Comparing Landscape Lighting Bids Apples to Apples

comparing bidsSo you are looking at installing outdoor lighting and you’re doing your research to pick 3 companies to get bids from. After all, it is the smart and responsible way to find any contractor.  First off, the best way to find a reliable company is to ask your friends and neighbors if they have a company they would recommend.  Be sure to look at the company’s online presence including customer reviews and testimonials.

After you have picked a few to call and have initial meetings, now you have three great bids to consider, but are they the same? Probably not. How do you know that the lighting contractors you’re talking to are giving you pricing for the same thing?

Here are a few things to watch for:

First off, make sure your bid is in writing.  Are they professional? Examine the contract and determine if it is fair. Also, ensure that the legal agreement includes the payment schedule and bid price as well as the scope of work and details on the fixtures.

One of the big differences in lighting bids are the quality of the fixtures that they are installing.  There is a huge variance in fixture price that is directly based on the quality of that fixture.  If you are comparing a bid using cheap fixtures that won’t make it through a season vs fixtures that carry a lifetime warranty, there is likely a huge initial cost savings with the cheap fixtures that will have you paying more in the end when you have replace it.

The fixture manufacturer’s offer different warranties on their fixtures so be sure to ask what type of fixtures the contractor will install and what warranty comes with the fixture.

Finally, can you communicate with them? This may seem like simple stuff, but don’t take it for granted. First, can you call or email them and have them get back to you with answers to your questions in good time? And second do you understand each other? And do you understand the explanations they give you?

Every business is a little different and the goal is to find the one that is right fit for you!  It is not as easy as just picking the lowest price bid as that may not get you what you are looking for.  You aren’t just looking for a fair price but also the company that offers great service and high quality.

The Top 3 Lighting Trends You Need

Top 3 Lighting Trends you need to know about

We have rounded up the three biggest lighting trends that are hot right now and are must haves for your home.  They are fairly simple changes that have a huge impact on your life.

Lighting Trend #1: Lighting Sensors

Is there a room in your house where the lights are always being left on?  By replacing your current light switch with an occupancy sensor switch, you will never leave the lights on again!

top 3 lighting trendsAn occupancy sensor will automatically turn on the lights when you enter a room and it will turn them off once you leave.   Not only is it convenient but it saves energy and saves you money on the electric bill.

These sensors are ideal for rooms where the lights are accidentally left on such as pantries, closets or bathrooms.  They are also ideal for rooms you enter when your hands are full such as your laundry room, kitchen or a work/storage room.

The sensors have setting options on them to adjust the sensitivity as well as how long the light should remain on after you leave the room.  This is handy if you are making trips back and forth into the room so you don’t have the lights turning on and off constantly.

To read more about it, check our post http://landscapelightingguru.com/occupancysensorswitch/

lighting trends

 

Lighting Trend #2: Lighting inside cabinets and drawers

Don’t you hate it when your cabinets or drawers are so dark that you can’t see the contents, and you can’t find what you need? Tired of using a flashlight when you need to venture into a dimly-lit space? Well, trendsetters these days have found elegant solutions to that problem: they’re adding lighting inside those formerly-dark spaces.  In many cases, when you open a drawer or cabinet, the light inside is triggered to instantly turn on.

 

 

 

Lighting Trend #3: LED

lighting trendsLED lighting continues to be top trend in indoor and outdoor lighting and will remain that way for years to come.  The US Department of Energy forecasts that LED lighting will comprise 75% of all lighting sales by the year 2030.

This is such an easy trend to get on board with – retrofitting your current fixtures is as easy as changing out your light bulb.  LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have been constantly evolving and improving since they were introduced. The latest LED technology offers a broad range of colors and intensity levels with ever-increasing energy efficiency.  It saves you money right away in electrical costs and longer term as you don’t have to replace the bulbs as often.

  • High Efficiency – LED uses 75% less energy than traditional lighting Better for the environment and saves you money
  • Extra long life – LED have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours that is an average of 15 years. In addition, the light output remains consistent throughout its lifespan. The long lifespan requires very little on-going maintenance.
  • Variety of Color Options and size – LEDs can match the warm tones of incandescent lighting, overcoming the cold, blue-white light of the past.
  • Surface temperature – LED lamps remains cool which allows for improved safety and no energy loss due to heat.

If you would like to learn more about these lighting trends or any other indoor lighting options, please give us a call at 210-710-7737.

 

 

Lighting up your Grill – Grill Lighting done right

grill lightingHave you fired up the grill this season and are you prepared for a fun summer of Backyard BBQ’s?  We loved the article below from Houzz with 8 great ways to improve your grill setup.  Our favorite tip and the one we wanted to expand on today is the second one – Let there be light focusing on grill lighting. The author jokes, “Did you know that improper lighting accounts for 52 tons of burned meat every year? OK, I made that up, but proper lighting is key for any grilling station, and not just so you can see what you’re cooking.”  While we agree that the statistic is likely not accounted for, the problem is real folks.  So what is the best way to light your grilling area?

Whether you have an expansive outdoor kitchen or a modest grill area, the right lighting can dramatically change your food preparation, cooking, and dining experience.  The first priority for your outdoor cooking area is lighting the working space. The area needs plenty of lighting, preferably from high above so the light is not in your eyes.  To eliminate shadows and prevent overcooking of foods, use two or more lights from different directions. LED lights should ideally be mounted 10 to 15 feet above the ground and pouring light over each of the cook’s shoulder.

If your barbecue is some distance from your table, make certain that you have adequate light to guide you in carrying the food to and from the eating area.  This may not require separate planning since there usually is enough spill light from the two areas.  If you have a larger work space, under-countertop lighting is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional. It makes finding things in the cabinets or mini fridge a lot easier.

A landscape lighting designer or specialist will have the experience and knowledge to consider safety, security, and beauty when creating a custom lighting design. Some projects are trickier than others and getting a designer involved as you’re building or making renovations will prevent any headaches later down the road.  If you need help lighting your San Antonio or Hill Country outdoor grill area, give us a call at 210-710-7737.

Looking for a simpler fix?  Until you are ready to light up your outdoor cooking area, a clip-on grill light will make the job easier in the meantime.  They have different ways to mount to your grill – make sure you check your grill and find the one that would work best.  Also, look for one with a flexible neck on it so you can move it around as you need to.  Last but not least, make sure the grill light is LED so it lasts a long time.  With Father’s Day just around the corner, this would make a great gift for the BBQ man in your life!

 

Putting your Property in the Best Light – Value of a Good Lighting Designer

Value of Good Lighting Designers - Landscape Lighting GuruHave you decided to invest in outdoor landscape lighting but now not sure who to trust with the job? The appearance of your home and landscape after outdoor lighting has been installed is dependent on one thing—the landscape lighting design. There are many different companies installing landscape lighting but few have actual experienced lighting designers to create the right design for your home and property.

Landscape Lighting Guru provides experienced, trusted outdoor lighting designes. Our team creates custom solutions that beautifully illuminate and accentuate your landscape and your home. LLGs experts will work closely with you to achieve the best lighting effects possible for your environment.

 
Value of Good Lighting Designers - Landscape Lighting GuruSo where do we start?
As we tour your property together, we’ll discuss what you want the lighting to accomplish. Is it mainly for safety and security? For accenting your beautiful views of your landscape from the interior of your home? Is it to accentuate your home? Do you have a special sculpture or water feature you want highlighted? Our lighting designers will suggest different ways you can accomplish what you are looking for and give you new ideas to consider. They will then create a fully custom lighting design for your home and property.

 

 

With the right design, we can install your custom lighting system that will transform your home. We utilize the highest quality lighting fixtures, materials and installation methods, which are backed with a limited life time manufacturer warranty. This unmatched combination of customer service and expertise will achieve the look and feel that you’re looking for—and that your neighbors will be envious of.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a landscape lighting designer, please give us a call at 210-710-7737 or email us at info@landscapelightingguru.com. We look forward to working with you.

Still not sure? Here are a few recent testimonials that speak to the design element of our work. For more reviews, check out our testimonial page.Value of Good Lighting Designers - Landscape Lighting Guru

 
“The lights truly are beautiful. Each time I look at them at various times of the evening or morning, I see something new and interesting. Thank you for bringing your gift to us. We enjoyed working with you as well. Thanks for your availability and for your tree climbing crew.” ~Carol Stehling

“Thank you very much to all the folks at the Landscape Lighting Guru. Our pool and surrounding areas was awesome during the day…and a dark abyss by night. The LLG team designered an awesome lighting plan and executed the install to perfection. The crew was timely, did great work, was very cordial, and we could not have been more pleased. We even had them re-do the lighting at our home entrance as well. Would highly recommend to all” ~Brent Poss

“We have known Darryl, our “landscape lighting guru,” since 2010 when we were looking for help and inspiration for landscape lighting at home. Darryl provided both and did a spectacular job in both front and back yards. The live oaks are particularly dramatic. Many of our neighbors have stopped by to say how much they like the landscape lights! In 2016, we brought the landscape lighting guru back for holiday lighting. We were delighted with the show stopping results – like a festival of lights in our front yard! Even strangers driving by stopped to compliment the lights. If you’re looking for a creative eye and beautiful living, you can’t do better than the landscape lighting guru.” ~Laurie A. Weiss
We service the Texas Hill Country including, Fredericksburg, Boerne, The Dominion, Fair Oaks, San Antonio, Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls and New Braunfels, Texas.

Get Ready for Summer – Mosquito Control

As the days get warmer, its time to get your outdoor living spaces ready for the hot summer ahead. Create a comfortable outdoor space for you and your guests with these tips:

Get Ready for Summer Spruce up the patio for summer

Start the summer off with a fresh start – Clean the porch floor, exterior windows and doors.  A pressure washer can make this task even easier!  If you have porch furniture, clean it off and wash the cushions.  Lay down a fresh doormat, and plant a pot of flowers.

Keep mosquitos away

Having warmer weather and longer days means we’re entering mosquito season. Nothing will drive you inside as quickly as getting bit by mosquitoes.  Keep the mosquitoes from biting by installing a mosquito repellent system. Take preventative measures by regularly checking your property for standing water and emptying it.

Landscape Lighting Guru, Outdoor Lighting, Dominion, Fair Oaks Ranch, Boerne

Set the mood with outdoor lighting

A well lit space not only keeps you safe but also sets the mood.  You don’t need a lot of outdoor lights, you just need the right ones in the best locations.  If you already have a lighting system, we recommend an annual checkup to replace any bulbs that are out and redirect the lights based on your landscaping that has grown from last year.

You could also add some fun new lighting to your outdoor living space– we love the look of string lights or these custom designed LED fish basket lights the Guru installed. We designed these fish basket lanterns to hang in the client’s trees in the back yard. We love the way they sway in the trees and light up the entire yard.

Keep it Cool

Of course summers in San Antonio and parts of the Hill Country are going to be Hot!   Outdoor fans have come a long way and not only offer some cool air but have great designs too. Landscape Lighting Guru installs outdoor fans and we can help recommend the best type and brand of fan best suited for your home.  One of the brands we recommend, Haiku, offers unique designs that reflect any style.  To top it off, they’re smart and energy efficient.

Landscape Lighting Guru, Water Feature, Outdoor Lighting, Fredericksburg, New Braunfels, Horseshoe BayKeep the water running

The best way to prevent costly repairs to your fountain is with routine maintenance.  Our goal in service and inspection is to keep your water feature working as well as on the day it was installed.

Don’t have the time for another to-do list?  Landscape Lighting Guru offers top of the line products and services for many of these and would be happy to discuss your outdoor needs. Give us a call at 210-710-7737 to create an outdoor living space that is fabulous!

Preserve the Night Sky with Lighting Controls

Controls In our last installment of our Preserving the Night Sky series, we are going to discuss the third key feature to consider when designing a dark sky friendly lighting plan – Controls.  Controls are the way that you tell your lights when you want them on and when you don’t.  With today’s technology, we can control zones or areas of lighting separately right from the palm of your hand.  That’s right, you can use an app to control the pool zone, the security zone, the party zone, or the everyday zone.  This way, if you feel nervous about the things that go bump in the night you can turn on the security zone with the touch of a button on your phone.

Lighting Controls can also be as simple as having the right timer installed on your system.  We usually recommend using an astronomical timer that uses a pre-programmed database of times for sunrise and sunset to tell your system when to turn on and off.  All you have to do is tell the timer where you are in the world, the time / date, and when you want your lights to shine.  That’s about as easy as it comes – set and forget.  It even gives you an option to automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time.

Give us a call and we can look at your specific situation and put into practice the right method to take a balanced approach to the lighting of your property.

For more information on one of the smart lighting products we install visit FX Luxor

Related Posts in Series:

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

 

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

  Up LightingToday we are going to discuss the second key feature in Preserving the Night Sky series, Up lighting. Up lighting does show off the features of your home better than most applications.  However, done incorrectly this is one of the biggest contributors to light pollution. It is possible to create the dramatic shadow effects of skimming a textured stone house with an up light and still keep the light from passing beyond the eve of the home.

The right fixtures are the key to success. Make sure your fixtures have shields or cowls that prevent the trespass of light on to other things or beyond into the night sky.  We offer free consultations, so why not have us come and visit and talk about the best way to do this.

 

Related Posts:

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

Preserve the Night Sky with Responsible Lighting

Preserve the Night Sky with responsible lighting

Photo Credit: http://tpwd.texas.gov

One of the many charms of the hill country is the beautiful night sky. Homeowners may think they should avoid installing outdoor lighting in order to preserve the night sky. However, with responsible outdoor lighting design, not only can you enjoy the night sky but also enjoy your outdoor living space.

I’ve lived in the Hill Country for most of my life, and have always enjoyed the stars and the night sky. We take many steps to bring ambiance, security, and safety to your property while taking in deep consideration of the stars in the night sky. As proud members of the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), we try to educate clients on the differences between what we do and what everyone else does in the lighting landscape lighting world. In this series of posts, we will share the three key features to consider when designing an outdoor lighting plan that is also dark sky friendly.Preserve the Night Sky with responsible lightingRelated Posts:

Preserve the Night Sky with the Moon Light Effect

 

Preserve the Night Sky with Up Lighting

Spring Forward this Sunday

Spring Forward and check your timerDaylight Saving Time (DST) ends this Sunday causing us to lose an hour of sleep this weekend.  The mornings will be lighter and the evenings will be darker making it a good time to check the timer on your outdoor lighting system.

There are several different type of timers used for outdoor lighting and what needs to be updated depends on what type of timer you have.  If your lighting system has been installed in the last few years, you likely have an astronomical timer or a photocell.  Those types of timers should automatically adjust for daylight savings time and you shouldn’t need to do a thing!

If you have a manual timer, you will need to adjust for daylight savings time.  To adjust your timer, you first need to find your transformer which will be located outside (usually near your utilities) or inside your garage.  The transformer is a box and you will unlatch it to open it and find your timer.  To adjust the time, you rotate the dial clockwise until the correct time is shown in the window in the middle of the timer.  You can also adjust the start time and end times for your lights by moving the green and red pins.  The green is the start time and the red is the end time.   In San Antonio, the new sunrise time will be 7:45 am and the sunset time will be 7:45 pm.

If you need help adjusting your timer, please give us a call and we would be happy to walk you through the process – 210-710-7737.  Here are a few interesting articles for more information on Daylights Saving Time.

A new bill was recently filed by a Texas state representative to abolish the DST ritual: Will Texas elect to drop DST?

Great overview done by Time of why DST was started and data on its effectiveness:  Why do we have DST?

 

How to hang Outdoor String Patio Lights

Outdoor patio string lights not only light up your backyard or patio, but also transform your outdoor space into magical setting for entertaining, dining, and relaxing. With a bit of planning, you can create an outdoor living space that you will enjoy from day to night!

So how do you create this magical space with string lights?

Outdoor String Lights

Zig Zag Pattern

1.  Measure Your Space – Know the dimensions of your space and add 2-6 feet of length to your measurements to account for the natural swag of the lights when hung.

2.  Pick a pattern for your string lights. Here are a few of the more popular DIY patterns:

  • Zig Zag  patterns are a fun choice when you want to add full coverage illumination across your space
  • X Patterns work especially well in wide spaces or areas that are square shaped.
  • Square pattern is created by outlining the perimeter of your space.
  • Scalloped Edge patterns work well along a fence or wall.

3. Find your anchor points to create your pattern and make sure you use only stainless steel hardware.

Outdoor String Lights

X Pattern

  • Attached to Trees
  • Hanging against deck railings
  • Fence posts
  • Outlining a roof line
  • Pole – Can have one installed or install yourself

4.  Buy your lights

Patio bulbs are available in several shapes and sizes to complement any size space or decorative style. Globe patio lights are a classic choice with the G40 being the most common in a medium size bulb.  There are also S11 bulbs that have more a balloon shape or S14 bulbs for a more vintage look.  The wire is most commonly found in green but often have white and black available as well.

Outdoor String Lights

Square Pattern

Another important choice you have is whether you want incandescent lights or if you want to upgrade to LED.  Not only will LED lights provide up to 98% energy savings but they also give you the ability to string many different strands end-to-end only utilizing one outdoor outlet.  To dig deeper into the energy savings, assuming you had 100 lamps (typically 4 strands for 100 ft total) running for 6 hours every evening, the incandescent lights would cost ~$330 a year in electrical costs versus the LED lights which would cost ~$3 a year.   So any upfront cost to upgrade to LED when purchasing the lights will quickly be made up if you plan to use your new lights often.

5.  Hang your Patio Lights
The installation process can vary depending on where and how you decide to hang your patio lights. You should consider adding a stainless-steel cable or guy wire to hang your lights to give them more stability. You may also want to have some zip ties, carabiners, hooks, extension cords and a staple gun available for use during installation. (but never staple wires to the trees, or wrap the wire around the tree branches)

Last but not least, plug them in and sit back & enjoy!  If you are interested but not sure where to start, give us a call at 210-710-7737 for a free consultation.

Outdoor String Lights

Scalloped