Is DIY Landscape Lighting a VGI (Very Good Idea)?
May03

Is DIY Landscape Lighting a VGI (Very Good Idea)?

Are you a DIYer (Do It Yourselfer)? If so, you’re part of what seems to be a rapidly growing movement. It’s likely rooted in the traditional American spirit of independence and self-sufficiency; roll up your sleeves and git’r done! The DIY movement also encompasses a yearning for retaining more control of our lives, in an age when the trend seems to be moving in the opposite direction. And unquestionably, a BIG proportion of the DIY movement is motivated by the need or desire to economize – particularly after the rough and bouncy economic ride of recent years. Kits Are Big Lots of businesses have sprung up to cater to the desires of DIYers. And many that have been around for decades have boomed in recent years. In particular, lots of businesses these days offer kits to cater to the DIY boom. What kind of kits? Just about anything you can think of! If you’re a DIYer, you can buy a kit to: Build a boat Build a car Build a beehive Build a chicken coop Build a greenhouse Build a log cabin Build a computer Build a house The list is virtually endless. You can even buy a kit to build an airplane – yes, a real airplane, the kind you’ll get in and fly among the clouds (if you dare!). These kits offer sort of a compromise for DIYers. You’re still building something yourself, but you’re saving a whole lot of time and trouble compared to building from scratch. Mostly, DIY kits are beneficial. They can be a great boon to a DIYer. But in some cases, not so much… Landscape Lighting Kits…NOT! One type of DIY kit is for installing your own landscape lighting system. The basic motivation for buying such a kit is well founded; landscape lighting offers lots of benefits to homeowners. Every home should be equipped with a landscape lighting system. But should you install that system yourself? In a word: No. The truth of the matter is that some jobs should just be left to professionals. While DIYing is great, it’s not for everything. Some tasks simply require a wealth of knowledge and practical experience to achieve the best results. And knowledge and experience cannot be packaged into a kit along with all the bits and pieces and parts. That certainly applies to landscape lighting installations. Part of the reason to leave this job to professionals is the electrical work that’s involved. When you install a landscape lighting system, you’re dealing with extensive wiring and expanded electrical loads. You really need to know what you’re doing when you tread into that territory. But...

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LEDs Key to Dramatically Different High-Tech Future
Feb16

LEDs Key to Dramatically Different High-Tech Future

I’ve written frequently in this space about the many benefits of LED lighting for homeowners. When doing so, I’ve mostly focused upon the immediate benefits of LEDs that are available to every homeowner: Light bulbs that are brighter and far more visually impressive Light bulbs that last thousands of hours longer than old-fashioned incandescent bulbs Lights that can slash the amount of energy required to illuminate a home and landscape Lights that remain cool to the touch even after being lit for hours, eliminating the threat that scorching-hot incandescent bulbs can pose to children, pets, and landscape plants I’ve mostly focused upon the benefits of using LED bulbs in landscape lighting systems. That’s a natural viewpoint for me because of my company’s work in installing landscape lighting systems, and converting existing systems to LEDs. But recently I came across a fascinating article that illuminates the future that LED technology has made possible. The Internet of Buildings The solid-state aspect of LED technology will enable a dramatic leap forward in connectivity and controllability. It’s called the “Internet of Buildings,” and it’s going to provide revolutionary changes to how we live and interact with technology. The Internet of Buildings will be a massive, interconnected network built by linking billions of LED bulbs. Sensors incorporated in each LED bulb will facilitate the creation of an intelligent nervous system of sorts. The result will be ‘smart’ buildings. How will smart buildings impact our lives? The possibilities are unlimited, but here are just a few example scenarios: Biometric sensors embedded within the LED network of an elementary school might track the alertness of students, and automatically adjust lighting to help maintain maximum alertness. Beacons embedded in LEDs within your local grocery store might track your movement through the store, and offer relevant coupons for your location in the store through your smart phone. The lighting system in your home might learn your habits and preferences, automatically adjusting itself accordingly. The lighting in your home might even be attuned to your moods and emotions, and use changes in lighting to help diminish your stress or to cheer you up when you’re in a funk. It All Begins With LEDs The Internet of Buildings isn’t here just yet, but it’s not far away. It’s a revolution that wouldn’t be possible without the worldwide shift to LEDs, a trend that’s been ongoing for nearly two decades. And just as LED technology has plummeted in price in recent years, so have the components required to make light systems ‘smart.’ At this very moment, in fact, every single light you see – whether a landscape light, a living room...

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Mood Lighting for Your Home and Landscape
Feb09

Mood Lighting for Your Home and Landscape

How are you feeling today? Whether the answer to that question is a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, the interior and exterior lighting of your home has something to do with it. Though most of us go through our lives without really thinking much about it, light greatly affects each of us, both physically and emotionally. In fact, the type of light and the amount of light in and around your home can directly impact your emotional moods, and even your sense of well-being. Are You Being Played? Lots of businesses know about the relationship between lighting and mood. And they use that knowledge to their advantage. Bright lights, for example, can tend to intensify emotions and cause people to be more abrupt and decisive. That’s why fast-food restaurants are always brightly lit; the bright lights encourage customers to leave more quickly. The softer, dimmer lights found in fine-dining restaurants help people to be more relaxed, and to linger longer – and possibly purchase more (dessert, anyone?). Retail stores also use the mood-altering power of light to increase sales. And many businesses are even using the effects of lighting to increase employee productivity. The Lack of Lighting Can Make You SAD A lack of light can also be a powerful mood-altering force. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and it’s a form of depression that impacts many people during the low-light days of winter. The low light levels that cause SAD can lead to very serious symptoms and complications, including suicidal thoughts or behavior. And the treatment for SAD? Not surprisingly, light therapy is a leading treatment used to fight this illness. Harness the Mood-Altering Power of Light Many of the businesses you frequent may be using the power of light to help fine-tune your mood and modify your behavior. Your employer may be doing the same. Why not put the mood-altering power of light to work for you in your own home? Simply brightening the intensity of light within a single room can have a powerful impact upon your mood. Of course, the mood-altering power of light certainly doesn’t disappear as soon as you step outside your front door. Along with enhanced safety and security, outdoor lighting can impact your mood to the positive, particularly during the dark and dreary winter months. And outdoor lighting can help to take a big bite out of any SAD-related symptoms you may be experiencing. Into every life some rain must fall. That old saying is quite true. But increasing the light in your life can help to diminish the emotional impact of your problems; modern research confirms that it’s so. How...

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