Landscape Lighting Design in McLean, Virginia
The essence of lighting your landscape is to provide a portrait of your residence painted in light. A whole new world of elegance will be discovered as landscape lighting transforms your outdoor setting into a nighttime panorama of stunning beauty. Our low voltage lighting specialist will install and maintain a lighting system appropriate for your needs.
Before deciding what and how to light, we must first ask “why light?” Our design decisions are dependent on proposed uses for landscape lighting for a variety of reasons such as safety, security, property value, or enhancement of the beauty of the garden and structures. Most likely, the answer will be a combination of two or more of these uses. A specific technique can be employed to satisfy more than one requirement. For example, uplighting a prominent tree near the house entrance will provide safety, security and aesthetic enhancement.
Landscape lighting design is very similar to the design of the landscape itself: we must determine focal points, area use, traffic patterns, outdoor “rooms,” style, mood, etc. We need to consider how the proposed lighting will enhance the form, color and texture of the soft and hard landscape elements. Lighting should serve to unify both interior and exterior design themes, conceal what may be unattractive and shape the view of the landscape at night.
The design process should begin with a site map, drawn to scale, showing all landscape features and areas that need lighting. Fixtures and lamps are chosen for each area based on the desired effects such as path lights for safe passage along walks and stairs, wash fixtures for silhouette effects against a wall, etc.
After deciding on the size and placement of lighting fixtures, the electrical system is designed. The heart of the system is the transformer, which converts the household 120 volts into safe, efficient 12 volts, and delivers this voltage to several circuits. Using appropriately sized cables and approved connectors, fixtures are connected to the transformer.
Group fixtures in zones determined by the distance to the transformer. The number of fixtures on each circuit will be limited by the wattage of individual lamps, distance to the transformer and associated voltage drop in the circuit.
Voltage drop calculations are critical; excess voltage results in hot lamps with greatly shortened life – insufficient voltage results in weak, ineffective lighting. The design challenge is to match cable size, total lamp wattage and circuit length to produce voltage within the range of 10.5 to 12 volts.
A new generation of transformers uses a multi-tap configuration to provide voltages in excess of 12 volts for those zones at a sufficient distance from the transformer. (The excess voltage is reduced by the length of run to the first fixture). This allows greater design freedom and efficiency.
A common practice among lighting designers and installers is to allow for plenty of movement of the fixture locations. By leaving extra cable at each fixture, changes can be made to the system after installation, and after several years of plant growth.
Residential Landscape Lighting Maintenance
Here’s a quick look at what is covered under the maintenance of residential lights:
- Perform seasonal site visits two times per year to thoroughly check night lighting system.
- Check all electrical fixtures, connections, and wiring.
- Replace bulbs as needed at quoted price.
- Re-set lighting timer according to season.
- Clean fixtures. Clients can call in at any time if lighting system fixtures need replacement bulbs or service.