So you’ve decided you are ready to install landscape lighting. Or maybe you are building a new home and want to make sure it is appropriately lit from the start. There are plenty of good reasons to install outdoor lighting for your home. Good outdoor lighting will add to your home’s curb appeal as well as to its safety and security. Also, which the appropriate landscape lighting design, the landscaping you have to carefully planned, planted, and maintained won’t disappear at night. If you have outdoor living spaces, like a patio, pool, outdoor kitchen, or garden, outdoor lighting will make them usable at night. Whatever your reason for choosing to install outdoor lighting, there are a few questions to ask your lighting company before you start. Deciding how to pick a landscape lighting company may actually be the most important choice you make.
It’s easy to put together a list of local landscape and outdoor lighting companies. A simple online search will bring up a bunch of choices. Or, if you’re a little more old-school, a search through the Yellow Pages or another directory will get you a similar list. But now that you have a list, how do you decide who you should hire? You could go with the flashiest website or the lowest price, but is that really the best way to choose?
In fact, the best way to choose your outdoor lighting professional is not unlike choosing a car, a doctor, or any other item you plan to stick with for a while. The first step is to ask plenty of questions. The trick, of course, is knowing which questions to ask. Luckily, you’ve come to one of the best outdoor lighting blogs on the internet. And we’re here to share with you the questions that will help you find the best outdoor lighting company for your needs.
1. Are you a bona fide outdoor lighting designer?
This is a more important question than you might think. Certainly, any company advertising outdoor lighting installation should be bona fide lighting designers. But there is a difference between lighting installation and lighting design. Some installers are just that, installers, who play no part in the design process. These installers work with designs created by landscapers, landscape architects, or homeowners, to bring those designs to life. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a legitimate business, and someone needs to do it. But is that what you are looking for?
Unless you have a design prepared by a landscape architect or other professional designer, you are going to need some help. We’ve seen too many instances where a homeowner simply threw up some lights without a proper design and, of course, didn’t get the desired results. Landscape lighting needs to be planned and designed to get the kind of results most homeowners hope for. So picking a company that doesn’t do that would be a poor choice.
One way to judge the design skill of an outdoor lighting company is to see jobs they have designed and installed. With any kind of service, references are important. In this case, ask for pictures of jobs completed. Also, make sure to ask if the design was done by the company or by a third party. Night Vision Outdoor Lighting has done over 5,000 projects. You can see some of them here and judge for yourself.
2. Can the designs you create be added to later?
You may love your lighting design. But inevitably there will be changes. You may change your landscaping. Or perhaps you will renovate your home or build an addition? What if you install a pool? Or what if you simply want to start with a modest design and build onto it bit by bit?
The design choices you make when installing your initial lighting design can make it easier or much, much harder to add on to your design in the future. Some of these choices are about design aspects you can see, like the placement of lighting fixtures. But many of the factors that affect your ability to add on lights are invisible in the final product. One reason you want to hire professionals and not do the installation yourself is the quality of the engineering. It’s not just about where you put the lights. It’s about how everything is wired and connected back to your power source. Faulty wiring and poorly planned layouts can make additions difficult and expensive. On the other hand, a well-designed system can be upgraded and expanded easily.
At Night Vision, we often suggest installing your outdoor lighting in phases. For instance, you can start with just the front of your home. First, we’ll work on lighting the facade of your home, your entryway, and any path lighting your home requires. Once that is complete, we can move on to another aspect of the design, like lighting your trees. Or, if you are satisfied with your entryway, for the time being, we can start by working on your outdoor living spaces to make entertaining more enjoyable. It’s up to you. But working in phases is always better than haphazard installation.
3. Are your designs energy efficient?
Are you out to save money on your utility bills? Or maybe you want to be environmentally friendly? For many homeowners, they want to do both. Energy efficiency is an integral part of design that you should definitely discuss with any potential outdoor lighting company.
In general, there are two types of outdoor lights: halogen and LED. Halogen bulbs are cheaper to purchase, but typically only last one to one and half years. They also use more electricity than LED lights. LEDs, on the other hand, are more expensive to purchase up front. But they last much longer than halogens, typically 5 years or more. On replacement costs alone, LEDs will pay for themselves in about three years. But when you factor in the much lower energy use, the added cost of LEDs can be recouped even sooner.
Another way to save on energy bills is to use a low-voltage system. Almost all outdoor lighting design today is done with a low-voltage 12-volt system. If you have an older system running on 120 volts, switching over will save on energy costs and increase safety. Accidentally cutting a 120-volt wire will digging a garden or doing other outdoor work could be dangerous. But 12-volt systems pose almost no safety risk.
Night Vision Outdoor Lighting uses LEDs on a 12-volt system exclusively. The added up-front cost is rolled into our competitive pricing and provides a much better product. Out LED systems will last much longer and can be more precisely calibrated for exactly the type of light your design calls for. If a company tells you they use halogen lights, make sure they have a very good reason. Even then, ask about LED options if they are available.
4. Will you maintain my lighting system?
This is an important question. While LED systems are relatively low-maintenance, no system stays perfect forever. Did you know that the ground around your house moves? Growing tree roots, runoff from intense storms, and other factors can actually cause the earth around your home to shift slightly. That will push your lighting fixtures around just enough that they won’t cast their light as intended. In addition to shifting lights, bulbs eventually burn out and sometimes fixtures break.
Night Vision Outdoor Lighting uses long-lasting LED bulbs and only the highest quality fixtures, but we know that everything has a lifespan. That’s why we offer a service contract that will keep you covered. If a light burns out, a fixture breaks, or even if you just cut a wire accidentally while digging, we’ll get it fixed. We want you to enjoy your outdoor lighting for many years, which is why we are committed to exceptional service.
If you are ready to ask us your questions and find out why we’re an excellent choice for outdoor lighting, just contact us. We’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and schedule a free consultation to talk about what we can do to make your home and landscape shine.