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Bringing Color into the Mix
By Michael Miyamoto, LC/DBM


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Michael Sestak, principal of Sestak Lighting Design, overhauled the outdoor lighting system for a home in Elk Grove, California. After he realized an entirely new lighting system was required, he selected one that could mix colored lights and white light through the use of two different LED chips: ZD (zoning and dimming) and ZDC (zoning and dimming + color). Two groups of palm trees near the pool and spa are illuminated with uplights with ZDC. With the controller, the homeowner can change the hue, saturation, and intensity settings of each fixture or group of fixtures. The system's program operates automatically, and controls more than just on/off times. The homeowner can change from one color palette to another with a tap on a smart device, and can choose from dozens of combinations in a "library" set up for the client. "The fixtures using the ZDC LED chips are zoned together, so the effect on the palm trees is uniform," Sestak said. The controller sends signals out to each fixture (or group of fixtures) through the standard wires used to power the fixtures. "Each fixture has its own address," Sestak said. "The brain inside the controller allows the contractor to completely tailor the system to the client's needs with various scenes whether entertaining a large group for a BBQ or for simply relaxing in the spa." He advises contractors to visit http://www.fxl.com/zdc to see how the system works.


Above For the four European fan palms, four ZDC uplights were installed. Three LED uplights highlight the queen palms behind the fan palms. The rest of the fixtures along the backyard perimeter did not require color, so only ZD LED chips were installed. However, the fixtures are easily upgradable to color capability if the homeowner later decides to add more color to the landscape. The redwoods and crepe myrtles in the background are also illuminated with uplights, each containing either six or nine LEDs, depending on the height of each tree. The ground level shrubs are illuminated with wash lights, each with a lower intensity (e.g., three LEDs).

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Sestak used a different approach for the patio and walkway around the pool. Instead of going with traditional path lights, he installed 4" x 4" mini bollards. The bollards can be 2' or 3' tall. These fixtures feature Brilliance bi-pin 2-watt LED lamps rated at 105 lumens. "These lamps create crisp shadow patterns from the laser-cut bodies of the bollards," he said. "To get sufficient light on the surface area and a great pattern too, it is the best effect."


Left An uplight with six LEDs illuminates this pine tree. Because the client wanted Sestak to concentrate mostly on upgrading the backyard, a total of 32 fixtures were installed in the rear of the property, as opposed to only 14 in the front yard. Sestak is a C-10 electrical contractor who has owned his business since 2000. Of the controller, he says, there are additional components that permit a contractor to give the homeowner or end user a unified lighting system. It's now possible to use one controller to "talk" to virtually any lighting fixture on the property.

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For the four European fan palms, four ZDC uplights were installed. Three LED uplights highlight the queen palms behind the fan palms. The rest of the fixtures along the backyard perimeter did not require color, so only ZD LED chips were installed. However, the fixtures are easily upgradable to color capability if the homeowner later decides to add more color to the landscape. The redwoods and crepe myrtles in the background are also illuminated with uplights, each containing either six or nine LEDs, depending on the height of each tree. The ground level shrubs are illuminated with wash lights, each with a lower intensity (e.g., three LEDs).


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An uplight with six LEDs illuminates this pine tree. Because the client wanted Sestak to concentrate mostly on upgrading the backyard, a total of 32 fixtures were installed in the rear of the property, as opposed to only 14 in the front yard. Sestak is a C-10 electrical contractor who has owned his business since 2000. Of the controller, he says, there are additional components that permit a contractor to give the homeowner or end user a unified lighting system. It's now possible to use one controller to "talk" to virtually any lighting fixture on the property.


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The McKinley Village underpass in Sacramento leads to a new community development and is the starting point for what is known as the McKinley Village Art Walk. Sestak Lighting Design was selected by the developer, The New Home Company, to design and install the lighting. Though it did not require a public bid for his company to get the project, owner Michael Sestak says that it did require electrical knowledge for municipal projects, IES roadway lighting codes and the ability to work with a large team of civil engineers, federal, state and city officials. Forty-eight lights for the columns fit inside custom fabricated metal chevron shaped housings that conceal wiring and connections while also preventing glare from direct view. Sixty lights for the ceiling are housed in custom fabricated metal cages. Each LED light has its own address that permits an infinite array of programming possibilities.


Landing Public Works Projects
Michael Sestak of Sestak Lighting Design is registered in California as a small business that can bid on state and city projects. He says the procedure took a concerted effort but it is available to everyone.

"It's a process to get there, but once you're there then you can just pick and choose which ones you want," states Sestak.

One project that was done on private land but became public property afterwards was the McKinley Village underpass, which is the main entrance to a new community development that was bordered by a railroad and a highway so a tunnel under the bridge had to be built. He did not have to bid for this project because the developer had seen his work on a public/private project, the residence and grounds at the Historic Governors Mansion State Park that he helped foster as part of the California chapter of the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals and donated his time to design and install.

"It was the first public profile project that myself and others worked on. This for the pure wish to beautify this magnificent building," Sestak remembers. "We really got a lot of press about the efficiency of LED lighting and how it can be applied to historic structures. The developers in town got wind of how this was done and one sought me out."

As for the underpass project, Sestak says that it was motivation to ramp up and develop all the necessary documentation needed to work on similar projects. To become registered, Sestak advises that it's best to have an advocate such as a state official to help get your paperwork in line. And then they might even be a lead to publicly funded projects.



As seen in LC/DBM magazine, April 2017.






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Last Updated 06-26-17