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Signs Your Outdoor Lighting Needs Maintenance

Friday, April 17th, 2015

Grilling season is upon us, I can already smell the barbecues firing up. This means that we will be outside more, especially in the evenings. If you have a landscape lighting system, it’s a great time to have it serviced, before the McKay spring rush hits in a few weeks. Regular outdoor lighting maintenance will ensure the optimum performance out of your lights year after year, and will make sure everything is working properly so you can enjoy your evening outdoors. Our service technician, Keith, shares some signs to know when it’s time to maintenance your outdoor lighting system.

Landscape Lighting Fixture Your Fixtures are Misaligned or Out of Place:

Over time, fixtures get knocked around by pets, kids, mowers, even snow can shift their placement as well as many other culprits. Misaligned fixtures can ruin the intended impact of your lights. It is good to have all of your fixtures straightened and adjusted back to their proper alignments.

You Have Lights that are Dim or Out:

Dim lights could mean that your lenses are dirty; it’s important to keep the lenses of your fixtures clean. Minerals deposits, dirt, and debris can completely dim or block the light from a fixture. This is especially true for low sitting ground fixtures. You can clean the fixtures using a non abrasive cloth and a CLR type of cleaner. Sometimes it takes a bit of elbow grease to get them clean.

If you have lights that are out, the bulbs need to be replaced. You will want to make sure that you get the correct bulb and wattage when replacing your lights.   Also, it is important to change a bulb as soon as possible when it burns out. In a low voltage system, each bulb draws a small amount of voltage when they are working. As they burn out, the good bulbs nearby receive more voltage. This can shorten the bulb life.

There are Exposed or Cut Wires:

Sometimes during landscaping or plant removal projects, wires can accidentally get cut or damaged. Plus, the freezing and thawing of the ground during the winter months can sometimes cause a wire to work its way to the surface. If this happens, the wires need to be reburied. It is important to inspect the wire before burying. If there is copper wire showing, it will need to be repaired before burying. We recommend contacting us for service if the wire is damaged in any way, and our technicians will find and repair any damage.

It Has Been A While Since Your Lights Were Installed or Serviced….

If you installed your landscape lighting several years ago and never received regular maintenance, it would be beneficial to get your system checked out, especially if you have lights installed around your trees. Simply put, trees grow and landscape changes. This may require adjusting staples to allow slack in areas. Sometimes wire needs to be re-routed on the tree, or just re-stapled. Falling branches or animals can knock the fixtures out of adjustment too.

Performing these simple maintenance items can really help with the longevity of outdoor lighting. We believe that you have better things to do with your time than buying and changing light bulbs or adjusting fixtures. That’s why we offer an Annual Service Program. Once per year, we change out all of your bulbs, ensuring proper bulb wattage and beam spreads, and clean all of the lenses. You can then call us throughout the year if any go out. The cost of the replacement bulbs covered under warranty. We also straighten and adjust all of the fixtures back to their proper alignments, ensure that all timers are reset and adjusted properly, perform different maintenance checks, and make repairs where needed. A simple repair now can save money and hassle down the road. Contact us to find out more about our Annual Service Program or make a Service Request online.

Our customers like knowing that their family is safer because we take care of their lighting systems. As the lead service technician, my highest priority on a service call is to make those lights look and perform as good, if not better, than the day they were installed. That is the attitude that has been instilled into our entire Service Department. We do not leave until those lights are happy!


4 Outdoor Lighting Ideas for Your Deck or Patio

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Warmer weather means more time spent outdoors with friends, a glass of wine or ice-cold beer, and snacks while the young ones try to catch fireflies. You can enhance these long, leisurely evenings on the patio with the right lighting. Here are some outdoor lighting ideas that will help spark your imagination and plan that perfect outdoor living area.

Deck Lighting Ideas

Deck Lighting:

Adding lighting to the posts of your deck can easily extend the time spent outside enjoying the evening while adding safety too. These custom designed fixtures are installed onto prominent posts of the deck and have a relatively large spread. They provide light close to the ground and signal the railing location. At McKay, we have a variety of fixtures to choose from, which easily allows us to match the color and surface of your deck and increase its beauty after dark.

Outdoor Deck Lighting

Bistro Lights:

Also referred to as string lights or globe lights, these versatile café inspired outdoor lights can be added to a deck or patio to create a unique ambiance with soft, glowing lights. Installing a grill light is a nice feature that makes grilling easier and safer after dark.

Outdoor Seatwall Lighting

Outdoor Seat Wall Lights:

Seat wall lights are a beautiful application for patios and can be used on a free standing feature or works well on steps too. This application adds just a splash of light to low profile areas, highlights natural stone, and the light allows the feature to be easily seen in the dark – helpful if you have guests that are unfamiliar with your property.

LED Tape Lighting

Stair Lighting:

This small touch adds ambiance and prevents falls. There are several ways to add lighting to the stairs of your deck or patio. In the photo above we used LED tape light on the stairs and railings, but you can also use seat wall lighting as mentioned above. McKay tries to hide fixtures as much as possible, so that the light seems to “appear” from nowhere.

Our team of outdoor lighting experts will work with you to create the perfect custom designed outdoor lighting plan for your deck or patio. We have experience with a variety of different types of outdoor living areas, from smaller decks with a simple table and chairs to large patios with large pergolas and many seating areas; and from traditional outdoor deck lighting to some of our more unique designs and fixtures. Outdoor lighting can be custom designed to create the perfect outdoor living area for the many ways you live your life.Download Your Free Idea Book

Schedule a FREE consultation with one of our designers to discuss your outdoor lighting needs. This gives you the opportunity to discuss exactly how we are going to help you create the outdoor atmosphere you have always wanted, before we even do it.


Adding Layers of Landscape Lighting to Your Home

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Last week we talked about getting started with landscape lighting and how you can always add more layers of lighting as you need or want later on. This week we wanted to share a story of one of our clients who did just that.

He and his wife had been discussing if they wanted to stay in their house or move. After much consideration they decided to stay in their house for the long haul. Since they were planning to stay in their home, he wanted to add more layers of light.

He met with Jerry, and asked him how he would light his property if it were his own.  They walked the property together and talked about certain areas and why they would need light, how each area gets used, or if it could be a potential threat.  This allowed us to add lighting based on his needs and our experience, with a security thought in mind, while not spoiling the aesthetics of the property.

Outdoor Security Lighting Omaha NE

Keeping security lighting in mind as there had been a theft previously, we added down lights in the backyard and expanded the light to the perimeter of the property, deep into the trees, and on both sides of the house. There were some lights in their window wells controlled with a switch within the house, and we replaced them with low voltage lights allowing them to turn on automatically with the rest of the system each night.

The first time around, we installed the basics, lighting a few trees and adding path lights. This time he was looking to add more security and aesthetic lighting. Therefore, we expanded the light in the trees and around the perimeter of the property, up lit the house, added lamp posts around the patio, and down lit the driveway.

McKay Lighting originally installed the landscape lighting around their home and maintained their system with regular service over the years.  At McKay, we believe that an integral part of why our clients continue to come back to us to add layers of lighting is because of our continuing superior customer service, both in the field and in the office. As their lifestyles change, so does the way they live their lives at home. One outdoor remodeling project can domino into another and our clients know they can depend on McKay to meet their every outdoor lighting need as it changes along the way. We build a rapport and with that comes earned their trust. And because of that trust, our clients always know that McKay will keep their lights burning brightly every night.

If you need advice on your outdoor lighting, please feel free to complete our online form on our Contact Us Page or send us a message at

View our galleries for outdoor lighting ideas.


Ask McKay: Tips for Getting Started with Outdoor Lighting

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Here at McKay Landscape Lighting we get some frequently asked questions from our current customers, new customers, and sometimes other companies. We thought it would be nice to offer advice and answer questions in a new blog series called, Ask McKay. To kick things off, AJ, our Outdoor Lighting Designer, answers a question we get frequently from customers in the beginning stages of considering adding landscape lighting…

Getting Started with Outdoor Lighting

When it comes to adding outdoor lighting what is essential? Where should I start?

At McKay, we believe that you should start with what is most important to you and your goals for adding outdoor lighting.  The first step is to determine your needs, wants, and concerns. For example, are you looking to increase the safety of your home or is adding curb appeal more important? Do you want to extend the time you spend in your outdoor space? Maybe you like to entertain and want to wow your guests after dark?

We suggest walking around your property after dark taking notes of areas that might need light. Are your doorways well lit? Are there dark areas where an intruder could hide? Do you have outdoor steps that could be lit for safety? Make a list.

From there, depending on your need for security, safety, or aesthetics, move towards whichever one has higher priority and start by lighting key elements on your property. If adding security is your priority, we recommend highlighting the house and entry points. If you are more concerned about safety, highlight pathways, walkways, and especially steps. For aesthetics, large deciduous and ornamental trees make the greatest impact. If you are still not sure where to start, we always recommend to start by adding security lighting to your home, or you can schedule a free consultation with one of our designers to discuss your needs and help you determine the best approach.

The great thing about landscape lighting is that you can always build on your lights by adding more as you need or want. This allows you to start with the essentials and add more later, if needed. This is also great if you plan to add elements to your property like a patio, deck, water feature, or outdoor kitchen later on. We have worked with many homeowners after they have added on to their lighting system, or worked with them to install lights in phases.

If you need help determining what you want to do with your landscape lighting or just want to discuss it with a designer, McKay offers free consultations. We can schedule a time to meet, walk your property with you, discuss your lighting needs and the direction you want to take.  Lighting is all we do, and it is all we have done for more than 20 years. McKay has performed thousands of lighting assignments from coast to coast, and we would be delighted to meet and come up with solutions to your outdoor lighting needs.

If you need advice on your outdoor lighting, please feel free to contact us with your question, send us a message at or submit your question on our Contact Us page.


Lighting on Location: Maui, Hawaii

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The McKay team has been traveling for outdoor lighting projects for some time now and one of our crews recently made it back from installing landscape lighting for a project on the island of Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands. Although they were met with some challenges along the way, the team still managed to have a great time and enjoy every minute of Maui. For one of our team’s installers, Keith, this was his first time flying and seeing the ocean. Here is his take on what it was like working in Hawaii for five weeks.

Outdoor Lighting Maui

Outdoor Lighting Hawaii

Landscape Lighting Hawaii

Hawaii…amazing culture….stunning terrain. This is how I feel after installing landscape lighting in Maui for five weeks. I was able to install lighting at one of the most unique properties on the island. Each day we worked amongst the backdrop of untouched ranchland, with an ocean view in front of us. Needless to say, it was a rare experience. Even in winter time, the landscape was filled with lush plants and vibrant colors. The colorful, flowers became striking points of color when lit at night.

Haleakalā Volcanic Crater

Haleakalā Volcanic Crater

We worked long days and weeks near the beginning of the project to ensure that we would be done on schedule. This allowed us to have a few days off here and there to explore the island. There are more activities in Maui than I can count. One day we rented a Corvette and drove to the top of the Haleakalā Volcanic Crater on Maui, pictured above. The scenic drive takes you to the tallest peak of Haleakalā (“house of the sun”), at 10,023 feet. This is something I would highly recommend, the views were amazing, even on an overcast day. We were able to look at a peak on The Big Island and actually see snow on top of the 2 peaks! We all needed jackets or sweatshirts at the top of the crater as the temperature dropped to a refreshing 40 degrees. We hiked for about a mile to reach the crater’s edge. Here we were able to see the mist flow into the crater, and then blast over our heads as it reached our ledge. Visiting the crater is something that I hope to never forget.

This unique property also had its fair share of challenges. Most of the ground was very rocky, more than we have seen elsewhere. The irrigation was set up very differently from what we are used to. This required us to be particularly careful of not causing damage. There were also many different plants that I was unfamiliar with. Luckily, the property manager did an amazing job with answering our questions. We were able to work with him to ensure that we were not causing any damage to this phenomenal property. When we first saw the completed project at night, it was simply amazing! It was challenging and fun figuring out how to light 40-50 foot palm trees. I had never seen trees like this lit, and the results were spectacular. I can personally say that I am proud of the work that we completed there. When faced with challenges, we were able to adapt and overcome to achieve our end goal.

If you have any questions about landscape lighting, feel free to Contact Us or Schedule a FREE Consultation online to discuss your outdoor lighting needs.

View our Residential Lighting Gallery and Vacation Home Gallery.

Our Top 3 Outdoor Lighting Trends for 2015

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Happy Friday everyone! Since we are counting down the days to spring, why not feature some hot trends on our radar! Here are a few things to inspire you for the next couple of days…  

Outdoor Kitchen Lighting

1) LED Lighting 

LED lighting is becoming more and more popular over the years, we see this trend continue as its capabilities expand. LED Tape Lighting is versatile and has a number of different uses: kitchens, steps, bar areas, the list goes on. Plus, it is barely visible during the day and can be used with normal LED warm white light as pictured above or in a variety of different colors.  Learn more about ways to use LED tape lighting here or view our Specialty Lighting Gallery to see other custom made lighting applications.

Outdoor Living Space Lighting

2) Lighting Control Systems

Imagine you are hanging out in your pool or by the fireplace. You want to dim the lights a bit to gaze at the stars and then easily brighten them up again before heading back inside, but you don’t want to trip over anything along the way.  Good news! There are several different types of technology out there that will allow you to do that. For the property pictured above we used a wireless control system that runs separate electrical circuits via iPhone or iPad. This is a great system when you want to have more control and easily turn your lights on and off .  Here, we were able to give the homeowners four different zones: 1) pathlights, 2) uplights and downlights, 3) outdoor kitchen and natural stone (seatwall lights, well lights and column lights), and 4) clubhouse lights. Read more about this project in our Project Spotlight: Rustic South Dakota Home Outdoor Lighting.

Security Lighting Omaha NE

3) Elegant Security Lighting Systems 

Gone are the days of using harsh, high powered lights that disturb the neighbors and devalue your property, when you can have an elegantly designed low-voltage lighting system working to enhance your security system. We feel a well lit property is less likely to have an intruder. Our specifically designed lights will enhance any on-property security cameras by allowing dark areas to come through on the surveillance screen. Learn more about how you can Boost Your Home’s Security with Outdoor Lighting or view our Outdoor Security Lighting gallery.

If you are looking to add some unique flair to your outdoor living area, these are some great lighting ideas. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your lighting needs, you can easily Schedule a FREE Consultation Online, contact us directly at 402.289.3424, or

For more inspiration be sure to check out our Galleries!


How to Reset Your Outdoor Lighting Timer

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

outdoor landscape lighting

It’s time to spring forward. To be on time for your Sunday’s activities, remember to turn your clocks forward one hour on March 8th before going to bed. While you are changing the clocks in your home, don’t forget to reset your outdoor lighting timer too. Here’s how to change your timer in three easy steps. Continue reading “How to Reset Your Outdoor Lighting Timer” »

Landscape Management: The Shining Light

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

This blog post is coming to you from our friends at Landscape Management. Editor, Marisa Palmieri, attended The Lighting Summit, an annual event we host every January that is geared for landscape lighting professionals. She recently wrote an article sharing a few things found illuminating from guest speaker Doug Smith executive chairman of Ervin & SmithContinue reading “Landscape Management: The Shining Light” »

Boost Your Home’s Security with Outdoor Lighting

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

security lighting, seawall lighting, bollard lighting, bollard,

The end of February is upon us and we have been daydreaming about spring lately. With warmer weather comes more time spent outdoors.  If you are anything like me, as soon as it is warm enough I like open all the windows in the house to let in the fresh air. With as many benefits that this offers, keep in mind that it could also increase the risk for a potential break-in. As we start to countdown the days to spring, we wanted to share some bright ideas from Omaha Police Department’s Residential Burglary Prevention flyer with some ways you can increase your home’s security and prevent burglaries from happening: Continue reading “Boost Your Home’s Security with Outdoor Lighting” »

5 Winter Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Lighting

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Residential Outdoor Lighting

Here are five tips directly from our service team with some ways you can keep your lights shining bright and well maintained all winter long.  Continue reading “5 Winter Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Lighting” »

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