Buyer Beware !- LED Lighting system installers

Buyer Beware !- LED Lighting system installers

by Mike Gambino

There are many upsides to the advent of LED light bulbs in landscape lighting installations. There are also some potential downsides that those consumers seeking a professionally designed and installed landscape lighting system need to be aware of.

One of those downsides being inexperienced and uninformed design/installers. Because voltage regulation and load balancing is less of an issue with LED (less being the key word but still relevant). It is thought by some that the barrier to installing this type of lighting is much lower and more non specialized trades (landscapers, electricians, irrigation etc.) will try their hand at it.

Tonight I came across this message (see below) on a blog from a franchise landscape lighting operation on the east coast. I have copied and pasted it here typographical errors and all. What is pretty amazing is that the post has been up for almost a year and the typos and disjointed sentences remain which show a lack of attention to quality and detail.

This is verified with the described use of an existing home improvement store transformer that the installer concedes is not a quality unit. But the line that really gets me is

“We didn’t have to spend time measuring voltage to fixtures, since LED lights do not have any voltage drop.”

This installer is obviously misinformed as LED’s do in fact create voltage drop although not nearly as much as their  incandescent halogen counterparts.

The whole post shows a lack of professionalism. Installing a custom designed system on a home improvement store transformer LED lamps or not is just not an acceptable practice. It is like building a home on a very weak and unstable foundation.

Then not taking the time to measure voltage or be so cavalier about proper system engineering really strikes me as everything that could be wrong about a system that is supposedly professionally designed and installed.

At the very least a contractors license, bond and insurance should be verified before hiring.

So how can a property owner protect themselves from service providers that don’t know what they are doing?

By doing due diligence before hiring and investigating the service provider to be sure that they are comfortable with their abilities before one shovel full of dirt is dug in the yard.

Here is a guide I prepared several years ago that is still relevant today to assist property owners in choosing the best service provider for their landscape lighting project in Los Angeles.

If somebody is a cheap landscape lighter there’s a reason they are a cheap landscape lighter, isn’t there?

They are cheaper because they don’t have the experience and they won’t get you the results as as a qualified specialist will get the results.  But if you are willing to work with an apprentice you should go that route.  But I think if you are going to have back surgery or surgery – do you go looking for the cheapest surgeon?  No.  Now depending on what kind of surgery – if it’s routine then you will take anybody as long as they are decent.  But if it’s brain surgery or something really delicate with all kinds of consequences if it’s not done right, you will take your time to make sure that you get the right surgeon and you don’t care what they cost.

Now I don’t mean to be saying that landscape lighting is brain surgery, but the fact is a good qualified landscape lighter will get you better results than somebody who is new to the business or only installs landscape lighting systems on occasion usually as an add on to their primary business being landscaping or what not.

choose the wrong service provider and watch your money float away

Costs to repair or replace shoddy workmanship and materials can be significant and much more than choosing the right service provider at the onset.

Anyway I step down off my soap box. Here is the blog post below.


Here are some pictures from our first LED landscape lighting installation.  Still working on getting the night time pictures.  As you will see out LED fixtures are extremely compact, and not blend into the the landscape very well.  It is amazing how much easier the installation is:

1.  We used 25% of the wire that we would have used if it were a halogen installation.

2.  We were able to reuse the customers existing malibu 12V transformer (which we all know is not a quality unit)

3.  We put 22 lights on a 300watt transformer and still had plenty of room left for more.

4.  We didn’t have to spend time measuring voltage to fixtures, since LED lights do not have any voltage drop.

Hopefully I will be able to get out and night and take some follow up night time pict


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