How To Start A Business Doing Low-Voltage Outdoor Electrical Wiring Installation.
Description of Job
• Install low-voltage landscaping and driveway lighting.
• Install specialized low-voltage illuminated street numbers, poolside light- ing, and deck lighting.
Nighttime lighting can serve security, safety, and decorative interests. Many homeowners like to show off their landscaping by night with subtle lighting. In other areas, a bit of light helps demarcate driveway edges or winding pathways.
The biggest challenge to installers of outdoor lighting is avoiding excess. Poor design wastes energy and creates “lighting trespass” that bothers neigh- bors, dangerous glare that can affect pedestrians and drivers, and “lighting pollu-
tion” that washes out the view of the dark night sky. As an installer, you need to work closely with your client and tour the prop-
erty to design the best system. You may need to work with a licensed electrician in some localities, espe-
cially if you are asked to include high-voltage outdoor area lighting and motion detectors for security.
Know the Territory
This is a job that can be accomplished by anyone with a small amount of land- scaping and simple home improvement skills.
In most jurisdictions, use of low-voltage systems does not require the involvement of a licensed electrician; if your client’s home does not have a proper exterior outlet or access to an indoor outlet, you will have to engage an electrician to have one installed.
Plug-in lighting systems attach to an outdoor grounded outlet with fault- interruption protection or to an indoor outlet. A transformer reduces line voltage to safer 12-volt power.
Another alternative is the use of solar-powered lamps that use batteries that are recharged by sunlight each day and require no wires to interconnect them.
Consult web sites, catalogs, and home supply stores to learn about available systems and techniques. Contact manufacturers or distributors for samples, cata- logs, and photographs of lamps and accessories.
How to Get Started
Advertise in community centers and garden centers. Some hardware stores or home centers may permit you to advertise your installation services in return for an agreement to purchase lights and supplies there.
Send brochures and letters to landscapers, pool installers, and contractors asking them to recommend your services to their clients; you may want to offer a bonus or commission for business they refer your way. Ask satisfied customers to advise their friends, offering them a bonus or discount.
For most jobs, you’ll need a power trenching tool; this device can be a single- purpose unit or one that attaches to other equipment, such as a rototiller or a trac- tor. Short runs may be possible with hand digging.
You’ll also need some basic hand tools, shovels, and hole diggers.
Other expenses include creation of a portfolio of samples of available sys- tems and advertising and promotion.
How Much to Charge
You can charge a flat rate for your services based on the number of lamps and the length and complexity of the wiring involved, or you can quote an hourly rate. Add the cost of any lights, wire, transformers, and accessories; you should be able to purchase equipment at wholesale or discounted rates and resell them to your client at retail prices.
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: Some municipalities have ordinances aimed at reducing light pollution, and some subdivisions may have regulations that limit outdoor light- ing. Some localities may require a licensed electrician’s involvement or an elec- trical inspection.
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