Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added to the hearth and inside the storage voids.

Killin’ Time

The other day, I had to drop my car at the tire shop and because I had a few minutes to spare, I walked across the busy street to some stores.  As always, I was drawn to one of my favorite stores, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and I found myself standing in the outdoor lighting aisle.  If I go to Lowe’s, I almost always want to at least walk down some of my favorite aisles to see if there is anything new on the shelf. This day was no exception.

I should back up a bit and say that whenever I build any type of structure in a backyard, whether it is an outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen, I always look for ways to spice up the final look.  One of the things that I have written on in the past is my love for outdoor lighting.  It just makes a backyard, and specifically, outdoor structures, come alive at night.  The shadows created and the way things look in the dark with some light are just awesome.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added above the firebox.

So, back to Lowe’s and the outdoor lighting aisle…  In the past, if I needed lighting, I have just gone to the store and picked up what I needed to complete the lighting project.  I have never shared with my audience how inexpensive it really is to add this great feature to your DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen.  Well, wait no more.  Here we go.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
This DIYer added lighting to the hearth and the sides of the fireplace.

Outdoor Lighting Components Explained

With most outdoor lighting, there are three main components involved.  They are a power source, otherwise known as a power transformer, wire, and the lights.  The transformer is a heavy cube that plugs into an outlet.  Many of these transformers will turn on at dusk with photo eye technology and you simply tell it through a setting, how long you want the lights to stay on from that point.  Pretty cool!

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Four lights were added to this curved hearth.

The neat part is the lights will come on automatically and shut off automatically; no work for you. They come in different wattage’s starting from around 60W to several hundred watts.  For powering a structure, the smallest will be completely sufficient, especially if you’re using LEDs.  A 60W transformer will sell for around $50.

The wire will hook into the transformer with screws and the wire will snake through your structure’s block work.  We’ll get into the install in a different post.  The wire will transfer (Direct Current – DC) low voltage as the transformer’s output to the lights, so it won’t shock you any more than holding on to a flashlight battery.  It’s nothing like the power from an outlet in your house.  A 50’ length of this outdoor lighting wire will cost around $20.

LED Lighting Is awesome

Lastly, the lights.  Today’s technology has put LED lighting at the forefront for efficiency, longevity, and amazing power savings.  LED stands for light emitting diode.  An LED is a small electronic component (diode) that will glow when power is applied.  No more changing incandescent bulbs, right?  Can I get an amen on that one?

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer catalina
This Catalina fireplace had lighting added to the hearth for a great look.

LED lighting fixtures are sold individually, and they can run anywhere from a few dollars on clearance to around $20 for each fixture.  I add at least two LED fixtures to any structure, so it is aesthetically pleasing. Two is really all you need for a structure width of only six to eight feet.  The LED fixtures will have power cord on them.  This cord will connect to the wire and the connectors will pierce the wire to be powered.  The best part is that each LED is around 2W to 4W so you could hook up to 30 of these 2W LEDs to a 60W transformer.  Do you see the math? This is turning into an electronics training course now.

Outdoor kitchen with lighting refrigerator and bar
This DIY Tucson Grill design had lighting added around it for a finished look.

How Cheap is It Really?

If you were to add two LED lighting fixtures to a fireplace, you would be able to spend as little as $110.  Now that’s a bargain when you consider the look you’ll achieve.  I hope this post helped you understand how simple outdoor lighting is and how inexpensive the components are.  It’s really not that complicated.

Check out Backyard Flare, LLC to learn more about building your own DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen and peruse our gallery for great ideas in design.  See what other homeowners have done.

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  I am always excited to hear from a fellow DIYer, or someone wanting to learn more about how to beautify their backyard space.  I can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com and as I always say, “Happy Building”.

Dan

 

DIY Outdoor Fireplace Review (2) – AZ

Let’s Take a Trip to Visit a Gorgeous Outdoor Gas Fireplace

Hello all you DIY’ers and welcome to this edition of, “That Awesome DIY Fireplace” where we introduce a DIY homeowner, tell you what state they reside in, and show you how awesome they were at building their own outdoor fireplace.  We’re going to see a stunning outdoor gas fireplace in this article.

Introducing Our DIY Homeowner

We venture down the street and across the tracks from Backyard Flare headquarters to introduce homeowner Jim, who wanted a short in stature outdoor gas fireplace. Jim specifically wanted to burn natural gas.  Jim was restricted to natural gas and a short finished height by his homeowner’s association due to his home’s location on the golf course.  Jim’s backyard was on the 12th tee so there is quite a view.

Jim contacted Dan at Backyard Flare and explained his fireplace design and restrictions.  No sweat at all for the Backyard Flare team.  Dan did a couple site visits to Jim’s backyard and they came up with a plan of action. Dan was contracted to build the fireplace, but Jim was able to save a bit of money because he helped Dan through the process …and Jim learned a lot, very quickly.  It’s always a blast when homeowners can help because they learn and have a great sense of accomplishment.

Getting the Area Prepped

After the fireplace location and width was determined, a diamond blade was used to cut through the existing flagstone patio.  This area was excavated and framed for the concrete slab with rebar inside the pour.  An inexpensive Harbor Freight cement mixer was used which made this job relatively quick for two people.

saw cut flagstone concrete pad
Patio flagstone was cut to make way for the concrete slab.
wheelbarrow used to dump concrete slab rebar
Dan is using a wheelbarrow to dump concrete into the wood form for the concrete slab.

 

 

 

 

 

Once the concrete cured for a couple days, Dan and Jim started laying block in a running bond (staggered) pattern.

cinder block fireplace mortar DIY outdoor fireplace
The running bond pattern was used to build the structure.
diy outdoor fireplace with arched lintels
The firebox and storage voids were built with arched lintels made from concrete.

 

 

 

 

 

The firebox in the middle was sandwiched between two wood storage voids on either side.  An electrical line was routed through the blocks to install a 110v outlet. This outlet was used to plug in a power transformer for the structure and backyard ground low voltage lighting.

diy outdoor gas fireplace with stucco
The fireplace was covered in a stucco finish prior to the stone veneer being applied.
level measuring tape flagstone cutting with a diamond blade
A level was used as a straight edge to mark the cuts on the flagstone.

Lot’s of Finishing Options Were Added

When the structure block work was completed, firebrick was added to the inside of the firebox.

diy outdoor gas fireplace with flagstone and stucco golf course arizona
The flagstone was added to all horizontal surfaces of the fireplace.

The natural gas line was plumbed up the backside of the structure and a shutoff valve was added inline before it was installed into the back wall of the firebox.  This gas line stubbed out a few inches inside the lower right corner of the firebox.  Gas tubing was added to an H pipe and a few test burns were done before anything was solidified.

 

 

The wire for the structure lighting was routed to the front of the hearth and to the inside of the storage voids, figuring out where each light would be located.  The front face of the structure was adorned with a beautiful stacked stone, which was mortared in place.  The remainder of the structure was covered in a smooth coat troweled stucco, which was later painted.

Natural Stone Added So Much

The horizontal surfaces were covered in a gorgeous light tan flagstone which Dan and Jim cut with a chisel method for a rougher edge.  This was a bit time consuming and much slower than a saw cut front edge, but completely worth it in the end.

diy outdoor gas fireplace stacked stone golf course arizona
The finished fireplace sure makes a statement in this backyard.

With the leftover flagstone, Jim extended the flagstone patio to the far-right side of the structure and filled the joints with matching mortar.  After it was pressure washed, you can’t even tell where the old flagstone patio and the new came together. Totally amazing.

A vertical piece of flagstone was added to the front of the firebox after it was chiseled to resemble a mountain range in Jim’s home state of Colorado.  This piece of stone helped contain the local river rock that was added to the top of the H pipe.  This rock completely hid the pipe, making it look as if the flames “originated” from the rocks.

Tying the Structure to the House Decor

For continuity in the backyard, the fireplace stucco was painted to match the house.  New outdoor furniture was added to the patio and many nights have been spent eating, drinking, partying, and relaxing in the backyard.  So many golfers stopped to see the fireplace and to offer kind words, complementing Jim on his design.

With the ambiance of the lighting in the voids and quick start of the natural gas in the firebox, Jim and his wife have been able to say, “hey want to have a fire?”, and enjoy it in a matter of seconds.  Easy on and easy off is what Jim wanted and it turned out great.

diy outdoor gas fireplace stacked stone golf course arizona
This backyard was transformed with this fireplace overlooking the gorgeous golf course.

You Ready to Build One?

We sure hope you like it too, so let us know how this DIY fireplace inspired you?  Are you ready to build your masterpiece like Jim did?  Even though this outdoor gas fireplace included natural gas, low voltage lighting, and chiseled flagstone, it can all be done by you too.  If you have the DIY mindset, we can help you achieve greatness.  We have assisted hundreds of homeowners who are weekend DIY’ers, realize their potential to build fireplaces just like Jim’s.  You can do it too. Visit Backyard Flare for more information and DIY construction plans.

Thanks so much for reading about another great DIY outdoor gas fireplace build.   We’ll bring you more soon, and as always …happy building.