I need some help with ideas

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by bcg, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    I've been working with a local club on some lighting projects and they gave me something fairly challenging today. They've got a pavilion that is partially covered, partially not. The uncovered area has no tall buildings or trees anywhere nearby and is too dark to use for night time events but they have one scheduled for October 15. We need to come up with a portable area light that can be used for events to provide enough lighting for people to eat dinner, etc. The event planned in 3 weeks is a contrasting theme of grilled cheese and caviar and they're using very contemporary style furniture, tables with battery powered up lights for the tops, etc. They've asked for a contemporary style streetlight type fixture but are also open to something like a very traditional main street or French quarter type of street light to contrast the furniture. I think a more traditional fixture will give them more use in the long run.

    Here are my real challenges -

    1 - The timeline is very short, so I'm going to need to find something that is mostly pre-fab, I don't see how I can build 3 to 5 in the time allowed from scratch.

    2 - It has to be portable and ideally it would be battery powered. They have power available but if we have something that needs to be plugged in then they've got extension cords to worry about and I'd prefer not to do that.

    3 - It has to be portable (again) so it really needs a weighted base so that they can move them wherever they need them. I think it's likely that I'm going to need to come up with a way to weight the base myself unless there happens to be something perfect out there already.

    I've got a few ideas for different fixtures but I'm not really sure where to source them. I'm thinking something like an oversized stainless china hat area light would work well, shining the lamp into the hat and giving indirect area lighting. Other options would be something more traditional like these -



    Really, I'm just looking for any kind of input you guys can offer, whether it be on the fixture choice, powering them, making them portable, etc.

    Almost forgot, here's the pavilion -




  2. Lite Headed

    Lite Headed LawnSite Member
    Messages: 160

    What about using a portable "umbrella" type heaters you see on patios and outdoor cafes and put a gas light fixture on it instead of the heater thingy? It would provide some light and give a New Orleans ambiance too.
  3. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Gas lights would be cool (and a quick search shows several styles available) but I'm concerned they wouldn't be bright enough. Also, heat from them might be an issue.

    I may have to see if I can find one local to experiment with. It would really have been nice to have had a little more time on this one.
  4. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    If it's just a short term function, why not use some clear globe string lights. You can set up extension poles with weighted bases on the outer edges and run a thin braided cable between them. String the 2" globes back and forth over the top of the whole area about 8-9' high. This will provide plenty of soft usable light and create a neat atmosphere for the guests. An inexpensive and simple option.
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  5. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Patio Lanterns. Easy, quick and festive. If you cannot find enough length of them in short order then consider basic strings of clear 'christmas lights'. The 7w C9 lamps give off quite a lot of light for area lighting.
  6. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    I concur with using string lighting as opposed to making a portable fixture that will not be as effective in small numbers. National Specialty Lighting in Co has Xenon Globe lights that run on 12 volts. I can see you running 4 thin aircraft cables from the columns just above the stone wrap ... these cables would run out aerially over the patio to weighted poles in the corners and left/right of the steps. you might even be able to convince them to let you put an anchor bolt or two into that low wall to help hold them up. The weight shouldn't be that much. The lights are cool looking clear globes with 5 watt xenons in them, and the client might like the look so much that the'll have you keep it up.

    A second idea if you have to stay with the pole lantern look is to include some wide flood downlighting from under that big overhang of the pavillion. Those lights could probably reach out at least a third of the way to the outdoor seating area. You could then supplement those with 4 portable pole lights which you can locate on the other end. As for power... and lamps... maybe solecki can suggest using some nightsaping socket adaptors in the lanterns and trying some of his LED bi pin or single contact lamps. You d be surprised how much light would come out of them and it would be nice and moody too.

    You could power these with a custom made battery pack using those emergency light batteries. Im sure fully charged, they'll last quite a while and are small enough to conceal in the bases. You might also put a downlight strapped to the neck of the poles below the lantern which will help the lanterns illuminate the area better.

    good luck

  7. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Thanks for all the ideas. The party lantern idea got me onto another track and I've come up with what I think is a great idea and will give them a ton of flexibility.

    The plan is to set 2 black posts at the outside corners in a way that they can be removed if needed and to string a black vinyl coated steel rope around the perimeter and put an x in the middle to give me a base grid to work from. I'm then going to hang fixtures like the one I was asking about yesterday wherever they need light to basically create a floating can light setup. With everything painted black, it will look very contemporary/industrial during the day (but could still be used for other events) and at night they really won't see the support structure or the fixtures, just the light.

    This eliminates the need for self contained power because we can run the LV wire from the pavilion roof line along the cables and makes the lighting a part of the scene instead of part of the decorations.

    Does anybody have any suggestions for weatherproof quick-connects?
  8. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Here's what I ended up doing. Customer was really happy with it and decided to leave it up permanently. You can't see the posts here but I mounted 2 in pieces of Sch 80 steel pipe in the beds to secure the wire rope to. Staggered the lights so that there is some variance in the output creating some "shadowing" below and had everything powder coated to match the patina of the copper stuff already there, except the copper fixtures which Copper Moon aged for me. At night, the wires disappear and you've just got floating lights. I think it came out great.

  9. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 447

    Well done-- outside the box, creative thinking... no glare and Dark Sky Friendly!
    -What kind of splice did you use for fixture to wire? (it's nice and seamless--can't see it. Is it Lighting Shrink/Ace?)
    -The wire doesn't look like it sags at all there must be a lot of tension on it. Wondering the set-up (type of wire, type of splice that could take that tension and how you got the upright steel pipes not to bend/tip).

    It's the first time I've seen an application like that on here. Thanks for sharing and posting the final results. Well done.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  10. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Thanks. The lv cable is on top of a 1/8" steel rope that we tensioned with 6" turnbuckles, probably about 100 pounds of tension on the wire rope. We then put the lv wire on top of that with 26ga floral wire used to secure it, zip ties could be seen too easily. The fixtures do have a zip tie on them for added security. There was no problem keeping the sch 80 pipe from bending but it did shift a little in the base so we added guy lines to counter tension them against the overhead wire, secured to 40" ground anchors. It was important to me that the posts were level and that there was no sag in the wire, it needed to look perfect.

    I used marine butt connectors with integrated heat shrink insulation for the connections, they're smaller and since this is above ground, I expect them to stay water tight.

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