Technically, any man-made water feature that consistently moves upward or downward on a vertical plane can be classified as a fountain—including a waterfall. Most people who have contracted a landscape specialist and had one or more water features installed probably have at least one fountain on their property already. Lighting these outdoor fountains or ponds is a different thing than simply installing them and maintaining continuous water flow. Because fountains are so diversified and varied in form, location, and use, it requires a specialist with an eye for art lighting to effectively light a fountain and blend its aesthetic with the surrounding architecture and landscape. For people who have already noticed that their fountain looks great in the moonlighting, but not so great in their standard outdoor lights, ILD can offer some very innovative and eclectic fountain lighting upgrades that will improve the centrality and attractiveness of these water features on the landscape.
It is advisable that homeowners contact a professional for fountain lighting designs and upgrades. Anytime water and electricity are used together, no one should be installing anything without an electrical technician’s license. Additionally, since a fountain itself can be anything from a cherub pouring water from a vase, a fairy queen holding a magical birdbath, or a waterfall flowing into a swimming pool, there is no such thing as a “fountain lighting kit” that the homeowner can just go out and buy and get a one-light-fits-all fountain solution. Even fountains that do not feature an ornamental structure of some type are nonetheless three-dimensional keynotes on any landscape, and require the expertise of a landscape lighting contractor with experience in outdoor lighting, architectural lighting, outside tree lighting and sculpture lighting.
Fountain lighting fixtures should ideally be hidden from view. Contrary to what the eyes trick us into believing, none of us ever actually see light itself. What we actually see is color produced by light. Light is an invisible and mysterious phenomenon that has puzzled everyone from Plato to quantum physicists in our own time. Unlike many companies with a purely scientific focus to electronics, we realized long ago that the aesthetic of the mysterious actually plays a pivotal role in any form of architectural outdoor lighting such as sculptures, ponds, and fountain lighting. The more the water itself appears to be made of light, the more magical it appears.
There are two ways of concealing fountain lighting fixtures in order to create this sophisticated effect. One is to install the lights in trees or overhead man-made structures, such as the roof of a home. This shines a down light onto the fountain, highlighting the waterspout or the waterfall from above. Fixtures like this are especially necessary if the fountain has a statue of a human or mythological being in the water. This statue is technically a form of sculpture and requires more than just light to look lifelike. Combining shadow selectively with form also enhances this mysterious quality by making an object look visibly three dimensional even on the darkest of nights. Generally, residential landscape lighting such as down lighting of this sort is done with halogen feature spot lights that draw the attention of a residents or guests to a pond, fountain, or waterfall that appears surrounded by a circle of light, designating its importance and sometimes even contributing an otherworldly effect to its appearance.
A second layer of fountain lights can now be installed to enhance the magic of the presentation. These artistic lights actually go underwater and create two types of effects. The first is an effect that we call “dancing.” Dancing is created by light shining through the surface of the fountains water, whose movement refracts its wavelength and causes it to move and flicker on walls, trees, ornaments, hedges, and patios. This type of fountain lighting is most effective when the water is located near such as structure. When the fountain is isolated, it simply makes that portion of the water more visible. Discretion must be used on the part of the Houston electrical contractor to determine how intense and diffused the underwater lights need to be. If the fountain and surrounding pool are central to an otherwise empty portion of the landscape, then it is better to use something like an LED source that will cause all of the water to appear to glow with any number of color combinations—or even white. If there is something nearby that the light can dance on, the fountain needs one or more halogen underwater feature lights that will shine an intense beam through the moving water onto the surface beyond.
These judgment calls that fountain lighting specialists make go beyond simple aesthetics. Many have to do with the safety of humans, wildlife, and pets. Obviously, any type of live wire cannot go into a swimming pool due to the possibility of shock. On commercial lighting projects, fountain lights are installed into the concrete, or hidden in locations above the pool. Fish are vulnerable to copper poisoning, so any fountain with koi or other species has to be lighted with brass fixtures. LED is the most energy efficient and environmentally-friendly light source you can put in a pond or fountain, and it can in some smaller fountains located in gardens or adjacent to walls produce the same dancing effect as more intense halogen fixtures. This is tricky to accomplish, however, and again requires the help of a lighting design professional to achieve.
If you have a fountain in your yard, or a waterfall in your pond or swimming pool, and you are not satisfied with the lighting, please give us a contact us at 713-863-1133 or toll free at 800-863-1184 to discuss better options of decorative and functional luminance that are pleasing to the eye and safe for people, fish, and animals.
Illuminations Lighting Design is the only “One Stop” destination for lighting design, engineering, landscape lighting services and installation in the state of Texas, and remains unrivaled by any lighting firm in the United States for lighting that is art. As homes grow larger and needs become more complex, having a single resource provides home owners with peace of mind. This translates into a smoother process, reduced costs and a better product.
We are located in Houston Texas but provide lighting and house lighting plans in Austin TX, El Paso Texas, San Antonio TX, College Station Texas, Beaumont TX, Dallas Texas, Midland Tx and points beyond.