16 Nov Landscape Lighting Shortcuts That Cost the Property Owner Aggravation and Money
By Mike Gambino
There are many wrong ways to building landscape lighting systems, and shortcuts emphasize mistakes that inexperienced or dishonest landscape lighting contractors make. In an effort to save money and time, they are cheating you out of a quality landscape lighting system, and your money is going to waste.
Don’t hire a contractor who thinks the following landscape lighting system shortcuts are OK:
Ignoring the Need for Protective Rigid Electrical Conduit Pipe
Don’t depend on contractors who take landscape lighting shortcuts by “forgetting” — or choosing not to — install cable wire inside of protective rigid electrical conduit . You need a protective barrier between your cable and the ground to guard against subterranean critters such as gophers and from shovels by digging in the garden. Cable that has been damaged but not fully severed is worse because you’ll never know it. The lighting might continue to operate for some time although in diminished capacity until one day it doesn’t. In the meantime moisture has traveled inside the jacket of the cable contaminating the copper making for a very aggravating, costly troubleshoot and replacement job.
Installing a New System using Old Direct Bury Cable already in the ground
A “re-fixture” landscape lighting job is not the way to go. Installing new lighting fixtures and connecting them to direct bury cable that has been in the ground from a previously failed installation will not produce quality results. It is like building a new home on quick sand. Even though it’s much faster than a complete new wiring, the new system will break down quickly. Wire that has not been installed inside of protective conduit pipe and has been directly buried in the ground is susceptible to problems. It also gets very brittle and subject to damage and deterioration with age.
Never trust a landscape lighting contractor who tells you it’s acceptable to re-fixture on an old direct bury wire system — they are cutting corners and are not telling the truth. If fixtures are looking shabby are inoperable and are in an obvious need for replacement then what would make you think the wire and connections below ground are in any better condition when below ground environmental conditions are much more harsh?
Using Common Staples Instead of Stainless steel standoff screws on trees
Another of the common shortcuts is using staples instead of stainless steel standoff screws to run wire up or attach fixtures to living trees. This makes the job go much quicker for the lighting contractor when they attach cable or fixtures flush with the bark, but it also will make your trees susceptible to damage and disease. Staples are barely even an inch long. They do not adequately secure cable to a living tree and leave no room for future growth. Fixtures attached right up against the bark, makes for a very high maintenance situation, will have the tree grow over them in short time leaving the fixture embedded.
Reusing Old or Installing New Plastic or non ferrous metal Lighting Fixture Materials
Is your contractor trying to tell you that you can reuse plastic or aluminum lighting fixtures? Get a new contractor. This is false and another of the major landscape lighting shortcuts some companies take to lower costs. These types of materials will not stand up to mother nature and last the test of time.
It doesn’t make sense to try and save money by using cheaper materials or reusing old materials when there is a chance that this move could jeopardize the integrity of a landscape lighting system worth far more than that. Insist that your landscape lighting contractor uses all new Brass and Copper and stainless steel lighting materials so you get the longest life out of your new system.
Believing that LED Lighting systems will last forever with no regular maintenance
This is simply not true, all outdoor lighting systems will need regular service maintenance schedules in order to perform their best and last. Plants need to be pruned away, fixtures will need to be relocated as landscaping matures , glass lenses will need regular cleaning and surface finish will need to be cleaned and polished if you want your landscape lighting system to perform and look its best over time.
And yes nothing lasts forever, even LED lamps will eventually burn out or need to be adjusted or even be replaced do to the natural maturing of the landscaping. Trees will be sized and shaped much differently as time goes on and the lighting will need to be adapted to those changes in order to look it’s best.
Many landscape lighting installers do not offer maintenance service. Those that do not should be immediately disqualified.
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 28 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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