How to Light the Front of Your House. Tips and Types of Lighting.

You want your house to look great at night, as well as during the day. Highlighting it with well-placed lights can do that for you. It will emphasize, or even create, architectural interest and provide the best lighting for the tasks that need to be performed. There are three types of lighting: ambient, task and mood.

Understanding the three types and using them appropriately will ensure a well-lit, stylish exterior. Plan the lighting placement with each of these types of lighting in mind. Typically, the ambient lighting is done first, then the task lighting, then the mood lighting.

In the article below from Houzz, find out about six common outdoor lighting features and the right ways to use them

Hidden Dangers of Big Box Store Landscape Lighting Products

led landscape lighting boca raton

Big box stores,  local home stores and online Internet companies sell many landscape lighting products and systems. But their quality, lifespan, and customer service fail big-time in comparison to what you receive from professional installations.

While the low cost of these products and the apparent ease of installation advertised may be persuasive, after a few years customers are left feeling less than thrilled with their purchase.

Here are the main reasons you should avoid this type of lighting:

1. Low-grade material. Primary materials used in these cheap fixtures are flimsy, non-UV resistant plastic or a thin, low-grade “pot metal”. Pot metal is simply a combination of whatever scrap metal is lying in the next pile to be melted at the Chinese foundry where these fixtures are made, so there is never any consistency in the balance of metal types used. This can leave these fixtures prone to pitting, brittleness, and corrosion.

2. Painted finishes. These fixtures are often covered with a thin painted finish to cover the cheap pot metal below it. After a few years under the harsh UV of the sun, the paint begins to break down and flake off, leaving the pot metal below visible and open to the corrosive work of the elements. The only type of acceptable finish for long-term use outside is a hard-baked, applied powder coating.

4. Unsafe power sources. The small plastic “power boxes” sold by home stores don’t come close to  professional lighting standards. So they can be quite dangerous. The transformers typically sold are equipped with only a single voltage tap (12v) and also have improper and/or inadequate secondary fusing. This leaves the power center vulnerable to overheating and could potentially lead to the power center combusting.

5. Low-quality optics and LED light sources. The quality of the light source is equally as important as laying the design out correctly. The cheap, low-quality LED chipsets that are included in these retail lights will never produce a professional looking effect. Don’t expect the deep color rendering of light that can only be produced with a high quality LED that has a high color rendering index or (CRI).

6. Improper wire connection points. The number one reason these systems fall apart so quickly is due to improper wire connections. A proper wire connection will be 100% waterproof and untouched by soil minerals in the ground. It will also be tight and secure with no way the wire connection could ever come loose, begin to arc and heat up.

The connection in box store systems  is something called a “pierce-point” connector. It consists of rectangular or round plastic housing that you open up to reveal 2 wire tracks and a few sets of sharply-pointed, metal blades.  It is a simple way to connect wires, but it does nothing to protect them from the elements.

Custom Lighting of America uses only the best materials for the job.  That means LED lighting systems  that are meant to last a lifetime. Our consumer buyer protection plan will warranty the light fixtures and transformer, essentially the entire system for life!  This one of a kind lifetime warranty protects homeowners not only against rust and corrosion of the fixtures, but also the sockets, all related hardware, wire connections and the solid brass construction.

Accept no substitutes when it comes to the safety and beauty of your property. Invest in a Custom Lighting of America system and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you have purchased the highest quality, safest and most thoughtfully designed lighting system on the market today.

Call owner Harold Salkin for details at 561.204.3000.

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Why Brass and Copper Outdoor Lighting Fixtures Are The Best

Trying to decide which type of outdoor lighting fixtures to select for your lighting system?

It can be overwhelming. But, if you want to get the most out of your investment, you’ll want to consider the quality of the material the fixture is made of.

Sturdy and Reliable Brass Fixtures

Homeowners searching for a more durable material should consider brass outdoor lights. The composition of this type of fixture includes zinc and copper. They build a sturdier core, which will increase the lifespan of your fixture.

Brass holds up well in all environments, including coastal regions. It may develop a patina (darken), but does not corrode and lasts for many years. It’s a wonderful solution for homeowners who expect to stay in one place for a decade or more.

Brass is so reliable that some manufacturers include a lifetime warranty on the materials.

The Longevity of Brass and The Beauty of Copper

Copper is another great quality option. Like brass, copper will patina in the elements. Some manufacturers will make brass fixtures and coat them with copper so you have the best of both worlds: the longevity of brass and the beauty of copper.

More importantly, copper is a most durable material for light fixtures. Copper fixtures don’t rust and are almost completely impervious to harsh weather. Even heavy winds won’t bend their structure. Best of all, you can recycle copper lights once they’ve served their purpose, making them the most eco-friendly light fixture as well!

Since copper is stylish, it’s optimal for a high-end patio as well as steps leading to your front door.

We Choose Corrosion Resistant Materials

At Custom Lighting of America, we prefer to use fixtures made from corrosion resistant materials like copper and brass. Since brass is an alloy made of copper and zinc, these metals are far superior to materials like plastic or low-grade metals used in cheaply made lighting fixtures.

Why fixture material quality matters

After decades of trying and testing different types of fixtures, it’s our final verdict that higher quality materials like copper and brass have proven their value in the long term, time and time again.

High-quality materials last better than others and are resistance to corrosion, leading to fewer headaches later down the road.

If you have any questions, interested in our Maintenance Plan,  or would like to discuss your outdoor lighting needs, please feel free to contact us and schedule a free consultation.

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How to Choose the Best Outdoor Lighting Color Temperature

If you’re considering a new outdoor lighting system, it’s important that your lighting designer understands color temperature and the nature of light, the effects of various types of light, and the light sources they use.

With modern lighting technologies, home owners can choose not only the brightness of their lights, but the color temperature. Measured in degrees Kelvin (K), lower temperatures tend to produce a warmer amber light, while higher temperatures produce a cooler, whiter light.

The primary Kelvin range used in residential outdoor lighting is between 2500k-4000k. As a rule of thumb, warmer color temperatures are used on architectural elements (between 2500k-2700k) and slightly cooler temperatures are used on plant material in a landscape (generally 3000k-4000k).

Many plant specimens appear more natural when illuminated by a higher kelvin light source. When downlighting from high up, down into trees, 4000k is best as it mimics the color of natural moonlight (commonly referred to as “moonlighting”).

The Best Color Temperature for Your Landscape Lighting

Color temperature is simply how “warm” or “cool” your light is or, put differently, how “yellow” or “white” your light is. Using the right types of lights for various outdoor lighting applications is an important consideration. There are no hard and fast rules, so depending on the mood or effect you are trying to create, you may require different types of lighting for different parts of your landscape.

The best color temperature for your outdoor lighting is really a matter of choice. And the best choice is the one that creates the effect you want.

Stay away from cooler color temperatures when lighting outdoor landscapes. The bluish tones from
cooler temperatures can make environments appear sickly or unnatural, imparting a sense of uneasiness, and being on edge. Instead, opt for lighting with a very warm color temperature: 2700K LED is ideal, and 3000K is okay, too. The 2700K temperature offers a very soothing and natural tone that mimics the warm, comforting glow of a campfire. As such, it is ideal for creating relaxing, comfortable outdoor environments.

Some Specific Lighting & Light Suggestions

When you are lighting entertainment areas, consider lights on the lower end of the Kelvin scale, around 2000K, providing a warm reddish glow that can mimic the light of a flame. This is the same light you get from candles, tiki torches or a glowing bonfire. Strategically placed, lights in this range are all you need for a romantic or rustic feel.

Consider 4000K artificial moonlight lights placed high in trees and aimed down to provide a broad light that washes over the area below. These lighting fixtures come equipped with special glare shields that wrap around the bulb to ensure light goes downward.

For all of your outdoor and landscape lighting, select a soft white light that is gentle and relaxing to the eye. Use with wash lighting over the facade of your home.

Warm White (2700K). Similar to halogen-type landscape lighting, it is the most preferred color
temperature for landscape lighting. Psychologically, it is thought to be more welcoming and soothing
compared to higher color temperatures.

Warm or Natural White (3000K). Noticeably cooler than 2700K, some landscape lighting pros prefer this temperature. It tends to accentuate greens and blues in vegetation.

Cool White (4000K). Quite bluish compared to 2700K, this is sometimes used to illuminate blue vegetation (such as blue spruce).

Resources

What Is Color Temperature?

For all of your landscape lighting needs, give Harold a call at 561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.
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Swimming Pool Lighting Tips for Added Flair and Ambiance

landscape lighting for pools

Pool landscape lighting is slightly different than the outdoor lighting for the rest of your property. Rather than lighting up areas that you walk through, such as along garden paths, it must cast light on an area that people will be staying in for a period of time. And, of course, you want the lighting to create a nice ambiance!

With unique lighting concepts around your pool in the evening, you can turn your pool into a nighttime oasis as well. Pool lighting creates a dramatic mood around your outdoor living space.

For a long time, incandescent in-pool lighting was really the only option. But lighting technology has undergone a revolution in recent years. Now there are cool LED light options that can give your in-pool lighting an added flair.

Creating a Mood

In-pool lighting can have a dramatic effect for those in the water. It can also help make the area around your pool safer. Strategically placing them around walkways, pool decks and other landscaping elements can help light a path for people. It can also help keep light-attracted bugs away from the water.

Regular white light is fine, but changeable colors create a mood. With some of the newer computer-controlled systems, you can even change that mood from party to party.

With the proper lighting scheme, you can create an outdoor living space you want to spend time in day or night.

Swimming Pool Lighting Ideas

You will still need lighting along walkways as you go to the pool area. Path lights along a walkway would be the most typical to use.

Path lights are also often used directly around the pool. They should be placed in planting beds as they are easily hit by mowers if set right in the grass.

Setting The Mood with Outdoor Moonlighting

Around the pool, you should have both functional lighting and mood lighting. At night, most people spend little time swimming; they’re more likely to be cooking and socializing.

Avoid anything that looks like a harsh spotlight across the pool – instead, use combination lighting effects to illuminate elements around the pool.

Like the illumination from the sun and the moon, the most natural form of lighting comes from above. If a tree canopy hangs over the pool deck, moonlighting can create a mystical effect. You can put moon lights in tall trees or off the side of the house.

Lighting Placement

Placing the landscape lighting in planted areas requires creating your swimming pool landscape planting design in conjunction with your lighting design. Place planting beds around your swimming pool paving.

These can be beds standing alone, or they can connect to other landscaping beds. The connection is a nice design element as it makes it all look unified.

If the beds are alone, make sure they are large and important. There is nothing worse than an insignificant area of plants.

Give Harold a call at 561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.

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Landscape Lighting Repair and How To Troubleshoot

repairing led landscape lighting

Repairing your lighting system can be a headache. At the very least! In this post, we will discuss some of the issues that can lead to a failed lighting system, and why they can be difficult to troubleshoot.

Why Are My Lights Not Turning On?

This is a problem that can have many solutions. Usually, it’s best to check to see if your transformer has power before proceeding any further.

If your transformer does have power, and the lights still aren’t turning on, there may be
a short causing the transformer to shut off. There should be a toggle switch or a fuse stat inside the transformer. Check to make sure the toggle switch is in the correct position, or see if your fuse stat is blown. If your toggle switch has flipped itself to the off position, or if your fuse stat has blown, it’s because there is a short somewhere in the system.

What is a Short?

A short happens when there is an arc in the system. You’ll notice that direct burial wire used to power your lighting system has two wires. Arcing occurs when the currents passing through these two wires come into contact with one another. There are several reasons this can occur.

What commonly causes a short? Where does arcing occur?

A cut wire
A bad, wet, corroded, or otherwise damaged socket
A failed wire connection
Frayed wires
Places where the system has been exposed to moisture
Places where wires have been stretched by tree roots, or rubbed against rocks

Why are shorts difficult to troubleshoot?

There are two major reasons. Shorts can occur in strange places, and they can occur in multiple places simultaneously.

It can be frustrating to discover that the short was happening in an odd place it shouldn’t have been. It’s even more frustrating when you discover that the system is still being tripped by something else after you fix the first problem.

How do you reduce the likelihood of your system tripping?

The best way to reduce problems in your system is to make sure it’s installed correctly in the first place. Using well engineered fixtures, quality components, and bulletproof wire connections will ensure you have a system built to last.

Getting your lighting system to turn on and stay on are two different things. If you are having trouble with your lights, inspect them carefully. What kind of condition is your lighting system in?

Why should I consider an outdoor lighting repair professional?

Unless you know a bit about electrical systems or have the tools and abilities to rewire the system where necessary, it is always best to call in a professional repair technician to handle the job.

Our trained repair technicians are experts when it comes to repairing broken fixtures, replacing blown bulbs, fixing electrical timer issues, cleaning fixtures, and plenty more. These are all skills of varying difficulties that you don’t need to teach yourself.

Custom Lighting of America offers an Annual Maintenance Plan for both Halogen and LED systems, individual service calls for accidental damages, and options for servicing, rehabbing, or upgrading systems installed by other contractors.

System not working? Give Harold a call @ 561.204.3000

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3 Practical Ways to Light Up Your Landscape with Spice

Nothing else enhances your garden or yard at night better than LED landscape lighting. It provides an ambient effect to trees, shrubs and flowers. Garden lighting also has a practical side. It is a great way to mark pathways or accent garden areas.

Whether you’re lighting a small side garden or a wide swath of yard, you’ll be in the dark without understanding these essential elements, showcased in this beautiful Houzz slideshow.

The Houzz community is the top app for improving and designing your home, with more than 15 million high-resolution photos of home interiors and exteriors.

There are only three things to think of when you’re considering landscape lighting. We call them the three S’s: safety, security and sexy. Safety lighting keeps you from breaking your neck (watch out for that step!), security lighting discourages thieves and the Boogie Man (by illuminating dark corners), and sexy lighting provides … sexiness. Mood. Ambience. Flavor. Spice.

Give Harold a call at 561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.

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The Beauty of Bollard Lights for 2018 Drama and Fun!

led landscape lighting west palm beach

Bollards were originally used to tie up ships at dockside. Today bollards regularly grace all kinds of landscaping projects.

Bollard style lights produce dramatic shadow patterns, adding excitement and fun to your landscape lighting plans. The decorative cutouts project striking patterns onto the ground when combined with appropriate LED lamps.

A new way of thinking about landscape lighting

Bollard lights are one of the most popular options for keeping pathways well lit. They are durable fixtures that also work well on terraces and near entrances, where extra illumination is needed. Casting glare-free down light, bollards allow for guests to move through your outdoor paths without fear of falling or tripping.

Custom Lighting of America has a robust line of bollard lighting solutions in a variety of materials and shapes. Our bollards provide uniform light spread with control to minimize light pollution. Other appealing factors include durable weather and vandal-resistant casings plus an easy to install design.

All of the bollards below are powered by two watts of warm-hued, energy saving 12-volt LED technology.  LEDs produce a higher quality of light while reducing energy and maintenance.

Bollards are  available in 25-inch and 42-inch versions. They anchor securely to decks or concrete. Mounting hardware is included and a lawn-stake mounting base is available.  Our bollards come in a variety of powdered-coated colors with one or more blacked-out sides. Designs on all four sides are standard.

led bollard lights landscape lighting palm beach

Want to add some excitement and distinctive lighting to your landscape?

Give Harold a call at  561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.

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Easy Preventative Ways to Maintain Your Landscape Lighting

Just like a car, maintenance for lighting will always be ongoing. It starts with preventative measures.

Plant Placement

Where you place your new plants, flowers & greenery can have an effect on the performance of your lights. Be careful not to place new plants in front of or too close to your lighting fixtures. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that the small plant you just put in your garden won’t be small forever. Plants can quickly over grow and obscure your fixtures.

Trees

When you have a down light mounted in the tree, its best to have your lighting specialists come relocate it for you. If the tree is cut down without removing the fixture first, the fixture could be damaged.

Make sure that your fixture placement is allowing for eventual tree growth. If your fixtures are located too close to this type of tree, they will be enveloped by tree branches in just a year or two.

Keep LED Lamps Dry

The biggest threat to your landscape lighting system is moisture.

If moisture somehow enters the fixture, it needs to be addressed right away. Putting this off can eventually lead to water build up and corrosion inside the fixture. Water damage will lead to failure of an LED lamp faster than anything else.

Moisture can be detected by the presence of a small amount of condensation on the inside of the lens.

Retrofitting LED

This is the best kind preventative maintenance! Retrofitting your old halogen system with an LED upgrade. Halogen lamps burn out every year or so and will have to continually be replaced. LED bulbs are different. You will most likely have to replace an LED lamp after 15 – 20 years.

Annual Service

Having Custom Lighting of America’s team come out once a year to service your system is a highly recommended preventative measure.

They will check the entire system, including:

  • Transformer – timers set correctly, blocks securely fastened, photocells and line balances checked.
  • Fixtures – lenses will be scrubbed and scraped clean, vegetation will be trimmed back and cleaned up.
  • Each LED is examined during the annual maintenance service. If one is found faulty (if it has a burned out diode or other issue) it will be replaced under its warranty.
  • Wire – All exposed wire reburied.

Why Servicing Your System Is Important

Servicing your system and keeping it maintained is the key to ensuring that you will continue to enjoy it. If you wait a long time or just simply keep putting off servicing your system, it will require a lot more work and time to get everything back to the condition it was in when the system was first installed.

If you think your landscape lighting system is in need of a tune up or servicing,  call Harold at  561.204.3000 or fill out our consultation form here. One of our lighting experts will do a free consult and evaluation on your lighting today.

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10 Landscape Lighting Effects That Light Up Your Lawn

As homeowners, we work hard to select unique plants, trees, shrubs and flowers that make our landscaping beautiful. But there is one aspect of landscaping that is often overlooked. When night falls, without landscape lighting, the perfectly planned landscape design literally disappears.

Making Goals for Your Landscape Lighting

Is your goal to illuminate pathways and patios to prevent slip or falls when walking up to your home? Are you looking to light up your backyard space for weekend entertaining? Or are you  adding landscape lighting for increasing your home’s security.

Discover the best techniques for highlighting trees, emphasizing a fountain, or lighting
a garden path.

Download a landscape lighting infographic showing these effects in action.

Here are some of the amazing effects you can achieve:

Down-lighting also referred to as moon lighting, gives the appearance of a full moon shining down on your lawn. This gives a romantic feel to your landscape and is achieved by mounting lighting fixtures facing downward typically from a tree.

Up-lighting provides a bolder, dramatic effect by pointing lighting directly at featured elements within your landscape. This technique uses low-voltage light fixtures that light a tree from the ground up to show off its shape and trunk structure.

Cross-lighting provides your landscape with more depth by lighting featured elements in your yard from both sides. Cross-lighting works well to eliminate unwanted shadows.You don’t want to overdo this effect since that can lead to over lighting and a washed out look.

Silhouetting requires placing a spread light between plant material, sculpture or a fountain and an adjacent structure. The object is then silhouetted in black against a soft white background. Spread lights are halogen bulbs with a mirrored background. They create a wide band of white light, perfect for backlighting.

Shadowing involves washing a feature such as a tree or statue so that it casts a shadow on a wall or fence. The play of light and darkness can be quite dramatic.

Grazing involves spread-lights or up-lights placed right next to the wall with beams directed upwards. This casts shadows that capture the texture of the wall. This effect shows off your stone work on walls and pilasters.

Pathlighting used along paths and steps exists to keep the walker safe. YA carefully lit path can give a sense of romance or adventure – it should make the viewer want to go and see where the pathway might lead.

Spotlighting uses a fixture to highlight a focal point such as a flag, statue or water fountain.
Use one or two spotlights to highlight your favorite feature in the garden.

Pool Lighting is important both for safety and for aesthetics. You can also use underwater lights or ambient lighting in the surrounding landscape to make after-hours swimming inviting to you and your guests.

Washing involves placing the light to the side of what you want to illuminate and let the light “wash” over it, bathing an entire wall or row of bushes. This will create a soft glow over the whole area.

With a little imagination there’s no limit to the number of ways you can add magic to your nighttime landscape with outdoor lighting effects.

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