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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Why Aren't My Landscape Lights Working?

Like a car or a house, there is a certain amount of upkeep that is required to ensure that everything keeps running smoothly. Your low voltage outdoor lighting system is no different. Keeping up on your lighting system, assuring that it will continue to function beautifully, is simply a matter of preventative maintenance. 

After a system is installed, most people tend to forget about it. It softly fades into the background and provides beauty and function without overstepping itself. This is actually ideal and what we hope your lighting system does for you. 

What isn't good is when people completely forget that their lighting system is there until after it starts looking disheveled. The landscape is a moving living thing. The earth moves, roots grow, plants creep, etc. Overtime your system will begin to be effected by the surrounding vegetation, and that some of the ground lights have begun to look a bit crooked. These things are going to happen. However, they can be remedied.  


Servicing Your System Is A Must

Regularly servicing your outdoor lighting system is the key to avoiding the issues that Mother Nature will throw at it. This means going out into the landscape and servicing each individual light fixture as well as the system controls.  

Dealing With Vegetation

When decorative grass's, shrubs, pine branches, etc. start to grow over a fixture, the vegetation will need to be trimmed back, or the fixture will need to be relocated to a more ideal location. If issues of grow-over aren't resolved in some way, the fixtures will eventually become completely enveloped. 

Landscape lights aren't much use once they've been swallowed up by Mother Nature. 

Self Moving Fixtures

In the winter time, Utah's soil undergoes a number of transformations as it freezes and thaws. These repeating freeze and thaw cycles will eventually cause what's known as frost lift. You'll see path lights start to look a little off, and up lights starting to somehow lift themselves out of the ground (Exposing the ground stake).

While it might look like the fixtures are somehow moving themselves, the reality is that they are simply being effected by the conditions they are placed in. While fixtures built from quality components and sound engineering are built to exist and function beautifully in the outdoor environment, this doesn't mean they aren't still subject to the forces of nature. 

If this isn't addressed, the problem will persist and progressively get worse as time goes by. In time, every fixture will need to e individually placed back down into the ground and straightened. 


Keeping Controls On Line

Just like your car needs to have its oil changed to prevent the engine from overheating, so too does your landscape lighting's transformer need to have its terminal blocks tightened to prevent arcing and transformer failure. The transformer is where your home's 120v power is transformed into 12v. The transformer, the big metal box for the lights, is what does all the heavy lifting to ensure your lights are provide with power. A transformer problem means a problem for the entire system connected to it. 

The transformer itself is incredibly reliable, so long as it is maintained well. The terminal blocks inside the transformer need to be tightened and checked for voltage drops. 

The timer / controller inside the transformer needs to be checked as well. While there are some incredibly sophisticated control systems out there, none of them are maintenance free. Over the years, many will need to have their backup batteries replaced. 

In addition, programs sometimes get thrown off a little. After a year, they could only be off by as little as a few minutes. This might not seem like a big deal, but after a number of years those couple minutes can start to add up. Before you realize it, the lights are turning on 30 minutes before they are supposed to, or vice versa. The timer will need to be reprogrammed every so often to assure that the lights are coming on and turning off at a correct time.


Preventative Maintenance 

Every system will require a certain level of maintenance. There are a number of other things that will also need to be addressed in regularly maintaining a system, some more than others. Even with the best intentions, people tend to forget about their outdoor lights, until they stop working. Keeping up on this maintenance will be imperative to ensuring that your lighting system can continue to be something you don't have to spare ant thought about; you can just enjoy your evening.

For more information, questions or to get your lighting system service needs scheduled, give us a call at our office anytime (801)440-7647. Our business hours are: Monday - Friday 8 AM - 4 PM

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