There are numerous design aspects to consider when undertaking and designing a landscape design from scratch, lighting being one of them.
When working on a new (or refreshed) landscape design it is understandable that for you, the landscape architect or designer, the landscape and planting is number 1. After all, the landscape and plants are your specialty. So when it comes to the landscape lighting, use a lighting professional to design your lighting plan - allow that part to be taken off your plate.
For those homeowners who are taking on this project yourself, we recommend that you do not use your landscaper who mows your yard every week or the one who does your seasonal color. Often times they really do not know how to create a professional lighting plan correctly, and you will be the one who pays dearly.
Yes, landscape architects and designers are incredibly knowledgeable about all things landscape design, there is no debating that. However, when it comes to the landscape lighting, the one aspect that will make their hard work shine at night, their plans tend to fall short. Not by the fault of the designer, they are not a lighting expert. One only knows what they do best, as lighting designers we would never attempt to create a landscape design, so it should not be expected for you to create a lighting design.
A lighting expert will be able to take the landscape plan or blueprint and construct an amazing lighting design that will accentuate every aspect of the plan - often times even include ideas that you may not have even thought of. Those who are Certified Outdoor Lighting Designers have an increased education in outdoor lighting. Not only can they design an amazing plan, they also are able to place lighting in areas others cannot, or would not have thought of (like a basketball goal or driveway) - not all lighting designers are equal, look for those with COLD (Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer) after their names. When you see COLD after a lighting designers name you can rest easy knowing that designer has spent years perfecting his/her craft . There are not many COLD designers in the country, however they are the cream of the crop.
When you hire a lighting expert to create your dream lighting plan, you will receive the highest quality products on the market. Certified Outdoor Lighting Designers have access to lighting products that a landscaper or a weekend warrior will not. A lighting designer will have the ability to have fixtures custom designed to their exact specifications when needed.
Quality is the number 1 area that clients and designers end up losing money - going for that lowest bid. Low price is not better, most of the time the cost may be less up front, however you will pay more, over and over, in the long run. When it comes to home improvements, feeling like you got a "deal" should not be the end goal - feeling like you got the "best" should be.
"It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.” - John Ruskin
In the last 5 years there have been more people entering the lighting world - this is in part to LEDs finally becoming reliable. Simple LED lighting systems are easier to install than the halogen systems were. There was a lot more math involved with the old halogen systems since runs can only have so much power on them and transformers should only have 80% load, etc. (a lot of technical jargon really).
Lighting experts have the proper training and education (look for Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technicians) to correctly install an outdoor lighting system. Yes, your landscaper will say "Oh, I can do that too, I'll do it next time I'm doing your yard." More times than not, that person will then either go 1 of 2 places - a Big Box Store and buy your lights off the shelf (the DIY kind), or to a supply house and guess at what they need. Well, now he is going to install said "professional" lighting system and has no idea what he is doing. He runs the wire and uses the wrong connections, balances out the system incorrectly, looks at the transformer like it's an alien from another planet.
Now you have a lighting system, but do you really? Nothing has been installed correctly, the fixtures look cheap and haphazardly placed, no real thought went into placement. If something breaks will he be able to fix it? 9 times out of 10 the answer is no and you end up calling an expert like Light It Right to make repairs, and most of the time our solution is.... rip it out and start over. Technique is a large quality issue, you did not receive the quality you were expecting.
"Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort" - John Ruskin
Lighting experts posses the skills required to properly install outdoor lighting and use the correct tools need to create a successful design. Even better - a lighting expert can create designs and systems that no one else could dream of - only because they have taken the required time and effort to learn their trade (they are also nerds when it comes to lights).
When Bad Lighting Happens to Good People
In our over 15 years in the lighting industry we have seen it all! We hate to see bad lighting happen to good people, it is a terrible feeling having to tell someone to rip out something they spent their hard earned money on, but it happens all the time.
In our years we have seen:
- Transformers plugged into AC units (this has caused fires)
- Extension Cords with wire "Plugged" into the Prongs
- Indoor Wire Nuts Used Outdoors
- Tape Used to Connect Wire
- Tape to hold Fixtures together
- Wire Run on top of the Grass
Wire Connected to Extension Cord Improper Transformer Installation
These are just a few examples of what we have experienced. None of the above situations should be happening - they are not only against any code, they are dangerous. Low Voltage lighting, like most outdoor lighting, is relatively safe, however when installed incorrectly things can go wrong, very quickly.
Remember, always use a lighting expert when it comes to your outdoor lighting needs. Allow us to create the ultimate lighting design for your landscape design. We guarantee your landscape will outshine everyone else on the block!
Locate a Lighting Expert in Your Area: Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals