Why You Need Pathway and Stairway Lighting

April 3, 2017

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Illuminating your home’s façade may be the most prominent type of lighting to bring instant curb appeal, but pathway and stairway lighting is arguably the most important.

Path lighting and stair lighting is valuable for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Uneven areas with changes in elevation should be properly illuminated to avoid possible injuries. This is particularly crucial for elderly homeowners and guests, because vision worsens as we age. Aesthetically, path lighting adds a warm ambience, inviting guests to make their way up your driveway or walkway to enter your home.

Lighting these areas may seem fairly straightforward, but it actually requires a significant amount of planning and design forethought. Here are a few things to consider when adding lighting to steps or walkways.

Enlightened Lights

Style of Lighting

Path Lighting

We at Enlightened Lighting prefer path lights for most walkways because they are subtle yet effective. These fixtures offer a great light beam spread. Since they are positioned low to the ground, they don’t need to be overly bright to adequately illuminate an area. When installing path lights, you typically need to use multiple fixtures to emit the same amount of light as a taller post lantern.
Front entrance lighting pathway stonework

Post Lanterns

Post lanterns put out a significant amount of light from a single fixture, so they can look more obtrusive. However, you can use fewer lanterns than path lights to achieve a similar effect. Popular places to install post lanterns include along the driveway, at the start of a pathway, or on top of stone columns.

Down Lighting

Down lighting is another common method to illuminate pathways. The fixture must be installed in a tree or against a house/structure shinning down to illuminate the area below. Unlike fixtures installed at ground level, this type of lighting often has visible wiring as wires needs to be brought up the tree or structure to the fixture source.

Moon Lighting

Moon lighting is a specialized type of down lighting intended to recreate the look of moon light. The lights shine down from tall trees on your property, creating light and shadows, broken up by foliage. The light source can be blueish in color, mimicking the soft moonbeam hue, or can be a natural, warm, reddish light, depending on your preference.

Reflective Lighting

Reflective lighting is another style which uses oblique lighting to illuminate pathways or steps. These lights are intended to illuminate other areas of your property, but if properly placed, they can cast a small amount of light onto your walkway. This indirect light can give added ambience and some visibility to pathways and stairs.

Built-In Lights

Hidden, built-in fixtures are a discrete way to illuminate pathways. They are often used for stairways, especially when it is difficult to illuminate the steps using path lighting or other methods. Using built-in fixtures in a location with significant change of elevation can be tricky though, because the lights may end up right in your line of sight. Adding built-in lights to a long stairway can also get expensive, since the number of fixtures needed quickly adds up.

If you plan to build fixtures into concrete, make sure to choose fixtures that are designed to last as long as the concrete! Aluminum fixtures have a five- to eight-year lifespan, but patios or steps can last 20 to 30 years. When your fixtures die, it’s very difficult to remove or replace them when they are encased in concrete. Choose long-lasting brass fixtures instead.

The best stairway lighting for outdoors is LED, energy efficient fixtures

Number of Lights

The number of lights you need will depend on the size of your walkway and the style of lighting you choose. With path lighting, you want to be sure not to over-do it. Too many path lights along a sidewalk can make your yard look like an airport runway. We recommend alternating path lights across opposite sides of a pathway, to provide ample lighting without over-crowding the path.

With any style of lighting, try to use an odd number of lights. Avoid precise symmetry unless your home is very symmetrical. Nature isn’t symmetrical, so asymmetric lighting design looks more natural to the eye.

Placement of Lights

When placing lights, you want to make sure to fully illuminate the problem spots on your property. You know these spots better than your lighting designer, so have a conversation about areas that are uneven or difficult to navigate at night. Flagstone is often problematic, so be sure to install ample lighting in areas with that material. Having a guest take a tumble at the end of the night is a surefire way to ruin a great party!

If you’re considering lighting a pathway or stairway on your property, contact Enlightened Lighting for a consultation or estimate. We love helping homeowners add safety and beauty to their homes with tasteful and practical lighting.

Related articles:

Path Lighting
Lighting “Fails” That Most Homeowners Overlook
How to Get Your Steps and Pathways Ready for Guests
Light the Way With Path Lights This Winter
The Benefits of Outdoor Patio Lights

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Outdoor Lighting Plans When Building or Remodeling

December 8, 2016

Image Credit: Raptor Alpha via Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Image Credit: Raptor Alpha via Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Lani Furbank

When you’re building a new house or having remodeling work done on your existing home, it seems like there are a million and one things to consider. From tile choices and paint colors to ceiling heights and window placement, it’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless list of decisions. But, there’s one important detail you could be forgetting…outdoor lighting.

Even if you’re unsure whether you want to install outdoor lighting right away, you should think ahead and plan for the lighting work while you’re in the construction phases. Having a contingency plan will save you time and money in the long run. Trust us, you’ll be grateful if and when you decide to add lighting!

Here are five tasks that homeowners should do when they’re building or remodeling.

What homeowners need to do during the construction phase, to save money on outdoor lighting.

Plan Ahead For Outdoor Lighting: 5 Things You Need To Do When Building or Remodeling Your Home

1. Plan for electricity outside.

This one seems rather basic, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t consider this crucial step. In many new homes, there is only one outlet in the garage. Building code requires just one, and most people don’t think they’ll need more than one. After all, one outlet is typically enough for a fridge, freezer, or work station.

However, for outdoor lighting, you’ll need a dedicated outlet. You should ideally run an additional outlet in an unobtrusive space, such as on an outside wall. This will also be useful for any irrigation needs.

Image Credit: Roger Mommaerts via Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Image Credit: Roger Mommaerts via Flickr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Have a controlled outlet.

After planning a dedicated outlet, you also need to think about whether or not you want your landscape lights on a switch. If you do, you’ll need a controlled outlet. It’s much easier and less expensive to put this in while you’re building or remodeling, rather than after the construction is finished. Place the outlet in a hidden location, because you don’t want a transformer exposed on the front of the house or on the deck where you’ll be spending a lot of time.

3. Plan ahead for wiring under pavement.

Digging under pavement to run wire is challenging and time-consuming. Anytime you’re laying or repairing a walkway or driveway, have a couple of PVC pipes put in to act as sleeves for future wiring. Place them in an easy to find spot – line them up with memorable landmark or stationary feature of the house, such as the corner of the house or by the front walkway – and then take pictures documenting where they are located for future use. These sleeves will save you money on the cost of installing landscape lights by eliminating the costly step of having your lighting contractor rent a boring machine in order to dig under the pavement.

4. Think about how to integrate lighting into your existing automation system.

It’s a growing trend that more homes have automation systems these days, whether they are control4, DIY, or something set up through your security company. If you have an automation system, make a plan to integrate your new lighting. This means you’ll want to place the transformer in a location where the signal is strong. Otherwise, you could have to deal with glitches in your lighting automation.

Image credit: Jesus Rodriguez via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Image credit: Jesus Rodriguez via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

5. Consider how to incorporate lighting into masonry work.

Adding lighting into masonry work after it is built is not an easy feat. To save you and your lighting contractor a whole lot of trouble, plan your lighting while the stone work and building is being done. When installing lighting into stone or concrete, make sure you choose high-quality, long-lasting lighting fixtures, like our solid brass Sterling Lighting line. Cheap aluminum fixtures will quickly degrade in concrete. Your stonework is built to last, so your lighting should be, too.

If you’re unsure of how to plan for outdoor lighting on your property, give Enlightened Lighting a call and we can help answer your questions! We want to help make the process of installing lighting as easy and affordable as possible.

Related Articles 

Why More Homebuilders Are Offering Outdoor Lighting
Lighting “Fails” That Most Homeowners Overlook
How To Get Your Lighting Project Approved by Your HOA

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Ten Lies Told By So-Called Lighting Experts

December 1, 2016

by Lani Furbank

Finding an honest contractor is one of the top concerns for homeowners starting a new home improvement or design project. We often meet clients who have had poor contractor experiences prior to contacting us; they’ve encountered second-rate lighting contractors who simply didn’t deliver or meet their expectations.

When deciding whether or not to work with a lighting contractor, you want to make sure he knows the craft and isn’t going to take shortcuts, such as opting for cheap, inferior materials or eliminating important steps to cut corners. Subpar contractors will derail your home improvement plans faster than you can flip a light switch!

The normal homeowner isn’t familiar with the technical details of lighting, so we wanted to share these common lies that are often told by untrained contractors. It’s important to be aware of these so you can weed out the phonies and hire a reliable professional instead.

Ten Lies from So-Called Lighting Experts

1. “This drop-in bulb is designed for an enclosed fixture.”

Not all light bulbs are safe to use in enclosed fixtures. A true lighting professional knows that there are a number of factors to consider before choosing the right bulb, but many companies are eager to go with a common, inexpensive bulb – even if it’s not the right bulb for the job. It’s important to do a little bit of research so you know the kind of bulb your lighting contractor is trying to sell you. Know the facts so you can make an educated decision.

2. “Our lighting system is ‘set it and forget it.’ No maintenance is needed.”

In a perfect world, we all hope that our lighting systems will run forever without needing maintenance. In reality, there can be hiccups and malfunctions, no matter how great the equipment or the installation team is. If a contractor isn’t up front about their maintenance and repair schedule or availability, there’s a good chance that you’ll have trouble reaching them when you need service.

3. “Aluminum fixtures are durable.”

Aluminum just doesn’t stand up to the outdoor elements, no matter what manufacturers say. At Enlightened Lighting, we prefer fixtures constructed from cast brass, which are much more durable, and have a more polished look.

4. “This bulb should be equivalent to a 50-watt halogen.”

Not all light bulbs are created equal. Most MR-16 LED bulbs aren’t technologically advanced enough to be able to match the light output of a 50-watt halogen. Contractors who really understand the technology available can help you pick the light bulb that is best suited for your home.

5. “This bulb is about 500 lumens.”

While this may not be an outright lie, it points to laziness on the part of many lighting contractors who merely estimate lumen output. Estimating lumen output is very simple, but it doesn’t give the customer complete accuracy. You want your contractor to give you official figures that are proven to be correct.

6. “A corn cob LED path light bulb is a great option.”

Corn cob LED path lights (with multiple columns) are commonplace and inexpensive, but they’re not the best option on the market. Because of the low cost, contractors are eager to recommend them. However, these lights emit low levels of light, and are prone to failure because it’s very likely that individual columns will burn out, rendering the whole light useless.

7. “This fixture may look like it was made from plumbing components found at Home Depot, but it really is the best path light in the industry.”

There are fixtures on the market that are made out of PVC pipe, but these fixtures are outdated and are cheaply made. They are neither aesthetically pleasing nor built to last. No professional contractor should ever condone the use of these fixtures, but again, because they are inexpensive, these plumbing parts often end up being used in unsuspecting homeowners’ lighting systems.

8. “We use well lights because they produce the best light.”

Well lights don’t produce the best light output, but they are some of the cheapest light fixtures available! If your contractor is pushing well lights, it’s probably because of the low cost, not the quality.

9. “We do not bury the wire so it is easier for you to find it later when you are digging.”

Burying the wire — and calling Miss Utility — is a crucial part of finishing a lighting installation job. Leaving wires exposed is not only a hazard, but an eyesore. Often, laziness is a motivating factor behind not burying wires. Hire a contractor who is willing to do the whole job, not just part of it.

10. “I am an expert in lighting.”

These days, the word ‘expert’ is thrown around arbitrarily. However, in the lighting business, there are certifications, membership organizations, and extensive trainings that can prove someone’s expertise in the trade. Many contractors claim to be an expert after completing a simple, three-day training course with a manufacturer or franchisor. These training courses don’t even begin to cover the wealth of information that is required to be a great lighting contractor. Before choosing your lighting designer, ask how many hours he has spent in the field, as well as what certifications and memberships he holds.

 

Educating yourself about the complexities of lighting can be tricky. Luckily, there are plenty of trained professionals who can beautify your home the right way. Knowing a few insider secrets will help you stay away from shady contractors and avoid common outdoor lighting mistakes.

At Enlightened Lighting, we have years of experience and a long list of satisfied customers. Contact us today to get started on your own outdoor lighting project!

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5 Reasons You Should Buy Local Lighting

November 26, 2016

Shop_Local
Image Credit: “Shop” by Rawich on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

by Lani Furbank

The phrase “buy local” is becoming a major buzz word in the food community: There are now more farm-to-table restaurants than you can count, and business is booming at farmers markets. This movement is great for the local economy, and we believe that it should extend well beyond food. We think everyone should buy local lighting!

Buying “local lighting” might sound like a foreign concept, but as a consumer, it’s important to understand that not all lighting companies are locally and independently owned. Many of them are franchises of a larger company with headquarters – including lead decision-makers regarding products and installation methods – far, far away.

We want to spread the word on why it’s better – for your wallet, your house, and your community – to buy from a local and independent lighting company.

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Local Lighting

1. There’s no middleman.

When you do business directly with an independent licensed contractor, you’re cutting out the redundancies in the process. You’re hiring a contractor for a service, he gets it done, and you pay for it.

In the franchise system, the person you are working with has to go through a middleman to do the job. This not only results in a sharing of profits (we’ll explain why this is a problem later), but it can also result in inefficiencies or lag time. It’s much easier and more efficient to work directly with a local business instead of a branch of a franchise.

2. Better quality products installed with refined artistry.

In most franchise systems, individual owners are limited by the restrictions enforced by the franchisor. The biggest limitation is the choice of products. Franchisors set an approved list of vendors or product lines that their franchisees can use, and usually, this list only contains one or two options. Being limited to lower quality fixtures, is unfortunate for the franchise owner, but even more so for the consumer who has to the final product on their property.

Being stifled by these requirements made our owner Patrick (formerly associated with a franchise system) desire the freedom to choose the exact fixture and light source that would create the look and feel, appropriate for each unique project. He didn’t want to sacrifice quality. Patrick started Enlightened Lighting, and began researching and honing his fixture criteria and selection process. His devotion to finding the perfect fixture led to designing a new line of fixtures for Sterling Lighting, ensuring that the lighting schemas he created contained the highest quality and best designed fixtures made with precision.

Enlightened Lights - 20164

3. More experience and expertise.

You might be surprised to learn that a franchise owner is often only required to go through two days of training before they can purchase a franchise and open for business. This means that anyone can take a 10-12 hour course to learn the basics of lighting design and then charge you the same price that a professional with decades of experience could charge.

Because of this, many franchise owners are learning on the job as they go. Everyone has to start somewhere, but as a homeowner, you probably don’t want your contractor to be using your lighting project as their guinea pig. Even if a franchise owner shows you his portfolio, you should still be wary. Any work done in the entire franchise system can be claimed as that individual franchisee’s work. So, the person standing in front of you may not have actually been involved in any of the pristine, picture-perfect projects that are displayed in the glossy pages of his advertising brochure.

Alternatively, when you choose an independent contractor there’s a good chance that he is passionate about his work and has years of experience working with other professionals to hone these skills and create artistically designed landscape lighting projects.

Custom Outdoor Lighting for home facade and carports in DC and Northern VA

4. Your money stays in your community.

One of the biggest advantages of working with a local and independent business is that your money stays in your community. In the franchise system, 8-10% of every penny you pay is sent back to the franchisor, most likely in a remotely-located headquarters. What’s more, a franchisee relies on the franchisor for everything from marketing to distribution, so all of these services are being outsourced outside your local community. On the other hand, an independent business owner typically works with other local, independent businesses to accomplish their day-to-day operations. So, you can feel good about supporting your local business economy by patronizing an independent business.

Enlightened Lighting What To Look For When Choosing A Lighting Designer

5. More competitive rates, while compensating employees well.

When a business owner doesn’t need to pass along 10% of his profits to a parent company, the customers and the employees benefit. Franchise owners have to charge their clients higher rates – or use lower quality products – in order to stay profitable. Independent owners can do the same size project and use better quality products while simultaneously charging you less. An independent business owner can share benefits with his employees and can pay them more because his budget has more flexibility.

Just as you might choose to buy from a local farmers market or support a local artisan, you should keep your lighting business local, too. At Enlightened Lighting, we appreciate your business and we do our best to give back to the community that supports us!

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Everything You Need to Know About Moon Lighting

August 17, 2016

By Lani Furbank

Photo credit: paulisson miura via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo credit: Lua by Paulisson Miura via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Moon lighting. We’re not talking about starting a side hustle! Moon lighting is a very popular style of landscape lighting, but most people don’t really know much about it. In fact, the term is often used incorrectly to describe any light that is shining down from a tree. However, it takes precision to achieve realistic moon lighting, so it’s important to understand the concept thoroughly.

Everything you need to know about moon lighting

Moon Lighting a very specific look

Moon lighting is a type of down lighting that is intended to recreate the look of moon light. (Hence the name!) The lights shine down from high up in the trees, and the foliage breaks up the pattern of light, casting a dappled shadow on your property.

It’s more of an upscale look, which typically works better for a larger property abundant in greenery. Moon lighting can be a subtle way to illuminate areas like driveways without being too overbearing. It’s a sophisticated alternative to harsh spotlights.

To get an idea of what moon lighting looks like, go outside during the day and look at how the sun casts shadows through your trees. The moonlight creates the same shadows that sunlight does, but sunlight is much more obvious.

Light placement is key

Not all properties are suited for moon lighting, and if the effect is executed incorrectly, your yard could end up looking like a parking lot. In order to achieve the right look, moon lights must be placed very high in the trees – at least 30 feet up. Lights placed in 10 to 12 foot trees won’t create a soft, patterned light because it simply isn’t high enough to effectively mimic the moon.

The viewing angle of the light is also very important. You don’t want to look up and be staring right into the light source. A nearly vertical, 15- to 20-degree angle is perfect.

Moon Lighting for Washington DC Northern Virginia Maryland Residential Properties

Moon lighting by Enlightened Lighting

Consider the color temperature

Moon lighting looks great in two color temperatures – it just depends on your personal preference. Some like a natural, warm, reddish light. This is approximately 2700K to 3000K. Others want to mimic the moon exactly, so they opt for a bluish, reflective light. This is 5000K to 5500K. Either way, you want to aim the lights toward green shrubbery or grass to really make the light color pop.

If you’re also adding up lights to your property, you could opt for a combination of the two color temperatures: natural red light for your up lights and reflective blue light for your moon lights.

When done right, moon lighting is a beautiful and unique effect that creates a magical scene. We love adding moon lighting to a property to transform a backyard into a majestic oasis! If you’re interested in adding moon lighting or other landscape lighting to your property, contact Enlightenend Lighting today!

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Outdoor Lighting Among Top Design Trends

August 1, 2016

outdoor lighting contractor in northern va dc metro

By Lani Furbank

A survey published by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), revealed that outdoor lighting looks to be the second most popular outdoor design element of 2016.

The Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey asked landscape architects to rate the expected popularity of a variety of residential outdoor design projects for the year 2016. Respondents rated projects that conserved water among the most popular overall, and lighting ranked second in the category of outdoor design elements.

The survey showed that homeowners are increasingly interested in sustainable design — namely rainwater and graywater harvesting — to build outdoor spaces that are beautiful and beneficial for the environment. Other popular sustainable projects include native and drought-tolerant plants, permeable paving, rain gardens, and reduced lawn area.

These eco-friendly design elements are among the best ways to make your backyard greener, along with energy-efficient LED lighting. Lighting ranked in the top three most popular outdoor design elements (with 66.7% popularity), along with fire pits/fireplaces (74.95%) and wireless/internet connectivity (65.86%).

At Enlightened Lighting, we are noticing an increase in demand for outdoor lighting systems. Fifteen years ago, outdoor lighting was a bit of an anomaly in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Now, some degree of outdoor lighting is on practically every front porch or walkway.

This is likely due to the increased popularity of elaborately equipped outdoor spaces. Stone patios, pools, fire pits, and other amenities were also rare a few decades ago. Now, as residents start to design their backyards to accommodate spending more time outside, they realize that lighting plays a crucial role in truly enjoying that space.

Adding lighting to your property can transform your backyard into an oasis that’s perfect for relaxing or entertaining. At Enlightened Lighting, we strive to find the right balance of just enough light to see your friends, family, and food, while creating subtle and understated ambience for an evening by the fire pit.

Exterior lighting is a practical addition to a home. Being able to see what surrounds your home at night gives you peace of mind knowing that the eerie rustling noises are nothing more than the trees.

If you’re ready to be a part of the trend and join the thousands of other homeowners in Northern Virginia who are discovering the benefits of outdoor lighting, contact Enlightened Lighting today for a free consultation!

Related Blog Articles:
The Art and Science of Stunning Landscape Lighting
How to Be Energy Smart Without Compromising Design
Top Spring Home Improvements to Increase Curb Appeal
Outdoor Home Decorating Tips
5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Home For Outdoor Entertaining

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How to Get Your Lighting Project Approved by Your HOA

July 25, 2016

houses-neighborhood-neighbourhood-suburbs

by Lani Furbank

Installing outdoor lighting is a little different than your average DIY home improvement project. Before your new system can be installed, you likely need to get your design approved by your homeowners association, if you have one. As we explained last summer, this is a bit of a confusing process if you live in Reston Virginia, because the regulations are pretty specific.

However, in most other neighborhoods, the process is pretty straightforward. We’ve installed landscape and architectural lighting in almost every single neighborhood in Northern Virginia, so we know the ins and outs of the HOA approval process, and we want to help yours go smoothly.

It’s important to remember that every HOA is different, so each neighborhood will have unique rules and regulations regarding home exterior and lighting. For most, there are not many restrictions on lighting. The biggest concern is that your fixtures may be too powerful and therefore cause light pollution and glare that is unpleasant for your neighbors. As long as you avoid that, you should have no trouble getting your project approved – provided your application is clear and complete.

Take our advice and follow these three simple steps so you can get your lighting project underway.

How to get your outdoor lighting project approved by your HOA

1. Provide details about your fixture choice

Your HOA will want to know about the size, appearance, and light output of the fixtures you plan to install. They need to screen your selections to make sure the fixture won’t be an eyesore and the light won’t emit a glare. Ask your lighting company for a fixture spec sheet so you can provide your HOA with all the information they need.

At Enlightened Lighting, we have a streamlined product catalog that we give to our customers. We also ensure that our fixtures disappear into the landscape during the day, so we never raise any red flags with HOAs when it comes to fixture choice.

2. Clearly illustrate the design

The next step is getting your design approved. The document you turn in should be a precise outline of the lighting layout as it corresponds to your property’s plat. Your contractor should be able to create an official blueprint or CAD drawing that indicates the position of the lights.

3. Have a conversation with your lighting company

Finally, inform your lighting company about your meeting with your HOA. Some associations will want to talk to the contractor to get a comprehensive overview of the project. Be sure that your contractor is prepared to meet with your HOA if necessary.

This shouldn’t be inconvenient for your contractor. We see these meetings as more of an opportunity than a nuisance – when we show our high-quality work to an HOA, we often end up getting more referrals or the opportunity to upgrade the community entrance lighting.

If you follow these simple recommendations, you should have smooth sailing as you seek approval for your outdoor lighting project from your HOA. Contact Enlightened Lighting if you have questions about lighting regulations or if you’d like to begin the process of installing a lighting system in your backyard.

Related blog articles:
What to Look for When Choosing a Lighting Designer
Reston VA Outdoor Lighting Regulations
7 Signs Your Community Entrance Needs New Outdoor Lighting
Why Your Lighting Contractor Should Call Miss Utility

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Why Homebuilders Offer Outdoor Lighting Packages

July 18, 2016

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by Lani Furbank

When our owner Patrick began his career in lighting 16 years ago, outdoor lighting was an anomaly. Driving through a Washington, D.C. neighborhood or the suburbs, you wouldn’t see many homes with professional lighting systems. Over the past decade, that has changed significantly, and outdoor lighting can be seen on nearly every home in our region.

Recently, the outdoor lighting trend has even spread to custom-built homes, as more and more homebuilders are offering outdoor lighting packages. Adding lighting is a very smart move for a builder, but it’s also a win for the customer.

Here are the top reasons builders offer lighting packages.

Reasons Why Homebuilders offer outdoor lighting packages

To Improve Curb Appeal

Just like outdoor lighting improves curb appeal when we add it to an existing home, an outdoor lighting package on a custom-built home spruces up the property and makes it more appealing to potential buyers. Years ago, builders used to install one or two giant spotlights in the front yard. Now, they’re opting for a more understated approach. Builders will often work with lighting companies to design the optimal lighting system for the home and install fixtures that are built to last.

The building industry is a very competitive market, so builders will do anything they can to give their homes a leg up on another company. The best builders now offer lighting as part of their standard option.

To Offer the Whole Package

When a homebuilder offers a turnkey home, they want it to truly be as ready to live in as possible. Adding extra features like a lighting system, a deck, irrigation, or custom landscaping gives the homeowner the whole package as soon as they move in.

Gone are the days of subpar landscaping that gets ripped out and replaced as soon as the homeowner moves in. Builders are now putting in the extra effort to work with specialists to design and install beautiful, customized amenities to offer the customer the whole package on day one. With these extras added on, homeowners don’t have to worry about hiring a bunch of contractors after closing. A fully tricked out house is also a lot more exciting to move in to!

To Increase Profit

Of course, the builder isn’t just thinking about the customer. Adding extra perks can earn them a little extra on the final sale of the home. The more they offer the homebuyer, the more profit they can bring in.

To Save the Customer Money

Even though the builder is making extra money on lighting packages, the customer is getting a great deal, too. When a builder is developing an entire subdivision, they can save on the cost of the smaller contract work for each home, and therefore offer the lighting package to the customer at a reduced cost. This is because a lighting designer can spend one day at the same subdivision, have one meeting with the builder, and efficiently draw up plans for lighting at each house. They can also have a more streamlined installation process, saving time and money. In short, economies of scale benefit the builder and the buyer.

To save even more money, many homebuilders opt to use fixtures from Sterling Lighting, which is the manufacturing company co-owned by Enlightened Lighting’s founder, Patrick Harders. Because Sterling Lighting is a factory-direct company, their products are of the highest quality, but they are still fairly priced. Enlightened Lighting also has the ability to do install a number of projects in a short period of time, which is great for builders who have a lot of builds happening at once.

If you’re planning to build your own home, we recommend that you talk with the builder during the construction process. Ask if you can be involved in decisions about the lighting system or other additional features that will be included in your package. That way, you get exactly what you want as soon as you move in, and you don’t have to worry about coordinating lots of additional projects as an afterthought. You’ll also save money in the long run, because it’s often cheaper to let your builder handle the work instead of hiring a contractor yourself.

If your builder is looking for a lighting contractor, or if you’re interested in adding lighting to your home, contact Enlightened Lighting today for a free estimate.

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How to Design the Perfect Backyard Lighting System

July 6, 2016

Backyard pool and gazeebo fireplace hearth with outdoor lighting

“Outdoor” lighting is a very broad term. For many lighting designers, every outdoor lighting project is approached the same way, whether it’s for a façade, a backyard, or a pool. At Enlightened Lighting, we have a very specific design philosophy exclusively for backyards so that we can achieve the perfect combination of atmosphere and practicality for every customer.

When we design a lighting system for a backyard, we start by dividing the space into different sections and identifying the key elements as well as functional use of that space.

Functional Lighting

First, we look at practical or functional lighting. This includes any fixtures that are needed to improve visibility and safety, including deck lights, stair lights, and patio lights. Typically, these lights are placed in a subtle location to give great light without adding any visual interruptions. Stair lights, for instance, sit flush with stairs. Patio lights can fit under capstones to light the patio while highlighting the stonework of a retaining wall.

River Birch tree by deck

Up Lighting

Second, we identify areas that could use up lighting. Up lights are placed underneath a tree to shine up and highlight the structure and branches of the tree. This provides an ambient glow that also adds to the visibility, but it doesn’t go overboard to make people feel like they are on display.

When placing up lights, we consider which light strength and spread will be best for each tree based on its height and breadth. We strategically place up lights on trees of different heights and in different locations around the yard – some that are at eye level, and others that have tall canopies – to create a full and balanced appearance.

Tree lighting and outdoor living space bench seating

After establishing these two main types of lighting, we consider other techniques depending on the layout and features of the backyard. Some of the most common options include:

Specialized Lighting

  • Down lighting: placing lights high in a tree or off the house to shine down and provide a soft light on the ground.
  • Moon lighting: similar to down lighting, except we design the light to shine down through a structure (like branches). This creates a broken light pattern on the ground, mimicking moonlight.
  • Wash lighting: placing a light further away to give a gentle “wash” of light. This is used on trees like holly or magnolias that do not allow for up lighting because of their dense leaf structure.
  • Silhouette lighting: placing a light behind an object so that the object does not have direct light on it, but you still can make out the structure of the object. This is often done on small statues.
  • Shadowing: shining a light through a shrub or tree to create a shadow on a wall or structure. This is a beautiful effect, but it has to be done carefully to avoid a spooky Halloween vibe.
  • Underwater lighting: shining a light through water, particularly moving water, such as a waterfall. The moving water and light creates a stunning effect above the water feature.

Underwater lighting DC metro

In each aspect of backyard lighting, placement is very important. Too much light can look busy, but not enough causes areas to disappear into the darkness. We like to equate lighting design to cooking with garlic: It adds rich flavor and can make a dish shine, but a little bit goes a long way and you can really tell when it’s overdone.

When you’re ready to turn your backyard into an evening oasis, contact Enlightened Lighting! We’ll work with you to design a custom lighting system that meets your preferences so you can enjoy your backyard after the sun goes down.

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Put on a Different Type of Light Show for the Fourth of July

June 29, 2016

Photo Credit: m01229 via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: July 4, 2012 by m01229 via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0

by Lani Furbank

It feels like summer has just begun, yet the most iconic holiday of the season is already here! This weekend, people across the country will enjoy stunning fireworks shows to celebrate our great nation’s independence.

After all, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail on July 2, 1776 that future generations would celebrate our Independence Day with “Pomp and Parade… Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

We couldn’t agree more! And while you’re enjoying the illuminations of fireworks, we also recommend a slightly different type of light show on your property: Landscape Lighting!

Landscape lighting is a stunning way to spruce up your home for a big celebration, like the Fourth of July! Those who already have landscape lighting installed on their property can enjoy their backyard amidst subtle but beautiful light while waiting for the fireworks to kick off.

It may be too late to install new lighting for this year’s Independence Day celebration, but it’s the perfect time to start planning landscape lights for other summer holidays, or for next year’s 4th of July!

If you’re ready to enjoy the backyard after the sun goes down, it’s time to consider outdoor lighting. Here are our top reasons why you should light up your yard for the Fourth of July and other summer celebrations.

1. Create a beautiful, inviting ambience.

Picture this: your guests are outside enjoying your backyard and the sun starts to set. Suddenly, you flip the switch, all the lights come on at once, and everyone oohs and aahs at your glowing property. We call it the ‘wow effect’ — lighting is perfect for outdoor entertaining or for your own personal enjoyment.

2. Let the fun continue after the sun goes down.

Even though the summer nights are longer, it still seems like the sun sets too early. With outdoor lighting, you don’t have to head inside right after the fireworks are over. You and your guests can sit outside and enjoy the night – and still see what’s going on!

3. Keep your guests safe.

Uneven pathways or patios can be hazardous to walk on when it’s pitch black outside. If you install path lights to illuminate the walkways around your property or dim driveways, you can make sure no one trips or twists an ankle when it gets dark. Patio lights have the added benefit of adding practical visibility and ambience, simultaneously.

4. Capture the feeling of a vacation without leaving home.

Can’t make it to the beach this summer? Not a problem. Outdoor lighting can create a luxurious and beach-y atmosphere, no matter where your house is located. Adding some up lights, path lights, and patio lights can turn your suburban yard into a backyard oasis! Top that off with some tiki torches, tropical cocktails, and beach umbrellas, and you’ve created your very own coastal ambience!

When we design backyard lighting for a property, we aim to create the exact environment which our client wants. We don’t want it to be so dark that you can’t see your cocktail glass, but we also don’t want you to feel like you’re squinting because the lights are so bright. We work with each homeowner to completely customize the design and ambience.

We want to help you achieve the perfect atmosphere for outdoor celebrations, like the Fourth of July, so contact Enlightened Lighting today to transform your backyard for your next event!

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Why You Need Outdoor Lighting for Your Next Summer Celebration
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