I had a customer telephone the office today to discuss his garden lighting. The conversation was based around the price and then the quality of the light fittings. However, the bottom line with most people is cost and the perceived quality associated with the price.
The honest answer is that if one wants a lighting system that is going to last, then it’s not going to be cheap. When I started in exterior lighting (12 years ago) and I used to offer a quote/ price in an apologetic manner however, this soon changed when I looked at the cheap alternatives and the poor installations that we see all the time.
The old adage ‘you pay for what you get’ is certainly true for exterior lighting. If you look at the UK weather throughout the year and see what a light fitting has to withstand there is no doubt that if you buy cheap, you purchase a ‘short term’ light. How long ‘short term’ is depends on how cheap the fitting is.
As a rule, you need to look for a quality brand such as Hunza. The brand alone will not necessarily offer a guarantee so you need to look for other indicators. If the IP rating is low (click here for an explanation on IP Ratings) then the chances are that water ingress will be an issue. It’s important to see if the fitting is CE approved although a fitting can be ‘labelled’ as being ‘approved’, which may not be the case.
The guarantee that comes with the light fitting; Hunza offer a 5 year warranty on powder coated finish lights and a 10 year warranty on solid copper and 316 marine grade stainless steel fittings. You may see some lights guaranteed for 25 years but they are more likely to be wall mounted lights where weather isn’t a major issue. However light fittings in the soil are the ones that need the warranty as these are the ones that can suffer the most from the UK’s weather.
There are other indicators, such as the weight of the fitting, where the screws are mounted, the seals around the lenses and where/how the cable enters the fitting. All of these can help you decide on whether your proposed lights are going to go the distance or fall at the first hurdle.
Once you have established a decent light fitting you then need to find a good electrician, this in my experience is a minefield! Just because you know an excellent electrician who can do anything inside the house doesn’t mean they will be any good outside. We have seen too many poor installations to know that when it comes to an exterior electrician, you need to employ an expert who works on outside lighting for a living.
Remember, if you do it right first time it’s going to cost but not half as much if you do it cheaply the first time round.