Here the experts at Integral LED look at why installers can take advantage of the British love for gardens by recommending outdoor lighting schemes for customers.
These days installers have to look at fresh ways of growing their business and LED lighting has been a productive source of new opportunities in recent years. Re-inventing lighting has been a disruptive process, yet the benefits of LED lamps has prompted refurbishments and a whole host of new applications for electrical trades.
Certain lighting manufacturers would have us believe that a new dawn in outdoor lighting has arrived. So, is this the time to push for outdoor projects or to include a garden revamp in a house refit proposal? If you’re keen to seize a slice of the £5 Billion the UK spends on gardens every year then here’s some ideas as to how your next job proposal can include the outdoor space of a property.
A new age?
So, what are the grounds for this new age of garden lighting? Since the advent of LED, we’ve been celebrating a dramatic drop in the cost of running lighting schemes of all kinds. Energy efficiency is an important factor for the outdoors too and, as in other sectors, it will drive the replacement of halogen in existing external installations.
However, LED loves external spaces in ways that incandescent hates it, which introduces a compelling argument as to why we’ll see a resurgence. For instance, old lamps are vulnerable to low temperatures whilst LED thrives in the cold and is resistant to thermal shock. The comparative long life of LED also makes outdoor lighting a more attractive investment and additionally provides the option for maintenance-free placement in hard-to-access locations.
Exterior lighting needs to be approached differently to illuminating an interior space. Although the same fundamental principles apply, an external scheme generally requires subtlety and restraint as a little lighting goes a long way. Often, there is a reluctance on the part of installers to venture into the creative side of projects – preferring to leave it to designers. Similarly, a little knowledge of aesthetics goes a long way too.
- Lighting levels – less is more
The trick is not to over-light a garden but to focus instead on illuminating key features and use darkness as well as light for greatest effect. To minimise any unwanted light, opt for fixtures where the source is hidden or lidded to avoid glare by focussing the light downward. Also, consider how high the light fitting is deployed – often the fitting can be fixed lower to the ground to reduce light spillage.
Be aware that planning authorities are increasingly hot on over-lighting after dark, particularly within designated conservation areas in towns and countryside. Lighting master-plans for particular districts within London for instance, prescribe the level and the quality of light to suit the location or to communicate a message, e.g. making historic buildings centre stage rather than nearby commercial and office buildings. Additionally, be mindful of the neighbours. Disputes over nuisance light are strictly enforced, so use light sparingly.
- Choosing LED outdoor fittings
Naturally, there’s a whole host of product offerings out there, but look out for a new generation of integrated outdoor luminaires that are targeting mid-priced budgets.
Outdoor lighting has been the preserve of exclusive homes and corporate projects for too long. A new era of sensibly priced but high-quality outdoor fittings and fixtures are now on their way.
A good example is the Integral LED Outdoor range, where many of the models give a soft, indirect diffused light – ideal for light-sensitive areas and where you would wish to bathe a surface (like brick) with a soft wash of light. All lights in the range keep the source itself well-hidden and have pleasingly discrete proportions that blend nicely into a scheme.
When choosing the size and the colour of the casing, abide by the rule that you want to see the lighting effect, not the fixture. You’re looking for products that are highly weatherproof and robust, rated between IP54 to IP65 and feature die-cast aluminium and stainless steel bodies or tough polycarbonate casings and diffusers, where applicable.
- Let’s talk about design
Some installers shrink from the design aspect of gardens and other outdoor spaces, preferring to pass that part of the plan to lighting or garden designers. In fact, there is a considerable opportunity gap between the high-end budget and the weekend D-I-Yers – enough to prompt an offer to include a garden and other outdoor spaces to customers in your next house or office refurbishment quotation.
Access, function, security and theatre are the key considerations for any exterior space when considering a lighting scheme. Each aspect must be applied, layer upon layer and a balance between each element should be achieved. For instance, security lights can overload a garden with light and ruin an intended scene. Given the cost-saving benefits of LED, perhaps it’s time to fore-go presence detecting floodlights (PIR) and rely upon always-on lighting as a deterrent?
Start with a blank canvas – imagine a theatrical stage awaiting its actors. Trees, planted borders, steps and pathways are your supporting cast and garden ornaments and other focal points are your leading players. In many ways light becomes the storyteller, so talk to the client about their design concept and layout.
Again, avoid a general wash of light, illuminate each element individually and concentrate light locally upon each object. A professional tip is to back-light a front-lit feature to enhance the three-dimensional form and to accentuate the silhouette.
Lighting access points and orientating people around pathways are important for an effective and safe outdoor design. Pick out gateways, parking areas and steps. Light them low at foot level and exploit the longevity of LED by using built-in ‘brick’ lights within the fabric of boundary walls and highlight each tread of a flight of steps using hooded downlights; the Integral Pathlux range is a good example.
Discrete navigation avoids glare and will not conflict with the overall aesthetics of the scheme.
Don’t forget the walls, fences and hedges. A wash of diffused light over a vertical surface adds texture to a scene and effectively frames the picture. LED wall lights can provide up/down illumination to highlight the physical borders of a nocturnal scene. Remember gardens are often admired by night through a window and intentionally can bring the outdoors inside a lounge or dining room.
Then there are the functional activities to consider. Your BBQ will want a higher intensity of light for food preparation and be well shielded from the dining or relaxed seating areas nearby. Position lights locally and low and be vigilant in preventing dazzle when people are seated.
When it comes to the colour temperature warm is best – as the sun goes down, tones of colour are warmer, more orange and red. Using anything greater than 3000k conflicts with this natural effect. If you’re intending to celebrate an array of colours from plants at night it’s a good idea to choose lamps with a high CRI of 90 or above to make those beautiful colours pop!
For more information about the Integral LED Outdoor lighting range visit: www.integral-led.com