Whole-house lighting is icing on the cake of modern smart-home living. If you're thinking about an automated system, now is the perfect time to take a walk around your property and visualize where outdoor lighting could be put to use.
"If you have a centralized lighting control system, it's only natural to add outdoor lighting to it," says Chad Bowman, installation manager for DSI Entertainment Systems, an award-winning design and installation firm based in Los Angeles.
"The systems we install can be programmed to have the lights come just before sunset and they use astronomical clocks so you don't have to worry about accuracy or daylight savings. Coming home at night to a well-lit home gives you a secure feeling." The lights can also be programmed to dim during the wee hours and turn off as the sun begins to rise, conserving energy and extending bulb life.
Of course, the possibilities for outdoor lighting systems don't end there. While you're on your exploratory walk, identify focal points like a pool or gazebo, patios or decks, landscaping, seating areas and pathways that could benefit from lighting control and explore the options with your contractor.
Once you have an idea of what you want to accomplish and establish a budget, it's time to consult a lighting designer who will help you select the right fixtures and suggest how and where to deploy lighting around your home. Fixtures come in many shapes, sizes and finishes and include light posts, hanging lamps, wall sconces, landscape lights, and much more.
Outdoor lighting ideas may include:
- Lighting a pathway to the front door
- Creating illuminated pathways from a patio or pool to a cabana, gazebo, or backyard gate
- Accenting trees, shrubs and landscaped areas for dramatic effect
- Creating a "night to day" mode that uses strategically placed fixtures to light up all or part of your backyard — great for parties and for scaring away vermin
"People spend so much money on landscaping that they want to be able to show it off at night," Bowman says. "A lot of our clients put accent lighting in trees, which looks awesome when they're having a party."
Finally, outdoor sound is a natural complement to lighting and something worth considering, especially if you regularly entertain outdoors. Options range from simple wireless speakers that can be moved around to weatherproof speakers under the eaves to speakers camouflaged as landscape rocks.
To learn more about outdoor lighting options, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member electronic systems integrators in your area.