Lighting a creek

Discussion in 'Ask' started by Anand Namasivayam, Aug 24, 2020.

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  1. Anand Namasivayam

    Anand Namasivayam New Member

    Aug 24, 2020
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    I would like to get some advice on the recommended lighting for a creek. Attached is a picture of the creek (taken in fall). I'm planning to use 60 deg 2700K spotlights. Would full integrated LED underwater lights be better from a water resistance perspective, or would a non-integrated LED that would allow bulb replacement be better? The lights would be mounted in close proximity to the flowing water and will be prone to splashing or partial immersion. Also, how many lumens is recommended for this application?


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  2. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

    Oct 18, 2019
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    Although underwater lights could look cool there, there could be some logistical and warranty related issues. First, is that the creek after a heavy rain or is it typically less turbulent? If it's always or usually that way, it might be hard to find a light bright enough to penetrate the air bubbles and debris that's getting churned up by water moving that fast. Someone from VOLT will correct me if I'm wrong but I believe the brightest underwater light they offer is 650 lumens. Next, assuming you can find a light bright enough, you’ll then also want to be sure to choose a wet/dry fixture or be sure that the water level stays high enough to keep an immersible only fixture continually submerged. One other issue (and you'd have to either read through product literature or confirm this with Evan or another VOLT rep), is if the water freezes, are there fixtures that can withstand being encased in ice like that for any length of time.

    I think the less problematic option would probably be path or area lights on stems tall enough that the bulb housing isn't being constantly pummeled by water. But the approach I'd favor above both of these is downlighting mounted high in the trees above the creek. While somewhat more labor intensive than the other approaches, I can tell you from experience that moonlighting/downlighting is well worth the effort. There's just nothing like the effect it creates.

    So here's what I would do: After you've confirmed that there are fixtures suitable for this type of use (that is, that won't void your warranty if placed in the creek setting), find a decent submersible flashlight. By decent I mean, one with adjustable beam, adjustable brightness and adjustable light color temperature too, if possible. Try setting the flashlight in a couple of different areas of the creek to get an idea if underwater lighting would produce the effect you have in mind. By adjusting the beam type, you can mimic some of the same lighting times mentioned above. That way you can decide if one or some combination of these lighting techniques will help you achieve the results you want. Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  3. Evan K

    Evan K Online Liaison Staff Member

    Jul 27, 2018
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    I can always appreciate a unique project but, this one sounds like it may be a very difficult and dangerous install with results not being guaranteed.

    For starters, our lights are not rated for any natural bodies of water where swimming, wading, or immersion occurs.

    Install wise, the flowing water would pose an issue for securing the lights down as well as securing yourself to do a safe install.

    Results-wise, with the 'white-water' caused by the flow, any illumination from below the water would likely not be very visible. Also, to Meso's point, if this water freezes, that would more than likely affect the longevity of fixtures (we haven't specifically tested a fixture being frozen in a block of ice).

    Even if successfully completed, troubleshooting or repairing lights in the future would be an extremely daunting task in and of itself and could minimize the joy you actually get out of completing the project.

    An excellent alternative could be moonlighting along the creek - properly placed downlights in trees around the creek could provide a beautiful shadowing effect across the water and surrounding area.
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  4. Evan K

    Evan K Online Liaison Staff Member

    Jul 27, 2018
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    Here you can see an example of moonlighting: rather than a walkway, picture the creek. The moonlighting produces a beautiful, nature like illumination.


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  5. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

    Oct 18, 2019
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    I installed downlighting in trees along our previously dark driveway and not only does it look phenomenal (imho) but it provides attractive nighttime security lighting.I’ve wanted to share photos but I haven’t figured out the best way to photograph it. When I do, I will.
  6. Anand Namasivayam

    Anand Namasivayam New Member

    Aug 24, 2020
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    Mesodude2 & Evan, Thank you very much for your responses!

    Based on your input I've ruled out immersing the lights. Based on the suggestions

    Couple options:

    1) How about attaching lights to the top/underside of the 2 fallen logs across the creek with the lights pointed almost horizontal and in the downstream direction that will avoid glare? I've marked the possible mount points with red arrows in the attached picture that I just took today. This is lowest water level and would be the time of year when I'd do any installation or maintenance. These points are also above the watermark in the peak of rainy season as well.

    2) Downlighting from adjacent trees is an interesting idea I hadn't thought about. Thanks for the suggestion. What would be the right light type of light, the spread (spot vs. flood) and lumens that would be suitable for the creek?


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  7. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

    Oct 18, 2019
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    I would not install lights in or over that creek. I've done multiple lighting installs and while it's not a difficult project, installing lights even under the best of circumstances will involve a fair amount of adjusting and tweaking. And keep in mind, you'll have to do at least some minor maintenance from time to time. As for moonlighting, as you can see from the examples Evan posted, you can choose to focus on as wide or as narrow an area as you want to. So once you decide whether you want to highlight the creek alone or the banks as well or even a larger area, use that as a guide for beam spread. As for brightness, if there's no other lighting along the creek at night time, you can achieve impressive results with fairly low wattage/lumens lamps in your fixtures. You may find the page linked below useful as well.
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  8. DorteI

    DorteI New Member

    Oct 15, 2020
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