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Pier Warmth
Illuminating a Dock and Boathouse



At this residence in Arnold, Maryland, (inset) Chesapeake Irrigation and Lighting completely replaced a dilapidated system that included lights that were buried in overgrowth and some that were not even working. The install involved moonlighting in trees for the driveway and guest house, uplights on trees and the house, a variety of other landscape lighting, and making the pier and boathouse aesthetically pleasing when viewed from the house. Because of the issues presented by the marine environment, brass fixtures were used. The color temperature of the LEDs was kept in the lower range (2700 K) to bring out the warm tones of the wood on the pier and boathouse.

Though the destination for most landscape lighting is, as the name suggests, on land, sometimes the lighting ends up in or over water, as was the case for an extensive project installed by Chesapeake Irrigation and Lighting.

A complete lighting renovation at a residence in Arnold, Maryland, which included illuminating the house, guesthouse, driveway, trees and other landscaping, also involved a pier and boathouse on a finger of the Chesapeake Bay.

"This was a complete redo," says company owner Dave Underwood. "They had some old fixtures that were in bad shape, and some weren't even working."

Though the project comprised so many different aspects, it was bid, and then installed, in its entirety, not in phases. This was important because all of the wiring for the lights on the pier was run underneath it. And the crew could only get under the pier, using a Johnboat, when conditions were right.

"We actually had to refer to the tide tables and return at certain times when it coincided with low tides," Underwood explained.

When conditions weren't right, the crew would work on the house and surrounding grounds.


Besides puck lights mounted on the stairs themselves to help the residents and visitors safely make their way from the pier up to the house, LF-1LED-BS Brass Finish fixtures coupled with 2-watt LEDs were positioned on the underside of the railings.


The flagpole is illuminated with MU uplights with Unique 8-watt MR-16 LED lamps with a cooler color temperature.


To light the pier's deck, Chesapeake owner Dave Underwood chose MS-1LED-BS with 2-watt LEDs, which were mounted on the pilings (left). The boathouse itself was lit with LC-6LED-BS fixtures using 10-watt LEDs. These were fixed to the pilings with a 6" stem and 90-degree knuckle. To hide the wiring, a hole was drilled in a steep downward angle with a very long drill bit through a given piling until it exited out the other side, where another hole was started, again in a steep downward angle. This was repeated three or four times until it created an exit hole below the walkway. The wiring was then fed down through this zigzag configuration. Wood putty was used to seal the unused exit holes.

On the pier, they replaced existing lights (referred to as eyebrow or puck lights) on the pilings, and added others. Wall-wash lights, which were mounted on pilings with a 6-inch stem and 90-degree knuckle, were used to light the boathouse facade. To hide the wiring, it was routed internally through the pilings.

All fixtures on the pier were brass to hold up to the marine environment. The wall wash lights focused on the boathouse had a wide beam spread but the two lighting the flag on top of the boathouse had a narrow spot.

The wiring underneath the pier was brought up to a PX-300 transformer with an astronomical timer, one of four transformers installed for the project. This one was mounted on a taller piling where existing electric service was located. All splices are above water and were sealed with waterproof connectors.

The whole project took three to four workers about 10 days to complete. Of that, a total of four days were spent on the pier and boathouse.

One of the challenges was running the wiring up to the fixtures that illuminate the flag. This involved routing it into the boathouse, which sits over open water and has narrow catwalks that had to be carefully navigated by the crew to avoid falling into the water.

And Underwood remembers another challenge; "This was a winter project so there was actually some ice on the water that we would have to chip away at to work. And it was very cold."

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, November 2017.

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February 17, 2019, 11:15 pm PST

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