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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Why Do Outdoor Rated Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Fixtures Break?

Not all outdoor rated landscape lighting fixtures are created equal. Why? Not all outdoor rated  fixtures are built to withstand the outdoor environment. Let us try and answer the question: Why do outdoor rated landscape lighting fixtures break?

The simple truth is that we've been at this for a long time: our company has specialized in designing and installing bespoke outdoor lighting systems for over fifteen years. In that time, we've seen how outdoor lighting products, both professional quality and otherwise, perform when put in real world situations.

The sad truth we've learned through years of experience is just because something says outdoor rated doesn't mean it's suited to last for the long term.

There are far more products available that quickly fail than those that are built to last a lifetime. 

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference in these fixtures is to look at three key things:

  • Weight
  • Engineering
  • Price 

These three points can be useful for deducing the true quality of an outdoor fixture. Don't trust that it is quality just because the website says high quality outdoor lighting at low prices. After all, since when has anything considered high quality come at a low price?



High quality outdoor fixtures will be built from copper, brass, or stainless steel. These non-ferrous metals are extremely resistant to corrosion. Simply put, they do not corrode.

Well, ''couldn't I just look at copper, brass, or stainless steel fixtures?

The reason I bring up weight as an indication of quality, rather than simply to look at the material the fixture is constructed from, is because there are plenty of copper and brass fixtures on the market that just don't hold up. When the fixture's metal is thin and flimsy, it won't last. Artemis Fixture

The density and thickness of a high quality fixture is going to be apparent when you pick it up. if it feels heavy when you pick it up, then you can be sure that it will stand up to possible damage down the road. 

Ask yourself when your holding the fixture, will this hold up if it is struck by a snow shovel when I'm shoveling the driveway? Will this fixture still be standing if a stray soccer ball comes in contact with it? If you're not sure, if it isn't apparent that the fixture will be able to take a hit, then you have your answer. Trust me, your outdoor lights are going to have to stand up to a lot more than you might realize. 



The way an outdoor fixture is engineered will tell you a lot about how it will perform once it's placed in a real world situation. 

For example, how water tight is the fixture? The electrical components in a low voltage lighting system need to be kept dry. If they come in contact with water, they can be damaged.

There are two things that can damage an LED bulb: moisture and temperature. Ask yourself, how is the fixture built to combat these two things? Residential-Security-Lighting-Salt-Lake-City-Utah-14

  • Moisture

All outdoor fixtures will come into contact with moisture. Remember, moisture isn't just caused by weather. Your irrigation system will bring your fixtures into contact with a lot of water.

Are the fixtures built to keep out moisture? Look at your path light, is the socket where the bulb plugs in to the fixture enclosed? If there is an opening where a fixture isn't protected, water will find its way in. 

  • Temperature

How will your fixture handle temperature fluctuation? Heat will damage an LED bulb quickly. Heat dissipation is critical. Look at how the fixture has been engineered to dissipate heat. 

Also, how will the fixture handle temperature fluctuation? It gets cold too. If moisture finds its way into a fixture, ice becomes a potential threat as well. Freeze-thaw cycles can damage an ill equipped fixture.



Quality outdoor rated low voltage landscape lighting fixtures come at a higher price point. Just like most anything else in life, the simple truth is that you can't have high quality at a low price point. This is why getting your hands on a fixture is so important. 

You can hold a fixture in your hands to feel its weight and take it apart to look at how its been engineering to assess its quality. When you hold a quality fixture that is built to last and you can see how well its been engineered, you can understand why its price point is higher. 

Quality outdoor rated LED landscape lighting fixtures that are built to last well beyond their warranty come at a higher price point. Burton-134-HDR_B

Why purchase a quality brass or copper fixture at a higher price point over the cheaper composite ones available? It's an easy answer to give. The cheap fixtures will not last. 


We Know Because We've Seen it First Hand

We've consulted with countless people across the Wasatch Front who have old landscape lighting systems that there landscaper installed only a few years prior. These fixtures have usually failed and continue to fail despite the home owners best efforts to keep them working. 

We've been to homes where the fixtures are broken, cracked, corroded, filled with water. There are broken ground stakes and fixtures laying on their sides. Sometimes these fixtures are glued or taped back together in a last ditch effort to keep them operational. Wire runs are often damaged, not functioning, and in need of repair work. 

When we visit homes with lighting systems like this, the homeowner will usually tell us that they just want to get there lights working again. We have to be the ones to tell them that repairing their system isn't going to fix the problems they've had with it. If we repair their system for them, we'd essentially be sticking band aids over bullet holes. They will probably be offended by the bill, and we wouldn't be able to warranty their system after we've worked on it.                                  (Since it isn't a lighting system we installed)


The relationship between us and the homeowner will most likely end with us both feeling frustrated.

I know hindsight is 20/20, but when a lighting system is constructed with fixtures that aren't built to last, they won't.  This is why it's so important that if you are getting ready to begin an outdoor landscape lighting project, you take your time and choose a product that isn't just outdoor rated. Be sure to choose a product that will last. 

If you're not sure where to start, consider contacting your local outdoor lighting designer. They can show you first hand what a heavy duty fixture feels like so you can see the difference for yourself. 



Landscape Lighting Makes All The Difference

At Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah, the art of outdoor illumination is a real passion we work to perfect. Designing elegantly bespoke landscape lighting systems is simply all we do. For over 15 years, our award winning team of designers and craftsmen have striven to bring the best outdoor lighting experience possible to people's homes and businesses across the Wasatch Front and beyond. 

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis, and Utah Counties.

If you have an upcoming project you'd like help with, call (801)440-7647 for more information, schedule a free consultation, or feel free to simply fill out a contact form on our website, www.utahlights.com 

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