Landscape Lighting

Life in Color By Ryan Williams

Do you remember the days when televi- sion streamed from a black-and-white box and only in living rooms? While beloved classic shows like “I Love Lucy” still have a place today, few people would want to live without the technologies that have made our world so much more interesting and colorful.

Color has long been used to coordinate, contrast and depict emotion inside our homes. Thanks to innovative technologies, you can now also use color in light to cre- ate the same effect outdoors by designing themed landscapes, accentuating archi- tectural details and creating unforgettable moments around a home.

Before you leap into installing color- changing fixtures, let’s take a closer look at what exactly constitutes a color. Any color of light is a combination of three factors: hue, saturation and value (or intensity).


Hue is the primary attribute of any color. Its full range is typically seen on a visible light spectrum, or color wheel. The order of the

colors should take you back to first grade when you learned the common acronym “ROY-G-BIV” — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. LEDs can create each of these colors, and various others in between, by combining three colored LEDs: red, green and blue. Together, they form the common industry initialism for color-changing lights, RGB.


In the lighting industry, saturation is the second most important element of color because it allows a user to soften colors and reduce the harshness of extreme hues. Saturation is made possible by adding a white LED to the RGB mix. Thus, true color consists of at least four colors: red, green, blue and white (or RGBW).


The final member of the color trilogy is value, or the measurable amount of bright- ness, often referred to as intensity. Today, only a few RGBW color manufacturers have products on the marketplace that can ad- just the color and intensity throughout the

evening or for a specific event. With built- in intelligence and unique controls, they allow you to increase the intensity during the evening hours when light is needed, then decrease it during the early morning hours to conserve energy and provide security lighting. Intensity complements any RGB or RGBW site.

Now that our color knowledge is up to speed, let’s take a look at what is available in the marketplace. Consider the following four categories before selecting a color- changing product: capability, control, setup and quality.


Before looking at options, consider typical events often celebrated. Among peo- ple’s favorites are Christmas (two colors), patriotic days (three colors), Halloween (two colors), Easter (three colors) and Val- entine’s Day (three colors). Then, there are the colors of sports teams, local schools, weddings, etc. This list can expand quickly, which is why system capabilities matter. A few colors might add variation; a limited system will complement major holidays, while a premium system offers endless possibilities.

Control Photo Credit: FX Luminaire 28 Irrigation TODAY | October 2016

After the excitement of having a “new toy” wears off, simplicity of control is the deter- mining factor of how often a homeowner or property manager will use the system. Remotes are nice but disappear easily, especially in one’s backyard. A wall switch is more suitable for older homeowners be- cause the switch is permanently installed and easily accessible. On-wire control accompanies less expensive fixtures, but it is not convenient for sites with more than 12 fixtures. Smart devices are always within reach, so if you are looking for the ultimate control experience, choose a control meth- od available on the Apple and/or Android platforms.

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