11 Jan How Much Does it Cost to Design and Build a Low Voltage LED Landscape Lighting System in Los Angeles in 2019?
By Mike Gambino
Everyone asks how much does it cost to Design and build a Low Voltage LED Landscape Lighting Project on my Property? What is the real cost of Landscape Lighting? What is a reasonable price to pay? Can you separate out the Parts and Labor?
Most people believe that landscape Lighting Systems are all the same and there is a per fixture price that everyone should charge. This is just not so as there are different levels of build quality which factor into the cost of a custom landscape lighting system.
Every location has different factors that go into the cost of Designing and building a landscape lighting system. Here in the Los Angeles area of southern California, our average project is $30,000, but we build systems that are much more than $100,000 every year and some for as low as $10,000. We also come across newer lighting systems on high-end properties that were built by other builders with problems that cannot be fixed. We typically have to put those systems in recycle cans and haul them away so that we can design and build the client a proper high performance landscape lighting system that lasts. This is the danger of hiring “Low Price Leaders”. Wishful thinking will not get you a long-lasting high performing landscape lighting system. Working with a low-cost system builder is gambling. Save the gambling for a trip to Las Vegas as you will at least have an enjoyable vacation while losing your hard earned money.
3 Factors that Affect the Price to Build a Landscape Lighting System
1- Who is Designing and building? There are Designer builders out there that have been making the same mistakes for 30 years. They leave a trail of unhappy homeowners behind with a nice low average per fixture price for their system. There are many rookie builders that mean well but lack the experience to put together a long-lasting system. They are building low-cost systems to gain the experience. There are average electricians that may have decades of experience indoors, but really lack experience building for the outdoors. 10 years of building experience will sound impressive, but when the system fail after 3 years, you will wish you had asked other questions. The best would be, can I see a 5-year-old landscape lighting system that you built? You will also find experienced landscape lighting designer builders that can give you many references on the spot, with thousands of successful systems and happy clients behind them. If something goes wrong with their systems, they go back and fix them. The premium average cost per fixture may be alarming if you are expecting prices from the occasional non specialized tradesperson or online pie in the sky low price quotes you found published by those who never built a quality high end system in their life.
2- What materials will be used? Aluminum, composite and steel fixtures will be the lowest price. Copper, Cast brass or bronze can add 300% more in materials cost to build. Brass and Copper is generally available in levels of quality and they vary greatly in quality and cost. Thick gauge stainless steel, Brass, Copper and Bronze casted from a mold are the top end of the spectrum and will cost more than thinner stamped or rolled sheet metal versions of these same materials.
3-What will Maintenance and Life Expectancy Be? When you use the best materials and put it on a standard direct bury cable infrastructure without installing it inside of rigid electrical conduit pipe for protection, like most builders do , you will have very expensive materials very susceptible to damage and high repair and maintenance costs and upkeep. If you are using the best materials, you should expect a much more stable system infrastructure that included cable inside of conduit pipe to protect it from damage and in order for the lighting system to last and be easier to maintain and add onto in the future shall the need be. It all comes down to cost. The best value happens when a landscape lighting system is designed and built to last
Cheap LED Landscape Lighting systems- What do they look like?
Here is a description of a cheap landscape lighting system. First and foremost when it’s operating underwhelming might be the word to describe it. It does not effectively provide, Safety , security or beautification of the property. Neither does it excite, inspire or even be especially noticeable. Ho Hum. Sometimes to the untrained eye during the day, it looks ok. To a experienced quality builder, wow, where do we start! Fixtures that allow water to come into contact with LED lamps with cheap flimsy plastic stakes that break and don’t hold fixtures aimed and or in place. Transformers with weak outputs incapable of providing the necessary 12 volts of electricity the LED lamps require. System infrastructure built improperly with direct bury wire sometimes covered only in mulch and not even buried underground. LED’s that flicker and burn out prematurely … I could go on and on but people need to understand that this is what you will get for the lowest per fixture cost when having a landscape lighting system built.
We get calls multiple times per year to fix such scenarios described above and we won’t, as for us to fix it–it would be easier and less costly to the client to put it in a recycle bin and start again.
What Cost do you Expect for Landscape Lighting?
The cost for building landscape lighting systems are not standard. The hard part is making your expectations meet reality. The cost you should expect for having a landscape lighting system designed and built has a lot to do with what you want the landscape lighting to look like and how long you want it to look that way. Quality has a funny way of costing more when it comes to building landscape lighting systems.
Low Voltage LED Landscape Lighting costs Range from $100 per fixture to $500 per fixture average and higher!
The level of fixture quality you want is in direct relation to the price per fixture you pay for landscape lighting systems. Add in a remote controlled system, top of the line lights and all the bells and whistles and you may get up near the price of a new luxury vehicle depending on your property size. The labor and materials are on par in that range. If all you want is a basic lighting set-up to install yourself then there is nothing wrong with that but this is not the focus of this article.
Anywhere you are, if you are looking for a builder in the $100 per fixture range, you are setting yourself up for a “Life Lesson”. This is the price danger zone.
We receive 50 or so calls a year that go like this.
“We hired a guy to build my landscape lighting and he took a deposit–He never showed up!”
“My husband had to fire my landscape lighting designer builder because….”
“I had this landscape lighting system built last year and now ……….”
Regional Differences in Landscape Lighting costs
Depending on where you live, there are regional differences in the cost you should expect to have a landscape lighting system built by a professional on your property.
The most expensive places to build a deck are in or near big cities. Put simply, the closer you are to a large city, the higher the average per fixture price for landscape lighting systems. Landscape Lighting system cost is based on the cost of materials, the price of labor, intricacy of build and overhead. Since taxes and cost of doing business are higher in the big cities you can expect to pay more.
Legitimate properly licensed and fully insured businesses required by law have an overhead that fly-by-night builders do not. This can often double the price you pay for a landscape lighting system, however, you will actually have a warranty and piece of mind if you go with the professional builder.
What about design- What do you want your landscape lighting to look like?
The design of the system has much to do with the price per fixture for decks. The estimate from your landscaper for landscape lighting system in the early stages of a landscaping project is just a ballpark price. If you want a creative cutting edge design, expect a bigger price! Building for durability is not easy or cheap. Not every landscape lighting builder is even capable of designing high-end landscape lighting systems. You may have to go to an architect or designer to get something architectural digest magazine quality. We produce better designs and landscape lighting systems than architects, and we do not charge extra for design when they hire us to build using our own proven products.
The key is that we design to fit the budget that our clients offer to us. They will often say, let’s see what we can do in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Since we are familiar with all the costs involved, we are able to show them designs in that range. It really is the most transparent way to do things.
How much do LED landscape lighting systems cost in 2019? “Well, How much would you like it to cost?”
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 29 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.Gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
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