Whether the goal is to light a walking path, emphasize beautiful plants or increase safety and security, proper landscape lighting is necessary in almost any outdoor area. We spoke with Raj Bhayana, product manager of Lumiere for Eaton’s Lighting Division, about the role of connected lighting in landscape lighting design and specific techniques for a well-lit landscape.
What types of lighting techniques are used for landscaping?
RB: There are several techniques used for landscaping. For example, uplighting is a dramatic technique used to highlight architectural elements or the structure of trees and other plants, while moonlighting allows you to mimic natural light and provides soft lighting over large areas. Crosslighting is often used to accent focal points, defining surface texture and form instead of the flattening effect you get when using a single front light. For seamless transitions between lighting scenes, path lighting is best. Grazing is another technique that uses sharp angled lights with upward beams that delicately capture the texture on walls and tree trunks, creating broken shadows and irregular patterns.
Silhouetting is when you light a backdrop so the object is silhouetted in black against a soft white background, which allows you to create a dramatic effect for areas with objects and plants that may have intriguing shapes. There is also wall washing, which is a technique that provides even illumination, bathing an entire wall so that it has no shadows from the surface texture. For the backlighting technique, the subject is in between the light source and the viewing angle, providing illumination around the edges of an object to emphasize its shape. Finally, shadowing is the technique in which you light an object so it casts a shadow on a wall for visual impact.
What is the impact of lighting on landscape design?
RB: Effective lighting lets you dramatically showcase landscaping features and complements the overall architecture of a space. Various lighting techniques can be used to create stunning visual impacts. Whether you want to graze a wall or draw attention to a sculpture, lighting not only helps you provide even illumination, but also helps you highlight and emphasize the shape, texture or pattern of the subject.
What are the benefits of using LEDs in landscape lighting design?
RB: Newer LEDs have allowed the fixture size to be more compact, while continuing to deliver very high lumens at higher efficacy. The premium color rendering index options on the newer LEDs let you highlight deep, rich colors in a landscape and provide higher lumen maintenance hours, in turn reducing service cycles compared to conventional lighting sources.
How is connected lighting relevant to landscape lighting?
RB: As the control sizes become smaller and smarter, integration has become easier to adapt and we are seeing various integrated sensors and Bluetooth or wireless control modules being adapted to landscape lighting. The ability to integrate LEDs and control systems with platforms like Alexa and Apple HomePod has created a lot of opportunity for outdoor lighting. You can control all dimming and perform color tuning at the palm of your hand via an app. You can even create preset scenes to highlight an event or simply provide visual and emotional appeal to an environment. Daylight harvesting sensors offer energy savings while smart motion sensors can not only control the light levels depending on occupancy, but also track and report the amount of traffic so they can be used for security purposes, if necessary.
Why is low-voltage lighting preferred over high-voltage lighting for landscapes?
RB: The primary reason for the low-voltage preference is safety. Low-voltage lighting does not require an electrical conduit and therefore provides a much more conducive environment for people to move freely within the landscape. It’s preferred where higher lumen levels are not desired. It also allows a longer run between the fixture and the transformer without a voltage drop. Whether you are trying to install a ground stake or doing a tree strap, low-voltage lighting will require minimal wiring and be cost-effective, as well.