The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Installation: Don't Accidentally Create a Frankenstein Lighting System

What on earth is a Frankenstein landscape lighting system? I'm glad you asked!

A Frankenstein system is what we've cheekily nicknamed the low voltage landscape lighting systems we encounter that have been slapped together and somehow kept alive. 

Much like the origins of the monster from Mary Shelley's renowned novel, Frankenstein, these landscape lighting systems are often the result of a mad scientist (a handyman or DIY homeowner) experimenting with how to reanimate a human body (a low voltage lighting system). 


Its alive?

Are these slapped together systems still alive and working? Can they be resuscitated if they stop working? Yes! But whats the point of an outdoor lighting system that will always require constant attention? The point of a lighting system is to enjoy the lights and not have to worry whether the system is going to give you grief every night.

Before we start, lets get one thing clear: a Frankenstein lighting system is rarely a misunderstood creature like the one in Shelly's book. A little TLC isn't going to bring them back to life when they stop working and need repairs. 

These systems are often riddled with integral operating issues and tend to experience lots of failures and require frequent upkeep and repair. The system always seems to be having another issue that needs to be dealt with.

A Frankenstein system is rarely well thought out with a plan for how the system will be designed, engineered, installed, or maintained.

When we talk about Frankenstein lighting, we're talking about some scary lighting.

Here is an example

To Illustrate my point, let me share a quick story. A few years ago we met with a client who hired a handy man to install her lighting system. She called us to come take a look at her system because it had stopped working and the original installer couldn't be found. During our system evaluation, we quickly discovered that every single wire connection was being held together with nothing but plastic grocery bags and duct tape. It bears repeating: plastic bags, and duct tape...

click here to learn more about why a lighting system might fail.


Every so often we'll meet one of these monsters and have to help a client combat it. Some systems are less scary to try and fix than others. But they all still beg the question: can a Frankenstein lighting system be saved? 

Can a Frankenstein system be saved?

This existential question concerning identity and self is at the heart of Shelley's novel. Can Frankenstein's monster be saved? Does his creation and self awakening liken back to Plato's "Allegory of the cave"? Could we further argue that the monster, like Prometheus, was both enlightened and corrupted by the fire: the light? 

Luckily for us, we aren't here to delve into the dark side of literary theory and discuss the finer points of romantic British literature in relation to ancient Greek philosophy and myth!


Sadly, more often than not, there isn't a lot we can do for a failed lighting system.

I'm not saying we wouldn't be able to restore a Frankenstein lighting system and get it working again.

I've yet to see a lighting system our company can't fix. The real question is whether or not a disheveled and broken lighting system is going to be worth fixing for you as a homeowner.


It usually ends up costing a lot of money to get an old broken system working again. Non of the work will be warrantied either if the company performing the work didn't install the system originally. In addition, there is a good chance the system is going to continue failing and may even experience worse problems down the road. 

Repairing a broken lighting system that has never worked right doesn't make a lot of sense. Its like putting band aids on bullet holes. 

As a homeowner, you'll end up spending a lot of money to have it repaired and at the end of the day you'll still be stuck with an old broken lighting system that you'll never really be happy with. You'll be especially unhappy when you have to continually call a professional back to keep fixing each new problem as they arise.

How do I avoid a Frankenstein  lighting system?

The best way to avoid a Frankenstein lighting system is to hire a professional landscape lighting company to install a quality system. If you want an outdoor lighting system that doesn't give you heartburn and will perform the way its intended, hire someone who is specialized in outdoor lighting. 

Who do I hire?

If you're located in Utah and have an upcoming lighting project, call us at (801)440-7647 to schedule a free consultation!

If you want to educate yourself about landscape lighting companies so you can choose a company who is the right fit for you, check out our free hiring guide!




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