17 Apr Comparing landscape lighting products and services
By Mike Gambino
Quality in the lighting industry is often misunderstood. The quality gap seems to be greater than other areas of the green industry. Comparing apples to apples, or uplights to uplights…the perception of quality can be so far off. The typical sprinkler system will always involve a certain number of sprinkler heads, and possibly several different types. Though there are quality differences between a professional Brand X and professional Brand Y pop-up, the gap is fairly small. Regardless of which head you choose, you most likely will end up with a reasonably well performing sprinkler system. There are a lot of places where the cheaper builder can save money and skimp on quality most unknown to the property owner until they fail.
The quality gap widens considerably when you look at the wide variety of “professional” lighting materials available. Though the fixtures and components are made from metals such as copper, brass, steel (basically, some kind of “metal”)…there are many factors that influence quality such as thickness (gauge) of metal, types of gaskets used for water-resistance, types of adjustment knuckles, spikes, lenses, potting epoxies, sockets and so on. Transformer construction is a prime example. Many have stainless steel cases, timing components, large terminal blocks and secondary side (12 volt) fuses. Many have none of these…powder-coated steel cases that ultimately succumb to rust, so called European style single screw posts instead of large terminals (that allow the connection of multiple cables), primary side (120 volt) fusing, and so on. UL 1838 sets the standard for quality and safety for 12 volt lighting transformers. As a lighting professional, it is your duty to stick with quality and safety. Always choose a transformer that strictly adheres to the 1838 standard. All Gambino brand stainless steel transformers are UL 1838 rated.
Nowhere is quality more evident than the type of connection used. Gel-filled wire nuts are the most common. They are available on the shelf of all Big-Box chain stores right next to the low-voltage cable, and definitely available at an installer’s local distributor. Don’t forget how cost in-effective they are…basically cheap. Pierce-type connectors are simple to use and also inexpensive. Unfortunately, none of these connector types makes a permanent, waterproof connection that will stand the test of time buried in the ground. Ask any seasoned electrician what he thinks of these types of connections and where they will spend their lifetime. You most likely will not get the endorsement you are looking for, despite the low price. The connections installers make will undoubtedly be the most important part of your lighting system. We Don’t skimp! The Gambino weatherproof brass lug connector creates a permanent, waterproof splice that will never fail. No call backs for bad connections or worse yet, a shorted or melted wire disasters created by a bad connection.
Finally, it’s tempting to save a few dollars here or there at the sacrifice of quality…often to attempt to beat the other guy’s price. The most important quality feature you can buy is service. When…something goes wrong on a project…whether it’s burnt out bulbs or a no-power transformer, you want to know that your product is backed up. The old saying “Prevention is the best medicine” can’t ring more true than in the professional lighting industry. Choose a lighting product that has a service team attached to it. Don’t walk away from the installation without knowing for sure that your lighting installer has your back. At Gambino landscape lighting, we offer quality materials, but more importantly, we offer quality people with extensive knowledge and training to protect your best interests. Professional landscape lighting service that local competitors or the rest of the industry just can’t match. Borrowing a quote from someone, I can’t remember who…”The bitterness of low quality long outlasts the sweetness of low price.”
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 .
Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.