Outdoor LED Lighting Concepts

1. A brief history of LED lighting.

Nick Holonyak Jr. in 1962 invented the first LED (Light-emitting diode) while he was working on the technology with lasers. The first LED was a solid-state light that produced a red light. These LEDs for decades were used primarily for indicator lights on a dashboard and in computers.
It was discovered in the early 90s that a light admitting chip with fluorescent phosphorus could produce a bright white light. This changed everything in the lighting industry. Since then, LED lighting has encompassed every facet of the lighting world.

Almost every area of lighting is now dominated by LED lighting technology. Outdoor landscape lighting is no exception. Outdoor lighting has been a great candidate for LED lighting. This is true because exterior lighting is on every night for 6-12 hours. These long hours of outdoor lighting operations utilize the many benefits of LED lighting technology.  Outdoor LED lighting has many advantages over its previous technology, see here.>>

LED outdoor lighting has totally transformed the art and science of landscape lighting. The many benefits that LED lighting brings, has increased design options, energy options, and great ecological benefits.

Tustin Ranch LED Backyard Lighting

This Tustin Ranch CA home has LED lighting pool rockscapes, Uplight on Olive trees and downlighting on the pathway

2. Energy savings

Outdoor lighting is 80 to 90% more efficient than the previous halogen lighting. LED lighting utilizes 90% of its energy for light, and only 10% of energy for heat whereas incandescent and then halogen lighting is the opposite. This is one of the significant benefits of LED technology.

For example, if you compare a 60 W lamp that is traditionally used in an interior house lamp to an exterior 60 watts of landscape lighting, there is a huge difference. This same 60 watts can power 12 bright outdoor landscape lights.  If you were to take 60 W LED fixture that would provide flood lighting equivalent to a 300-watt halogen flood light.

San Juan Capistrano Outdoor LED Lighting

This San Juan Capistrano estate benefits from the long-lasting LED Landscape lighting used for the Moonlightng effect.

3. Long lamp life.

LED landscape lighting also benefits from a very long lamp life. LED outdoor lights last approximately 10 times longer than previous lighting technologies. So now maintenance for outdoor lighting has very little to do with changing lamps but instead cleaning lenses and making necessary fixture adjustments.

Traditional halogen lights only last 2 to 5000 hours , LED lights can last from 15-100k hours.

One significant benefit of long-lasting LED lamps is not having to service fixtures that are in hard to reach places such as trees, eaves or for underwater lights. Most new pool lights are now LED and can be operated on regular bases without worrying about running up the electric bill or frequent changing of burn out pool lights. Also, pool LED lamps can bring amazing colored effects to the pool

4.  Sustainability

Traditional incandescent light bulbs have now been outlawed for sale for the use of general lighting purposes. The exception is the very popular Edison or vintage style bulb that have decorative large lighting filaments. This type of lighting is used to create ambiance and not for general illumination purposes.

LED outdoor lights are great for the environment. Instead of changing landscape lighting bulbs every 1 to 2 years, LED outdoor lights typically last up to 10 years. An LED lighting system has up to 10 times fewer lamps per fixture being thrown into our landfills. In outdoor lighting system consisting of 30 fixtures, that can be up to 290 bulbs not having to be manufactured, delivered, installed and changed out during lighting maintenance. This is a significant saving of resources and helps to preserve our environment.




Since LED exterior lighting is so efficient much less lighting equipment is needed to create the same remarkable effect. The size of transformers and cable are much less thus reducing the amount of raw materials needed.

5.  LED lights are also much cooler and safer.

Old technology such as halogen landscape light fixtures, get extremely hot and you could actually burn yourself if you touched the fixtures. This is not safe for family or pets and can even burn foliage in the landscape.

Since LED outdoor lights produce such low heat, you can touch a fixture and will not get burned.

LED does not have toxic gases like compact fluorescent and HID bulbs. These HID bulbs actually have small amounts of mercury in the gas inside the bulbs so when they are broken this could be a problem; Fluorescent and HID bulbs due to their toxicity have to be disposed of in a hazardous wait facility.

6.  Durability

Since LED landscape lights have no delicate lighting filament, they are sturdier because there is no filament to break when getting bumped

7.  Compact size means more creative design options

Outdoor LED Lighting Installation

This potted plant has a custom Micro LED flood light effect.

LED technology has enabled the lighting designer to put fixtures in much smaller spaces because of the LEDs themselves are compact in size. Also, the wire needed for such a low electrical draw can be much smaller and fit into tight spaces.

8.  LED outdoor lighting and color

One of the biggest misconceptions of LED outdoor or landscape lighting is that LEDs produce a harsh blue or stark white color. This is only true if you use an inferior lighting product or installer does not have experience with Outdoor LED lighting. Many of our clients have retrofitted the interior lighting fixtures of their homes with warm energy efficient LED light.

LED landscape lighting can have a warm color temperature. Typical color temperature for landscape lighting is 2700 Kelvin or 3000 Kelvin. These are both on the warm color spectrum of lighting. We typically use 3000 Kelvin because it makes the landscape pop more.

Appearing in the market now is LED landscape lighting that is color changing. This color changing effect can be used for holidays and special events. This can be a great addition to and exterior lighting system. This is relatively new and has not been fully adopted yet. I believe this will be common in the not too far future.

9.  LED lighting and beam control

Since LED light sources are so compact, it is easy to develop and utilize optics to control the beam spread of the light. This comes in handy with spotting such features such as sculptures, fountain, and BBQs.