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Illinois Landscaping Articles

The True Cost of 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 there lights donít work properly, and the contractor that installed them wonít stand behind his warranty.

The main problem with hardware store lights, are the alligator clips that make the electrical connection. These are a bad idea 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 lets 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 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 doesnít 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.

But by far the Kichler potted LED fixture and bulb combination with its 15 year warranty on the fixture and the bulb is a huge money saver over time. It is guaranteed to be less expensive than any other light in our comparison within 5 years.

In conclusion, you get what you pay for. Pay now or pay more latter. There is no replacing high quality and good technology. If you would like to learn more about landscape lighting design, repair, installation, or maintenance go to allscapeinc.com.