Is your outdoor lighting ready for the holiday?

 

Holiday

With Thanksgiving next week and mild weather in the forecast, you may consider moving your holiday gathering outside this year.

To be prepared, check your outdoor lighting as nothing ruins a holiday get-together out more than poor lighting. Even if you aren’t thinking about having a party, but are more about some avid decorating, you need to make sure that your lighting is up-to-date and working properly.

While it will be mild weather, the evenings will cool a bit and will be perfect weather for a patio heater or fireplace. With a few additions to your patio you can extend your use of your patio to all year round including the upcoming holiday. Adding a fire feature to keep it warm can create a focal point, serves as a place around which to gather, entertain, relax, and enjoy time outdoors.  In case you missed it, check out our recent post on choosing a fire feature for your yard

As the holiday decorations start to go up this time of year, we often receive calls regarding electrical problems with the bathroom, garage or outdoor outlets not working. The usual cause for this problem is that the outdoor Christmas lights have tripped a GFI outlet or circuit breaker in your home. Standard circuit breaker will trip if you over load the wiring with too many lights on one breaker. GFI circuits are a little bit different. Morning dew, rain, or a sprinkler may introduce a bit of moisture into the Christmas electrical plugs and this could result in a ground fault. Weather proofing or covering of the electrical outlet and plug connections should reduce nuisance of GFI-Tripping.

HolidayHow to check your circuit breaker: First, unplug the outdoor lighting. Second, go to the electrical panel, check the circuit breaker and reset it if needed. Now, test the outlet for power. If it’s working, allow time for the wiring to dry out and reconnect your lights.

GFI outlets are outlets with the test and reset buttons in them. Many times, the GFI outlet in a bathroom or garage that feeds power to the outdoor outlet has tripped because of a wet plug on the holiday lights. Now, what to do: First, unplug the outdoor lighting. Second check all the GFI outlets by pushing the test and then the reset buttons. Check for GFI outlets in the bathrooms, basement, garage and the outdoor outlets themselves. Now test the outlet for power. If it’s working, allow time for the wiring to dry out and reconnect your lights. For more details on resetting your GFI outlets, check out our previous post here.

Daylight Saving Time and your Landscape Lighting

Daylight saving time ends this Sunday so remember fall back by setting your clocks back an hour.  Enjoy your extra hour of sleep this weekend!

Daylight Saving TimeWith daylight saving time ending,  it will get darker earlier in the evening. We recommend checking the timer on your landscape lighting system as it is getting darker earlier now and many systems are set for our long summer days.  And we haven’t even gotten to our darkest days which happen during the winter solstice.  Winter Solstice is December 22nd and it will be our darkest day with only 10 hours of daylight.  Compare that to summer solstice in June where we have 14 hours of daylight – we have lost 4 hours of daylight!!

With the time change, you can expect it to get dark around 5:30 in the evening.  By adding outdoor lighting to your home, YOU will control the time it gets dark at your house, not mother nature.  Here in San Antonio, we know this time of year is often the best time to enjoy the outdoors with the cooler temperatures.

Reclaim your light-filled evenings by adding outdoor lighting to your outdoor living area so you can enjoy a little more time outside this fall. Give us a call at 210-710-7737 if you need help setting your timer or are interested in adding new outdoor lights.

Want to learn more about daylight savings time?  We liked this article “Daylight Saving Time 2017: A Guide to the When, Why, What and How” at LiveScience.com!

 

Curb Appeal is important for Halloween

We are only two weeks away from the night when your front porch will have the most traffic it has all year long…trick-or-treaters on Halloween!  With all those neighbors ringing your front door bell, we thought it was a good time to highlight the importance of curb appeal.  Boosting your curb appeal is not only great for resale, but can be something you can enjoy too.  Here are a few quick tips to easily improve your curb appeal.

Curb Appeal for HalloweenAdding Seasonal Decor

This can be as simple as a wreath on the door and a pumpkin on the stairs for fall.  If you are looking for a Halloween decor for this season, we thought these floating witch hat luminaries at polkadotchair.com looked so cool.  You know we love our lighting!

Add Outdoor Lighting

Speaking of lighting, it has a huge impact on your curb appeal.  Not only that but it provides safety from your guests and security from any unwanted guests.

So where should you start with front yard lighting?  The first place is to look at your front porch.  You should have lighting around your front door. This helps a guest find the front door and it helps you identify a visitor before opening the door.  Lighting around your front door can be as easy as sconces on either side of your front door.  It can also be a chandelier that hangs over the front door space.

Next turn your attention to the pathway between your driveway or street to the front door.  Are there any stairs or steps that need to be lit for safety?  Consider path lights to mark the way for guests and also to highlight your landscaping.  After that, you can turn your attention to up lighting on the facade of your home and down lighting from your trees to make your home really stand out.

Plant some Flowers

You can create an instant garden using decorative pots and seasonal flowers.

Paint the Front Door

Your front door is the first thing people see when coming to your home. Make your house stand out from the rest by painting it in an inviting color that compliments your home.

Adding curb appeal doesn’t have to be a big, expensive project.  With just a few small changes, your home’s curb appeal could have a big improvement.  At a minimum, do make sure you check the safety of your front porch and make sure your light bulbs haven’t burned out.  If you need help or suggestions for adding or changing your outdoor lighting, please give us a call 210-710-7737.

 

Project Spotlight – Warm LED Up Lighting

We just finished up lighting this beautiful home in Fair Oaks Ranch.  The light really captures the shadows of the stone variation on the house.  We used Warm LED Up-lighting to create the effect.  With proper shielding, we are able to prevent light flowing into the sky, and can still get this beautiful result!

 

Warm LED Up-Lighting Warm LED Up-Lighting Warm LED Up-Lighting

National Night Out Good Reminder for Security Lighting

Security Lighting

Tonight many communities across Texas will celebrate National Night Out and it provides a good opportunity to talk about security lighting.  NNO reinforces the importance of making our communities a safer place to live and play.  The event is designed to heighten awareness of crime and how the community can help.  Burglars search for homes that give them the best opportunity to break-in without being detected. Lighting adds an element of surprise and establishes an occupancy pattern that deters intruders from targeting a home in the first place.

Residents that use outdoor lighting as part of their security plan significantly decrease their changes of being burglarized. In fact, homes without security measures such as alarms and outdoor lighting are up to 300% more likely to be vandalized. Home security statistics tell us that burglars will usually bypass a house if it requires too much effort. Adding light will make it more difficult for them to get onto your property and access your home unseen, thereby deterring potential intruders from making your home their next target.   Many people think of motion sensors and flood lights when it comes to security lighting for your home but it doesn’t have to be this way. Lighting your residence can bring together beauty and the function of security, giving you peace of mind.

The following are a few tips to consider when looking at security lighting for your home:

First, you’ll want to complete a security analysis of your home’s exterior. Walk your property at night and look for areas that might be vulnerable. Thieves will look for easy access points, so make note of any dark spots, ways they could get into your home, or hide on your property. Check all doors, sliding doors, windows, window wells, trees close to the home, anywhere someone could possibly get in or hide without being seen. Donʼt forget about your driveway, garage, or carport.  If you have a large property or acreage, you might want to consider lighting the perimeter of your yard or property, especially if you have lots of trees or a wooded area where someone could potentially hide. Lighting the perimeter makes it even more difficult for a potential intruder to get onto your property, and even more difficult for them to get near your home.

Now that you have a good idea where all the vulnerable areas of your home are, you can start adding light by up-lighting, down lighting, or using path lights. If your front entrance is dark, up-lighting front columns or other architectural features will not only accent the beauty of your home, but will also add security. For dark paths and walkways around or between the house and garage, you can use path lights, down lights, or a combination of both.

Consider having your lighting system setup to be controlled by timers. With a timer you can set the time your lights come on and turn off every day. This makes your home appear to be occupied if your out of town for long periods of time, our just for the evening.

Security Lighting can add curb appeal, safety, and security to your home. If you would like a free consultation on how Landscape Lighting Guru could help you with a security lighting plan for your home, give us a call at 210-710-7737.  A well-designed security lighting system can be beautiful while still providing you peace of mind.

 

Warm up your patio with a fire feature

Choosing a Fire Feature for your Yard

As the cool temperatures reach San Antonio this week, it is a reminder that fall is just around the corner. With a few additions to your patio you can extend your use of your patio to all year round. Adding a fire feature to keep it warm can create a focal point, serves as a place around which to gather, entertain, relax, and enjoy time outdoors.

So what fire feature should you choose? There are several ways to warm up your outdoor space depending on your space and your budget.

fire feature

Patio Heaters
A patio heater is an easy way to provide instant warmth to your surroundings. These are a great way to heat up your patio with little to no work. Patio heaters come in many different options. One of our favorites is this electric infrared ceiling mounted patio heater. No need to worry about propane tanks and everything is securely mounted.

fire feature

Firepit
Because of their portability, low cost, and ease of use, fire pits have become a popular type of outdoor fire feature. Traditionally designed low to the ground, they can be built or bought in any shape or size and in a variety of materials. There are DIY firepits you can make yourself for $100 to more costly custom fire pits.

Fireplace
If you are looking to create a focal point on your patio and want a permanent structure, a fireplace is a great option. A fireplace can be wood burning or powered by natural gas. These custom, built-in fireplaces will create a cozy gathering place for years to come.

How to Light your Feature
When it comes to outdoor fire places and fire pits, it’s easy to think of them as self-producing light sources. While they do put off a certain amount of light all by themselves, this does not necessarily mean that they eliminate the need for light fixtures altogether. A functional light source is important from a safety stand point while also creating ambiance for your patio.

fire featureFor ambiance around the fire pit, consider keeping the lighting low. Using path lighting and hardscape seat lighting are a great way to make light without sacrificing the campfire ambiance. A separate switched light from above can give you the light you need to start the fire, then turn it off when everything gets going.

 

For fireplaces that are part of a covered patio, down lighting from the ceiling on to the mantel area really looks nice and can highlight any personal art you are displaying. For standalone outdoor fireplaces consider hardscape lights and well lights installed into the hearth for a dramatic effect, up lighting the fire place as a focal point on the patio looks good all year long. As beautiful as an outdoor fireplace can be they don’t produce heat very far from the fire source, so if you have a dining area and a kitchen area as part of your outdoor entertainment space consider infrared heaters over all of the gathering spaces. Infrared heater will do a great job at pumping out heat and are not affected by the wind like propane heaters.

Ants wreak havoc on lighting systems

 

Ants wreak havoc on Outdoor Lighting Systems

Recently, a potential customers questioned the value of spending a little extra time and money protecting their outdoor electrical systems and lights from fire ants.  Those ants may seem tiny but they can cause a huge problem to your landscape lighting system. In the Guru’s experience servicing lighting systems, one of the biggest problems we see is ants nesting in one of the electrical components.

AntsIn Texas alone, costs associated with fire ant damages to electrical and communications equipment totaled $146.5 million per year (Source: Texas A&M University).  And it’s not just fire ants, other ant species are attracted to your outdoor lighting.  This can short out your entire outdoor lighting system and it will require a service technician to check all the connections and fixtures to find the source of the problem and fix it.

It may not sound like a big deal, but the ants can actually ruin the equipment by either chewing through the components or bringing in dirt to create a nest leading to moisture issues.  Ants love electricity. Everything from A/C units to water well electrical components are on their list of things to destroy. Not only does it cause damage to the equipment but it also is a safety concern.

There are various opinions on why the ants are attracted to electrical components but the key to fixing the issue is through prevention. We now have an ant preventative that we add to new systems and can add to maintain and protect existing systems. They are added to every tree mounted fixture, every jbox, every power post and every transformer.

Another prevention technique used by Landscape Lighting Guru is improving the wire connections which are a common access point for ants.  We use heat shrink connections instead of wire nuts to help prevent ants access to the wire.  Not only does this improved connectivity, but it also will not allow insects (Ants) getting in. Additionally it will prevent all the corrosive elements that can deteriorate in your system.

Last but not least is best prevention technique is to have regularly scheduled maintenance to reapply the pesticide and look for any potential problems.   Ants can be an easy fix if you catch it before they have done damage. When we provide yearly maintenance we have been able to prevent expensive damage and outages.

Don’t let ants ruin your professionally installed landscape lighting system. Protect your investment by keeping the ants out!  We offer lighting maintenance service plans for existing systems that includes the ant treatment.  To see the damage ants can do, check out a few videos from a few of our recent service calls.  If we can help you with your lighting, please give us a call 210-710-7737.

 

San Antonio Vulnerable to Zika – Protect Your Family from Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes

The world’s deadliest creature isn’t what you might expect. A graphic from Bill Gates’ blog outlined the number of deaths per year related to animals. You’ll see the biggest offender are mosquitoes!

With over 312 Zika cases reported in Texas last year, it is time to really think about how you are going to protect your family. Ashley Lopez of Austin’s NPR Station, reported on just how vulnerable Texas is to Zika.  With the historically warm weather last winter, there wasn’t a huge die-off of the mosquito population especially in places like San Antonio and Houston.  The mosquito that carries the Zika virus also happens to be prevalent in Texas, specifically in densely populated areas. This combination has many experts and officials worried that Texas is very vulnerable to the Zika virus.

So how can you protect your family this summer?  

Mosquitoes

Mosquito Repellent System

Landscape Lighting Guru offers a mosquito repellent system that will quickly create a mosquito free haven for your outdoor space so you can safely enjoy the cooler temperatures.   The Mosquito Repellent fixture offers mosquito repellency to enhance your patio, deck or yard.  The patented mosquito protection system is effective providing protection within 15 minutes of use and is effective against all types of mosquitoes.  It is conveniently odorless, silent, invisible during use – no smelly oils, smoke, or zapping sounds to disturb you

 

Outdoor Fans

Another way to protect your family from mosquitoes and keep you cool as well. One simple solution to repelling these bugs is an overhead fan!  You can literally fan mosquitoes away.

According to the American Mosquito Control Association, a large fan on your deck would work because mosquitoes are weak fliers.  The New York Times also reports that a fan’s breeze “disperses the human emanations that allow female mosquitoes to zero in on us.” Entomologists from Michigan State University found that fan-generated wind greatly reduces mosquitoes and they recommend we use it in our backyards to protect ourselves and our pets.

Landscape Lighting Guru installs both the mosquito repellent system and outdoor fans and would be happy to come out and give a free consultation.   To learn more about how Landscape Lighting Guru can help you protect your family from mosquitoes, call us at 210-710-7737

Comparing Landscape Lighting Bids Apples to Apples

comparing bidsSo you are looking at installing outdoor lighting and you’re doing your research to pick 3 companies to get bids from. After all, it is the smart and responsible way to find any contractor.  First off, the best way to find a reliable company is to ask your friends and neighbors if they have a company they would recommend.  Be sure to look at the company’s online presence including customer reviews and testimonials.

After you have picked a few to call and have initial meetings, now you have three great bids to consider, but are they the same? Probably not. How do you know that the lighting contractors you’re talking to are giving you pricing for the same thing?

Here are a few things to watch for:

First off, make sure your bid is in writing.  Are they professional? Examine the contract and determine if it is fair. Also, ensure that the legal agreement includes the payment schedule and bid price as well as the scope of work and details on the fixtures.

One of the big differences in lighting bids are the quality of the fixtures that they are installing.  There is a huge variance in fixture price that is directly based on the quality of that fixture.  If you are comparing a bid using cheap fixtures that won’t make it through a season vs fixtures that carry a lifetime warranty, there is likely a huge initial cost savings with the cheap fixtures that will have you paying more in the end when you have replace it.

The fixture manufacturer’s offer different warranties on their fixtures so be sure to ask what type of fixtures the contractor will install and what warranty comes with the fixture.

Finally, can you communicate with them? This may seem like simple stuff, but don’t take it for granted. First, can you call or email them and have them get back to you with answers to your questions in good time? And second do you understand each other? And do you understand the explanations they give you?

Every business is a little different and the goal is to find the one that is right fit for you!  It is not as easy as just picking the lowest price bid as that may not get you what you are looking for.  You aren’t just looking for a fair price but also the company that offers great service and high quality.

The Top 3 Lighting Trends You Need

Top 3 Lighting Trends you need to know about

We have rounded up the three biggest lighting trends that are hot right now and are must haves for your home.  They are fairly simple changes that have a huge impact on your life.

Lighting Trend #1: Lighting Sensors

Is there a room in your house where the lights are always being left on?  By replacing your current light switch with an occupancy sensor switch, you will never leave the lights on again!

top 3 lighting trendsAn occupancy sensor will automatically turn on the lights when you enter a room and it will turn them off once you leave.   Not only is it convenient but it saves energy and saves you money on the electric bill.

These sensors are ideal for rooms where the lights are accidentally left on such as pantries, closets or bathrooms.  They are also ideal for rooms you enter when your hands are full such as your laundry room, kitchen or a work/storage room.

The sensors have setting options on them to adjust the sensitivity as well as how long the light should remain on after you leave the room.  This is handy if you are making trips back and forth into the room so you don’t have the lights turning on and off constantly.

To read more about it, check our post http://landscapelightingguru.com/occupancysensorswitch/

lighting trends

 

Lighting Trend #2: Lighting inside cabinets and drawers

Don’t you hate it when your cabinets or drawers are so dark that you can’t see the contents, and you can’t find what you need? Tired of using a flashlight when you need to venture into a dimly-lit space? Well, trendsetters these days have found elegant solutions to that problem: they’re adding lighting inside those formerly-dark spaces.  In many cases, when you open a drawer or cabinet, the light inside is triggered to instantly turn on.

 

 

 

Lighting Trend #3: LED

lighting trendsLED lighting continues to be top trend in indoor and outdoor lighting and will remain that way for years to come.  The US Department of Energy forecasts that LED lighting will comprise 75% of all lighting sales by the year 2030.

This is such an easy trend to get on board with – retrofitting your current fixtures is as easy as changing out your light bulb.  LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have been constantly evolving and improving since they were introduced. The latest LED technology offers a broad range of colors and intensity levels with ever-increasing energy efficiency.  It saves you money right away in electrical costs and longer term as you don’t have to replace the bulbs as often.

  • High Efficiency – LED uses 75% less energy than traditional lighting Better for the environment and saves you money
  • Extra long life – LED have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours that is an average of 15 years. In addition, the light output remains consistent throughout its lifespan. The long lifespan requires very little on-going maintenance.
  • Variety of Color Options and size – LEDs can match the warm tones of incandescent lighting, overcoming the cold, blue-white light of the past.
  • Surface temperature – LED lamps remains cool which allows for improved safety and no energy loss due to heat.

If you would like to learn more about these lighting trends or any other indoor lighting options, please give us a call at 210-710-7737.