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Lighting for PA Stone House

Discussion in 'Ask' started by PA Stone House, Aug 9, 2020.

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  1. PA Stone House

    PA Stone House New Member

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    We're thinking of placing G2 Fat Boy spotlights at the locations marked in the photo. Any suggestions for wattage/lumens, beam angle, and transformer size? The five spots next to the house are to highlight the stone. The four other spots are to highlight the lower retaining wall, and to a lesser extent, illuminate the front walkway. House with lighting locations.jpg
     
  2. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

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    Hi. I’m curious why you’re going with spotlights rather than, say flood lights for that ivy covered retaining wall and path lights on the walkway? Anyway, for the stonework on the house, I’d probably go with 3W 38 degree beam spread bulbs on all sections except the two slivers of wall flanking the right chimney. There, I’d go with 3W 15 degree lamps. Alternatively, I would simply light that chimney by itself with a 3W 38 degree spot. HTH.
     
  3. PA Stone House

    PA Stone House New Member

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    Thank you, Mesodude2, for the wattage and beam spread recommendations. We will definitely consider your suggestion to use flood lights and path lights for the retaining wall and walkway. The reason we are leaning toward spotlights is that 1) we are concerned that flood lights may shine up into the windows and 2) path lights in grass make it more difficult to cut the lawn. (We want to locate the spotlights within the flowerbed to avoid issues with cutting the grass.)
     
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  4. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

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    You're welcome. Full disclosure, I'm not a landscape lighting expert and I don't work for VOLT. Just a lighting enthusiast who is always brainstorming creative solutions for LL challenges. First, your concerns about light trespass and damage from mowing equipment are absolutely valid. On my own property, the landscape crew uses a riding mower in our back yard and a push mower in a more modestly sized lawn in the front yard. In smaller patches of grass (like that band of grass at the base of your retaining wall), they use a grass trimmer. So far they haven't plowed into any of my fixtures. In fact, if anything, they are overly cautious--I suspect because the fixtures are obviously of a higher quality than what they are used to encountering throughout my neighborhood and they don't want to be on the hook for replacing them. I don't say that to brag but rather to allay your fears somewhat.

    If you're not dead set against the idea, you could always replace that strip of grass with a border garden for flowering shrubs, annuals or perennials. A low maintenance ground cover or ornamental grass (perhaps a variegated form of liriope for contrast), would eliminate the need to mow there and also provide a safe place to stake your landscape lights. I did a quick and dirty diagram of where you might place floodlights and/or path lights. Based on my own experience, I can tell you with reasonable confidence that with carefully aimed flood lights (or whatever type of light you choose to use there) at the base of that retaining wall, you should be able to illuminate the wall so the light doesn't creep into your windows. And btw, you may find that floodlights or path lights alone in front of that wall light the area well enough that you don't need both.

    Finally, I forgot you asked about transformer size. If you think you'll only be using at most, a dozen or so lights with lamps in the 2W-3W range, you shouldn't need anything bigger than a 100W transformer. But if there's any chance you think you might add later and you want to be able to have longer than average home run wires, I would go up to 150W to be on the safe side.You also should consider how much control you want/need for your lighting system. If you think you'll just want simple dusk to dawn function, the SlimLine transformers (which only have a mechanical timer option) should work just fine for you. If you want more control (the option to use a digital timer that automatically adjusts to DST, for instance), then you'll probably want to opt for one of the more versatile (but also heftier) transformers. Anyway, hope this helps and good luck with your lighting plan.
    House with lighting locations-1.jpg
     
  5. PA Stone House

    PA Stone House New Member

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    Mesodude2,

    Thank you for the well considered additional information! We are going to take your advice and go with floodlights on the retaining wall side of the walkway (without pathlights). And we’ll go with a 150w transformer so we’ll have the option to add additional lighting in the future.

    One more question, if you have the energy! Regarding light bulb wattage, you suggested 3 watt bulbs. We were considering 5 or 7 watt bulbs. Would that be appropriate? The height of the stone on the house is approximately 16 ft. The stone retaining wall is approximately 3 1/2 ft high x 50 ft wide.
     
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  6. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

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    Glad to help. Brightness level is an individual preference, so ultimately what you like is what’s appropriate. I suggested 3W only because you expressed concern about possible light intrusion. Because the facade of your house is fairly complex (with the pair of bay windows and pair of chimneys) aiming your lights without spilling into your windows will likely involve some trial and error (which is also the reason I don’t recommend a beam spread wider than 38 degrees there). But there’s multiple factors for you to consider. What is the nighttime ambient light? Any street lights or is it mostly dark? The darker the house is at night, the less lumens you’ll need to achieve impressive results. From what perspective will the house be viewed? What would you like to highlight most? Where do you want the light to begin to fall off? For instance, consider the chimney pictured here. On this house, the light beam doesn’t start to fade significantly until a good two thirds of the height of those second floor windows. Based on my own 2W fixtures (where the light beam begins to fall off at that same point on the first floor window of my two story facade) I suspect that’s a 3W-4W lamp. So if you wanted your chimneys brighter towards the top than you see here, then you’d likely want to step up to a 5W or 7W. Note, I’m only highlighting a concept here as opposed to giving you a precise formula. Because these bulbs are not returnable after they’ve been installed and they are not cheap, I recommend you purchase maybe a 3W and a 5W to see which one you prefer. That way you won’t end up buying more than you need. For additional guidance on choosing your lamps, I recommend checking out some of the articles you’ll find on the page linked below. Hope this helps.


    https://www.voltlighting.com/landscape-lighting-bulbs-led-halogen/c/22


    stone-chimney-017.JPG
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  7. PA Stone House

    PA Stone House New Member

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    Mesodude2,

    Great suggestion to try out a couple of different wattage bulbs to see what works best - we will do that. Thank you again for your advise; I think we will end up with a more beautifully lit house based on your input!
     
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  8. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

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    Again, glad to have helped. One other thing I forgot to mention is light color temperature. You’ll likely be choosing between 2700K and 3000K. Both are considered “warm white” but 2700K is slightly warmer and I believe is the most popular option. But while you’re trying out two different bulb wattages initially, it might be a good idea to make one of them a 2700K and the other a 3000K. That way you can see which color looks best on your stone work and your foliage before committing to a color for these areas. Hope this helps. Please let us know how your project turns out...and have fun.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2020
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  9. PA Stone House

    PA Stone House New Member

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    Mesodude2,

    Just want to share our lighting results! To light the stone on the house we used Fat Boys with 5W, 2700K, 38 degree bulbs (MR16). To light the lower wall we used Wide Splash flood lights with the 7W, 2700K bulbs (R7S) placed in the grass area between the sidewalk and the wall. We took your suggestion, and bought a few bulbs with varying angle widths and wattage to test what looked best. We used a 100W Slimline transformer to service 3 circuits. We're very pleased with the result and we thank you again for your very helpful comments and suggestions! IMG_5884.JPG
     

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  10. Mesodude2

    Mesodude2 Active Member

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    You’re very welcome and this looks truly phenomenal! I especially love your vine covered lower walls. Gives your overall plan a very gothic mood. Fantastic and thanks for sharing your “recipe” as I’m sure other users will find those specifics quite helpful.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2020
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