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View Full Version : DIYer requesting your expert advice


Grabber07'
04-13-2010, 11:43 PM
Gentlemen,

I have read the Sticky and do understand that I am out of place here, BUT this forum seems to be the most knowledgeable out of all others. I have been lurking reading up, using the search function, and taking notes from you all. I must say WOW! Members on this forum do amazing work and have an eye for design that I could only hope for.
With that being said I am shamelessly requesting some newb advice on how to move forward with lighting my home. I know that I could get amazing results by hiring an expert, but I really get great personal satisfaction from DIY projects and the fact that I am a newly wed with a budget I need to keep costs down.
Below I have pictures of my home, but know next to nothing about which lighting fixtures to go with, what wattage to use, transformer, wires, connections, etc. I have seen the Home Depot and Lowes lights and am hesitant to purchase for durability reasons. Any help would be appreciated as I know you don't have to answer as professionals. Thank you in advance.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2757/4519910804_cb55cd5348.jpg
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4051/4519911296_8367548558.jpg
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2144/4519281029_eb90009996.jpg
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4010/4519282373_c86cdc9c2f.jpg
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4001/4519282637_2b7f8f5d88.jpg
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4013/4519278817_e8c2a9ab85.jpg

David Gretzmier
04-14-2010, 11:31 PM
I'll bite. landscape lighting world is a sponsor here and has pretty good stuff. Alan Griffin is a friendly guy, posts on here, and will help you out with what you should buy and what you should put where. Stay away from the big box stores and ebay stuff and aluminum fixtures in general. I count 12 places I could put fixtures to get everything in on the house.

Tim R.
04-15-2010, 06:41 AM
Yep, I picked out 11 placement locations. Alan would be a good resource for on this, just as David suggested.

JimLewis
04-15-2010, 07:56 AM
Well, here's what I would do if that were my house;

First, I'd install 4 down lights on each of the 4 peaks of the house, to highlight the structure, as we've done at this home;
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http://www.lewislandscape.com/photos/gallery/albums/Landscape-Lighting-Beaverton/Lighting21.jpg
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Next, I'd remove the two sconces / light fixtures on the garage because they just send light out in all directions and would detract from the other lighting I'd be doing. I'd replace those with something that only allowed light to go up and down, like this fixture from Unique;
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http://www.uniquelighting.com/product_pages/ORION9.htm

You can order that fixture in regular line voltage (110w) and just throw like a 40w regular light bulb in it. Then you just keep your existing wiring. Or you can order it Low-Voltage and then you would wire it into the Low-Voltage system you're installing. But either way, I'd do this because it would still highlight the columns there next to the garage but wouldn't flood light out everywhere else.

Next, I'd install two Up Lights on each of the two areas to the right and left of your large shutters. I'd want to highlight those narrow brick areas like we've done in this photo;
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http://www.lewislandscape.com/photos/gallery/albums/Landscape-Lighting-Oregon/FeketeK.sized.jpg

I'd also place a small spot light on that ornamental tree that's between the garage and the front door.

And finally, I'd remove the small flowering tree in the front yard and replace it with something that is more substantial and more of a showcase and then light that up with 2 spot lights or can lights.

In addition to all this, you may want to add 2 pathway lights on each side of the driveway.

It would be nice if there were more elements in the front yard landscape to take advantage of in terms of highlighting. But there just isn't much there. So over time you may want to consider hiring a landscape designer to give you some ideas on how to change your front yard around a little more, with the emphasis on finding a few more areas to install some ornamental trees that would provide a little more structure and opportunities for lighting. But that aside, just the suggestions I made above would make a world of difference.

As far as which fixtures would be best for each of these areas, Landscape Lighting World should be able to assist you in choosing the right brand and fixtures based on your budget.

Grabber07'
04-15-2010, 01:19 PM
Thanks everyone. I will definitely be checking landscape lighting World for my purchases as I do understand that most lighting offered to the public through Home Depot and Lowes are low quality.

To Jim..thank you sir! You have given me a lot of information to go with and I very much appreciate it as I know you are a professional and understand that DIYers dont provide your income. I appreciate you taking the time to help me out. I am very much open to suggestions and your opinions

As far as the landcaping we definitely will be looking to make some changes. We have been in this home for almost a year nd most of the plants were chosen by the builder. The tree in the front yard is a keeper unfortunately, the wifes orders. Its a white flowering crabapple and she is in love with it. I will have to figure out some soft lighting for it to try and highlight its features even though there isnt much there.

JimLewis
04-15-2010, 02:29 PM
Yah, well a flowering crabapple is nice. That's just a pretty small one. Around where I live, you can get a pretty nice size one (like 10-15' tall and 8' wide, more established looking) for around $100-$200. So if it were me, I'd just move that small one to another area and purchase a more established one.

Regardless, you can still light up that one. It just won't look too impressive until it fills out, which will be a few years, probably.

Good luck with your light project. Hope it goes well. And pay attention to your voltage as you install it. No daisy chaining the system. Keep your voltage around 10.5-12.5, in that range. You might read up on the "hub system" and get a better understanding of how that works, if you haven't already. Hope all goes well.

Grabber07'
04-15-2010, 03:10 PM
Yah, well a flowering crabapple is nice. That's just a pretty small one. Around where I live, you can get a pretty nice size one (like 10-15' tall and 8' wide, more established looking) for around $100-$200. So if it were me, I'd just move that small one to another area and purchase a more established one.

Regardless, you can still light up that one. It just won't look too impressive until it fills out, which will be a few years, probably.

Good luck with your light project. Hope it goes well. And pay attention to your voltage as you install it. No daisy chaining the system. Keep your voltage around 10.5-12.5, in that range. You might read up on the "hub system" and get a better understanding of how that works, if you haven't already. Hope all goes well.


Thanks for the advice Jim, I definitely will keep my voltage in check. I also like your crapapple suggestion. Might just skip that one to the rear of the house and looks for a developed tree for the front.

I always enjoy a challenging project and this will be no different. Pretty excited about seeing if I can tackle this and actually make it look decent. Ive seen most professional jobs on this website and I am very impressed. It takes a skill level that most do not have to create some of the dramatic effects you do.

JimLewis
04-15-2010, 03:53 PM
Be sure to take some after photos when you are done and post them here. Take them at dusk when the sky is still just a little blue and not totally dark yet.

S&MLL
04-15-2010, 05:02 PM
What kind of life are you getting out of your lights at 10.5? My mr16s LOVE high 11s into low 12s

extlights
04-15-2010, 06:48 PM
Uhhh....I don't know Alan but yes, definately give him a call.

JimLewis
04-15-2010, 07:20 PM
What kind of life are you getting out of your lights at 10.5? My mr16s LOVE high 11s into low 12s

I couldn't tell you. At my house my voltage is all just under 12. And most of the time the installs we do end up being between 11 and 12. I was just going off the guidelines that Unique recommends when I mentioned the 10.5. I don't know that we've ever installed one that low and if we did, I wasn't ever around to see how long the lamps lasted. 85% of the time we do a lighting install, that's the last time I ever have anything to do with their lighting system for many years.

extlights
04-15-2010, 08:57 PM
You don't offer maintenance contracts?

S&MLL
04-16-2010, 12:11 AM
Who changes the lamps? What happens when a customer goes to lowes and buys 50watt mr16s for your 20watt ones... 10 fixtures on a circuit. You just went from 200 to 500.... Sounds like burnt up taps to me