Avoid The Biggest DIY Outdoor Lighting Mistakes


Some of us love to DIY (Do It Yourself) projects whenever possible. There is definitely a certain satisfaction in a job well done, and done by your own hands. Of course, we believe that outdoor lighting is something better left to the professionals (like us) but if you decide to give it a whirl yourself, please keep the following in mind to avoid these mistakes:

1) Aiming too low with budget

No one likes to waste money. And part of why you’re considering a DIY approach is probably to save some money. But wouldn’t it be sad if you spent your time and money on a system that ends up breaking down in a few short years because the fixtures were cheaply made? Or if you couldn’t replace the burned out bulb because it is integrated into the fixture (and now you can’t find replacement fixtures that match). We only use brass or copper fixtures with lamps (bulbs) that are replaceable, for a long life of useful service. The initial investment is greater, but in the long run the durability saves you money, time and hassle.

2) Designing with fixtures instead of light

Most DIY-ers begin with the fixture, rather than its impact, which is a bit backward. Decide what effect you want, and find the fixture that will fulfill it, rather than forcing your fixture to fit the role you need. You should understand a fixture’s spread and output before you choose it. Choosing a fixture based solely on its aesthetic appeal or cost, or because it came in the kit, will probably not result in the lighting effect you are going for. For example, if you install a fixture that is flush to the ground in a mulch bed, it is likely to be covered by mulch in no time. However, if you install a light that is not flush in your turf, you are just begging for it to be knocked over by the kids or by lawn equipment, or for someone to trip over it and get hurt. Probably not what you were hoping to achieve.

3) Poor quality wire connections

Low-quality and improper wire connections are the most common failures in outdoor lighting systems. They constitute the easiest places for moisture to sneak in. And we all know that moisture and electricity do not play well together. Once moisture gains entrance into an insulated wire, it causes corrosion and breaks down connections, leading to outages, and potential hazards. It is crucial to protect your lighting system from moisture from the onset. And for a wire connection to effectively protect your system, a heat shrink, water tight connector is highly recommended. Regular wire nuts will not do the job right, nor will simply twisting the wires together and wrapping them with electrical tape. (And yes, people have actually done that.) Pierced connections that often come with DIY kits don’t provide adequate protection against moisture invasion either, which is why we use heat shrink connectors for the best connections.

4) Utilizing undersized wire

Another mistake DIYers make is with incorrect wire gauge. The wire gauge number goes down as the wire diameter gets larger. So a 12 gauge wire has a larger diameter and capacity than 14 or 16. Smaller wire costs less, and many folks try to save money by using smaller wire. But smaller wire also cannot handle the same load that larger wire can. There are times where smaller gauge wire is appropriate, but a certified landscape lighting technician is trained to know when and where the smaller sized wire is appropriate. Most DIYers do not have this kind of training, and this is a case where using the wrong material can really do some damage, so please use the appropriate wire.

If you’re still feeling up to the challenge after educating yourself about lighting fixtures, proper techniques and materials, we wish you the best. But if you decide that it is more than you’re willing to deal with, we are happy to help you out and design, install and maintain you a lighting system that will bring out the beauty in your home as well as make it more safe and secure.

Located in Summerfield, NC Southern Lights- Architectural and Landscape Lighting serves properties and property management companies throughout the state of NC including Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, Burlington, Reidsville, Oak Ridge, Brown Summit, Winston-Salem, Clemmons, Raleigh, Charlotte, Kannapolis, Salisbury, Gastonia, Matthews, etc.

Southern Lights has installed hundreds of outdoor landscape lighting systems and carries more certifications than anyone in the state. We specialize in lighting designs and service everything we install as well as lighting systems installed by others. With attention to detail and a solid knowledge of design, Southern Lights is the leading outdoor landscape lighting firm in the state of NC and beyond. See why our clients choose us. Contact us today by web (online form) or phone 336-451-4969.

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