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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

The 3 Biggest Landscape Lighting Installation Mistakes


Landscape Lighting isn't a walk in the park. There are a lot of mistakes that can be made. Here are three of the biggest mistakes we see people make.

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1. Choosing the wrong fixture

Before any lights go in the ground, the first step is choosing a fixture. This preliminary decision will make or break a lighting system. The fixture needs to be built of strong durable material that  can stand up to the wear and tear of being outside in the elements. Just because a fixture looks like it's well-built doesn't always mean it is. Pay attention to materials used, this can be a good indicator of its quality. Sticking to solid copper and brass fixtures is a good rule of thumb. 

However, it's also important to consider a fixture's engineering. A fixture that isn't completely water tight will be susceptible to moisture and lead to problems down the road. The sockets, lamps, and internal wiring need to be protected and housed in such a way that they are sealed off from their surroundings. Too many times a fixture will be chosen from a big box store because it is inexpensive. The problem with buying these fixtures is that its plastic  casing and aluminum parts will break and cost more in the long run. 

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2. Not using the proper wire connections

When a lighting system fails, there is one thing you can expect to find-poor wire connections. Wire connections are the number one failure in most lighting systems. Having a strong dependable connection is important because the wire connections are the places in your lighting system that are the most susceptible to moisture. Moisture causes problems because it can lead to an arching electrical current that trips your system. Also, when moisture enters an insulated wire, it will become trapped there and won't be able to escape. This trapped moisture will begin to erode and break down the connections, and electrical current. 

Wire nuts and quick snap connections are affordable connections. However, the problem with these connections are that they aren't water tight. The other problem is that they aren't tight enough to hold themselves together and keep a strong connection. Even taping your wire nuts or quick snap connectors won't guarantee that the regular everyday moisture won't get in. Moisture is the enemy and will lead to problems in your lighting system. It's important to avoid moisture entering the system from the beginning, because moisture will directly impact your lighting system and become and endless ongoing problem. For a wire connection that will effectively protect your lighting system from unwanted moisture we strongly recommend using heat shrink connectors. This unique connection will keep moisture out where other connections simply can't. 

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3. Not designing with the lighting effect in mind

There are a lot of technical and mechanical mistakes that can be made when installing a lighting system. But it's important to understand that a system will fail, utterly, if it's goal isn't the effect the light will create. Designing landscape lighting requires the correct vision. A mistake many make is focusing on the lighting fixture, rather than the effect that fixture will produce. Even the highest quality fixtures with the best wire connections and components will be rendered useless if they aren't placed and aimed effectively. Not taking the light output and beam spread into account can greatly hinder the effect one may have been visualizing. When people design landscape lighting with fixtures, rather than with light in mind, it will result in an undesirable effect. 

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If you would like to avoid making these mistakes or would like 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 at 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 and Utah Counties. 

Free Landscape Lighting Design Guide