Setting Realistic Expectation’s for Lighting Investment

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We all want to show off our most important and probably largest investment – our home, while making it look its best. What achieves this goal the best? Outdoor Lighting!

We know what Outdoor Lighting is and how it can bring a home and landscape alive at night, but most of us really do not know or have realistic expectations of what great quality lighting is going to cost – is it $500 or $5000. Quality outdoor lighting should be seen as an investment, just like upgrading your kitchen or master bath, not a DIY project that can be done in a weekend. Outdoor lighting can add value to your home should you ever go to sell as well!

There are quite a few factors that can influence what a proper outdoor lighting system will cost and considering all of these when you are setting your budget for your new lighting system will help establish a more realistic cost expectation – and less sticker shock or frustration.

  • Size of your House: If you are wanting to illuminate your home’s façade the square footage comes into play. Are you wanting just the front, or do you want front, back, sides, and garage lit up? Having an idea of the areas of your home you want to see accented helps when you meet with a Certified Lighting Designer so they do not quote you more than you are looking for.
  • Detail of the Elevation: May seem crazy, but some smaller homes need more lighting than their larger counterparts solely due to the elevation. Some elevations have peaks about doors, overhangs over windows, courtyards, or areas that are darker than others – those situations would create a need for extra fixtures to ensure there are no dark spots or shadows – brick and stone colors can also play a factor into what is needed!
  • Scale and Detail of Landscape Design: Really look at your landscape and see what you have and what features you really want to highlight – trees, flowerbeds, pathways. Do you have a fountain, fire pit, sports court – those are great areas to really add lighting to and make them pop at night. Who doesn’t love a night game of bocce ball or put put?
  • Personal Preference: Remember it really all comes down to YOU and your personal taste. Certified Lighting Designer’s are the best at what they do and can create an amazing night time oasis – but that may not be within your budget at that moment, or what you like, so always speak up and let the Designer know what you like and what you are wanting to achieve. If you don’t know what you want or like how is the Designer supposed to know?
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Once you have looked at your home and landscape and take into consideration the above factors this guide can help you with an idea of where you may fall – but remember everything can vary – no one house is the exact same.

Quality vs. Cost

It should go unsaid but quality and cost go hand in hand. Like the saying goes “You Get What You Pay For”. When it comes to lighting this could not be more apropos.

There are different levels of fixtures out there, from the Malibu System where low voltage lighting kind of started to fixture that can cost well over $1000/each.

The lower the price of the fixture the lower quality it is (now this is not all cases). It is also up to you again – if using a Certified Designer, they are going to use materials that may cost more upfront but will have a much lower backend cost. Quality fixtures tend to carry longer warranties (many have lifetime warranties), do not require much basic maintenance work (now a rogue landscaper is a different story), and with proper installation you will surely have a long-lasting system – many lasting longer than a decade (we have systems that have been in place over 15 year’s and are still going strong).


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Finding the Best Lighting Designer

It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry Landscaper out there says they can do lighting – well some can but most cannot. Some of the lower quality lighting fixtures are sold at the same supply houses landscapers get all their supplies at and at check-out they will be asked “Would you like to try lighting?” and then sold a bucket of lights to “install”. This would be the last person to have install a lighting system – no education, training, certification – nothing! The last thing you want after making an investment in your lighting system is for it to crumble in your hands, so really quiz the person meeting with you on their products, the warranty they carry, and how the installation is done – you have every right to ask all these questions and they should have the answer – if the person meeting with you can’t answer even the basic questions move to the next one.

There are companies and designers around the country that are certified to do outdoor lighting. You can visit the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professional’s website and find either a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician and/or a Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer in your area. These professionals have spent year’s and countless hours mastering their trade and learning the proper techniques of installation. If someone is claiming to be Certified through AOLP you can also verify their certification and ensure they are truly a professional.

Outdoor lighting is an investment and should be treated as such, take the time to research lighting companies in your area and select the one that is best for you and makes you feel like you are getting the best you can.






This blog is published by Brandon Kuehler of Kuehler Enterprise, Inc. dba Light It Right. all rights reserved. Brandon is a Certified Low Voltage Lighting Technician and Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer and has been designing and installing lighting systems for over 20 years.

Brandon lives in Katy, TX with his wife, daughter, 2 dogs, and 4 cats. To visit his site go to or to hire Light It Right and Brandon visit here.

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