In previous posts, we have discussed numerous aspects of outdoor lighting. We have covered nearly everything from lighting the pergola, illuminating the patio, hardscape, water features, to even lighting that favorite Japanese maple tree. With this new topic, "3 Principles to Consider when Installing Landscape Lights," we wish to direct your attention to the 3 basic and most important, principles to landscape lighting installation:
When it comes to design, it's important to utilize the imagination and to think about what the light will look like at night. Imagining the effect the light will create with using what I refer to as using your night vision, if you will. As a Lighting Designer, I like to refer to this as putting on my night goggles. I often ask our clients, "Why light? What is the goal you are after?" I try to understand every need, want and desire someone might have in mind. The more understanding I have about their needs, the better we can achieve and capture the best nighttime effect.
Measure twice and cut once as Dad always said. In other words, it's important that extra time is invested in planning a landscape lighting design; to really consider all the elements in any outdoor lighting project. Extra time should always be taken to make sure that the landscape lighting installation will be able to recreate the imagined effect and that the design has balance and composition when the sun goes down. Even the best lighting systems are rendered pointless without a focused application that has been well thought out.
Outdoor lighting products will be tested by the harsh landscape environment, i.e., elements like snow, rain and ice. Almost every lighting system will be exposed daily to irrigation systems and landscape maintenance.
Skimping on commercial grade quality should be avoided at all costs when choosing a fixture. Low grade aluminum and composite (plastic) fixtures come at a low price, because they are low quality. These low quality fixtures will break down, fail and leave you frustrated and disappointed with the extra/unnecessary maintenance they will quickly require. In may cases, these low quality fixtures will even need to be completely replaced after only a season or two of enjoyment. It's for this reason that we, at Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah., always insist on using high quality copper and brass products that meet our rigorous specifications; to assure a lifetime of performance.
Another example of avoiding low commercial grade quality, when choosing LED lamps, is being certain that they come from a trusted source. When it comes to LED lamps there are a handful that are excellent, plenty that are shoddy and countless that produce, frankly, ugly results. Don't be that person who threw their hard earned money away by being persuaded to use inferior products.
There should always be an engineering element to how the lighting design and light fixtures will come together. There is so much more to it all than simply plugging wires and fixtures together. The internal components of your landscape system, such as LED lamps, sockets, wire connections, controls, etc. should never be exposed to the earlier mentioned outdoor elements (weather and irrigation) or to dangers of landscape maintenance.
It's vital that steps be taken in the engineering of an outdoor lighting system that these internal elements are being protected from moisture and damage. Thoroughly burying wires, for example, not only makes an outdoor lighting system look clean and professional, it also serves to protect and extend the crucial internal components from the many dangers that might damage and ruin a well thought out lighting system, regardless of the high quality products being used. A lighting system will fail and become damaged if the numerous elements of the engineering process aren't addressed. It's for this reason that engineering is such an important principle to landscape lighting.
In conclusion, there are 3 principles to Landscape lighting installation: Design, Product, and Engineering all must be addressed. In our experience all 3 need to be set as uncompromised standards for every outdoor lighting system for it to be an utter success. Let's summarize these key principles again. First, to create a lighting effect that will be enjoyed, time must be utilized to design a well thought out lighting system. Second, quality products need to be used so that the enjoyed lighting effect can continue to be appreciated in the future. Third, proper installation and engineering practices must be used, because otherwise, no matter the quality of the products, lighting systems will fail.
Compromising on any of these 3 principles will result in a failed lighted project. It's important to recognize these 3 principles and understand why they are all so critical to a successful landscape lighting project, because not everyone out there who will install a lighting system utilizes them. It has been our experience that few, if any, tradesman will properly address all 3 of these principles with the depth necessary to build an enjoyable lighting system that will last a lifetime.