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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Hiring for Landscape Lighting: The Sad Truth About an Unmatched Industry

Outdoor lighting brings elegance & tranquility to our outdoor living spaces. One of the most beautiful things about landscape lighting is how effortlessly it can be enjoyed. 

Once your landscape lighting is installed, you really don't need to know everything about how it functions or operates. While building, designing, and repairing a lighting system requires training and technical know how , owning and enjoying a lighting system is a breeze. 

It's supposed to be effortless, at any rate. 

Yet, not everyone has the same experience with their "professionally installed" landscape lighting. Sometimes it isn't easy for everyone to enjoy. 

The inexpensively thrown together system, with low quality fixtures and bad lighting designs will fail. Yet, fixtures falling apart and poor designs aren't what make landscape lighting so difficult for homeowners.   

 

The Sad Truth About Landscape Lighting

The sad truth about landscape lighting has nothing to do with the sub-par fixtures or bad lighting designs we've seen. The sad truth is that not just anybody can install landscape lighting at a professional level. 

There is this perpetuated thinking that anyone with a truck and a shovel who attended a 1 hour seminar at the local irrigation supply house can install a landscape lighting system at the same level as a professional lighting design build company. In our experience, repairing and removing old deteriorated systems, this thinking couldn't be further from the truth. 

This thinking falls so short of the truth it's painful. While we've seen countless examples of bad lighting, there are two examples that really do demonstrate this point well: 

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1. The Duct Tape Disaster

Last summer a customer called requesting someone to come out and evaluate why her lighting system had stopped working. It was a small system in her front yard with maybe 10 lights. She couldn't understand why the lights she paid a lot of money for weren't working. 

She insisted that it was installed by a professional a year ago, but we just couldn't see how. None of the wire was buried, all the connections were put together with duct tape                 (seriously.... duct tape), and many of the fixtures were also placed in precarious places.               It hurt to hear how much she paid for it. Especially when the products were purchased online from a non-trusted source. 

After inquiring more, we learned that the system had been put in by a handyman who wouldn't return her calls about the issues she was experiencing.  

We provided her with a new system that included a lifetime warranty. 

Our client was grateful to have a working system again and to have it done right. It was just unfortunate to see how she had been taken advantage of with her first system. 

 

2. The Endless Repairs

We recently replaced an old system for a client with a brand new one. He was happy with our work and with the design, but that didn't make hearing his story about his previous system less distressing. 

His older lighting system was an additional package added on by his landscape contractor. The work this contractor did on the landscape and hardscape was phenomenal, so we were a little confused why the lighting was having so many issues? Perhaps it was one of the first systems they ever put in: who knows? 

 

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After the installation system was an additional of this first system, the homeowner explained that on four separate occasions, he had hired different companies to come work on getting the lights working. They just kept experiencing problems and could never really seem to provide a permanent solution. That's when he asked us to come evaluate it.  

We educated him that issues the system was experiencing were too integral to keep patching up. Rather than continue to cover up the symptoms, we need to address the real issues. 

The system had broken fixtures, frayed and exposed wire, corroded sockets, bad connections, and a transformer with a shorted terminal block. It would take a lot of work, and a lot of money, to repair this system to not have any warranty or guarantee that it would still work six months from now. 

Explaining that the best option would be to simply start over. He had us put together a new design & new system. Not only did this client love his new landscape lighting system, so did his neighbors. We ended up providing two of his neighbors with new lighting systems as well. 

Why do People Not Understand the Difference? 

It really isn't anyone's fault when a system begins to experience some problems. Even our systems require maintenance issues from time to time. That's the whole reason we have a service team dedicated to taking care of our existing systems. It's also why we have maintenance plans that help ensure our systems will continue working as smoothly as the day it was installed. 

What's surprising to us is how few companies see the lighting systems they install as their responsibility. Some see the systems they install as their client's problem after they've walked away with a check in their hand. 

 

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After everything is said and done, we are here to take care of our clients.  We see a system issue as our problem, not our client's. It's out system, our reputation, our customer. 

It's unfortunate that people don't always recognize the difference between working with a professional and hiring just anyone. But we hope people will start recognizing the contrast and spread the word. We need to change this mentality. 

Honestly, I wish there were more companies out there with the right mentality, we'd all just have to step up on our dedication to our designs and our customers that much more. 

To learn more about how to light your outdoor living space, call us at (801)440-7647 to schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website, www.utahlights.com 

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah serves throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City,  Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties. Our outdoor lighting portfolio  including projects throughout Utah & beyond. 

Free Landscape Lighting Design Guide  Click HERE to have our office contact you for service.

Landscape Lighting Installation | Landscape Lighting Design | Landscape Lighting Maintenance | Hiring a Lighting Professional