = .001 watt

800 (watts) x 5 (hrs) = 4000 watt/hrs

4000 watt/hrs = 4 kilowatt/hrs

4 x $0.12 = $0. 48 per night $0.48 x 30 = $14.40 per month

What are environment friendly options available in low voltage lighting?

When it comes to energy efficiency, it’s always best to start with a properly installed ‘tight’ system. This means a system with as few connection points and wire as possible, allowing less resistance in the flow of electricity. With regard to product innovation, LED fixtures are continuing to be improved upon and are being utilized more frequently. An LED fixture uses about 1/3rd the wattage of a comparable incandescent fixture.

Can outdoor lighting be installed in phases?

Outdoor lighting can be installed in phases; however, it’s important to let us know about your future intentions in the beginning. Phasing is much easier and cost-effective when it’s planned at the start.

How dangerous is it if I were to cut a wire or my pet chewed through one?

NEC codes rate low voltage as anything below 30 volts. Voltage under this number is considered to be neither lethal or a significant danger. That being stated, it’s always smart to exercise care around anything that utilizes a 120volt source, which the system does. A dog or cat chewing through a wire would probably barely feel a shock, if at all. Although 12 volt is relatively safe with regard to harm to humans or animals, it still creates heat, can spark, and can cause fires.