Do You Need a Lighting Designer To Install Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting?
The short answer to the question “do I need a lighting designer to install low-voltage landscape lighting” is “no.” You don’t even need an electrician to wire the low-voltage side of a landscape lighting system. You can find cheap landscape lighting kits for under $300 in the garden center of any big-box store. So why should you hire someone to design a landscape lighting system for your yard?
Lighting that lasts. Any electrical system is only as good as its weakest connection.Low-voltage landscape lighting that you will find in the home improvement store uses inferior connection points that are not sealed properly to resist the outdoor elements. Once connection points are lost, it can be difficult to find and repair them. The fixtures themselves are often powder-coated cast aluminum, which is brittle and can snap off when clipped by lawn maintenance equipment or the occasional run away soccer ball.
Professional landscape lighting is a heavier grade of metal – usually solid brass or copper – the fixture and the connection points are weatherproofed against the elements. Do-it-yourself lighting kits might last five years before they begin to fall apart. With professional grade landscape lighting – and a properly designed system – your outdoor lighting will last 20 years – even in the harshest New Hampshire weather!
Low-voltage lighting is safe, right? Not necessarily. Low-voltage Landscape lighting components that are not circuit protected can get very hot and cause a fire. Low-voltage systems do not run on batteries – they are tied to the electricity that runs through your house. A transformer steps the voltage down from 120 V to anything in the range of 12 V to 30 V.
As landscape lighting designers, we design a system that is circuit-protected on the primary and secondary side; we spec out the proper gauge wire that distributes the voltage evenly to the fixture; we fuse-protect our systems at the hub connection points out in the yard. Our landscape lighting plans are also very useful to the homeowner for future reference, because they detail the exact location of the wires underground and specify what type of lamp corresponds with each individual fixture.
Painting the night with light! All this talk about voltage, wire size and circuit protection is boring. We agree. Like you, we enjoy the results of a properly laid out landscape lighting design. At Terrain Planning and Design, our philosophy in architectural lighting design is all about seeing the light, but not necessarily the fixture. Breaking tradition with the “runway light” arrangement along the walkway – we use directional lighting, up lighting in trees, soft wash lighting on walls and other architectural elements of the landscape. Combining the three different levels of ambient light, we are able to artistically provide safety as well as a magical display of your landscape at night.
Imagine looking out your window at night. Instead of looking in a black mirror, you are seeing architectural elements in your yard that you may not have noticed before. Night lighting gives your yard such a different look than you are used to in the daytime – it’s like having two yards in one!