In our years of doing landscape lighting we have learned so much and we are still learning. There is always room to grow and improve. One thing we have noticed is the amount of times we get a call to repair someone’s home DIY project. Don’t get us wrong, if you do the research, from credible sources, we’re sure that you are capable of anything, including a functional, safe and beautiful outdoor lighting system. However, there are so many articles out there that lead you in the wrong direction with a false sense of ease.
Below are a few topics which DIY articles mention that are flat out wrong or bad advice (if you plan to install a system in the right way)
What they say: No electrical experience needed.
The truth: Yes, it is low-voltage so you don’t necessarily need a licensed electrician. However, you do need to know the basics. Fixtures and transformers can short out if not installed correctly and you risk blowing your money by doing it yourself. Professionals will have warranties which will protect you from having to re-purchase these items if they do short out.
What they say: The only tool you need is wire strippers.
The truth: There are many different ways to connect fixtures. The DIY articles suggest using outdoor wire nuts. Any good professional lighting expert will laugh at the idea of using outdoor wire nuts. They just simply do not hold up outdoors in the elements. Commercial grade fixtures should be installed with commercial grade connections, which require more tools.
What they say: Count up your wattage to future out the size of your transformer.
The Truth: This is not true. You will blow your transformer if you do this. There is a percentage to calculate when picking the size of your transformer. Also, you must consider future expansion. If you buy the wrong size, you won’t be able to expand.
What they say: Buy your materials from a big box store like Home Depot.
The truth: These fixtures will fail quickly. They may not keep water out and you’ll be replacing them often. They look cheap and they will break. The transformers do not have water proofing components and will also fail you. The materials which a professional would install are commercial grade and again, hold a warranty!
What they say: Place lights around your property where it is darkest.
The truth: Designing a lighting system isn’t that simple. There are so many elements to think about. Grazing architecture, creating silhouette with lights behind shrubs, highlighting landscape elements, spacing on pathways and steps, ambient lighting and when to use which kind of fixture. We are still gaining knowledge on design after years of business.
What they say: Outdoor lighting is a home improvement project that you can take on.
The Truth: They are right. You can take this project on. However, without the right tools, materials, design and experience your lighting system will not look clean and professional. You may run into maintenance issues and you will be calling a professional to repair or replace the work you did.