Preserve the Night Sky with Lighting Controls

Controls In our last installment of our Preserving the Night Sky series, we are going to discuss the third key feature to consider when designing a dark sky friendly lighting plan – Controls.  Controls are the way that you tell your lights when you want them on and when you don’t.  With today’s technology, we can control zones or areas of lighting separately right from the palm of your hand.  That’s right, you can use an app to control the pool zone, the security zone, the party zone, or the everyday zone.  This way, if you feel nervous about the things that go bump in the night you can turn on the security zone with the touch of a button on your phone.

Lighting Controls can also be as simple as having the right timer installed on your system.  We usually recommend using an astronomical timer that uses a pre-programmed database of times for sunrise and sunset to tell your system when to turn on and off.  All you have to do is tell the timer where you are in the world, the time / date, and when you want your lights to shine.  That’s about as easy as it comes – set and forget.  It even gives you an option to automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time.

Give us a call and we can look at your specific situation and put into practice the right method to take a balanced approach to the lighting of your property.

For more information on one of the smart lighting products we install visit FX Luxor

Related Posts in Series:

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

 

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

  Up LightingToday we are going to discuss the second key feature in Preserving the Night Sky series, Up lighting. Up lighting does show off the features of your home better than most applications.  However, done incorrectly this is one of the biggest contributors to light pollution. It is possible to create the dramatic shadow effects of skimming a textured stone house with an up light and still keep the light from passing beyond the eve of the home.

The right fixtures are the key to success. Make sure your fixtures have shields or cowls that prevent the trespass of light on to other things or beyond into the night sky.  We offer free consultations, so why not have us come and visit and talk about the best way to do this.

 

Related Posts:

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

Moon Light Effect

Cool LED down moonlighting

As we continue our Preserve the Night Sky series, our first key feature we want to discuss is one of our signature designs, the Moon Light Effect.  This is a method of lighting the landscape and the trees to cast beautiful shadows and light on the grass and the plants below, all the while grazing the textured bark of our live oak tree’s grand twisted branching structure.  Done correctly, this method highlights the tree and the surround area without effecting the night sky.

However, there are some important things to watch out for when installing the lighting for the moon light effect. The fixtures and the wire MUST be mounted to the trees with the correct methods and materials.  Trees are not buildings, they grow, they move, and they have pests in them.  The fixtures and wire should NEVER be surface mounted to a tree like it can and should be to a building.  After all, why would we want to hurt the very specimen tree we are trying to show off?

The fixtures make a significant difference as well.  Did you know that most fixtures on the market are designed for up lighting?  If you take a fixture that was designed for up lighting and put it in the down position, it will be just a few rain events away from being a complete waste of your time and money.  So do your research before you invest the time and money.  We offer free consultations, so we would be happy to visit with you and talk about the lighting plan that would work best for you.

 

Related Posts:

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with responsible lighting

Photo Credit: http://tpwd.texas.gov

One of the many charms of the hill country is the beautiful night sky. Homeowners may think they should avoid installing outdoor lighting in order to preserve the night sky. However, with responsible outdoor lighting design, not only can you enjoy the night sky but also enjoy your outdoor living space.

I’ve lived in the Hill Country for most of my life, and have always enjoyed the stars and the night sky. We take many steps to bring ambiance, security, and safety to your property while taking in deep consideration of the stars in the night sky. As proud members of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), we try to educate clients on the differences between what we do and what everyone else does in the lighting landscape lighting world. In this series of posts, we will share the three key features to consider when designing an outdoor lighting plan that is also dark sky friendly.Preserve the Night Sky with responsible lightingRelated Posts:

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

 

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

Protecting your home with lights

Protect your homeAccording to the FBI, home break-ins are the most common threat to our home.  A burglary occurs every 13 seconds in the U.S. and the summer are the peak months for burglaries to occur.  Now is the time to protect your home from possible break-ins.

Security and Landscape Lighting is one of the best ways to deter criminal behavior around your home.  Lighting your exterior is very important and should be in the front and rear of the home. The lights should be on a timer and there may also be places you should consider motion sensor lighting as well.

Interior lighting is also necessary to show signs of activity inside.  Make your home appear occupied with the use of timers for the lights.

Call today for a free lighting evaluation to see how you can enhance your property’s night time aesthetics while deterring criminals.

Beat the heat with outdoor fans

outdoor fansThe weather has been warming up as we launch into spring in San Antonio.   While the weather right now is very enjoyable, we all know that the oppressive summer heat is just around the corner. Outdoor fans are a great way to beat the heat in Texas.  Landscape Lighting Guru installs outdoor fans and we can help recommend the best type and brand of fan best suited for your home.

One of the brands we recommend, Haiku, offers unique designs that reflect any style.  To top it off, they’re smart and energy efficient. They recently released a wet-rated fan designed for indoor-outdoor lifestyles, and can handle whatever Mother Nature throws at it.  Stainless-steel components and sturdy airfoils mean it will never wilt, wither or rust.

outdoor fan

 

Did you know that fans not only cool you off but also protect you from pesky mosquitoes? According to entomologists, mosquitoes aren’t active when wind gusts exceed 10 miles per hour. You can create your own wind with a fan set on high and that should provide enough of a gust to keep bugs away from you and your guests.  Plus, fans help dissipate the carbon dioxide you exhale and reduce body heat, both of which have been found to attract mosquitoes.

Spring Forward this Sunday

Spring Forward and check your timerDaylight Saving Time (DST) ends this Sunday causing us to lose an hour of sleep this weekend.  The mornings will be lighter and the evenings will be darker making it a good time to check the timer on your outdoor lighting system.

There are several different type of timers used for outdoor lighting and what needs to be updated depends on what type of timer you have.  If your lighting system has been installed in the last few years, you likely have an astronomical timer or a photocell.  Those types of timers should automatically adjust for daylight savings time and you shouldn’t need to do a thing!

If you have a manual timer, you will need to adjust for daylight savings time.  To adjust your timer, you first need to find your transformer which will be located outside (usually near your utilities) or inside your garage.  The transformer is a box and you will unlatch it to open it and find your timer.  To adjust the time, you rotate the dial clockwise until the correct time is shown in the window in the middle of the timer.  You can also adjust the start time and end times for your lights by moving the green and red pins.  The green is the start time and the red is the end time.   In San Antonio, the new sunrise time will be 7:45 am and the sunset time will be 7:45 pm.

If you need help adjusting your timer, please give us a call and we would be happy to walk you through the process – 210-710-7737.  Here are a few interesting articles for more information on Daylights Saving Time.

A new bill was recently filed by a Texas state representative to abolish the DST ritual: Will Texas elect to drop DST?

Great overview done by Time of why DST was started and data on its effectiveness:  Why do we have DST?

 

How to hang Outdoor String Patio Lights

Outdoor patio string lights not only light up your backyard or patio, but also transform your outdoor space into magical setting for entertaining, dining, and relaxing. With a bit of planning, you can create an outdoor living space that you will enjoy from day to night!

So how do you create this magical space with string lights?

Outdoor String Lights

Zig Zag Pattern

1.  Measure Your Space – Know the dimensions of your space and add 2-6 feet of length to your measurements to account for the natural swag of the lights when hung.

2.  Pick a pattern for your string lights. Here are a few of the more popular DIY patterns:

  • Zig Zag  patterns are a fun choice when you want to add full coverage illumination across your space
  • X Patterns work especially well in wide spaces or areas that are square shaped.
  • Square pattern is created by outlining the perimeter of your space.
  • Scalloped Edge patterns work well along a fence or wall.

3. Find your anchor points to create your pattern and make sure you use only stainless steel hardware.

Outdoor String Lights

X Pattern

  • Attached to Trees
  • Hanging against deck railings
  • Fence posts
  • Outlining a roof line
  • Pole – Can have one installed or install yourself

4.  Buy your lights

Patio bulbs are available in several shapes and sizes to complement any size space or decorative style. Globe patio lights are a classic choice with the G40 being the most common in a medium size bulb.  There are also S11 bulbs that have more a balloon shape or S14 bulbs for a more vintage look.  The wire is most commonly found in green but often have white and black available as well.

Outdoor String Lights

Square Pattern

Another important choice you have is whether you want incandescent lights or if you want to upgrade to LED.  Not only will LED lights provide up to 98% energy savings but they also give you the ability to string many different strands end-to-end only utilizing one outdoor outlet.  To dig deeper into the energy savings, assuming you had 100 lamps (typically 4 strands for 100 ft total) running for 6 hours every evening, the incandescent lights would cost ~$330 a year in electrical costs versus the LED lights which would cost ~$3 a year.   So any upfront cost to upgrade to LED when purchasing the lights will quickly be made up if you plan to use your new lights often.

5.  Hang your Patio Lights
The installation process can vary depending on where and how you decide to hang your patio lights. You should consider adding a stainless-steel cable or guy wire to hang your lights to give them more stability. You may also want to have some zip ties, carabiners, hooks, extension cords and a staple gun available for use during installation. (but never staple wires to the trees, or wrap the wire around the tree branches)

Last but not least, plug them in and sit back & enjoy!  If you are interested but not sure where to start, give us a call at 210-710-7737 for a free consultation.

Outdoor String Lights

Scalloped

Ring up the Energy Savings with LED Rebate

LED RebateDid you know that CPS makes it easier then ever to cash in on the savings of switching to LED?  They offer an in-store LED rebate program at many different retailers with an instant rebate.  There are no forms to mail in or receipts to copy.  Visit a participating retailer and look for energy star certified LED lamps.

What is the In-Store Rebate Program?

Our program offers valuable rebates on energy efficient products, like ENERGY STAR® certified lighting. But the best part is, there’s no mailing, no waiting. You save the second you ring up and will continue to see your bill go down each month.


Things to know before you get started:

To learn more about the rebate programs offered by CPS, visit their website at cpsenergy.com