It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry Landscaper out there says they can do outdoor lighting – well some can, but most can't. Some of the lower quality lighting fixtures are sold at the same supply houses landscapers get all their supplies at and at check-out they will be asked “Would you like to try lighting?” and then sold a bucket of lights to “install”. This would be the last person to have install a lighting system – no education, training, certification – nothing! The last thing you want after making an investment in your lighting system is for it to crumble in your hands! So when you are starting your lighting journey do your homework just like you would when buying a new car our house.
A Few things to Keep In Mind:
- There are some really beautiful lighting jobs around the country and the certified designers who designed these systems showcase them in the photos that are professionally shot, but they are also widely stollen and others pass them off as their own work. If you are shown photos as examples of the body of work that designer can do, ask them "What fixtures did you use?", "What bulbs where used?" "How long did that take to install?" - if that person is not able to tell you anything, gets defensive, or you don' think the area looks like where you live, then those photos were most likely stollen from someone else and not really done by that designer. Lighting can add great beauty to your home when done right by a professional, but when it can also go very wrong when an amateur gets involved.
- It is also so important to really quiz the person meeting with you on their products, the warranty they carry, and how the lighting installation is completed – you have every right to ask all these questions and they should have the answer – if the person meeting with you can’t answer even the most basic questions about what they are selling its time to move to the next one. A true certified lighting designer is going to use only those products that they know will meet their high expectations and hold warranties that stand up to that. At Light It Right personally we only uses fixtures with Lifetime Warranties on them - that way we know if there are "duds" in a batch that our customers will be covered.
- Always remember "You get what you paid for" - so if you have decided to get more then one quote you will have quotes all over the price spectrum. This should demonstrate to you just how different lighting is and the difference between professional levels. The lowest option is usually not your best option, if you have one quote for $1000 and another for $5000 - why is the person at $1000 so much lower, there is usually a reason for that and an indicator to stay clear of that option. You should be looking at a lighting system as a quality vs quantity item - you can always add on as you go so select quality every time and start off on the right foot, or you may be redoing the whole thing over again.
- NOT ALL LIGHTING SYSTEMS ARE THE SAME. You will not get an exact same quote from anyone. Even if you think they are quoting the exact same thing, guaranteed the quotes are different. Sure there may be the same number of lights, but the fixtures, bulbs, locations, design aspects are most likely completely different. This is one thing you CANNOT compare as apples to apples to decide which quote to go with. You have to look at the design proposed and if it is what you are looking for, as well as if you like the person you met with - if you don't like them then there is no way that install will go well.
- Is the designer you are meeting with listening to your needs? Sure designers know how to design, that is not the question here, are they listening to you and your wants? Make sure you get what you want, after all this is your house. If there are specific areas you want illuminated or don't want lit up, speak up! A true professional designer will listen to you, make suggestions if they feel a slight change would make you happier, or note down your requests and then design around that - they won't design exactly what you said you did NOT want.
There are companies and designers around the country that are certified to do outdoor lighting. You can visit the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professional’s website as a resource and find either a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician and/or a Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer in your area.These professionals have spent year’s and countless hours mastering their trade and learning the proper techniques of installation. If someone is claiming to be Certified through AOLP you can also verify their certification and ensure they are truly a professional.
This blog is published by Brandon Kuehler of Kuehler Enterprises Inc. dba Light It Right. all rights reserved.
Brandon is a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician and Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer and has been designing and installing lighting systems for over20 years.