Pro Landscape November 2019 Illuminating Structures

Posted by Emma Martyn on

EXTERIOR STRUCTURES MAKE A GREAT GARDEN FOCAL POINT – NEIL PARSLOW EXPLAINS HOW TO ENSURE THEY REMAIN SO WITH THE RIGHT LIGHTING, EVEN AT NIGHT

Lighting exterior structures can sometimes produce a challenging aspect to the overall design. This often makes itself apparent when taking into consideration the cohesion between functional, accent and safety lighting commonly associated with structures and aesthetically pleasing designs.

Structures such as arbours, gazebos, summer houses and even treehouses can play a part in a lighting design. Certain structures require more attention to detail, depending on their intended use within the landscape. This also applies to the materials from which they are constructed, which is due to the safety aspect and how well light is reflected from the surface of the structure.

Traditional treehouses constructed from warmly coloured hardwoods, for example, easily absorb the light emitted from light fittings and can require a higher lumen output or fitting placed in a different orientation compared to a white rendered wall of a block built outbuilding. One thing to be cautious of is the high reflectance of white or lightly coloured walls and surfaces, as these can be quite difficult to merge with the overall scheme, as the reflected light can become too harsh and create uncomfortable hot spots of light.

When illuminating structures like outbuildings and summerhouses, ensure the aesthetic exterior lighting is controlled separately to the interior functional lighting, as this will not usually be required as part of the overall design. The main reason for this is that the internal lighting would tend to be brighter than the exterior, forming a distraction as the viewer’s attention will be drawn to the brighter areas inside the structure.

"STRUCTURES SUCH AS ARBOURS, GAZEBOS, SUMMER HOUSES AND EVEN TREEHOUSES CAN PLAY A PART IN A LIGHTING DESIGN"

Pre-LED light fittings which used the MR16 ELV (Extra Low Voltage) or GU10 (230v) halogen lamps were designed around the 50mm diameter of these lamps, and some manufacturers have found it easier to retrofit their products to LED, based on this size. Other fixture manufacturers have taken the radical approach of designing their products from the ground up and then developing the LED to fit in much smaller products. It’s this approach which has led to the production of extremely compact LED light fittings which are well suited to structure lighting.

Specifying constant current, series-wired (ELV) LED fittings has also permitted the reduction in cable size of wiring as they are better suited to managing voltage drop which is encountered in constant voltage LED parallel wiring, and traditional 12v (MR16) systems. Reduced cable sizes make it much easier to hide cables either in the framework or even to the exterior of the structures.


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