Did You Have A Plan To Make a Landscape Lighting ?

As a landscape lighting contractor it always amazes me when I walk up to $500,000 homes and they have hardware store landscape lighting installed. Of course they are calling me there because their lights don’t work properly, and the contractor that installed them won’t stand behind his warranty.

The main problem with hardware store lights, are the alligator clips that make the electrical connection. These are bad ideas, because they always fail after a year or two. The problem is that they allow moisture to corrode the alligator teeth, and eventually corrode the cable. In this situation I would cut out the alligator clips strip the cable and make waterproof connections using silicone filled wire caps. This is the only reliable way to connect outdoor lighting.

But still there is the problem with the cheap fixtures themselves. Hardware store lights are the low end of the lighting manufactures lines. They are built cheaply and sold at a low price. That is why there are so many houses using them. The cost to install landscape lighting like this is usually $100 a light. These lights come with a 1 year warranty on the fixture and no warranty on the bulb but it will last about 1 year.

In comparison to high quality solid fixtures which would cost about $200 a light installed correctly. These lights come with a 5 year warranty on the fixture and no warranty on the bulb but it will last about 1 year. The fixture will last more like 15 years.

One step better is Kichler potted LED lights which cost 300.00 a light installed but come with a 15 year warranty on the light fixture and the bulb inside. They are expected to last about 30 years.

So let’s add up the dollars over time.

Hardware Store Light / High Quality Light / High Quality Light / Kichler Potted Light
Halogen Bulb / Halogen Bulb / LED Bulb / LED Bulb
Installed correctly / $100 / $200 / $240 / $300
5 years bulbs / $30 / $30 / $40 / $0
5 years labor / $300 / $250 / $50 / $0
New fixture needed / $60 / $0 / $0 / $0
10 year bulbs / $30 / $30 / $40 / $0
10 years labor / $300 / $250 / $50 / $0
New fixture needed / $60 / $0 / $0 / $0
15 year bulbs / $30 / $250 / $40 / $0
15 years labor / $300 / $30 / $40 / $0
New fixture needed / $60 / $120 / $120 / $0
Total / $1,270 / $1,160 / $620 / $300

So the least expensive landscape lighting system to install is the most expensive to maintain over time, and the most expensive to install is the least expensive to maintain over time. This study doesn’t put a dollar amount on the headaches and times that your landscape lighting was not working correctly and waiting for service. Halogen Light bulbs go out randomly, not all at once. But, the costs listed were assuming that all halogen bulbs were changed 1 time per year. LED bulbs were changed 1 time every 5 years and the Kichler light never had to be changed.

The study also shows that LED bulbs cost more to install but save a lot of money in service. LED bulbs are guaranteed to last 5 years in comparison to halogen bulbs 1 year, and LED bulbs use 4 to 5 times less electricity tan halogen bulbs do. I switched my house from halogen to LED and went from using 466 watts to 66 watts, saving about $12 dollars a month on my electric bill.

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