Tell me everything about floodlights/outdoor lighting for my new home
May 9, 2014 1:48 PM   Subscribe

I want to have 4 or 5 lights installed on my new house for both practical and security purposes (carport, front walk, side of house, etc.). Who is the right person to call for this?

We had an electrician come for an estimate on some other stuff but he wasn't making me confident that this was something he could do well. He also said we should buy our own fixtures. What do I need to know about different types of outdoor lights? Spotlights vs. floodlights? Switches vs. motion vs. timed? Wired vs. solar? How do I know where they can be installed, such as if there isn't currently wiring going to certain locations?

Should I call landscapers? Specialty outdoor light designers? Another electrician?
posted by rbf1138 to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
We recently installed solar motion activated lights on our house that are made by Bunker Hill Security. We got them for about $25/each on sale and installation involved a ladder and screw gun. This is definitely something you could do yourself if you get solar lights. If you'd like to know the models Mr. Jungle chose just memail me and I can ask him.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 2:08 PM on May 9, 2014

Since you said "everything" make sure you don't piss off any of your neighbors, if you have any. Not just neighbors on either side of you, but all around. A motion sensor floodlight that turns on into someone else's bedroom every time the wind blows, for example, is a good way to do this.

Remember that a little goes a long way: super bright lights can create glare which actually make harder to see, and it's worth considering ground lighting versus overhead lighting. It's best to use lights that have some kind of shielding or reflector that directs/concentrates the light to where you want it; this also reduces light pollution.

Some localities have codes that restrict the kind of outdoor lighting you're allowed to install for these reasons; that might be worth checking out.
posted by barchan at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've hired LICENSED electricians to do this in the past.

Specifically one particular guy who was awesome, experienced, old school, and cared a lot about performing his role well.
posted by jbenben at 12:32 AM on May 10, 2014

I hired an electrician who ended up doing the work on my house as a side job from the electrical contractor he was working with at the time and gave me a discounted rate. Because of the discounted rate he asked that I purchase all the material myself.

He had originally given me 3 options for the cost of the work:

1) He buys the material and charges me $x for the whole project.
2) He buys the material and charges me $y/hr for the duration of the project.
3) I buy all the material and I pay him a lower rate of $z/hr for the duration of the project.

We ended up going with option #3 to pay a lower rate but in practice I wish I hadn't because I ended up making a lot of trips to Home Depot to buy material and return all the incorrect stuff I bought. At one point we went to Home Depot together so he could pick out exactly what it was he needed.

So the point of my story is that unless you're getting some benefit from buying your own fixtures like a lower rate for the electrician's work it would be better to have them buy all the material and you pay for it. Or you could go with them to select fixture or other technical material.

I think when electricians or other contractors ask the owners to buy the material they're just being lazy and don't want to spend the time doing the "boring" part of the job.
posted by eatcake at 5:11 AM on May 10, 2014

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