Summer is in full swing and so is outdoor living season. There’s nothing like spending time on an elegantly lit patio or deck on a warm summer evening. If you have a backyard or garden, some strategically placed lights can turn it into a nighttime haven for relaxing and entertaining. But when it comes to outdoor lighting, fashions come and go. The best looks, of course, are timeless. But if you want to know what’s hot and what’s not for 2018, here are some tips on achieving the outdoor lighting trends everyone will be talking about.
Why Pay Attention to Lighting Trends
Good outdoor lighting is about beauty and design. And like anything in the beauty and design world, fashions come and fashions go. While many homeowners may not be concerned with being on the cutting edge of design, you would be remiss not to take notice.
First of all, many of the new design trends in outdoor lighting are just great ideas that have become more popular. Second, while bleeding edge design is not for everyone, ignoring trends will eventually make your house look dated. For example, if the interior of your home is still rocking the once trendy shag carpet, track lighting, and wood panel look, chances are your house looks dated. There was no one moment when those things became “out of date”, but by ignoring design trends, you will eventually be left in the dust of history.
Another reason why outdoor lighting design trends matter is that we just have more to compare to today than we used to. With the popularity of HGTV, Pinterest, and other social media, design trends move fast, and everyone wants to look current. So when you invite over friends and guests, wouldn’t you love your home to look as good as the Instagram posts and magazine covers we see everywhere? It’s not hard. It just takes a little planning and a great partner like Night Vision Outdoor Lighting.
1. Brass and Copper Fixtures
There was a time not long ago when most outdoor lighting designers tried to hide their fixtures. The goal, as usual, was to see the light, not the source. Fixtures were hidden in bushes and painted in neutral earth tones so they would blend in with the scenery. But recently, many homeowners and designers are rediscovering the beauty of classic fixtures.
In recent installations, many homeowners working with outdoor lighting designers have used high-end fixtures that are meant to be seen. With the availability of quality designs, many homeowners are including the fixtures as features of their landscape instead of hiding them. Brass and copper are especially popular right now, and will probably stay that way. Part of that popularity is due to the fact that copper and some types of brass weather and develop a patina. Over time, the fixtures change and grow, almost like a part of your garden. From season to season they never look the same, but they always look like a natural part of your landscape.
2. The Dark Sky Movement
Part of the joy of sitting outside on a warm summer night is looking up at a vast dark sky. Humans have been contemplating that same starry expanse for millennia. But if you live in a city or other densely populated area, your view of the stars is likely very different than it was for our ancestors.
With the spread of brightly lit cities, light pollution has all but blocked out the view of the skies for many people. But a new movement has been building to try to change that. Many towns and smaller cities have started dark sky initiatives, some of them even passing laws. The goal of this movement is to discourage light pollution to keep skies naturally dark. And just as many homeowners are now reducing their reliance on disposables, shopping for organic foods, or making other environmentally friendly choices, they are joining the dark skies movement.
Many homeowners concerned about light pollution are now installing lighting fixtures specially designed to prevent light pollution. These dark sky fixtures aim light downwards and shield light from going outwards and upwards. That lets you light up your landscape without lighting up the night sky.
Moonlighting is a special lighting effect that has Night Vision Lighting has been using for a long time. But along with the dark sky movement, interest in natural-feeling light has helped popularize moonlighting. The goal of moonlighting is to provide light that feels like the light of a bright full moon. Many homeowners prefer it to the more artificial light that might come from typical fixtures.
The effect of natural moonlight is created by using special bulbs and fixtures hidden high up in trees or under the soffit of your home. The fixtures are designed similarly to the dark sky fixtures. They point light downward without letting it glare out the sides of the top of the fixture. This avoids ending up with a glowing tree canopy. Instead, the light washes over the area below in an even glow.
The bulbs we use for moonlighting are LED lights in the 4000K range. Typical landscape lighting is done with lights in the 3000K range. These slightly cooler, bluer lights mimic the cool light of the moon. In reality, the apparent blueness of moonlight is an optical illusion. But using actually blue-ish light can fool the eye into thinking it is getting authentic moonlight.
4. Out With Halogen, In With LED
This trend has been growing for a long time. In fact, Night Vision Outdoor Lighting uses LEDs exclusively. But it wasn’t always this way. For decades, outdoor lighting was dominated by halogens. They offer a lot of light with relatively low energy consumption compared to the incandescent lights they replaced. When LEDs first came on the scene, they clearly used less energy and lasted longer than halogen bulbs. But early LEDs were very expensive and could only produce light in cool, bluish hues.
Today, LED technology has blossomed. LED lights spanning the full spectrum can now be found at reasonable prices. While LED bulbs are still more expensive than halogen bulbs, the lower cost of operation and the long lifespan makes them cheaper in the long run. They also produce much less heat and because of their longevity require only very occasional replacement. This makes them easier to maintain and more reliable than halogen bulbs.
If you are installing outdoor lighting in 2018, there is absolutely no reason you should be using halogen. LED is definitely the way to go.
5. Astronomic Timers
Outdoor lighting has functioned on timers for a long time. It is very rare to find a modern lighting system that needs to be turned on and off manually every night and morning. But until recently there were only two types of timers: mechanical and photocell. Mechanical timers are like the timers you might regularly use in your home. You can set a time for your lights to go on and a time for them to off. The problem with mechanical timers is that dusk and dawn times change throughout the year, so you have to regularly recalibrate them.
Photocell timers were an improvement on mechanical timers. They could be set to turn off and on based on the ambient light. But they had their problems. Photocells were sometimes unreliable and could be triggered to turn off by artificial light or light pollution.
Today we live in the age of GPS, and modern timers have been developed to use that technology. Astronomic timers are not set by time. Instead, they are set by location. Once you set the location, the timer can calculate sunrise and sunset times and control the lights accordingly. Settings can also accommodate manual changes (such as turning off partway through the night) and adjust for daylight saving time.
Designing a Trendy Outdoor Lighting System
Whether you want to incorporate all the latest trends or follow the perennial favorites, working with a professional outdoor lighting designer can help make your dreams a reality. At Night Vision Outdoor Lighting we have completed thousands of projects. It’s our goal to help you create outdoor lighting you will love. We have the skills, experience, and expertise. All you need to do is contact us to get started.