No Compromises, It’s Done Right or We Won’t Do It At All.

Gambino Landscape Lighting: No Compromises, It’s done Right or We won’t Do it at all

By Mike Gambino

I have been perusing the web as I do from to time looking at photos of other landscape lighting companies designs in all parts of the United States. I have found some really nice projects by known providers of quality designs, installation techniques and products. There are a handful of consistent performers who can be relied upon to deliver a good system year in and year out, job after job, not sporadically but with every project that they take on. I include my company , Gambino Landscape Lighting, amongst this elite group of consistently high performers.

On the other hand and even more prevalent are the cringe worthy very poor representations of our industry as a whole in regards to design principles, product choice and install techniques all over the web. I am going to take the high road and not going to focus on them, but instead focus on the high performers and what makes them high performers and what are the cornerstones of their success.

Higher Standards- Having the ability to stay ahead of the latest trends in lighting designs and being able to recognize quality products built to perform and last the extreme environments that outdoor lighting products are subjected to. Products that are subject to not only weather but continuous exposure to GARDENERS (the number 1 threat to lighting equipment in the garden). Product choice is a direct reflection on the experience and values of the landscape lighting system provider. High performers know which products are best for each situation and know that when the product fails so does the company. You know what they say that you are only as strong as your weakest link.

Quality in every aspect of their existence- From the professional way they present themselves and their projects to the vehicles they put on the road and the uniformed well trained, respectful and neatly groomed technicians they send out into the field. They know that photographs are a direct representation of their work and it must be high quality. Nighttime Photography is such an important part of conveying the message of what we represent and what we do that it has become crucial in today’s marketplace that it is absolutely done right. There is no excuse for poor cell phone or cheap digital camera low resolution, blurry photos. If a company cannot produce crisp, clear, high resolution, color saturated photos of their actual projects in house then a pro photographer is brought in.

Attention to details- When looking at completed projects that are pleasing to the eye whether live on site or from photos in a book or on the web it may not always be known to the viewer what makes these projects look better than others. But usually it is not difficult to see these distinctively superior designs and differences which include:

Proper light levels- with varying levels of light with no “hot spots” of light and no highly contrasting ” dark holes” both of which can be highly distracting and destroy an otherwise pleasing scene. The eye is effortlessly guided to focus on special areas of interest such as specimen trees, statues, water features or whatever else is especially pleasing on the site. The eye is also drawn away from not so “pretty” aspects of the garden like utility areas, trash cans, a/c compressor units, pool equipment etc.

Equipment specification, location and placement-“See the effect” and not the source. This means managing and minimizing offensive glare from most viewing angles at the very least primary viewing angles. Glare, that is bright intense light that is visible and emitting from a fixture lens can be effectively mitigated by using natural amenities on site to obscure them like boulders, bushes, walls, barriers etc. Or by using fixtures recessed in the earth or concrete. Another way is with optional long shields or baffles on above ground adjustable bullet type fixtures or down lights on surfaces or in trees that help conceal the source from where the light is coming from. The most pleasing projects do a good job of hiding the fixtures during the day and also the origination of the light sources at night.

Accepting projects where they can make the biggest impact and Turning down clients/projects that don’t fit- High Performers are very selective about the projects and for which clients they accept work from. Project suitability is determined primarily by owners budget and values. Types of questions high performers will examine- Will they respect us as an experienced professional and value our design style and will they give us the creative control with the ability to perform at our highest level? Are they decisive in telling us their specific likes and dislikes, their vision for what they want to achieve with the lighting and why they want the lighting. Do they value a seasoned experienced design build landscape lighting specialist and what they can bring to the project? Does the prospect want us ro lower our standards to a point where we are not comfortable putting our name on the job? Is this a project that will bring us more projects of this type or clients that we want to work with? Does the site show well during the day with potential to be showcased at even better at night in the proper light?

On the other hand Does the client have the financial wherewithal and be willing and motivated to devote the appropriate budget to do justice to the property with light? Will the client micromanage the project and dictate placements without regard for optimum effect? Recommend or insist on schemes that are inappropriate and do not fit with the property and will not work for non valid or reasons unknown? Are they difficult to reach and communicate with? Is their temperament going to conflict with yours making you not a good fit to work together?

These are all observations and considerations that a successful professional landscape lighting designer builder must weigh before accepting a project.

Designing and building a fabulous landscape lighting system is a collaborative effort between property owner and professional. When most of the previously mentioned elements listed in the body of this article are present this makes for a recipe for a fantastic end landscape lighting system result.

Interesting side note: A few days after I wrote this blog a colleague in an unrelated conversation said to me- “It’s really easy to see who  really cares and is doing things right and who isn’t and doesn’t care”.  Meaning design build professionals judging others work which I agreed to. Unfortunately the untrained eye of the general public doesn’t find it as easy.

This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 27 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.

LED Lamp Replacement in a Rapidly Evolving Industry

Replacing “light bulbs”, or lamps as we call them in the industry, used to be a simple task. You would look at the wattage and beam angle and replace it with something similar regardless of the brand. For example, if the lamp was a GE MR16 20-watt 36-degree, you could replace the lamp with an Ushio, Sylvania, Phillips, GE or any generic 20-watt 36-degree halogen lamp, and the light output would be like the other lamps in the systems. With LED lamps, this is no longer the case!

If an LED lamp fails, there are three critical specifications that must be considered: beam angle, color temperature, and lumen output. Beam angle refers to the width of the light output emitted from the lamp; a 90° beam angle is ¼ of a pie slice and a 30° is 1/12 of pie slice. Color temperature refers to the color of the light which can typically range of 2200K to 6000K. The lower the number the more yellow the light will appear, and the higher the number the cleaner crisp white/blue. See the color temperature (Kelvin) chart below for reference:

Kelvin Chart BIGGER

Historically we correlated a lamp’s light output with the wattage rating. We all know how much brighter a 100W light bulb is than a 60W light bulb. With LED lamps the amount of light output is measured in lumens. LED technology is rapidly progressing, and LEDs are becoming more and more energy efficient. Three years ago, a 7W LED might emit 350 lumens (50 lumens/watt). Today a 7W LED can produce up to 875 lumens or more (125 lumens+/watt)!

So, what does all this mean? If you have an LED lamp fail in your landscape lighting system, it’s pertinent that you replace the defective lamp with a similar color temperature, beam angle, and lumen output. Don’t ignore the wattage rating of the lamp that has failed but use it to find the manufacturer’s lumen output rating for the lamp. If you don’t follow these guidelines, your landscape and architectural lighting will not look the same.

For example – Just last week a contractor returned a defective Brilliance LED MR16 for replacement to out supplier. The lamp was 4th Generation 5W, 60°, 2700K MR16. This lamp uses 5 watts of energy and emits 2700K light in a 60° pattern. But more importantly, this lamp emits 320 lumens. This information can be found on the Brilliance LED specification sheets. Brilliance LED Gen 4 lamps are now obsolete, so to provide the customer with a similar “lighting effect” we had to find the right replacement.

The Brilliance LED Gen 5 lamps, released in January 2018, have different lumen outputs than their Gen 4 predecessors. The proper replacement for the defective lamp should be 60°, 2700K, and close to 320 lumens. In this case, we replaced the 5W Gen 4 with a 4W Gen 5 MR16, which is 325 lumens almost the exact same!

So, remember that when replacing a defective lamp in your LED lighting system you have to match the beam angle, color temperature, and light output (lumens). You can typically find the lumen output of the defective lamp on the manufacturer’s website. If you can’t find the lumen output of the defective lamp, you can test the output of a working lamp on the system using a lumen meter to ensure proper replacement.

The key here is that there is much more that goes into changing an LED bulb than a halogen and using a professional will ensure that this is done correctly and keep your system looking its best.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

This summer our Owner and Office Manager, Callie Kuehler, was selected to be part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at HCC. This program provides small business with the tools to grow their business, and by the end of the Cohort you have a growth plan and pitch ready to take your business to that next level that you want. Callie was part of Cohort 19 and completed the program in August. We are all very proud of her here at Light It Right and we are excited to see where our business goes next. Please see the press release to learn more about this wonderful program. And if you are a small business and would like to interview for future Cohorts please reach out and we will go over the program with you and be happy to recommend you.

Press Release for Cohort 19 completion:

Small business owners complete Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC

Historic New Ulm Home Design and Install By Light It Right

Light It Right completed a lighting design and install on an amazing historic home in New Ulm, TX. The home was moved to the property situated near a beautiful lake. Along with the house sits a Gazebo, Outdoor Kitchen and a very unique Oil Derrick Splash Pad.


Light It Right in the Top 100

Light It Right was awarded as part of the Top 100 Lighting Blogs. We are very honored to be among some other great companies out there.

The criteria used to rank other companies around the country was:

  • Google reputation and Google search ranking
  • Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
  • Quality and consistency of posts.
  • Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Thank you to all our clients for liking us on FaceBook and other sites so that we were noticed by Feedspot.

Transformer Installation – How It Should Be Done

Transformer Installed by the Other guys vs. Transformer Installed by Light It Right. The details really do matter, as you can see we ensure the runs and cables from your system back to the transformer are in conduit and not left exposed to the elements or being damaged by someone, we also make sure there is no extra slack from the transformer to the outlet leaving it looked unfinished and as an afterthought – the transformer is the life center of your system, it needs the same love and attention the rest of your lighting gets. This is just one way that Light It Right goes above and beyond in our lighting installations and service.




Current Light It Right Project in Tomball

Light It Right has been honored to have our design, custom created by our own Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer, Brandon Kuehler, COLD, selected to enhance the look of this beautiful residential project that is featured on the ASID home tour this summer. Here are some pictures of some of the hardscape lights that have been installed for the front steps. If you are in the area July 7th-31 please stop by and see the final product.

Difference in LED Color Temperatures and Uses


LEDs come in a variety of color temperatures which gives us as installers more flexibility over old halogen bulbs when it comes to designing your lighting system.

The most common LED color you see and we use is 2700K (L) – gives that same glow of the old halogen bulbs. We use this color temperature on houses, stonework, fountains, fire pits, etc.

For greenery we like to use 3000K (M) – it is a little brighter than 2700K. The 3000K tends to bring the color of the greenery out and really highlight its natural beauty.

The LED on the Right is the 5700K or the “Blue” LED. When people think of LED this is the color they picture with LED bulbs since when LEDs first came out this was the color they were, and the only color available. If we use a 5700K it is on Modern style homes, Putting Greens, Basketball goals or other task related areas.

LEDs have come a long way since they came to market and has made it possible for us to customize our customers systems more to their personal tastes than ever before.

Owner Brandon Completes COLD

At this year’s Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals annual conference Brandon received his Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer Certification – Brandon was 1 of 5 that complete the program this year. This certification was a 4 year program where Brandon had to complete multiple projects for each year and ended with a large final project which consisted of mapping out from start to finish one of our installations. Brandon selected our largest project to date for his final project…all 500 lights were labeled by brand, style, bulb, beam spread, temperature used and all the wiring and runs drawn out.

The goal of the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals is to bring awareness to what we as lighting professionals do. We are low voltage lightning EXPERTS – we do nothing else, we don’t mow your lawn, clean your pool and do lighting on the side – lighting is our passion and our 100% focus, not an after thought. Members of AOLP are the best of the best in the industry and are working to set quality standards to be followed by all so customers, like you, receive the best quality out there and not get taken by a fly by night contractors with the lowest price and the lowest quality – its the age old adage, you get what you pay for, and this is giving people like Light It Right a bad reputation. When one guy is out there doing poor work it reflects on the industry, which is why people like Brandon and others in AOLP are working to stop this practice and educate the public about what proper lighting is and how it should be installed. If you are getting quotes start asking are you a member of AOLP? Are you certified either CLVLT or COLD? It is easy to verify if there are or not, just click here.

All of us at Light It Right Congratulate Brandon on this achievement! With the skills he developed on this final project Light It Right is looking at a new service to provide our customers. More will come once we work the details out.

Thank you to all of our wonderful customers for your continued support

Living Magazine Feature

              Light It Right has been featured in Living Magazine’s Katy/Fulshear Edition. This months edition is the                                               Special Home & Garden Issue so check it out today to learn about us. how we became who we                                                      are, and what we can do for you. Before you know it Spring will be here which means time to                                spruce up the outside!

                   If you like what you see please VOTE for us as Readers’ Choice as well!