“Ask Kari” is a monthly, Question & Answer feature from Kari Negri. Kari has two decades of property management experience, is a featured speaker at many industry trade shows, such as AAGLA’s annual trade show, and is the CEO of SKY Properties, Inc. in Los Angeles.
“Hi Kari, do you have any suggestions regarding lighting at my building?”
Hi James! Thank you for your great question. Lighting is of course an important factor to our buildings, both from an aesthetic and efficiency standpoint, not to mention safety. Let’s review each of these areas today.
Tips For Lighting
- Aesthetics in building lighting.
Curb appeal is essential to renting and keeping your rents at market rate. In previous articles, I’ve discussed paint, plants and greenery (have you planted your California native, drought tolerant succulents at your building yet?). Lighting for aesthetics is utilized in many areas to highlight the best parts of your building as well as to create a welcome home mood for your residents. When you visit any of the top hotels in the world, you might notice how their lighting stands out by how the texture of the building and trees draws your attention. We can borrow from the strategies of the hotel industry in this manner. You might notice up-lighting on trees and larger plants. By pointing a flood of light from the base of a tree, palm, etc., the texture of the tree is highlighted, bringing it to life at night. We can also borrow from photography and cinematography. Note that lighting from the side, top or bottom brings out texture at various intensities and creates a mood by use of light and shadows. Whereas, lighting straight on can flatten the subject and remove texture. These choices can help achieve or deny your goal and the mood you are going for. You can also use a splash of color to introduce a bit of style and character to your building. Imagine a wash of red, blue, or green against a large terracotta planter for instance. If your building has a pool, note how the pool light washes over the surrounding plants and building surface. Adding a few other flood type lights, at ground level, perhaps with a dash of color, can really make your pool area stand out. Note that for your lighting, you might consider the use of LED’s, which brings me to my next point.
- Efficiency in lighting.
LED’s (Light Emitting Diode) are the clear winner in lighting efficiency. While currently presenting a larger upfront investment at around $3-$5 per bulb. LED lighting has the longest life, from 25,000 to 50,000 hours, with the lowest power consumption. One incandescent, classic Thomas Edison type bulb, draws the same amount of power as 4-10 LED bulbs. That is something to draw pause. So if you remove one 25-watt incandescent bulb, you can install 8 LED bulbs, drawing 3-watts of power each, having no impact on your power bill, yet giving you 8 times the number of bulbs. Color temperature is something to note with LED’s as well. If you want to match the warm, yellow light of an incandescent bulb, you will want a warmer color temperature of 2700k. For a cool, whiter light, you’d be at around 4000k, and a bluer light is at 6500k.
If you are wondering about the pig-tail, corkscrew CFL bulbs (compact fluorescent lamp), they fall slightly above LED’s in cost and energy consumption, with a lifespan of 10,000-15,000 hours. Yet, something to consider about fluorescent lighting is that they contain mercury, which is a neurotoxin. If you read the warning label on fluorescent lamps, you might notice from https://www.epa.gov/cfl “Have people and pets leave the room. Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one. Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb: stiff paper or cardboard; sticky tape; damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag. During Cleanup, DO NOT VACUUM. Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken. Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.”
So, yeah. Not okay.
LED lighting is also available in strips that can be utilized for under cabinet lighting, window and crown molding lighting. Many LED strip lighting solutions come with a remote control that allows you to change the color and lighting sequence. If you are trying to stand out from your rental market competition, try installing some strip lighting in a vacancy kitchen and show prospective tenants how they can change the mood of their kitchen with a remote control! Check Amazon.com for various LED strip lighting solutions. Finally, if your maintenance personnel offers interior light/bulb changing for tenants, consider the how much labor cost can be saved by only changing interior bulbs every 25,000-50,000 hours!
LED fun fact: if you’ve visited San Francisco and seen the Bay Bridge LED light show, it is estimated that the entire LED installation draws approximately $30 per day in electricity, or about $11,000 annually.
It’s always a good idea to take a walk around your building at night and see if there are any areas which lack proper lighting. Proper lighting might prevent a trip hazard, or an unwelcome visitor/forced entry. Do you have motion detector lights? Are your walkways and staircases well lit? How about your building address and signage? A warm, summer evening is a great time to perform a lighting review. Again, look at your overall safety, as well as your overall curb appeal and aesthetics. Note that LED lights are available as flood, motion, ceiling, house lamp, and all typical sizes and styles.
As always, please remember, I am not an attorney. Seek clarification through your attorney. All articles are simply an opinion. Stay in touch at www.GetSky.net
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