New clients are not always starting from a scratch. Quite a few explain they’ve got outdoor lighting systems already in place. They’re not satisfied with the performance of the system, or perhaps with its general condition. Long-time owners of a property realize one day that the place just doesn’t look as great at night as it once did. Recent buyers often discover that there are more non-functioning fixtures than they’d noted inspecting the property before purchase. Some discover wiring poking out of the ground. In some cases, the system just plain doesn’t work – at all. The discussion with these customers quickly gets to the point. Outdoor lighting: repair or replace?
Sometimes the question answers itself. If a system is 25 years old, for example, and the homeowner wants modern low-voltage LED equipment. That means replacement. More often, however, the next step is a site visit and an inspection.
The transformer is the heart of an outdoor lighting system. Every last bulb in the installation connects to it, directly or indirectly. It’s generally the single most costly component, too. There are two basic types of transformer, electronic and magnetic. Electronic transformers are less costly than magnetic. They’re lighter and more compact. However, their useful life is short, only 5-6 years. Electronic transformers are much better for indoor use. Magnetic transformers, in contrast, have longer lifetimes, 15-20 years on average.
Over time, the connections in a transformer loosen up. When contact is broken the lights on that wire won’t work. Moreover, loose or dropped connections can arc. That is, sparks can jump from terminal to wire. This can melt insulation and it’s a fire hazard. In the best cases, tightening up the connections in a transformer can keep it in service. Sometimes, however, the wear cries out for replacement.
WIRING AND CONNECTIONS
Bad connections are the most common reason for “dead’ lights in new client systems we inspect. The causes include corrosion in the connection hardware and wires cut by landscaping work. Testing with a multimeter can locate broken circuits without digging wires up. This provides a basis for estimating how much work it’ll take to repair the connections.
Finally, a survey of the fixtures and bulbs completes the accounting for a repair-or-replace decision. We can often restore brass and copper fixtures. Lower-quality plastic and aluminum fixtures aren’t made for long life. They’re made for low price. After a few years, the elements beat them up to the point where they’re no longer sheltering the bulbs inside them. Time to go.
OUTDOOR LIGHTING:REPAIR OR REPLACE?
An experienced Houston area outdoor lighting contractor can thus provide good estimates of the costs of outdoor lighting repair and replacement. Unless a large magnetic transformer needs replacing, labor costs are likely to be the significant factor. We’ll be candid about costs and about the repaired system’s prospects going forward. Our maintenance program is a good way to keep a system in the best shape it can be in. And if, all things considered, the numbers and the opportunity for upgrade say “Replace” – that’s where we truly shine.