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Article updated: 5/3/2013 8:05 AM

LED lighting uses less energy, increases use of your outdoor space

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Over the past few years, LED lighting has almost totally taken over the landscape lighting market from the previously popular low-voltage incandescent and halogen systems, according to Thomas Reindl, commercial lighting manager at Northwest Electrical Supply in Mount Prospect.

"In the past, people used low-voltage lighting outdoors because the wire can be safely buried directly in the ground at low cost without the risk of electrocution," Reindl explained. "But low-voltage lighting had its problems. When it was strung long distances there was often a voltage drop off and lights would appear dim the farther they were from the main power source."

"With the new LED lighting systems the load is lower, so smaller wires and transformers can be used. Interestingly, while the fixtures themselves are more expensive with LED systems, the other parts are cheaper and they consume very little energy without having concerns about voltage drop. They also offer better beam spreads than previous lighting did," he continued.

In addition, homeowners' earlier complaints about the bluish tinge they got with LED lighting have been largely solved. Today's LED landscape lights try to mimic the light given off by halogen lights.

Sprawling properties even have the option of running 120-volt systems off the lines in their houses for their LED lights, Reindl added.

"LED lights also allow homeowners and designers to be more creative with their designs," he stated. "Depending on the property, lighting can be made more subtle, they can be dimmed at times, they can be sequenced using pressure plates in a walkway or they can be effectively recessed into brickwork or pediments."

In addition, today's lighting controls are so precise that they can be set to only go on if someone is outdoors to save energy.

Previous systems were not dimmable, they usually took time to warm up to full capacity and the controls were more rudimentary. Now, according to Reindl, they come on in a "pleasurable way to improve the homeowner's overall experience at their entryway, in their gazebos, around their pool or in their outdoor kitchen."

"We are also seeing a demand for higher quality outdoor audio systems which we can install at the same time as the lighting. Phonometric speakers, if placed correctly, can offer robust sound which can be better contained to your yard, avoiding complaints from neighbors," he explained.

They can also be effectively hidden within a home's landscaping so that no one knows they are there.

Northwest Electrical Supply is located at 600 E. Rand Road, Mount Prospect. For more information, call (847) 255-3000 or log onto northwestelectricalsupply.com.

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