The Industry Challenge
Back in the day, traditional lighting design was founded on the idea that more lighting was always better. Many lighting designers today continue designing to specifications using outdated lumen and lux values that were developed in the 1960s, way before the advent of LEDs and a true understanding of the interaction between light and the human eye.
More Isn’t Better
However, we can’t stress this enough: More light isn’t necessarily better when it comes to night lighting. It is important to understand how the human eye works and design around these parameters. The iris of the human eye—just like a camera aperture—widens or narrows depending on the amount of ambient light. In the evening, the iris widens to allow in greater amounts of light, adjusting so you can see at night. As a result, the objective is to create the perfect interaction with the human eye for optimal performance. This fact has been unfortunately ignored over the years and over-lighting has become the prevalent in the industry; unnecessary expenses are made regularly on equipment, energy, and resources that only cause visual discomfort and serve as an injustice to beautiful landscapes and homes. Then, when LEDs were introduced to the scene, it was as if designers forgot about basic landscape lighting techniques. Everyone got caught up in the excitement of harnessing this new technology; they rushed into using LED retrofits, and faced issues with glare and light bombs.
The Best Outdoor Lighting
The best lighting, conversely, requires matching the optimal light level for the human eye, providing an evenly-distributed, lower level, glare-free lighting system that endures extreme weather conditions. Let’s evaluate more closely.
Glare is a result of artificial light. It occurs at night when the human eye is most sensitive, which is an important factor to consider when developing a landscape lighting design. Glare causes the light-sensitive rods and cones of the eye to become temporarily overloaded, which renders an individual momentarily blind. The resetting of the human eye, or adaptation to darkness, can take anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds depending on the severity. This blindness creates an overall unattractive and unpleasant landscape lighting experience; therefore, it is important to select a glare-free lighting system.
Deactivate Light Bombs
In addition to eliminating glare, the right light level must be delivered to allow the eye to adjust to the artificial light and become comfortable in the night setting. Further, even, consistent light distribution is critical to avoid eye fatigue and eyestrain to gain beautiful and effective nighttime experience. Avoiding contrasting brightness levels, especially total darkness (black holes) to full brightness (light bombs), is paramount for eye-catching landscape lighting design.
Sand-cast bronze fixtures are impervious to damage and corrosion unlike most outdoor lighting products, which break, chip, peel, and fail entirely over time. Solid bronze is one of the most durable materials on earth and offer rock-solid fixture quality and construction. Better than aluminum, copper, and brass, CAST lighting fixtures are handcrafted in our own foundry; they are guaranteed to perform flawlessly for the lifetime of your home, and even age naturally to a beautiful patina.
Our Solution: The CAST Impressionist Series
To address these overlooked, outdated, and misunderstood practices and philosophies, we developed the CAST Impressionist Series. The directional lights in this series are excellent examples of integrated CAST LED fixtures with dimming capabilities (5 to 50 watts), light levels (that change in 5 percent increments), and other superior features that expertly manage heat and brightness. This advanced lighting system was introduced in 2013. It was designed to display the reflected light from the fixture’s hat rather than the light source itself, one of the cardinal rules of Landscape Lighting 101. This allows you to see the technique and the object(s) being illuminated rather than glare, making it more pleasing and comfortable for the eye.
CAST Impressionist Series Quick Stats
- 20 light levels
- 5 beam spreads
- 2 color temperatures
- Quick-change optics
- Adjustable glare shield
= 200 combinations in 1 fixture No need to double-take, you read it right: 200 combinations in one Impressionist directional light, replacing dozens of retrofit lamps or integrated fixtures from other manufacturers. This translates to less time planning, purchasing, and making adjustments in the field, all significant savings in time and labor. The Impressionist Series also offers an impressive, revolutionary 15x30 optical beam spread, projecting light in a rectangle rather than a cone and providing the visibility of four to five fixtures! The CAST LED Directional Light (CID140) comes standard with a 40-degree optic, but can be easily switched to 12 degrees, 24 degrees, 36 degrees, and 15x30. This light is incredibly capable, innovative, and has a variety of applications that really helps its shine. (Yes, pun intended.) Such applications include uplighting trees, plant material, structures, and design features. These directional lights are especially useful for maturing landscapes with easy light level control and changeable optics.
As you can see, the landscape lighting industry is at a crossroad, where lighting designers need to be properly educated about the latest technology and how it fundamentally changes how they light projects—at what lumen and lux values. As a result, they should employee only top-quality, lights and fixtures that were professionally engineered for this technology to produce beautiful, functional landscape lighting design work.