The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Let There Be Light-Part 2

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In PART 1 of this blog entry about getting lighting in my Grill Gazebo, I covered everything up to installing the lights: planning the runs, picking the wiring method, deciding to do the work myself and actually running the wiring. PART 2 will cover selecting and installing the light fixtures.

During the winter I had been trying to find the right light fixtures to use in the grill gazebo. First of all they had to be exterior pendant lights and carry what is called a damp location rating. This means they are suitable to be installed in areas where there will be moisture in the air and they could get some moisture on them due to condensation. This would be for example: a light fixture installed under a porch roof or like my usage: a light fixture installed under the peak of the roof of my grill gazebo. The fixtures are not constantly exposed to water which is a wet location rated fixture. Almost all of the pendant type lights carried by the big box retailers are intended for indoor use. The damp or wet location rated fixtures were more of a specialty item and strangely seemed to run at 2 price points. The well made, good looking fixtures tend to be quite pricey and then there was another extreme I didn’t expect. There was a class of fixtures made in China or worse, that looked cheap even in their pictures, and were priced cheaply. For two fixtures in my grill gazebo, I did not necessarily want to cut corners either in appearance or construction. By the same token I did not want to pay more for the lights than I did for the grill gazebo. Believe it or not, that was actually a possibility.

I had looked for quite some time with little success. With the work proceeding on the wiring, it was time to get real. I had found some lights that were close to what I wanted, but not quite. It was one of those things where I didn't exactly know what I wanted, but I'd know it the second I saw it. I'd long since exhausted any thought of being able to just walk into a local store and buy it. This turned out to be a great thing, but I didn't realize it at the time. One morning a Google search turned up a company in Titusville, Florida called Barn Light Electric. As soon as I entered the site, I knew I had hit the motherlode. This company had dozens of fixtures each in many different style categories. All of the fixtures were highly customizable with many options. These fixtures were very good looking and looked like authentic old time fixtures you'd see in building from the 30's and 40's. I know because as an architect, I’ve field measured many buildings from the period. Once you picked a fixture style you often had a multitude of options for the fixture. Suddenly I was faced with the opposite problem picking a light. Before I couldn't find one that looked like what I wanted, now I was faced with almost too many choices. But this is a problem I could deal with. The other nice thing about these lights is you could usually get the same style fixture in several mounting styles.


The lights I chose were classic barn style lights circa 1930.

After I picked the style of shade I wanted (mine was called the "Astro"), I had other choices to make. The shade was available in 3 different diameters: 12" (30 cm), 14" (35 cm), or 16" (40 cm); 15 different colors including 9 porcelain enamel finishes available at additional cost; the ceiling mount cover was available in your choice of the 15 fixture finishes; 7 different cord styles/colors for both wet and damp location listing; an option for a curved metal cage at the bottom available in several colors and finishes; an option for a glass bulb guard available with 3 styles of glass with a metal guard over that is available in the same finishes as the fixture, plus several other colors/finishes; and whether the fixture is incandescent or compact fluorescent. Suddenly I saw the light. I had been disappointed I was going to have to special order a light fixture instead of walking into a store and coming out with 2 lights ready to go. I then realized 2 weeks or so is a small amount of time to wait for a custom light fixture made to my specifications that I will use for years. I chose an incandescent 14" (35 cm) diameter, Dark Green finish color (similar to BGE Green, Black vinyl finish cord, Dark Green canopy cover and a clear glass bulb cover with Dark Green metal guard. The total for each light as specified was $192, which I thought was a very reasonable price for a Made in America, custom light fixture. I was very glad I hadn't found a light in the local big box stores. Instead of settling for something that was the least objectionable, I'd found exactly what I wanted.

I just mentioned this company makes these light fixtures in America. The story of the company is very interesting, as I learned poking around the site after I ordered my fixtures. Barn Light Electric was formed by a husband and wife team who used to collect and restore this type of fixture for resale. They went into business manufacturing new versions of classic fixtures of this type from the 1930's and 40's. They bought the patents for the designs from the original manufacturers. In some cases they were actually able to buy some of the original lathes used to manufacture the original fixtures. They were sitting around in closed factories. This explains why I thought the lights looked very close to the originals: in many cases they are identical to the original. This is a case where they “Do make them like they used to.” The baked enamel finish option they offer is rather unique. Porcelain enamel finishes are very durable, but they started going out of style in the 1950's in favor of cheaper (but less durable) finishes. Barn Light Electric thinks they are the only U.S. light fixture manufacturer to offer porcelain enamel finishes. This is a good choice for fixtures exposed to harsh environments. The tech support is U.S. based, right out of the same building as their showroom. This I know personally. I had to talk to support to get some questions answered about my particular installation and usage case. The gentleman helping me was able to walk out to the showroom and get my answers by looking at my particular fixture.


The new lighting certainly does the job at night, but to my surprise I think I will use it even more during cloudy days.

When I ordered the lights, the website information said they would ship in 7-10 business days, which isn't bad for a custom manufactured fixture. The fixture shipped in the allotted time frame and arrived from Florida 4 days later. The fixture arrived in two large boxes. One looked like it had been used to play soccer with a large dent in one corner. I didn't want to start my experience seeing these fixtures for the first time by opening a box with a damage fixture. So I opened the other box and was amazed at how well they were package. The fixtures were encased on all sides by a custom blown-in foam insulation. As soon as I saw how well these fixtures were package, I had zero worries that the fixture in the dented box had survived the "gentle" handling by UPS. The fixtures came with very clear installation instructions and I had them hung in a relatively short time. The fixtures looked even better in person than they had on the website. The craftsmanship was excellent and the finish appeared flawless. I could be happier with the look of these fixtures.


The lighting works well at night, it covers the grill gazebo’s footprint and doesn’t spill very far outside. It won’t disturb the neighbors when I am cooking at night.

All that was left was to try them out. It was daytime when I first fired them up and so I could tell little other than they worked. Later at night time I fired them up again and was pleased with the lighting. The lighting wasn't as bright as sunlit daytime, but it was as bright as working in the grill gazebo on a cloudy day. That was when the lightbulb went off...These lights would also help brighten things up on a cloudy day. In fact, because it is now the start of summer, I get more benefit from the lights on cloudy days than I do at night. This is something I never thought of for some reason. Another thing I liked about the lighting was it didn't reach too far beyond the grill gazebo. The light cone extended 10' (3 M) on all sides of the grill gazebo, which keeps it on my property. It might have been a problem if the light washed onto the wall of a neighbors house, but it doesn't even come close. My project to install lighting in my grill gazebo was over and I couldn't be happier with the results. The work renovating my indoor Kitchen is now complete and I am going to add a few more cabinets to my outdoor Kitchen and that work will be complete too. Then I can spend the rest of the summer enjoying the results.


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