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How to light up your deck with LEDs

No matter where you live or the style of your home, outdoor lighting deserves just as much consideration as indoor lighting. This is especially true for decks, which can be transformed into beautiful outdoor living spaces with the right lighting.

We spoke with Mathias Bullmer, at Eaton’s Lighting Division, about the latest advancements in outdoor deck lighting to serve functions from wayfinding and security to ambience and design.

Why is LED technology ideal for outdoor applications?

MB: There are a couple of reasons why LEDs are the preferred technology for outdoor applications. Number one is that LEDs throw the light exactly where you want it, making it really easy to design your lighting to serve the function of the space. Whereas other lighting sources emit light in all directions, LEDs allows you to direct the light so you can have more light in the areas where you need it.

Secondly, LEDs allow you to transform your lighting with adjustable correlated color temperature (CCT) to create ambience. Whether you are hosting friends or building a treehouse after hours, you can adjust the CCT of LEDs to a warmer temperature for an intimate setting or a cooler temperature for security or work purposes.

Unlike incandescents, LEDs are small and efficient, so the design possibilities are endless. LEDs can be incorporated into every aspect of outdoor deck lighting from unobtrusive light strips for under railings to landscape lighting, walkway illumination, floodlights, step lights and more.

What is the relationship between outdoor lighting and wayfinding, security and atmosphere?

MB: LEDs are easy to control, from color temperature to dimming capabilities, so there is a lot more flexibility with wayfinding, security and ambience. Technologies such as dim-to-warm allow you to dim to a warmer light, which is very nice at night when people are spending time in their outdoor spaces. And because you can control the light beam of an LED right onto a pathway, you won’t have errant lights shining into your windows or the windows of your neighbors.

How are ambient, task and accent lighting relevant to outdoor deck lighting?

MB: Outdoor decks serve a variety of functions and LEDs allow you to design the space with light exactly where you need it. With incandescents, you needed more light because so much was wasted inside the housing, and the additional light often created glare. LEDs offer more flexibility without glare especially when it comes to task lighting such as floodlights, jelly jar lights or wall packs. There is less wasted light with LEDs, so you need less light for the same amount of coverage.

LED fixtures also often come with frosted lenses, which make the lights more pleasant to look at. When combined with ambient lighting such as strip lighting and accent lighting along the perimeter of the deck or within the steps, LEDs provide a customized atmosphere as well as utility for your outdoor deck.

How do smart lighting technologies expand the possibilities of outdoor deck lighting?

MB: Simply put, smart lighting systems, such as Eaton’s Halo Home, allow you to remotely change a light fixture to exactly the setting you are looking for through an app on your smartphone. For example, a Halo Home floodlight and motion fixture could be programmed to adjust the CCT, measured in Kelvin (K), from 5000K when you are working on the deck and require bright light to see what you are doing to 3000K when your neighbors come over to create a warmer, more intimate feeling. You can also reduce the lighting output by percentage to have more or less light coming from the fixture.

The Halo Home platform takes connected lighting and expands on it by allowing you to create settings and schedule the lighting to match your lifestyle. For security purposes, you can establish a dusk to dawn setting, so your floodlights are always set at 3000K at 20 percent output for example but connect it to a motion sensor that adjusts the light to 5000K at 100 percent output when it detects motion. You can also schedule lighting features and group fixtures together, so if your friends come over every Friday night, the lights are already on when they arrive.

This is just the start of smart lighting solutions that make our outdoor decks safer, more functional and more enjoyable all year long.