There are a lot of people out there who pretend to be in the outdoor lighting business, particularly electricians, landscapers and irrigation people. All are probably really good at doing what their principal business is, but in many cases, they are not particularly good at Outdoor Lighting. So here is a short guide of what to look for in considering and selecting an Outdoor Lighting Professional.
Some good questions to ask and consider might include:
- Are they a licensed contractor with a license that pertains to the Outdoor Lighting Business? Check out their license status at: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/
- Are they insured, including workers compensation and general liability insurance to protect you, the homeowner, from a workers injury or property damage?
- Are they members of the Better Business bureau, have they been accredited and do they have any complaints in their records? Check out their business at www.bbb.org
- How long have they been in the landscape lighting business and do they have the experience to run a good business with the staying power to be there for future service and to honor your warranty?
- Speaking of warranty, what is their warranty? Does it include labor or just parts? What does it exclude? How long do they warrant the fixtures and transformers for? (10 years is a minimum standard with some manufacturers offering a lifetime warranty) How long do they warrant the LEDs for? (Make sure you are getting at least a 3-5 year warranty).
- Who does the outdoor lighting installations? Are they employees or sub-contractors? What is their average length of experience in installing landscape lighting and maintaining outdoor lighting systems?
- Are their references readily available?
- Lastly, but of high importance, is their outdoor lighting design expertise. Are they over-doing the design and trying to sell you a lot of fixtures? Are they suggesting that you light almost everything? Are they focusing on bright, or are they recommending subtle and elegant architectural accent lighting and landscape lighting? Are they putting lights in front of windows which will throw a lot of light into the home or are they focusing on lighting the architectural features of the home? What is the color of the light output if they are recommending LEDs?
An Outdoor Lighting project is something that is very hard to shop and to compare on an “apples to apples” basis. Many times it is a major investment in your home and one that should be enjoyed night after night and for many years to come. Make sure you are comfortable with the answers to the above suggested questions.
And remember, in the outdoor lighting business, as in anything else, you get what you pay for. Many years ago, I heard this saying and it is true for almost everything we purchase. “The bitter taste of poor quality lingers far longer than the initial sweetness of a cheaper price”.