When it comes to enhancing the beauty and outdoor appeal of your home, outdoor lighting is an important but often overlooked feature.
We all know about curb appeal, that wow factor when you first pull up to a home. And there are lots of ways to bring out that wow. Homeowners will often paint their homes, add features like porches and entryways, or invest in beautiful landscaping. But when the sun goes down, all of those features disappear into the dark of night.
With proper outdoor lighting, you can keep your investments in your home visible even after dark. Outdoor lighting will highlight the best features of your home and its landscaping. In addition, outdoor lighting can provide new features that only come out at dark, like beautiful textures and patterns of light and dark that add interest and beauty to your home.
A Brief History of Outdoor Lighting
People have been lighting their outdoor spaces for just as long as they have been lighting their indoor spaces. Whether it’s for safety, beauty, or special occasions, outdoor lighting has always been important.
Historically, outdoor spaces have been lit with firelight. This may have included candles, torches, oil lamps, or sconces. Bonfires were also used to light up gardens and public spaces, especially for parties and occasions.
As new types of interior lighting were introduced beginning in the 17th century, those types of lighting began to be used outdoors as well. Gas lighting became popular in the 19th century, most famously as a method of outdoor lighting in city street lamps. In the 20th century, as electric lighting became more common, its use outdoors also flourished.
Different Lamps for Outdoor Lighting
There are a number of different lamps—the technical name for bulbs—available for outdoor lighting. Originally, the only type of lamps available were incandescent lamps. These lamps worked by heating a metal coil until it glowed. Advances in technology produced more efficient and longer lasting incandescent lamps, but their lifespan was always limited.
In the 1960s, tungsten halogen lamps came into broad use, including for outdoor lighting. These lamps burned hotter, producing more and brighter light. They also lasted longer than traditional incandescent lamps and used less electricity.
Halogen lights dominated outdoor lighting for the second half of the 20th century, both as street lamps and for landscape and home outdoor lighting.
In recent years, LEDs have become more popular for both indoor and outdoor lighting. A steady increase in the luminosity of LEDs, combined with a rapid decrease in cost, has led to an LED lighting revolution.
LEDs for Outdoor Lighting
LEDs have rapidly been replacing incandescent and halogen lamps for outdoor lighting. LED lamps are many times more energy efficient than older types of lamps, which makes them a much more cost effective and environmentally friendly source of light.
In fact, halogen lamps are slowly being phased out in many countries. Beginning in September of 2016, directional mains-voltage halogen bulbs were banned for manufacture or import by the EU. This includes most types of halogen spotlights, like those previously used in outdoor lighting. In September of 2018, most other types halogen lights will also be banned.
The general rule is that an LED light can produce four times as much light (measured in “lumens”) per watt as a traditional incandescent lamp. This means that a 100 watt incandescent bulb can be replaced by an LED lamp that uses only 25 watts.
Expected Lifespan of LED Lamps
Another benefit of LED lamps is their lifespan. A tungsten halogen lamp can last 2,000 to 10,000 hours. In contrast, an LED lamp can last 40,000 to 60,000 hours. Assuming your outdoor lights are on for an average of 12 hours a day, your LED lamps could last about 11 and a half years.
LEDs also don’t burn out like traditional incandescent or halogen lamps. Instead, they slowly lose brightness. An LED is considered to have reached the end of its usefulness when it reaches L70, the term for an LED that produces 70% of the lumens it produced when it was new.
Lumens and Color Temperature in LEDs
Because LEDs are so efficient and have wattages so much lower than traditional lighting sources, LED manufacturers no longer use wattages to measure the brightness of a bulb.
There was a time when everyone knew the relative brightness of a 45-watt, 60-watt, or 100-watt bulb. Today, most lamps are described with 2 measures: lumens and color temperature.
Lumens are a measure of how much light a lamp produces. For instance, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces about 800 lumens. A 100-watt incandescent bulb produces about 1600 lumens. LEDs that produce a similar number of lumens use 15 and 25 watts, respectively.
Color Temperature is a measure of how warm (yellow) or cool (blue) a light is. The unit for color temperature is degrees Kelvin (K). For the sake of comparison, a soft white bulb would be about 2700K, while a cool white bulb would be about 4000K.
Picking the Right Color Temperature
Landscape lighting designers may use different color temperature lamps for different effects.
A 2200K lamp has a very warm, almost orange color. This may produce the feel of candlelight. It is generally used sparingly and only for special mood lighting, such as on a deck for a more romantic feel. It is also similar in color to the orange sodium lamps used in some street lights, so designers may choose a 2200K lamp to match the surrounding street lighting. This is especially true in commercial settings.
A 2700K lamp is similar in color to a traditional “soft white” incandescent bulb. It is gentle on the eyes and creates a warm, welcoming effect. For this reason it is the most commonly used lamp in outdoor and landscape lighting.
A 3000K lamp is cooler than a 2700K lamp and may be used to highlight vegetation. It produces a color that is truer to daylight and reveals the colors of greenery and flowers.
A 4000K lamp produces a very cool light, similar in color to moonlight. For this reason, some designers will use it for downlighting from trees. Others still prefer the more common 2700K lamps, which are warmer and more inviting.
It is generally best to stick with one color temperature for each lighting zone, as mixed colors can be jarring and look strange together.
NightVision Lighting Uses Only LEDs
NightVision Lighting uses LED lamps exclusively. The biggest reasons are efficiency and durability. LED lamps simply outlast all other types of lamps, which is good when you are dealing with outdoor lighting where you don’t plan to change bulbs very often.
LED Lighting Maintenance
LEDs are by far the most efficient and long-lasting lamps currently on the market. However, like any mechanical device, LED lamps will eventually need maintenance and sometimes replacement. This may be due to the lamps themselves, or due to wear and tear on the fixtures that hold them.
NightVision Outdoor Lighting offers a maintenance contract that includes worry-free replacement. That means that if a bulb breaks or burns out, or even if you accidentally cut a wire while digging in your garden, NightVision Outdoor Lighting will send you the replacement lighting you need.
Contact NightVision Outdoor Lighting Today
With the beauty, efficiency, and sturdiness of LED lighting, there’s no reason not to start your outdoor lighting project today.
When you call NightVision Outdoor Lighting you can expect a return call in 1-2 days, or often the same day. They can typically have a technician at your home for a consultation within 3 days. Together you will review your priorities, your design needs, and your budget and come up with the design that’s right for your home. Within 7-10 days (sometimes sooner), installation will begin, so you can be enjoying your new outdoor lighting as soon as possible.
Contact us today to set up your free consultation.