Q & A Session with Phil Bauer of Starry Night Lighting
We’re starting 2014 by highlighting Phil Bauer, owner of Starry Night Lighting, in Sandusky, Ohio. As owner of Bauer Landscape Management, Phil has been in the landscape industry for over 28 years. After discovering the power of well-designed landscape lighting, he knew he had found his new passion. Let’s find out why Phil uses LED lamps in his designs.
What first attracted you to landscape lighting?
Even though I had been in the general landscaping business for nearly 30 years, my market area had almost no landscape lighting, so I had no experience with it. My curiosity came two years ago when my wife and I were building a new home in a different area. I noticed that there was a lighting forum on a landscaping website on which I had been a member for some years. So I posted a question there about a couple of aspects of lighting my home. I never realized all the possibilities! After seeing photos of the work that the forum members had done, I knew landscape lighting was the professional direction and specialization I wanted to take.
What sets you apart from other landscape lighting companies?
What sets me apart for nearly 30 years in general landscaping was personal service to my clients, attention to detail in design and installation, and a never-ending desire to learn more. I feel the same way about lighting. It is a passion for me, not just a business.
Why did you first begin to experiment with LED lights in your designs?
I only ever used halogen lamps in a small number of maintenance jobs. Although development and refinement of LED lamps continues, by the time I started my business they were already developed to a reliable point by some manufacturers, e.g. Illumicare. With a good choice of color temperature and beam spreads for flexibility in designs, using LEDs was a no-brainer.
What lighting issues did LEDs solve when you started incorporating the lamps into your designs?
It’s not just about the initial design, but the ability to easily add a lamp here or there to make a design perfect after the planned installation is complete. LEDs use such low power that designers almost always have excess power capacity in their systems for one, two, or several more fixtures/lamps.
What do you see as being the future of the lighting industry? Challenges? Opportunities? Threats?
Are you daring me to say the future of lighting is bright? (laughing)
Seriously, the future is expansive. There are so many geographic areas, even urban areas, in the US and Canada which have not been exposed to landscape lighting and so there are countless potential customers out there to be educated. There are also market segments for expansion. As I learned more about the qualities of lighting, I noticed how much untapped business there was for architectural lighting, such as offices and retail businesses.
This is one area that I plan to pursue; and, of course, promoting the power saving and longevity.
One of my photos features a 60-foot wide wall sign which traditionally would have been illuminated by several high-powered metal halide flood lights. I achieved what I believe is a more pleasant, yet effective, illumination with 5 8-watt 4000K LEDs.
What advice would you give other landscape lighting designers and installers about using LED lamps?
Forget your perception of LEDs from years ago. They are probably mis-perceptions by now. Learn the advantages of selling and using LEDs. The public has become more aware and most clients are eager to have them included in their systems.
About Starry Night Lighting
Phil Bauer owned and operated Bauer Landscape Management for 28 years and founded Starry Night Lighting two years ago to specialize in landscape lighting. Bauer was one of the first with Master status in the Ohio Certified Nursery Technician program. He is also an Ohio University graduate, and has coached high school girls basketball for 25 years.
Starry Night Lighting
Sandusky, OH 44870