MGM OUTDOOR LIGHTING DESIGN
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One of our areas of expertise would have to be pools, decks, patios and outdoor kitchens using the combination of actual live flame & 12 volt light. It sets the mood for a tropical, romantic, enjoyable atmosphere, just look at some of my photos. Low voltage outdoor lighting for residential applications is the sole topic addressed on this web site. The text is based on direct experience with low voltage lighting over a period of 40 years and over 5,000 outdoor projects.
The purpose of our website is to aid you the homeowner in making an informed decision about the acquisition of residential outdoor lighting. The emphasis is on low voltage (12v) systems rather than line voltage (120v) systems. Low voltage systems are more appropriate in residential settings; line voltage systems are better suited to large-scale commercial and institutional applications.
Many home owners know the importance of exterior lighting. Applied the correct way, outdoor lighting can turn your yard into a high-end resort. It increases your pleasure of your house. In addition, it improves security. With exterior landscape lighting you have the power to turn a dark backyard into an entertainment zone.
One of our areas of expertise would have to be pools, decks, patios and outdoor kitchens using the combination of actual live flame & 12 volt light. It sets the mood for a tropical, romantic, enjoyable atmosphere, just look at some of my photos.
The services of a landscape lighting design professional should be considered carefully. It is important to have confidence in a lighting designer's ability to meet the challenge of providing a lighting plan that acknowledges the unique qualities of the home and the landscaping. A good lighting system should demonstrate the designer's ability to achieve the lighting effects desired by the client while considering the issues of cost, equipment performance and site conditions.
Discussions of lighting effects tend toward the abstract. A good way to judge the abilities of a lighting designer is by viewing some of the designer's completed projects after dark. A portfolio of projects photographed at night is also helpful but night photography can be misleading since film captures light differently than the eye. It is important to look at the outdoor lighting when driving through similar residential areas at night to note those effects that seem particularly suitable. The appeal of good lighting is mainly a matter of individual taste but some common deficiencies in lighting design are easy to identify:
High surface brightness - the funeral home or model home look
High contrast ratios - hot spots of bright light surrounded by large dark areas
Lack of variety in the lighting techniques - or the opposite: overly dramatic effects
Lighting that shines into the windows of the home or into neighboring homes
An over abundance of path lighting to closely spaced - the runway effect
Unbalanced lighting that divides rather than unites the landscape features
Glare from unshielded sources that detract from the intended effects
Dim lights or large variations in light-to-light brightness indicate improper engineering
The experiences of friends or neighbors who have already added lighting to their properties can also inspire confidence in the ability of of a lighting company to provide design, installation and service appropriate to the task.. Some companies listing outdoor lighting as a sideline to their main business of landscape contracting or irrigation may have limited experience with lighting. It is important that the qualifications of any lighting service provider be scrutinized carefully. Typical questions should include:
How many lighting projects have been completed?
Where can projects be viewed in a nighttime drive-by?
Are any existing clients willing to discuss their lighting and their experience?
Will lighting effects be "on approval" and changed without charge if necessary?
What is the warranty on equipment (including lamps), performance and workmanship?
Low voltage lighting is the best choice for residential outdoor lighting. The landscape evolves: plants mature, trees gain height and breadth, shrubbery beds are reconfigured. A lighting system must be flexible to encompass these changes. The minimal disruption of the initial installation and the ease with which changes are accomplished with a low voltage system are key factors in accommodating the slow-paced dynamic of the outdoor environment. Planning for the present includes planning for the future.
Landscape lighting reveals the house and grounds in the setting that was lost as night fell. The purpose of lighting is to re-establish the relationship between the house and the landscaping. Lighting should enhance the setting, extend the hours of enjoyment of the outdoors and provide for the safety and convenience of guests. It can also address issues of security in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing and appropriate to the site. To achieve these goals it is necessary to plan, design and execute the lighting carefully and methodically. Low voltage lighting is an optional outdoor amenity usually added to a property after construction is completed and the landscaping has matured. Most often it is the final touch to a carefully designed and maintained landscape plan. It is therefore important that the lighting be appropriate to the landscaping. Some homeowners, particularly those, who have done their own landscaping, may wish to attempt to do the lighting as well; most others will enlist the aid of an outdoor lighting professional.
Outdoor lighting is the addition of lighting effects not just the purchase of equipment. The ideal lighting system is one that meets the practical and aesthetic needs of the owner without adding yet another maintenance requirement to the burden of ownership. Service and maintenance is intrinsic to outdoor lighting. Planning, design, installation and service are the components of effective and appropriate lighting.
Most low voltage landscape lighting is retrofit into existing landscaping; the challenge of accomplishing this with minimal disruption will not defeat an experienced designer.
Every made object has a maintenance component. Precision equipment mounted outdoors delivering controlled and intentional lighting is no exception. In actuality, good quality outdoor lighting equipment has very low maintenance requirements.
The reliable operation of lighting equipment indoors or out is a function of lamp life. Since performance, operating cost and maintenance are almost solely a function of lamp type it is worthwhile to describe in detail this aspect of a low voltage system.
An LED is a semiconductor chip that generates light when current is applied to it, which is very different from any other technology currently used in lighting. There are also different types of LED emitters that have different characteristics that affect their applicability in lighting.
Please note that we define useful life as when the LEDs depreciate to 70% of their initial output, in lumens. The lamp with continue to operate far beyond that, but with additional lumen depreciation
Our most powerful lamp to date is a Par 36 shape that uses a mere 15 watts of power to produce up to 1650 lumens of light in a compact PAR30 shape. Compare that to a 560-watt PAR30 or a 75W BR30 producing less light, the LED will outlast 10 of these bulbs, and you can see the savings.