NEIL PARSLOW DOLES OUT ADVICE FOR AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF LIGHTING WATER FEATURES
Waterfalls, fountains, pools and ponds, lakes, streams and rills all benefit from lighting when it comes to designing an exterior scheme, and there are several methods in which each can be illuminated.
During the design stage, however, there are a few factors which need to be taken into account. We all know that water has the ability to refract light, and this can have a negative effect on the overall lighting scheme if not planned for in advance. Each type of water feature displays the water in different ways, from calm flat reflective water in pools and
ONE OF THE FIRST DECISIONS TO BE MADE, IS WHETHER THE FIXTURES SHOULD BE PLACED IN OR OUT OF THE WATER
ponds, to turbulent aerated water in waterfalls and fountains.
One of the first decisions to be made is whether the fixtures should be placed in or out of the water, and this is when discussions need to take place with the client regarding fixture location for the desired effect. Clients also need to be made aware of the maintenance commitment associated with submersible luminaires.
Submersible fitting installations will generally be more expensive than, for example, downlighting the water feature from a tree, mostly due to the cost of higher quality products which use robust corrosion resistant materials in
their construction. Submersible fixtures should also be supplied with a
suitable length of cable to ensure all cable joints are exterior to the water, ensuring longevity of the product and simplify maintenance.
For permanent submersion, an IP rating (ingress protection) of IP68 is a must, and also look for quality in the product design construction, even if this means budgeting more for the light fittings underwater rather than the light fittings that will be seen around the garden.
Any submersible lighting, within bodies of water which are home to aquatic plants and animals, need careful consideration in the initial planning stage. Plants and fish require a daily amount of darkness to ensure their health is maintained. When designing the lighting, leave an area of the water free of light as this will enable fish and amphibious creatures to escape to a darker zone for rest periods.
Lighting from above the water line can produce dramatic effects and will add interest, like dancing reflections on surrounding surfaces from moving water. Some bodies of water are best left in darkness if there is surrounding landscape lighting in place of nearby trees and structures. Leaving water in darkness will almost double the effect of the lighting on land with the calm flat body of water producing a mirror effect. This same design will provide a unique effect of distortion on the water if there is wind present.
‘Shore scraping’ is a relatively unused technique due to the complexity and costs involved of using pole mounted light fittings anchored into the bed of a lake or pond. The pole acts as a means of elevating the light source above the water line, and this type of lighting is used to provide a wash of light back towards the shoreline of the lake or pond and acts as a visual connection. This method of lighting can produce stunning results, but also comes with the drawback of potentially difficult access for maintenance of the light fittings and periodic cleaning of lenses.