Landscape Lighting EstimatesPosted on October 10, 2013
We get a lot of questions about why there is such a wide range of estimates for low voltage landscape lighting systems from one contractor to the next. There are several variables that influence the cost of a landscape lighting system. These include the quality and cost of the fixtures, amount and gauge of the electrical wire, type of connections used, type and quality of bulbs used [halogen or light-emitting diode (LED)], and quality of the installation itself.
Let’s start with the fixtures themselves. There are some very poorly constructed fixtures on the market that are not designed to last very long. We like to call them “builder grade.” These poor quality fixtures are a good way to bring down the cost to make estimates more appealing to the customer; however, these fixtures are installed in locations where they are subjected to the weather and get wet every time the sprinkler system operates. The inexpensive fixtures are usually constructed of composite materials and are not designed to be repaired; rather they are designed to be replaced, costing the customer more money. On the other hand, there are many well constructed, high-quality fixtures. They are constructed of a cast bronze or brass body. They also seal better, keeping the moisture out, which prolongs the life of the socket and the bulb. They also have replacement parts available and are designed to be repaired in the field.
The next crucial element of the landscape lighting system is the overall design. A properly designed system is going to use a significant amount more wire than most systems that are just thrown in by contractors who don’t have an understanding of electrical design. There is a lot more to it than just running a wire and attaching lights to it. When getting proposals for your landscape lighting system, and more importantly before you give a deposit for a new system, ask for a copy of the design as well as an electrical chart of the circuits. If your contractor cannot issue one or says that it is not important, we would recommend that you don’t issue a deposit and get another contractor. Down the road, if a system has been installed incorrectly, it is usually best and easiest to just start over from scratch. There are many contractors out there that are performing lighting work that have no business in doing so.
When it comes time to decide on a contractor for the installation of a landscape lighting system, be sure to ask them a lot of questions about the products they are using and how much will be used. Being able to compare apples to apples rather than lemons to apples will surely help you to make a better decision, and more importantly, to feel comfortable with that decision.
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