Ask the Expert 5 Outdoor Living Trends for 2020

Last month, we shared an article about four key areas to focus on now that customers are spending more time at home. People are cocooning, which means they are spending more time at home, and any planned vacations have likely been postponed. With more time at home, homeowners are looking to make improvements in their yards and outdoor spaces. They will want to make these spaces as safe and functional as possible, and they want to create a private oasis where they can spend time with family and close friends.

One of these areas seeing a large increase in upgrades and installations is outdoor lighting and audio. We’ve asked Glen Nyhuis, Central’s National Lighting Director to share some insight on the biggest trends we’re seeing in 2020.

From Glen:

Outdoor lighting and audio has increased greatly in the past decade with homeowner driving demand, especially in areas like WiFi control, efficiency, and safety. What used to be just for upper-income neighborhoods, is now common for homeowners across the board. This year especially, we’ve seen people looking to addd lighting and audio for patio and deck upgrades, as well as add lighting for safety and security. Below are five trends that I am seeing in outdoor lighting and audio this season:

1. It’s All About Control

The use of smart home devices has exploded. Nearly 90% of all U.S. consumers now own some form of smart home device whether it’s a smart hub like Amazon Alexa, a smart thermostat, or a mobile app-controlled video monitoring system.  What do each of these devices have in common? Control. It’s all about control.

Smart home devices offer convenience, enhance safety, and can even save money on energy bills. So, it’s no wonder that lighting control on is number two homeowners’ smart home wish lists [right after entertainment]. Lighting control is a major request because it hits all the things that homeowners like about smart devices: it helps enhance safety, it’s convenient, it can help save money because of efficiency, and it enhances the outdoor living space for entertaining guests.

2. Anyway You Like It: Dimming, Zoning, and Color Changing

Outdoor lighting products continue to evolve and improve each year. Smart-enabled controllers and products allow clients to control and customize their lighting with zoning, dimming and color changing functions. App-based interfaces give contractors and their customers a powerful level of control from the palm of their hand—no matter where they are.

Manufacturers offer solutions for dimming, zoning, and color changing at any budget. From lamps and fixtures to smart sockets, transformers, and luxury controllers, there is the right solution for your customer, no matter their budget. Consumers have already made the leap to connected devices in and around their home. Now is the time to leverage these devices to grow your sales.

3. Facelifts: Patios and Decks

This year many homeowners are investing in their patio and decks. From pavers, enlarging footprints, outdoor kitchens to entertainment features, lighting, and audio—homeowners are upgrading these outdoor spaces.

For lighting, we’re seeing homeowners are looking to illuminate these spaces for both safety and aesthetics. We’re seeing a large push for step lighting, combination lighting which includes both up lights and down light, accents on certain features or around outdoor kitchens, and even all-around low-profile lights along the bottom of their decks. Finally, a really interesting trend that we’re seeing this year is silhouetting which creates a really cool vibe and ambiance in these spaces. Silhouetting involves shining an uplight against a wall, behind an object, so that the object is seen in shadow and in contrast to the lighted wall.

For outdoor audio, we’re seeing a continued push for integrated systems like TruAudio that can hide in the background of a beautifully landscaped space. But beyond that, consumers want easy to use WiFi control from their handheld devices but they also want a system that integrates with their smart devices or smart homes. Systems need to be able to connect to smart devices so that people can access their favorite streaming music services like Spotify or Apple Airplay. Even more important is this connection to a smart system like Google Assistant to use voice activation. This allows them to skip a song or request something specific without searching for their cell phone, they simply as Google to do the action for them. TruAudio’s VSSL Smart Control Amplifier integrates with Google Assistant, Spotify and Apple AirPlay.

4. Safety is Key

Safety and security continue to be a focus for all homeowners and lighting plays a huge part in this. First and foremost, homeowners look to light their investment which is their home structure, the next focus is to get rid of any “black holes” on the property so, think transitional areas such as a gateway, a fountain or other focal points. Finally, we look to lighting back canopy trees or back perimeters to create depth and safety around the property.

Well-lit pathways are always on trend. Traditional path and area lighting is something that doesn’t go away. Some years, certain finishes rule the season. This year we see people requests for an antiqued finish, and of course a brass is always a favorite.

Another trend we’re seeing along pathways and walkways is low-profile lighting. This type of lighting just splashes across the sidewalk for safety, no path or area lights are used. This style of lighting is accomplished using a light bar like the Brilliance T-Bar light.

5. Accent This

Accent lighting continues to increases in popularity every year and this season is no different. Accent uplights are used across landscape specimens, garages, water features and more. The best part of accent lighting is it gives you the opportunity to be creative. This is where you can add a little flair such as color or different color temperatures. The most common areas for color are on the foundation of the house or water features. When working with color lighting, note that not every fixture needs to be color changing, just a few focal points can really add the punch that homeowners are looking for.

As I mentioned, color changing is really growing year-over-year with consumers wanting to be able to change colors on their home’s façade to celebrate holidays, birthdays, graduations and other big events like the Superbowl. When designing an outdoor lighting system, don’t be afraid to try new things and think outside the box when working with your customers. They’ll appreciate the creativity!

Finally, rely on Central to help, whether that’s getting you Back to Basic, helping with a lighting demo or installations, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies or design styles. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!

About Glen Nyhuis

Glen Nyhuis has nearly three decades in the landscape lighting business. He has worked both in the field installing and design landscape lighting, as well as on the distribution side. Beyond that, he has spent many years teaching and working with contractors on how to sell lighting to their customers. Whether it’s a technical or design question, or helping source the right product for a special job, Glen is ready to help you make money and grow your business.