The 3 Most Common Outdoor Lighting Problems & What You Can Do About Them
You want your home to look as perfect from the outside as it does on the inside, and landscape lighting is a great way to achieve perfection. Well-designed outdoor lighting will highlight the beauty of your home and landscape, increasing your curb appeal and your property value. But as perfect as your exterior lighting looks, it can have problems from time to time. So what do you do when your perfect outdoor lighting stops being perfect?
1 . Burnt Out Bulbs
Burnt out bulbs are the number one most common problem we see with landscape lighting systems. You may be thinking, that’s not a big issue—just change the bulbs—but it can actually be a big issue. The bulbs used for outdoor lighting systems are designed to last a long time, so if they’re burning out sooner than expected, it could be an indicator of deeper issues, like faulty wiring or improper installation. Make sure you have All Wet change the burnt out bulbs and inspect your system for deeper issues.
2. Connection Issues
The second most common problem we see with landscape lighting systems here in New Jersey is is malfunctioning connections. 99% of the time, a connection malfunctions because water has gotten into it. This can be due to improper installation (like using electrical tape to cover a connection rather than using an actual connector) or because the wrong type of connector was used. Improper connections not only put your lighting at risk of shorting out, it also poses a major shock risk that’s dangerous to you. Your exterior lighting is outdoors, so your connectors should be waterproof; if your landscape lighting was installed by All Wet everything is waterproof, but if it was installed by another contractor it may not be waterproof. All Wet can make sure you have the right connections to prevent problems.
3. Corroded Wires & Sockets
We rarely get calls for wire and socket corrosion; usually, we discover corroded wires and sockets while already there to address a problem with burnt out bulbs or faulty connections. This is because corrosion is caused by exposure to water, and water rarely gets into your sockets and wires without there being a pre-existing problem with your outdoor lighting. For example, if a bulb has burned out, it won’t produce the heat needed to burn away condensation, and the wetness of the condensate corrodes the socket. Avoid wire and socket corrosion by having burnt out bulbs and faulty connections fixed as soon as you notice a problem.
Everything You Need to Know About Outdoor Lighting
From dusk to dawn, outdoor lighting is your garden’s secret weapon. A well-placed uplight can focus attention on a specimen tree (and away from that problem area where you store the trash cans.) Strategically sited pathway lights will make a garden feel expansive. And the golden glow of a porch light will welcome you home. From design ideas (place pathway fixtures from 10 to 15 feet apart to create pools of guiding light) to energy-saving tips (use low-watt bulbs for a soft uplighting effect), we cover the basics.
Mounted below or at ground level to focus attention upward, uplighting includes wash lights, floodlights, well lights, and spotlights.
Able to mount on virtually any vertical surface, outdoor wall lights are one of the most versatile types of landscape lighting, perfect for use on decks, patios, stairways, and pathways (with walls).
Tip: Place lighting at or near tripping hazards such as stair risers or low walls.
Smart Outdoor Lights
Outdoor lights for entryways, porches, and landscapes that you can control using an app installed on your mobile device give you more control over how you light a landscape.
Riser lights, under-tread lights, recessed wall fixtures, and pathway lights all can be used to illuminate outdoor stairways. By day, the best stairway lighting is barely noticeable. After the sun goes down, well chosen lights can transform staircases to glowing jewel boxes
A covered porch offers protection from the elements. Be sure to get a light rated for damp conditions but consider this an opportunity to add personality and curb appeal to your home. For more porch light ideas
Outdoor Light Fixture Repair
Outdoor light fixtures will often at some point need repairs or need to be replaced. Globes can get broken, wiring can come loose and the fixture can become so weathered that there’s no hope of repair. Outdoor lights are often found on front and back porches, back patios, garage entrances or on the gable end above the garage entrance. If you cannot afford replacement, paint or new globes can often give these fixtures a face-lift without replacing them.
Shut Off Power
If you’ve replaced your light bulbs with known working bulbs and your fixture still does not work, it’s possible that the wiring has come loose in the fixture. Turn off the power at the junction box to the light fixture. You’ll be able to tell if the power is off to that fixture by using an outlet tester on the same wall that the fixture is attached to. On the interior side of the wall, plug the ends of the outlet tester into an electrical outlet to see if any power is registering; if not, you should be fine.
Remove the retaining covers holding the light to the exterior wall. Slide the light off of the anchor screws—this will expose the wiring. Look to see if either the black hot wires or the white neutral wires have come apart. If this has happened, you’ll need to put them back together. Place the end of the wire on the light next to the end of the wire in the wall; slide the wire nut over both wire ends and twist the wire nut. Make sure that you only connect same-color wires. Always remember: black on black and white on white.
Check your light switch for loose wires or replace it. Once you’ve checked the bulbs and the wiring on the light and the fixture still doesn’t work, it’s most likely a faulty light switch. Turn the power back off and remove the switch-plate cover.
Remove the retaining screws for the switch and pull it out of the wall. There will be a black wire and a red or white wire. Each wire is attached to a separate screw on each side of the switch.
Use a voltage tester to make sure that there’s no power going to either wire before you touch the screws with a screwdriver. Take note of which screw the wires are on. If the black wire is attached to the left screw, that’s where it will be attached to a new switch. The red or white wire will attach to the opposite screw. Hook each wire to the appropriate screw and tighten with your screwdriver. Set the switch back in place.
If your exterior light fixture has a broken globe, it can easily be replaced. Remove what’s left of the old globe and measure the threaded portion or top of the globe. This is the size that you need the threaded portion of the new globe to be. One size does not fit all.
Metal light fixtures can be painted to look new again. Use steel wool to sand off rusted areas and wipe off all sanding dust. Use a high-quality, oil-based exterior primer for metal; allow to dry the recommended amount of time for the product. Apply two coats of high-quality, oil-based exterior paint for metal.
Types of Landscape Lighting Fixtures
Cylinder, Box Shape and Bullet Shape
These designs help focus and direct the light beams. Some also cut off glare and protect the lamp and socket from debris and moisture.
Spread and Diffused
These low-level units are designed to cast illumination in a broader pattern for; flower beds, perimeter plantings, driveways, steps and paths.
In-ground or Well Light
Burying these fixtures flush with the ground conceals the light source. Use for uplighting trees and shrubs, and grazing textured walls.
Spot or Accent
Versatile/adjustable fixtures used for uplighting, crosslighting, accenting and grazing; when mounted high up provide focused downlighting and moonlighting.
Wall Bracket, Ceiling Close-up, Chain Lantern
Mounted at entry doors, over garages and on porches, these chain-hung lantern style units cast light outward—either direct or diffused.
Home has High Voltage
There may be an issue of too much electricity entering your house if you own many fixtures which burn out light bulbs in only a couple months. Although we have been taught an even 120 volts is what steadily enters our homes, this does not always happen.
There are times when houses might be overpowered. If you suspect this is the issue, you can buy a voltage tester and find out what your homes voltage is.
Even though it is normal to have fluctuation, if your voltage hovers over 125, most likely this is you problem. In many case the fix is simple, swap your lightbulbs for 130 volt light bulbs. However, if several of your homes LED flood light fixtures are burning out light bulbs, a longer lasting and better solution would be to call a Rockwall electrician to help correct your voltage issue.