Would you hire your plumber to work on the electrical system in your home? Would you enlist your mower to design and install a new pool in your backyard? These ideas may sound preposterous, but unfortunately, some contractors will offer to take on a secondary project, even if they are not trained or proficient in that area.
Just as you wouldn’t want your plumber to meddle with your electrical circuits inside your home, you shouldn’t assume that an irrigation contractor has the knowledge or skill set to properly install and service your outdoor lighting system. You need to look for a qualified professional with electrical knowledge and proper licensing for your outdoor lighting project.
When considering whether or not to hire your irrigation contractor to install outdoor lighting, there are various concerns that may arise. Before choosing an irrigation technician to take on exterior lighting, there are several factors you need to consider.
Design integrity may be compromised if you employ an irrigation technician to install lighting. Simply put, an irrigation contractor does not typically pursue the most efficient or artistic lighting schema, but rather focuses on the number of fixtures you will buy. In other words, your irrigation guy may be more focused on his bottom line, versus the beautification of your property.
Since outdoor lighting is a popular home improvement and investment in your home, you should look to hire a professional who understands the elements of a proper design plan. Ask to see photographs of past lighting design projects in your area, to make sure the visual effects created by this technician don’t fall flat. You want a competent contractor who can incorporate artistry and electrical expertise, not one who solely concentrates on up-selling you with more side services.
2. Installation During Irrigation Season
An irrigation company’s primary focus is irrigation for 8-9 months out of the year. When irrigation work slows down, they may shift focus into the lighting during the colder months of the year. But once spring arrives and irrigation work begins to trickle in, lighting installation once again is placed on the back-burner and is not their chief concern.
3. Service In Warmer Months
We have heard from many new clients, who originally had lights installed by an irrigation specialist. Many found they were left by the wayside when issues arose with their lighting system down the road. Once these contractors — who dabble in lighting — have made a big sale and profited from a new installation, they seem to disappear when service work is eventually needed.
When you decide to hire an irrigation specialist to install your lighting, you may not think ahead to future customer service, warranty, and maintenance issues, however, you should. Getting your contractor to service your outdoor lighting system during the irrigation season can be nearly impossible. Whether you have a few lights out or your whole system does not turn on at the right time, you may have trouble scheduling maintenance or service work. During their busy season, your contractor is occupied with his profitable new irrigation system installations, and often won’t bother with small service work or warranty issues from lighting.
4. Product Knowledge
Instead of searching out top-of-the-line products and seeking to give their clients a reliable and long-lasting fixture, many irrigation contractors simply reach for the light that is most readily available through their irrigation parts supplier. Irrigation contractors get stuck on products at their supply store and often revert to products made from PVC pipe, a cheap version of an uplight fixture. Instead of researching fixtures and light sources with certain beam spread, wattage, and color, many of these contractors do not seek out the best fixture for a project, they often default with a “one light fits all” mentality.
5. Technological Advances
An expert outdoor lighting technician is constantly seeking to keep up with technological advances in the lighting industry. The contractor who decides to dabble in lighting on the side is often investing neither time nor energy in continuing education or advancement in this secondary field. As technology improves and we move to more energy-efficient light sources and improved installation methods, you should verify your contractor is keeping up with current trends and new standards being set in the industry.
Before entering into an agreement with a contractor, you should always ask to see proof of licensing. You should verify this information by examining the classification and specialties listed for that company on your state contractors' board website. If a contractor is not listed under a specific specialty that covers lighting, such as “Electronic/Communication Service”, then you may not want to work with him. Working outside the scope of a company’s license specialty is in violation of state regulations and could lead to disciplinary action against a contractor's license holder.
There are many advantages to hiring a contractor who is professionally trained and specializes in his or her line of work. In an effort to avoid poor workmanship, cheap products, low-quality designs, and sub-par service, we recommend that you not contract out your exterior lighting project to an irrigation company. Selecting a contractor who is adept at designing, installing, and servicing low voltage landscape lighting systems is your best tip to ensure a successful project with long-lasting results.