Shining Bright Outside: Design and applications of exterior systems

Exterior 400 Range
Exterior light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures can be used for lighting the tops of structures, up-lighting columns and reaching across long spaces.

Fixed luminaires that provide various outputs from color shadows and beams to color washes over short and long distances. Typically, these fixtures utilize LEDs and are ingress-protection (IP)-rated for exterior installations at a minimum level of 65,1 where the first digit dictates “no ingress of dust; complete protection against contact” and the second digit dictates “powerful water jets from any direction shall have no harmful effects.”

Image projectors
These fixtures are powerful tools for integrating textures, patterns, and graphics in outdoor lighting designs. Image projectors often feature customizable gobos—physical templates often placed in front of the light source to control the shape of emitted light—for bright and dynamic logo projection, as well as precision framing.

Uplights are a discreet installation, buried and level with the ground to create dramatic accentuated lighting or dynamic illumination of façades, columns, structures, and landscapes.

Control console
Dynamic lighting designs are controlled via a lighting control console, used for sending signal data to the lighting fixture. This control signal provides data via Digital Multiplex (DMX)—the industry’s standard control protocol. The central lighting control console transmits data via DMX, which the fixture can interpret as color, focus, pan, tilt, and rotation speed adjustments.

LED strips
Architects and their design partners can also choose from LED strips—bars of small, bright lights that can be combined into designed and programmed on and off and in different hues—pre-configured LED shapes, wash lighting to bathe large areas in light of varying color and intensity or spot lights on building features.

Creative LEDs
Designers and architects can deploy LEDs as pixels in a picture, running video on the side of a building that effectively creates a media façade, as an alternative to projection. Applying any of these approaches can enhance the look and appeal of older buildings or new construction.

Linear video strips can be calibrated at the pixel-level for color uniformity and smooth playback.

Specification factors
With the look determined and the technology selected, the three main factors to be considered when specifying an exterior lighting design include color range, output, and installation/maintenance costs. Just as these variables are important determinants of the look and feel of interior lighting, the selection of color, range of depth, and general performance will be important contributors to the project’s aesthetic and visual impact.

Proper selection of color temperature and range of depth are critical elements that add nuance to any architectural design. If a color scheme is involved in the selection, its continued exactness will be especially important.

By specifying LEDs versus traditional lighting methods, the use of color filters is eliminated. To achieve a desired color output, lighting designers can mix color with multi-color LEDs. Some fixtures use individual diodes that emit three primary colors in RGB (i.e. red, green, and blue) or four primary colors in RGBW (adding white) to obtain a pure white output and create better pastel colors; other fixtures instead use premixed LEDs. The disadvantage of utilizing a fixture with individual LEDs is the color mixing can appear uneven when the structure is on close distance or the structure is casting shadows.

However, due to production limitations, not all LEDs emit light at the same range of wavelengths. This eventually means the colors will not match from fixture to fixture, even at the same setting. To eliminate this issue, the use of color-calibrated fixtures ensures everything emits the same appearance, resulting in perfectly smooth and even colors across the illuminated object, such as a façade or a landscape.

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