31 Jan Custom Landscape Lighting System Construction
By Mike Gambino
Building a custom landscape lighting system is a project that the designer/builder and you the property owner take on together. The result is quite remarkable as most time it’s a collaborative effort between professional and property owner. An inherently creative process; custom landscape lighting system construction is much deeper than any list of steps; its essence cannot be captured in a “how-to” manual. Building a system is a dream, an obsession, an escape, a work of art and an emerging science. We like to sum it all up by saying that landscape lighting system building represents the ability to expand your property’s use after dark while enhancing the feeling of safety and security for those that inhabit it and visit.. Not only does the building process fulfill various personal goals and purposes, but the methods of construction are equally diverse. Here we’ll give you some background information and explain how our process works.
A Custom Lighting system that is Uniquely “Yours”
It should come as no surprise that building methods also vary. Many non specialized trades persons will build landscape lighting projects out of whatever they can buy at their local product supplier or big box home improvement retailer. A landscaper likes to throw lighting cable ( without the protection of electrical PVC pipe) in the same trenches as their sprinkler pipes to save labor. An electrician tends to not bury their cables at all and use products they are familiar with they use inside the home. Outside they don’t stand the test of time and mother nature’s wrath. A handyman knows just a enough about lighting and electrical work to get them into trouble.
Landscape lighting Design/Build Specialists, well, their custom landscape lighting projects are in a class of their own. As seasoned, professional builders, we want to listen to your ideas and inspiration and create a system that you will be thrilled with and will not only be functional but beautiful safe and secure. No matter what the requirements or inspiration for your landscape lighting, you can be sure that Gambino landscape lighting will build yours to the highest safety and quality standards.
Differences between Gambino landscape Lighting and Others
The first most distinctive difference is that we have manufactured for us our own proprietarily designed and built fixture line LED’s and power transformers. We do not use fixtures which are built for the masses with dubious quality and performance characteristics. The lighting industry is relatively small and there is a very small market for ultra high end lighting that we install. Our product components are made globally and they are assembled and built here by the same Gambino staff and crew that will do your install. We have complete quality control and the ability to customize and alter our products as we see fit and not have to worry about products that are of low quality built to sell to the mainstream marketplace of middle and low end projects.
We also use the finest weatherproofing and solid connect techniques for our wire splices and install all of our cable inside of rigid electrical conduit so it is protected from digging, rodents and tree roots all of which can wreak havoc over time on your landscape lighting system. We use a hub and spoke system of wiring that we devised over 30 years of installing systems that make it possible to replace or add new cable less expensively should the need arise throughout the lifetime of the system.
To be honest, all of this extra attention adds difficulty, expense and a lot of intensive labor to the project, so most builders avoid these techniques like the plague – especially for difficult properties with, rock, hard soils, surface roots etc.
However we know the benefits far outweigh the costs. What good is building with the finest materials , design and installation techniques when your system is only as strong as its weakest link which is cable and cable connections which will fail and become troublesome when not properly protected. Or cable that is exposed and easily damaged causing electrical shorts, expensive repairs and system downtime. We offer and encourage ongoing maintenance service of your system to guarantee its optimum performance at all times. We build our system so strong that when the occasional and rare problem does crop up we can quickly and efficiently troubleshoot and repair it. Most installers do such a shabby job and use such low quality materials and construction techniques that they don’t want to be around when things start falling apart and the system doesn’t perform as it should.
We custom build everything from 50 fixture 1/4 acre property projects to 450 fixture or more fixture quantity builds on estate homes and commercial properties.
The Landscape Lighting Industry
The landscape lighting construction industry is vast and largely unregulated and undefined. There are no viable associations or trade guilds for professional builders. There are conferences and several workshops designed to teach newbies to sell and build, underwritten by the manufacturer or distributor of a certain brand of product. These day or more events don’t turn out seasoned and expert builders upon their completion.
Essentially, anyone can build a website, hang out their shingle, and call themselves a landscape lighting system provider these days. This is both exciting and dangerous. It’s exciting because system building is creative and expressive and in its formative stages now. It is dangerous because you don’t always know the difference between an experienced, quality expert and a “professional landscape lighting designer/ builder” who doesn’t have a full understanding of his craft. The average person looking to hire a system builder is not going to be able know how long that system will perform and last based upon pictures of completed projects. How much damage will be done to the property during installation? What the LED’s are rated for? What safety factor will the project have? These are questions that a legitimate, experienced expert should answer relatively easily. Remember that while custom landscape lighting systems are awesome and inspiring, they also need to be built safely, and an inexperienced builder may be better suited to work for an expert, quality landscape lighting design/building company like us for a few years before branching out on their own.
Safety and Professional Construction
Although we are not sure, we expect that over 90% of landscape lighting projects are NOT built by specialized industry professionals. This is largely because custom landscape lighting design/building experts are limited and the closest one could be 500 miles away! Another reason is the significant cost of quality professional building services. We can’t confirm our 90% guess because very few landscape lighting systems are permitted or safety inspected and there would be no way of counting them. Gambino landscape Lighting has built over 3000 high performance landscape lighting systems as of Winter 2020, but we suspect that there are probably millions of houses in the United States with some sort of outdoor lighting, mostly built by do-it-yourselfers. We also suspect that most people are not satisfied with the outdoor lighting in their yards. This is partly because of the nature of do-it-yourself projects , lack of building experience and use of low quality products but also there are a high number of systems built by generalist trades that we see while we’re driving around the country that lack the creativity, quality, and safety that have not held up over time. It’s safe to say that of larger custom landscape lighting construction projects, a higher percentage of them are built by professionals.
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 30 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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