Image is Everything

Distinguishing your business in the market place is an ongoing challenge in virtually every industry, but as it pertains to outdoor lighting, the distinct value you bring to your customer rests squarely on your design capability. We are after all, a visual industry that creates an emotional connection between the customer and our results. Whether you create a relaxing subtle environment for intimate conversation, or dramatic enhancement to architectural or landscape features, your ability to interpret and deliver on what your client needs is what separates you from the pack.

To leverage this capability and position your company as a leader in lighting design, an investment in professional photography is essential. Just as quality photography can create a positive emotional reaction from prospective customers, poor or mediocre photographs can have an adverse effect on their perception of you and your business.

Let’s look at the following images and see what makes them work and what could jeopardize your chances of closing the deal.Blog 3- AvalonThis is clearly a beautiful Image that conveys peace and tranquility and showcases great design on multiple levels. First, you will note there is not a lighting fixture visible in this shot. It focuses exclusively on the lighting effect. The angle of the camera uses water reflection in the foreground to create an ethereal setting that demonstrates this lighting designer brings a true artistic vision when illuminating an outdoor space.

Now here is an example of a typical photograph, and the type you should try to avoid. Putting aside the lackluster design, this photo does nothing to capture the emotion of the space.

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The best times to shoot evening photography is just before dusk until around 15 minutes after sunset. It is a short window of time but provides ambient light to highlight the surrounding area (in this case the pergola and the pool).

The result of shooting this in the dark of night, is a photo filled with hot spots along the wall and behind the pergola column on the right. Looking closer, there is machinery in the middle of the pergola and a milk crate by the left column; likely not noticed in the dark or simply ignored. This is a missed opportunity. Had the pool been illuminated, the shot taken at dusk, and the area cleaned, this photo would have delivered a drastically different result.

This is the perfect timing for a photo at dusk where the ambient light allows for the photograph to pick up all the architectural details while still showing the outdoor lighting effect.

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And as you consider you photography it is valuable to capture specific effects that you can illustrate to future customers. In this example it shows Up and Wash lighting used to make a welcoming space.

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Even if you have limited budget, it would be worthwhile to consider having at least one of your best projects photographed by a true professional. You can negotiate hourly or day rates. A walk through of the job site is essential as the photographer will want to take notes on staging various shots so get to the site well before dusk. Take as many shots as possible from as many different angles to get the most out of your investment. These are images you can post to your website, social media, and sales presentations that will demonstrate a commitment to quality in both your work and how you manage your business.

Spring, and Fall are great times of the year for landscape lighting photography. Spring blooms and Autumn foliage will naturally enhance the landscape and your photography as well. Now is a perfect time to promote your design creativity and promote the quality you bring to our industry.

Are Industry Associations Worth It?

I am often asked by our customers if there is value in being part of the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals (AOLP). My typical response is in the form of a question; “Are you looking to position yourself and your business as being a thought leader or as a value proposition”.

ClaroLux has been a member of the AOLP for the past 5 years so our view may be a little biased, but based on our experience there is no better way to hone your design and installation talents while at the same time learning how to run a more profitable business. We just returned from the 2018 AOLP Illuminate Conference & Expo in Tampa Florida and feel fortunate to have an industry association that is comprised of professionals who in addition to running successful businesses, truly care about our industry’s future and yours.

Certainly, there are member benefits that are geared toward the operation of your business, but what truly makes the AOLP worthwhile are its members. It is only here that you can rub elbows with like-minded professionals from around the country to exchange ideas or participate in courses and testing to become a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician (CLVLT) or a Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer (COLD). You will learn from industry veterans like John Niggli and Heinrich Fischer and can access their years of practical experience in designing the safest, most efficient, and inspiring lighting systems today. Are these certifications easy? No, but this level of dedication can be marketed and demonstrates expertise to your customers as to the very latest technology, design, and installation methods that will provide them a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment.

The Conference also included a presentation by Mike Fusco, Co-Founder of LED Specialists, Inc. to discuss CRI, TM-30, and the new color quality standards. He reviewed the increased efficacy of the newest LEDs, thermal management, driver technologies, dimming, and compared drop-in vs integrated LEDs. Later in the day business consultant Tricia Huebner, Director of Coaching at E-myth hosted a seminar called “Seven Steps to a Business That Works” in which she discussed time management, creating a clear vision, delegating responsibility and leading high performing teams. All worthwhile discussions.

There was ample time to network and learn from fellow AOLP members. Additional sessions had members discuss the pros and cons of the “smart home” control systems they use. There were presentations on how to overcome installation challenges such as installing bistro lights, installing lights in soffits, installing fixtures on brick and in concrete driveways, and cutting mortar joints to install lighting in difficult locations. Roundtable discussions provided a platform to discuss successful business development techniques with other contractors who want to share their knowledge with the Association and their fellow members.

This willingness to share ideas and help one another perform better for their customers and improve their business is at the core of the Association. As AOLP President Mike Deo with Naturescape Lighting stated during the Awards Dinner, “A rising tide raises all ships”.

So, would membership be a value to you?  The answer is YES.

 

LED Lamp Replacement in a Rapidly Evolving Industry

Kelvin Chart 4Replacing “light bulbs”, or lamps as we call them in the industry, used to be a simple task. You would look at the wattage and beam angle and replace it with something similar regardless of the brand. For example, if the lamp was a GE MR16 20-watt 36-degree, you could replace the lamp with an Ushio, Sylvania, Phillips, GE or any generic 20-watt 36-degree halogen lamp, and the light output would be like the other lamps in the systems. With LED lamps, this is no longer the case!

If an LED lamp fails, there are three critical specifications that must be considered: beam angle, color temperature, and lumen output. Beam angle refers to the width of the light output emitted from the lamp; a 90° beam angle is ¼ of a pie slice and a 30° is 1/12 of pie slice. Color temperature refers to the color of the light which can typically range of 2200K to 6000K. The lower the number the more yellow the light will appear, and the higher the number the cleaner crisp white/blue. See the color temperature (Kelvin) chart below for reference:

Kelvin Chart BIGGER

Historically we correlated a lamp’s light output with the wattage rating. We all know how much brighter a 100W light bulb is than a 60W light bulb. With LED lamps the amount of light output is measured in lumens. LED technology is rapidly progressing, and LEDs are becoming more and more energy efficient. Three years ago, a 7W LED might emit 350 lumens (50 lumens/watt). Today a 7W LED can produce up to 875 lumens or more (125 lumens+/watt)!

So, what does all this mean? If you have an LED lamp fail in your landscape lighting system, it’s pertinent that you replace the defective lamp with a similar color temperature, beam angle, and lumen output. Don’t ignore the wattage rating of the lamp that has failed but use it to find the manufacturer’s lumen output rating for the lamp. If you don’t follow these guidelines, your landscape and architectural lighting will not look the same.

Just last week a contractor returned a defective Brilliance LED MR16 for replacement. The lamp was 4th Generation 5W, 60°, 2700K MR16. This lamp uses 5 watts of energy and emits 2700K light in a 60° pattern. But more importantly, this lamp emits 320 lumens. This information can be found on the Brilliance LED specification sheets. Brilliance LED Gen 4 lamps are now obsolete, so to provide the customer with a similar “lighting effect” we had to find the right replacement.

The Brilliance LED Gen 5 lamps, released in January 2018, have different lumen outputs than their Gen 4 predecessors. The proper replacement for the defective lamp should be 60°, 2700K, and close to 320 lumens. In this case, we replaced the 5W Gen 4 with a 4W Gen 5 MR16, which is 325 lumens almost the exact same!

So, remember that when replacing a defective lamp in your ClaroLux LED lighting system you have to match the beam angle, color temperature, and light output (lumens). You can typically find the lumen output of the defective lamp on the manufacturer’s website. If you can’t find the lumen output of the defective lamp, you can test the output of a working lamp on the system using a lumen meter to ensure proper replacement.

What’s New At ClaroLux Landscape Lighting

ClaroLux® is starting the year out with a couple new great landscape lighting fixture accessories. Check out what is new below…

WL16-Brass Ring:

WL16-GR(800x800)
WL16 Brass Ring shown with ClaroLux’s® WL16-RS-III

ClaroLux’s® New WL16 Brass Rings are manufactured from solid brass and stained to match all of ClaroLux’s® antique brass WL16 landscape lighting luminaires. The 7.4″ brass rings are available for the WL16-RS-III and the WL16-FT-III ClaroLux® In-Ground MR16 Well Light fixtures. The grass rings are great for applications such as needing to place the WL16 well light fixtures in bermuda grass or areas where the WL16 needs to be protected from being covered up.  The WL16 Ring gives ClaroLux’s® WL16 Well Lights a custom finished look that help the fixtures blend seamlessly into hardscaped areas.  All of ClaroLux’s® Brass Well Light Grass Rings are manufactured with pride in ClaroLux’s® manufacturing facility in Greensboro, NC, USA.

 

Stainless Steel Gutter Mount – Great For Areas That Get Snow:

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ClaroLux’s® GM100 now comes in Stainless Steel.

ClaroLux’s® Patented Adjustable Gutter Mounts are made out of US aluminum 6061 and 304 stainless steel.  The adjustable gutter mounts in aluminum are offered in either white or bronze powder coat.  The stainless steel GM100’s are made for Northern climates where snow drifts can place pressure on the gutter mounts. The material for the stainless steel mounts are twice as thick as the aluminum gutter mounts therefore they can withstand a lot more pressure. The 1/2″-14 NPSM female threads enable the GM100’s to attach to any ClaroLux® fixture or riser pole. ClaroLux’s® gutter mounts are truely revolutionary.  The universal mounting plate can be easily attached to the gutter mount plate and requires no tools for adjusting the fixture.   If you want to illuminate a roof line or the peak of a house simply attach ClaroLux’s® patented gutter mount to the fascia board or gutter then position the fixture where you want it.  It is the #1 choice among landscape lighting professionals.  The gutter mount plate includes two mini thumb screws so you can hold the position angle of the fixture. The universal mounting plate has 360˚ of adjustment.  All of ClaroLux’s® patented gutter mounts are made with pride in ClaroLux’s® manufacturing facility in Greensboro, NC, USA.

 

AL26 & WFL26 Glare Shield:

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ClaroLux’s® New AL26 & WFL26 Light Glare Shields.

ClaroLux’s® Glare Shields are manufactured out of solid brass and copper to match ClaroLux’s® AL26 and WFL26 landscape lighting fixtures. The adjustable, stainless steel, alan head screw on the glare shield enables the accessory to be attached to either the AL26 or WFL26 luminaire. The glare shield is fully adjustable so any angle can be achieved to prevent light glare. Each glare shield comes with ClaroLux’s Exclusive Lifetime Warranty.

 

Landscape Architects Can Now View ClaroLux® Luminaires on CAD Details!

CADdetailsLink-CAD-3DAbout CAD Details:

Founded in 1997, CADdetails is the leading provider of manufacturer-specific building product information, delivering high quality planning documents to architects, engineers, contractors, and other design industry professionals throughout North America.  ClaroLux® chose CAD Details to help bridge the gap between architects and the manufacturer.  We are happy to be a part of the growing number of products on CAD Details.

 

Why ClaroLux Chose CAD Details:

ClaroLux® wants landscape architects and designers to specify their new and innovative, Made in USA, landscape lighting products in their most coveted projects. ClaroLux® recognizes that using a product for the first time can be a little tricky so CAD Details helps to make sure that all of ClaroLux’s® 3D models, CAD details and specification sheets are current, accurate and work in multiple formats. All of ClaroLux’s® content that CAD Details hosts meets or exceeds the highest industry standards.

 

What CAD Details Does:

CAD Details is a virtual bridge between product manufacturers and professional designers.  CAD Details mission is to help bring design projects to life by connecting the AEC industry with high-quality CAD drawings, 3D models, BIM files, specifications, images, and related documents from reputable manufacturers across the continent like ClaroLux®. Dedicated to organizing, enhancing, and simplifying the design and procurement process, CAD Details works hard to create the highest quality digital resources in a wide range of formats. All of ClaroLux’s® digital content is now available for download free of charge.

 

Manufacturer-specific Building Product Information:

You can now access all of ClaroLux’s® highly detailed design and planning documents for use in your commercial and residential building projects. Our files include 2D CAD drawings, 3D models, BIM files, three-part specifications, product brochures, images, and more. To access ClaroLux’s® micro-site on CAD Details please click here.  You will be able to access all of our files and designs with a click on a button.

ClaroLux Is Proud To Announce Their 2016 Lighting & Design Winner

Each year, ClaroLux’s® Dealers submit some of their best work from the year to try and win ClaroLux’s® Lighting & Design Award.  This year Joel Mayor and his team with Texas Outdoor Lighting came out on top.  Joel and his team created a beautiful night-scene using ClaroLux’s® WL16-FT-III in-ground LED well lights, BL23-III brass bullet lights, TL24-III moon lights, and BrillianceLED’s strip lights. From the moonlighting effects in the backyard, to the custom core-drilled lights in the driveway, this project had a lot to showcase.

Each and every project from all of the entries that we received had their own unique features but Texas Outdoor Lighting set themselves apart from the rest of the competition with some of their custom work on this particular project.

Congratulations Texas Outdoor Lighting for winning ClaroLux’s 2016 Lighting & Design Award! Keep up the great work! To learn more about this project and Texas Outdoor Lighting please visit www.texasoutdoorlighting.com.

2016 Winning Photos:

TOL4TOL1 TOL3

Hot Plugging LEDs – Electrical Over Stress (EOS)

Back in the halogen and incandescent days of landscape lighting, it was a common practice by many contractors to install lamps while the system was on. This is known as a “hot plug-in – hot plugging”. This practice has been widely used especially if a contractor was out providing maintenance on a landscape lighting system.

As we have evolved into the era of LED light sources, the practice of hot plugging should be avoided. The reason for this is that it is virtually impossible to be 100% sure that there will not be the slightest electrical arc when a lamp is inserted into a socket or a connection is made with live cable. A hot plug-in can cause an “electrical over stress” (EOS) on many parts of the internal circuitry of an LED lamp or integrated LED fixture.

EOS can simply be described as an electrical component that is operated beyond its maximum rated electrical limit accidently or deliberately according to its rating on the specification sheet. In landscape lighting, EOS can occur with a hot plug-in, a lighting strike, or a poorly made connection.

Some common signs of EOS are as follows:

  • One or more diodes out; in this case, the bonding wires inside the LED device have been broken.
  • Another sign could be a pungent burnt smell emitted from the lamp.
  • In some cases the back of the lamp may show a burn hole, especially with lightning.

EOS can also have an adverse effect on a fixture that requires a remote low voltage driver. If a driver is connected live when attached to its respective fixture, it can cause an EOS failure.

The question now is how do we change the hot plug-in install? One suggestion would be that when performing maintenance on an older system, unplug the transformer before installing the LED lamp or integrated fixture to insure the power is off to the socket. This same method can also be used on new installations with a standard landscape lighting transformer. If the transformer is smart app driven, insure the remote control has the system off. Most of the smart phone apps will allow for a simple “ON” and “OFF” for the transformer.

Ultimately, to avoid EOS, make sure to have solid potted cable connections and no power to the fixtures upon installation. If a situation arises where lightning has caused the EOS, check to see if the homeowner’s insurance will cover lightning damages.

Fox 8 News – Made In NC – ClaroLux Landscape Lighting

Fox 8 News - Made In NC Clarolux Landscape Lighting

GREENSBORO, N.C. — One of the most popular upgrades for people to add to their homes is landscape lighting, and one brand that′s getting a lot of attention is Greensboro-based ClaroLux Landscape Lighting.

“My dad one time said, ′son, I don′t really understand what you do,′” said Brian Groat of ClaroLux. “We installed lights on his house and he called me a few days later and said, ′oh I get it, it′s so much nicer to come home to a house that′s well lit.′”

This is not the type of lighting you′ll find at home improvement stores — this is professional grade — with low voltage, energy efficient LEDs. Instead of using cast metal, they machine their parts from solid bar stock lights that are designed and built to last a lifetime.

ClaroLux imported their lights for about ten years, then decided to make a change. They set up a new factory in Greensboro, bought sophisticated computer controlled machining equipment, and hired enough employees to start production.

“it just makes you feel better knowing that you′re keeping money in our country,” Groat said. “I can say that based on experience, because it wasn′t very long ago that we were wiring hundreds of thousands of dollars to China to import our product. Now all that money stays right here”.

To learn more about ClaroLux click here.

ClaroLux Offers A Wide Variety Of Specialty LED Moon Lights

Down lights or moon lights can be used to illuminate many different applications in a landscape or hardscape project.  ClaroLux has developed several LED landscape lighting fixtures that are ideal for moon lighting driveways, arbors, yard areas, play sets, putting greens, and other outdoor living areas.  Whatever application you are trying to moon light, ClaroLux has the perfect luminaire for your outdoor lighting project.

TL16 Moon Light:

ClaroLux's TL16-III Moon Lighting A Pool & Its Surroundings
ClaroLux’s TL16-III Moon Lighting A Pool & Its Surroundings In Austin, TX.

Add a touch of light to your outdoor living spaces with ClaroLux’s® TL16 LED MR16 Down Light. The Lattimore Down Light is proudly Made in the USA from high quality solid brass bar stock and pipe. The CL-TL16 Moon Light is designed with an adjustable 3.2″ extension shroud that minimizes glare and provides a soft down lighting effect for your outdoor living areas.  The Lattimore also can be used with ClaroLux’s® 7″ extension visor if the standard 3.2″ visor is not long enough to prevent light glare.  It is great for down lighting walkways other areas where other ground light fixtures are not suitable.  The TL16 comes with a side mount hinged design for easy adjustment that can be locked into place with the two alan head screws on either side of the fixture.  The one screw mount also makes installation a breeze on smaller surfaces.  The TL16 accepts any Brilliance direct replacement MR16 LED which hosts a variety of lamp options. The ClaroLux® Lattimore Down Light is handcrafted and built to withstand the test of time all while looking beautiful. By fabricating the moon light fixture from solid brass, ClaroLux® has created a long-lasting product that develops an attractive appearance naturally over time.

TL24 Tree Light:

ClaroLux's TL24-II Down Lighting A Texas Estates Putting Green.
ClaroLux’s TL24-II Down Lighting A Houston, Texas Estate’s Putting Green.

The TL24 tree light is ClaroLux’s premium down light. Both the Venice II Copper Tree Light and the Terni Antique Brass Tree Light are proudly Made in the USA from high quality, polished brass and copper. The CL-TL24 Tree Light is designed with a 7″ adjustable extenstion shroud that minimizes glare and provides a soft moonlighting effect for your outdoor areas. It is great for moonlighting driveways, walkways, and other areas where other ground light fixtures are not suitable.  The TL24 is 100% water tight and designed to be aimed down.  The TL24 surface mount is ideal for mounted to large trees and comes standard with 3 stainless steel anchor bolts to prevent the tree from growing into the fixture.  The Venice II and Terni both are available with Brilliance direct replacement MR16 LEDs which hosts a variety of lamp options. The TL24 Tree Light are both handcrafted and built to withstand the test of time all while looking beautiful. By fabricating these fixtures from solid brass and copper, ClaroLux® has created a long-lasting product that develops an attractive appearance naturally over time.

PAR36 Down Light:

ClaroLux’s FL36-III Illuminating A Sports Complex In Phoenix, AZ.

ClaroLux’s FL36 brass LED directional light is the perfect luminaire for illuminating large areas where ClaroLux’s TL16 and TL24 cannot.  The FL36-III was designed not only as an up-light but also a down-light.  The Lawndale is available with a removable shroud which secures the PAR36 LED and makes for an easy and fast installation. The FL36 fixture is often used on commercial spaces or recreational sport fields.  It is compatiable with all of the Brilliance PAR36 LEDs. Brilliance LEDs are rated for 50,000 hours with minimal lumen degradation. Brilliance LED’s also come in a wide variety of wattages and beam spreads.  The FL36 PAR36 brass directional is assembled with US and foreign components; all staining and assembly for the Lawndale takes place in ClaroLux’s manufacturing facility in Greensboro, NC, USA.  The FL36 – Lawndale comes with ClaroLux’s exclusive lifetime warranty.

Control Your Landscape Lighting System Using Lutron Caseta Wireless

Caseta Smart HomeWith most of the smart controllers that have been released by landscape lighting manufacturers, you are often limited to what fixtures can be used or face limitations on what the controllers can link to in your home.  With these wi-fi lighting controllers you are also dependent upon the manufacturers to release software updates and bug fixes as the controllers age.  This is a little worrisome considering most of these companies are not in the “smart home” business. One of the main reasons ClaroLux never released their own “smart controller” was due to the fact that there are larger companies that specialize in this arena and know how to produce incredible products for a fraction of the cost.

This year Lutron introduced one of the best smart controllers that is perfect for the landscape lighting industry. It is called the Caséta Wireless System. The Caséta Wireless System offers several control options all of which will link with Alexa – Amazon, Siri – iPhone, and Google – Droid Phones.  The Lutron Caséta system comes with remotes, plug in modules, and dimmer switches (with more to come). The system is truly amazing how it can control not only your landscape lights but your entire house.

The best thing about Caséta Wireless is that getting started is easy! To add smart lighting control to your home, you’ll need a Smart Bridge or Smart Bridge Pro and at least one dimmer. A starter kit (which also includes a remote) is the easiest way to begin, but you can purchase products individually or mix and match them, too. And you can add more products at any time. That is what is so great about Lutron Caséta’s family of products.

Below are a few new Caséta Wireless features…

Caséta ELV & Dimmer Remote:

The ELV and dimmer is ideal for ELV and LED loads, but is also compatible with incandescent, halogen, MLV and LTE LED drivers.  The dimmer also includes a favorite button, similar to the Pico remote, which recalls a favorite preset level on the dimmer.  The remote is great for controlling lighting from any where in your home.

Scene Control and GeoFencing Feature:

Caséta Wireless works seamlessly with Sonos for simple and convenient control of sound alongside lights and shades. Spice up dinner at the touch of a button by lowering your shades and setting the mood. With Caséta’s scene control you can wake up to low lights and high-fidelity songs. Or have lights and speakers automatically turn on/off once you’re within a set distance of your home with the geofencing feature.

Look Like You Are Home – Even When You Are Not:

Introducing Smart Away – a new feature of Caséta® Wireless that randomly turns lights on and off during the evening when you’re not home. You can manually trigger this feature in the app at your convenience or automatically trigger it if geofencing is turned on. You can also trigger Smart Away using the Nest Home/Away Assist feature.

Enhanced Apple® HomeKit Functionality:

In addition to being able to tell Siri® to “turn my lights on”, you’re now able to adjust your shades by telling Siri to “open my kitchen shades”. Also, because Caséta Wireless works with HomeKit, any HomeKit-enabled thermostat in your home can now be controlled directly from the Lutron app.
Learn more

Caséta And Apple Watch:

Control your lights, shades and temperature from your wrist using your Apple watch. Caséta Wireless dimmers and switches install in minutes, work with numerous lamp types – including dimmable LEDs and halogen lamps, and bring the convenience of a connected home to your fingertips.

Where Can I Buy Caseta Wireless Products?

You can purchase Lutron Caséta products at Lowe’s, Amazon, Home Depot, Apple Store, Serena Shades, Best Buy and Build.com.

Getting Started…

Getting Started with Caseta Wireless
Caseta Wireless Bridge shown above. To control thermostats, blinds, and other devices check out the Caseta Wireless Bridge Pro.