As important as lighting is indoors, outdoor lighting can be a game changer in bringing an exciting new element to your home with enhanced optics, entertaining possibilities and safety. We just installed a large LED system for outdoor lighting on a one acre lot, so as a first time buying experience, we did our research! We chose Tak Interiors in Glenview for our project as we were looking for a contractor that could take our outdoors to the next level. These projects can be an easy D-I-Y, but we hired a contractor as time and the size of the job was too big for one person to do in our opinion efficiently.  We also wanted someone experienced in outdoor LED so that we chose a system that was right for our outdoor application and goals. This is a great project to put the kids to work on with you…. but you may want to prepare for some complaining as there is a good amount of digging to do! Here are some valuable items I learned that homeowners must be aware of in choosing and installing a LED outdoor system during my Q and A interview with Tak Interiors in Glenview.

Q – Ted what are the critical musts when planning to do outdoor LED lighting?
A- It is critical to buy a system that will support your goals. These systems are not expandable, so it is critical to know if you have future plans of planting, pools or house additions that you have a system that can be expanded on. I have experienced that some people bought items in the past that are maxed for capacity that limits what they could do in the future. Safety should also be a big part of the equation in lighting appropriately for motion, whether through an outdoor system of hard wired inside the home. Designing outdoor lighting systems should be reviewed just as if you were designing a custom kitchen for yourself… what kind of entertaining will you do? Where is the cookout and seating area? What is planted and when do items bloom? What areas do the kids play or the dogs dig? Will I have a garden or new planting in the future?

Q – What lights work best for lighting different types of trees, decks or pools to create certain themes or moods in front and back yard settings?
A – Spots and flood lights are basically what you will be looking at when purchasing for landscape and house lighting, along with motion detector lighting that usually has the sensor attached to the light. Security lights can also be bought to hang on the home as well in all types of decorative formats. Some like having the “security” look to the lighting system, then some like lanterns that match more of the homes aesthetics but all should be built on a timer or motion for security.  Solar lighting can also be used for lighting walk ways, but we focus more on having lighting that has more brightness, reliability and performance. We always recommend to have motion lighting for pools for extra security and safety. Tree lighting is critical to know that it should be performed from the base of the tree, not 30 feet above. LED lighting cascades when shining upwards, which is the effect homeowners want, plus you don’t want to be going high up for bulb changing or dealing with squirrels tampering or birds making nests.

Q – When lighting a home what areas should be focused on?
A- This truly is an aesthetic choice and it comes in time and experience how to set up a home to be lit that creates that beautiful nightscape. D-I-Y users need to be prepared to move items around to find the balance, but there are plenty of pictures on line as well that homeowners can use to get the feel they are trying to achieve.

Q – Does homeowners insurance recognize these systems for discounts like alarms?
A- Burglars won’t find your home an easy mark if they are forced to work in the light. Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar will go elsewhere. Policy wise for security discounts are offered usually tied in with alarm systems, but honestly light is a big part in discouraging criminals from breaking into homes. Both should be incorporated for safety.

Q – How much is saved versus traditional lighting?
A- Up to 80% is saved in using low voltage / LED lighting. The up front cost will be deferred over the years in saving on electricity.

Q – Maintenance wise what upkeep is needed with outdoor LED lighting?
A – Generally speaking they are minimal. Repositioning lights after storms or winter months and wiping the lens once every few months may be needed. Making sure that the slotted side of the light faces down for drainage is also critical.

Q – How long do bulbs last for outdoor LED lighting?
A- LED has great life expectancy – 5 years and above depending on how long the lights are on.

Q – What kind of power is needed?
A – Low-voltage systems are the preferred choice for outdoor lighting applications. Generally, a transformer is required to convert line voltage from a 120-volt line to a low-voltage ( 9-15 volt) current. With a transformer, lights may be run automatically.  Low voltage wiring does not need to be buried or placed in a conduit, so it is easy to install and move, but it recommended to be buried if you want a finished look and if you have dogs its a must! Also if you have landscapers, make sure to inform them where the lights and lines are placed.

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