Below I show an example of a small to mid size 40 fixture system based on clients average usage of 4 hours per day.
In both cases the formula to calculate costs is based on the average electricity rate of .15c per KWH. Watts x Rate of .15c divided by 1,000.
|40 lights using 20 watt halogen||40 lights using 3.5 watt LED|
|800 watts total||140 watts total|
|.12 c per hour||.021c per hour|
|.48c – per day||.084c per day|
|14.40 Euros per month||2.52 Euros per month|
|175.20 Euros per year||30.66 Euros per year|
Before LED, the standard bulb type for most low voltage outdoor lighting applications was a 20 watt MR16 lamp. Now with LED the
same result can be accomplished by using only 3.5 watts, this represents an energy saving of 82%.
A small lighting job is considered to be 0 to 40 lights, medium 40 to 80 and large 80 plus. These numbers may sound like a lot of lights if you are only accustomed to typical glary flood light type 230 volt lighting, keep in mind low voltage lighting is a lot more tasteful, soft, glare free and artistically considers all aspects of the property including trees, plants, paths, driveways, elevation changes and special features such as fountains, statues and artwork.
As you can see from the above example with LED you can now enjoy your lighting each and every evening as it was intended and not just on special occasions.
Illuminating your property at night is also a great proven deterrant against intruders and many police forces now recommend outdoor lighting.
Accidental electrical injury is not possible with a 12 volt system in your landscape however the same cannot be said of running 230 volt high power cables throughout the garden. Think about it, if the gardener accidently cuts a line without realizing, or an old 230 volt fixture has corroded and exposed the wiring, which is common, creates a potential disaster especially for children playing outdoors or animals.
Low Voltage Lighting does not mean just using a lower wattage bulb it is referring to a 12 volt supply system rather than a 230
volt supply typically found in the home.
A stainless steel transformer designed and built to be outdoors converts the 230 volt current of your property to a safe and much more economical 12 volt current that can then be carried by low voltage direct burial cable to your light fixtures
The first step is to schedule a meeting during the daytime at your property so we can discuss areas you would like to consider
for lighting and I can answer any questions you might have. We can look at different types of lights and select the ones you prefer.
Copper and Brass lights when new can be shiny and noticeable but understand that literally within a few days in the landscape they will
start to turn into a deep dark bronze color and age beautifully into the surrounding environment. Also transformer locations,
switching options, how many different levels or zones of lights you would like can also be discussed.
After this I will take some time to make notes, take measurements and come up with a design which will be turned into a proposal for you normally within 24 hours.
For clients who have never had a professional low voltage outdoor lighting system, a night time demonstration can be very helpful. I will come to the property approximately an hour before dark and set up a small section of the property for you to look at, usually about a dozen lights or enough to be able to give you a very good snapshot of what to expect.
Transformers which can be controlled by several methods including home automation, switches, timers, photocells, motion detectors
are centrally located and installed above ground around the property and usually hidden in the landscape.
Some companies bury
transformers but this is a bad idea for several reasons including access for any future maintenance such as additional lights and cable
runs and possible moisture penetration.
Centrally locating transformers reduces cable runs and voltage drop issues and allows more flexible switching and zoning of different areas, for example if you require several levels of light such as every day or entertainment mode this is easily accomplished. Or if you want just the perimeter of the property most evenings but with the option to turn on the trees and pathways separately it is all possible.
Low voltage direct burial cables
run from the transformer to the lights and whenever possible following any edges of paths, driveways
and planters rather than through the middle of areas that may from time to time be re-planted. However if a cable is ever cut or broken
by accident unlike 230 volts it is harmless and easily spliced and repaired in less than five minutes.
The lights are connected to the cables with a completely waterproof rubber latex silicon connection system that I have been using for 20 years without a failure. The number one reason inferior outdoor lighting systems fail is due to moisture penetration and corrosion at connections.
All connections are buried with an additional 1 meter of coiled cable to allow for any future movement of light fixtures due to new
plant growth etc.
During the design process, which cables supply, which areas and lights is determined based on zoning requirements, distances and voltage drop limits. In other words each individual cable run must adhere to specific voltage measurements which ensures the long life of the system and makes sure all lights no matter how close or far from the transformer look the same with no variation of some being dimmer than others due to poor design calculations.
Each night at dark during the installation, lights are adjusted to give the best possible effects and a final walkthrough with the client for any possible changes or additions before the last step of burying all cable and connections.
After installation it is very important to keep in mind the lights are in an ever changing environment and to keep the system looking
as good as the first day, a certain amount of maintenance is required. I recommend this twice a year and offer this service or can
instruct the client on how to do it yourself if preferred.
Cleaning lenses to avoid light depleting mineral deposit build up, trimming overgrown plants, fixture adjustment as new plant material grows and anything else which might take away from the original installation.
Having a detailed as built lighting diagram indicating all
relevant technical information is extremely important as a reference for any future additions, changes or maintenance issues.
The lighting plan will show all transformer and light fixture locations, models numbers, wattage ratings and cable runs and any other information regarding the project. Without this document any future work on the system would be blind and could seriously undermine the original design and function. I provide this document on all my projects.