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Requesting help with an overall lighting plan

Discussion in 'Ask' started by dBrad, May 12, 2019.

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  1. dBrad

    dBrad New Member

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    Could someone help me with a lighting plan for our new home and surrounding landscape/trees? Just want to get a trained eye involved before I go crazy ordering things I might regret later.

    The landscape beds are in place, but all of the plants/shrubs are not yet. The kidney-shaped bed on the right slope just has a single Maple in there now. It will likely have some low shrubs as well as Redbuds and/or Crepe Myrtles. The woods on the same side beyond that bed have oak, dogwood & pine along the front edge.

    The space inside the circle with the two oak trees and rocks will have other occupants too - just not sure what yet. The far right-front window will probably have a couple of small conifers below it to fill that space where the lot slopes away underneath it. The bed to the upper left has a mix of Oak, Holly & Elm.

    My initial thoughts were as follows - but again, I'm no expert! :
    - uplights under the right-front window (either 2, or a wall-wash?)
    - uplights under the porch columns
    - lights on porch roof to illuminate the 2nd story gable
    - uplight the left corner of the house
    - uplight the two oaks in the driveway circle
    - uplight 2 or 3 of the trees on the upper left bed
    - uplight the maple in the right kidney bed (and run enough wire for future plants/lights)
    - uplight a few trees in the woods beyond that right bed
    - we don't have much of a "path" to light, but if you see a good place for path lighting I'm all for it

    Thank you!!

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    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  2. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Hey there,

    Gorgeous home! I think you have a great initial plan in place; in fact, all of what you described is essentially what I would've recommended in a rough diagram as well. Excellent idea planning for the future expansion you want to do as well. I'd be happy to address some of the points you've made.

    -In field experience and recommendations I always try to avoid glare from windows/light intrusion into a house as much as possible (dormers and peaks/attics can be a different story). So, I would go the (2) light route with more narrow beam spreads rather than trying to blanket the wall with a flood light.

    -Columns are definitely always good architectural features to illuminate. For the individual column on the corner, you could use a single spotlight with a narrow spread and you may also be able to get away with only using one for the 2 sets of columns as well. A spotlight on one of the sets would be best using a slightly wider beam spread than one used on a single column.

    -To get lights on the second story you could use gutter mounts anywhere you desired illumination. (3) would probably look beautiful above the front patio; (1) pointing to either side of the 2nd story window with a spotlight in the middle angled to highlight the peak.

    -Some uplights on/around the brick fireplace would certainly look beautiful and bring some inviting light to the left side of the home.

    -Being a focal point in your driveway, I agree with illuminating the 2 Oak trees. You could also consider placing a path light or two to provide lighting over any plants/flowers and simultaneously illuminate this area of the driveway.

    -For these massive beautiful trees around the property just be sure to use more powerful wattage options or multiple spotlights on each. Standard or slightly narrow (60, 38) beam spreads will actually be best for trees like this because, if you started with a wide beam spread from the base, the light would quickly spread and dissipate if expected to travel up a very tall tree.

    -Take into consideration how the maple may rapidly grow over the next few years; a lamp-ready spotlight on a tree like this may be best for making adjustments over there years as all you would need to do is increase wattage/change beam spread. You could also consider installing a junction hub out here rather than leaving a wire buried or having to rerun more wire later. A hub would offer a safe and simple point to expand from in the future (as simple as plugging in the lead wires for the new fixtures and burying them) and is low-profile enough to be hidden in the plants.

    -Many homeowners place path/area lights along their driveways but, if you didn't want to interfere with your convenient lawn mowing there or felt the illumination unnecessary, possibly just 2 down by the entryway (1 alongside the mailbox and another on the opposite side for balance). Something out of the box I recently saw was a homeowner actually surfaced mounted a mini path light with a hat from a standard size path to the top of their cement mailbox. It provided illumination for the area, for getting the mail, and looked quite intriguing; just a reminder to stay creative because sometimes the originality can make the best designs!
     
  3. dBrad

    dBrad New Member

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    Thank you Evan. I'm eager to get some lights from you folks and get to work. I have a few additional questions though - first is about wire gauge. Attached is a rough sketch of my run lengths with guesses as to the wattage I should use in the fixtures.

    What gauge wire do you recommend for those run lengths? (180', 155', 250', 185') With the use of hubs I can shorten them probably 20-30' if necessary. I can also move the controller 40' closer if necessary, it'll just require another exterior outlet to be installed.

    I prefer a warm, soft glow on the house and would rather be under-lit than over-lit. I'm okay with the trees being a tad brighter, although I suppose it should all be somewhat even as well. I think my wattage choices may be high. What do you think?

    With the exception of a few in-ground well fixtures under trees, I am considering the all-star spotlights for most of the fixtures. Is that the right choice?

    How do your controllers work where efficiency is concerned? With the lights I have planned (plus a few extra for future growth) I'm right at the 85% mark of a 200 watt transformer. If I jump up to the 300 watt controller, does it consume more power even if I'm only running 165 watts of lights with it?

    Thanks again for your assistance!

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  4. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    It's my pleasure!

    10-gauge is generally rated for uses up to 250' and would also fit in our clamp-connect transformers.

    Wattage is arguably the most preferential decision and does not need to be strictly balanced per se. Essentially, larger trees or features may require higher wattages or possibly even multiple fixtures. I completely agree that a more subtle design would still be more optimal than an overkill, runway look. With that being said, I personally would go with 3W 2700ks on my house and possibly 5Ws on any larger trees or even multiple fixtures for a dimensional look.

    The All-Star is an excellent choice; it is one of our most popular spotlights in fact. It is durable being solid brass and highly adjustable at the knuckle and glare guard. You can also retrofit it with additional lenses for different effects (such as frosted or diffused lenses).

    We typically recommend no more than 80% of a transformer's maximum capacity be used. Our transformers scale in size from 100W, 150W, 300W, 600W, 900W, and 1200W. A 300W would not consume more power than a smaller transformer with the exact same load.
     
  5. dBrad

    dBrad New Member

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    Thanks Evan - I'll drop those 5 watts down to 3 and the 7s down to 5. That has me thinking now about wiring consolidation - can I use your junctions/hubs to save myself a wiring run or two? For example, where I have the 180' & 250' runs, could I just run 1 line to that corner of the house, add a junction, and one of the branches off that junction go under my driveway conduit to that upper left bed? If that works I could also consolidate the 155' & 185' runs.
     
  6. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Our hubs can definitely simplify a project, so it is definitely a plus to use them wherever/whenever possible. Just be sure not to use a hub directly to another hub and still abide by the "No more than 10 fixtures or 80W per individual run (whichever threshold is reached first)" guideline. Our Pro Junction Hub has built-in mechanical clamps which can accept up to 12-gauge cable and is essentially designed to evenly disperse power to 7 fixtures in a 25ft radius (implying the pre-selected 25ft lead wire option for the 7 fixtures). While the hub can provide some minor leeway in regards to the lengths/distances, using hub-to-hub or having extremely long run(s) off of a hub would more than likely result in voltage loss. SO, it is definitely best to calculate/plan accordingly just how a hub can best suite you. The Zone Control Junction Box, on the other hand, has an open interior and is designed to house wire connections made with standard waterproof wire connectors.
     
  7. dBrad

    dBrad New Member

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    Hmm, so if using 10 gauge wire that junction box is the only option? And I didn't know about that guideline - thanks, I'll need to think a bit more about those runs then.
     
  8. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    The guideline is generally recommended to avoid the possibility of any voltage loss occurring from having an excess amount of lights on one run. I sent some more info to you in a message; be sure to check your 'conversations'.