Buyer Beware: As a buyer of professional landscape lighting Design and Installation services you really need to be careful when choosing your service provider pt.1

Buyer Beware: As a buyer of professional landscape lighting Design and Installation services you really need to be careful when choosing your service provider pt.1

By Mike Gambino

This is going to be a 2 part article (look for part 2 next Friday) because I have a lot to say about this topic. I have already said this multiple times and in multiple ways and in multiple blog articles over the years but I think it needs to be repeated over and over again every once in awhile because I know this is the single most important choice a consumer looking to purchase professional landscape lighting design and build services will have to make. In fact if this blog is only remembered for one thing, then I hope that one thing is that it drives home the importance of buyers to do their due diligence and fully vet before hiring anyone to design and build a landscape lighting system for you if performance and durability is at the top of your requirements list.

It is so much easier to find a tradesperson with poor design and technical skills who supplies an equally poor product that will not perform and last over time than it is to find a pro whose design and technical skills are stellar and provides products that are designed and built to perform and last.

The truth is that most of the powers that be in the outdoor lighting industry don’t care about quality. The powers that be are the product sellers. They would rather sell you multiple poor performing lighting systems that fall apart and fail prematurely that need to be replaced multiple times over your lifetime. This is totally in contrast to what we at Gambino landscape lighting promote and provide which is a High Performance landscape lighting system designed and built to last.

Several times throughout the year the landscape trade magazines are seeded with articles enticing general trades to adopt landscape lighting as one of their service offerings so product sellers can sell more products. They are all quite strikingly similar in content. They hit several points

1-How much “easy money” they can make

2-How easy landscape lighting  is to install-How “anyone” can do it

3- How it doesn’t require capital investment to enter into

I have reprinted the article below taken from a recent major landscape industry trade mag. Interesting enough an author of the article  is not credited. But rest assured it comes from the standpoint of product sellers or the magazine itself whose best interests are to promote product sellers interests to sell them advertising space. I can assure you it isn’t for the benefit of the consumer neither the dedicated design install professional.

Landscape Lighting is Nothing to be Afraid of
If  xxxxxx can do it, so can you. A corporate executive for many years, he was looking around for his next challenge–something completely different.


He discovered low-voltage landscape lighting almost by accident. As owner and president of xxxxxx in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he’s designed and installed these systems for the past 12 years.


That’s how unintimidating the world of low-voltage landscape lighting has become. Xxxxxx had worked behind a desk for his whole career; he wasn’t an electrician or electronics tinkerer. Yet, in a few short years, he’s become a very successful landscape lighting contractor.


His career was helped along by the fact that few segments of the green industry have changed as much as this one has, in a short handful of years. New technology, such as digital controls and better LED bulbs, has not only made things more exciting, but much, much easier.


In fact, the entire process of installing, repairing and retrofitting these systems has been made practically foolproof. Essentially, you have a transformer, some wire and some fixtures.


Though it does take a bit of training to learn how to work with the components properly, the learning curve isn’t steep. For instance, you used to have to worry about voltage drop, where a lamp furthest away from the transformer would be noticeably dimmer than the one right next to it. Now there’s a wider operating range, so it doesn’t matter if a fixture is getting nine volts or 15.


When halogen lamps were more commonly used, you had to know a lot of lot of different wiring techniques. They were also much more exacting, requiring 10.8 to 11.8 volts, which left you with a very small one-volt corridor in which to work. And, you could only put so many halogen lights per zone on a string.


If a customer wanted to add a light in a certain spot, but the nearest hub was maxed out, you’d have to run line out to a whole new hub, which sometimes required trenching. Now, you can just tap into a nearby fixture, and set up a new lamp or fixture. You also no longer have to check or match voltages anymore.



If you’ve put off learning how to install landscape lighting because of concerns about the complexity and potential hazards of working with electricity, you can relax. Quick connectors make it so you don’t need much, if any, electrical experience. And low voltage means that there’s little danger of getting shocked.


The design aspect isn’t that difficult, either. You’ll get good at it with a little practice. There are about 13 different lighting techniques, and once you understand two or three of them, you can pretty much light up any job.


The selling points of these systems go on and on. They let your clients enjoy their landscapes and outdoor living areas every evening, not just on weekends or during ‘staycations’.


They add dramatic highlights to water features, and safety to pathways at night. And, a well-lit landscape around a home or business make it a much less attractive target for ne’er-do-wells with criminal intent.


Low-voltage outdoor lighting systems are being integrated into the Internet of Things (IoT).


Higher-end systems let users set different themes, colors, moods and feelings as easily as pressing a button on a smartphone.


The best way to get comfortable with lighting design is to start doing it. Get a demo kit from a distributor, and play around with it in your own backyard. Try your hand at uplighting, downlighting, silhouetting and moonlighting. 



See how the light plays on different surfaces, and how wide and narrow beams, focused on the same spot, can produce different effects. Before you know it, you’ll be adept.


Now is the perfect time to check this out, because fall and winter is when landscape lighting really shines. As one lighting contractor said, when all the foliage is off the trees, they look like natural statues out there, lit up against the backdrop of the snow. It’s absolutely stunning.


Happily, information about landscape lighting is readily available, usually at no charge. Most distributors and manufacturers of outdoor lighting products provide some sort of initial training. A good manufacturer will give you a basic introduction to the components and how to install them and design with them.


Once you’ve done your training and are comfortable with the whole process, you can start cross-selling to your existing client base, doing after-dark demos. You won’t have to work that hard; these systems practically sell themselves. And, once installed, they’re nightly advertisements to the rest of the neighborhood, especially if your clients let you post a sign saying, ‘Outdoor Lighting by John Doe Landscaping’. 


Go ahead, light it up!


Next week’s blog article, part 2, will be my response to this propaganda presented as fact, will refute much of this trash information and explain how it is damaging to the industry and the consumer alike.


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 27 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .

Blog articles may be published with permission on other websites without editing or removing links.




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