Article
The first generation of outdoor LED lighting products sold themselves on
 their energy and maintenance savings. The economic advantages they 
offered versus traditional lamps and fixtures were, indeed, significant.
 But now manufacturers are taking advantage of digital technology to 
create products offering entirely new capabilities. Advanced 
lighting-effect options are among the features giving both homeowners 
and facility managers more creative flexibility in their exterior 
lighting plans.

Today’s Exterior LEDs Offering Some New Bright Ideas

Chuck Ross
The first generation of outdoor LED lighting products sold themselves on their energy and maintenance savings. The economic advantages they offered versus traditional lamps and fixtures were, indeed, significant. But now manufacturers are taking advantage of digital technology to create products offering entirely new capabilities. Advanced lighting-effect options are among the features giving both homeowners and facility managers more creative flexibility in their exterior lighting plans.

Now that their first costs have come down significantly, LED products’ economic advantages are clear to see. Today, an 11- or 12-watt LED exterior accent flood fixture has the same brightness, measured in lumens, as an old-school, 90-watt halogen PAR38 product. And the LED will keep shining up to 50,000 hours or more, up to 10 times longer than a similar halogen lamp or fixture. In commercial settings, especially, that longevity can mean much less time spent replacing burnt-out lamps.

Having made the economic case, LED manufacturers have begun making the argument that they also offer significantly stronger technological capabilities, as well. For example, color can be a big part of exterior lighting plans, and a number of manufacturers now offer RGB (red/green/blue) color changing fixtures and lamps. Not only can these products offer a larger color palette than traditional versions, they also can be much easier to control. Thanks to their digital design, LEDs lend themselves easily to wireless, app-based approaches accessible using smartphones and other mobile devices.

More recently, LED fixture developers have added greater flexibility to lumen output, as well. Especially with accent applications, designers and homeowners might not know for sure exactly how brightly they might want a wall or landscape feature illuminated until a fixture is in place. And lighting needs can change over time, as plants grow or new hardscape is added – especially given a fixture lifespan that could easily exceed a decade. New variable output fixtures can offer several lumen settings, with onboard controls enabling easy switching between them. Creating new ways for fixtures to adapt to evolving needs is yet another way LEDs can save owners money, beyond by simply reducing energy use.
Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting
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