It’s wonderful to be a “doer.” There is something empowering about tackling home tasks, especially ones too complicated for other weekend warriors to handle. When it comes to things like gardening, furniture assembly, painting, landscaping, or routine car maintenance, do-it-yourself projects are satisfying and worthwhile.
There are, however, certain boundaries that D.I.Y. champions need to respect — namely, electrical work. When a project involves live wires, highly conductive materials, or sudden plumes of chemical-scented smoke spewing from an outlet, there’s a chance it may be better left to professionals.
Take light fixtures. At first glance, light installation may appear a straightforward and clear, if not exactly easy, process. But there’s always more than meets the eye when it comes to installing outdoor or indoor lighting.
Reasons to Hire an electrician for lighting services
Professional electricians have years of training and experience to their credit. Their knowledge extends beyond the basic operations in household electricity. They need to know more than how to put components together. They’re trained in analyzing entire power systems, pinpointing the causes of power disruption or outages, and fixing complicated problems.
Electricians also need to be on top of local and regional electrical codes as part of the job. These codes are always changing according to new regulations, technology needs, and legislation. They’re established to ensure that electrical jobs are finished in ways that are safe for both electricians and their customers and to keep electric-powered appliances and fixtures operational.
Electricians also have access to certain tools, gauges, meters, and auxiliary supplies that everyday consumers can’t simply buy at retail hardware outlets — and if they can, they may not have the experience of how to use them most effectively.
All these factors come into play when it comes to lighting fixtures. Out of all the kinds and types of electrical projects, those that involve light installation may pose the most serious risks of all.
Outdoor lighting installations
External lighting can be especially tricky to work on. Even if it looks fairly uncomplicated on the surface, there’s no outdoor lighting project we’d recommend a D.I.Y.-er tackle on their own.
The safety of outdoor electrical components is, of course, highly dependent on weather and environmental conditions — especially moisture. Not all lighting products are suitable for outdoor use, even though they may be presented that way in catalogs or advertisements. Your electrician will know which light fixtures are best for outdoor use and can help you decide which one to get.
Proper wiring is an especially crucial factor in electrical work. Wires are the conduits for the flow of electrical current, which is a very handy but also very deadly force. Bad wiring is the third most common cause of household fires, behind cooking and heating equipment. The risk of shock or electrocution from a wire — even one that looks safe or dead — is immense. They’re not to be trifled with.
Outdoor lighting installations frequently involve having to install new wiring systems, mostly in spots where no wiring existed before. That requires much more than intermediate electrical skills. A worker must know how to construct a complete lighting system from scratch, knowing how to properly place and set grounding wires and eliminating the risk of casual shock. For outdoor lighting installation, a professional electrician is not an option — it’s a necessity.
Indoor lighting installations
It’s true that indoor lighting presents less of a risk to ambitious D.I.Y.-ers, who may very well be able to handle some minor indoor lighting fixtures themselves — but not without a lot of caveats before they start. Anyone attempting to install indoor lights needs to have a little more than basic knowledge about home electricity.
For example, they need to know the amperage (the number of electrons present in a current) of their home circuit and compare it to the wattage of the lamp or light they want to install. If the amperage isn’t high enough to support the light wattage, they’ll need to run additional wiring to their circuit breaker. That’s not a job for amateurs; it’s best left to a professional electrician.
Your house might have some traits or quirks that will impact indoor lighting. For example, your house could be very old. Many older homes don’t have insulation strong enough to withstand elevated temperatures, support that ceiling lights or chandeliers need to work safely. Alternately, your ceiling structure may need to be reinforced so it can properly support the weight of a heavy light fixture — a job that requires careful constructive work. These situations call for a pro.
As with outdoor lighting, some indoor lighting installations require very careful wiring work, sometimes in spots where there have never been wires. Recessed lighting, mounted lights, and chandeliers all require added attention to wiring. Whoever works on the project needs to know where current wiring exists if it does, and how much more material or work it will take to make the light fit. The job may even involve light construction work that can change the appearance of wall sections or ceilings.
Granted, some indoor lighting jobs may be comparatively easy and safe for owners to handle on their own. Installing a dimmer function generally doesn’t need a wealth of knowledge. On the other hand, installing an entire power switch involves more education than you may be able to get from a how-to video.
Doubt: a D.I.Y. fan’s best (if occasionally annoying) friend
Once again: doing things yourself is a terrific way to build confidence and accomplish amazing things. There’s no better way to grow into a capable human being. At the same time, one of the best character traits a D.I.Y.-er can possess is accurate and honest self-knowledge.
One should never overestimate their ability, especially when it comes to inherently complex and potentially dangerous jobs like electrical work. There is no failure in not being able to finish a job that requires years of education and experience to do correctly.
Similarly, don’t underestimate or undervalue your feelings of uncertainty. It’s one thing to try things outside of your comfort zone — that’s good — but it’s another to attempt accomplishments that can be hazardous to one’s health if not done correctly. If you’re nervous about at-home lighting work, given the danger it can involve, look for a professional electrician.
Things to look for in a lighting electrician
Finding a great electrician is like searching for any other skilled tradesperson to work on your home: You seek a combination of experience, quality, service, and value.
Things to look for include:
Ask to see the electrician’s license, making sure it’s current and appropriate. A professional electrician will always be happy to show you their credentials, so don’t be afraid to inquire or conduct an online check if you can.
Inexpensive rates don’t necessarily represent fair value. A poor job done cheaply can end up costing you a lot more down the road. Tell the electrician exactly what you need done and get a detailed quote of how much they’ll charge for each step.
Certified Master Electricians are held to the highest standards of consistency and quality. Employing one is as close to a sure bet as one can get in-home electrical service. Some may also have special expertise in lighting fixtures, so ask about their background and experience.
Character and communication.
Attitude and transparency are two benchmarks of service that a quality electrician will never overlook. They should dependably arrive on time and finish work cleanly, and always be forthright about the state of your installation and issues that may arise.
Solid recommendations and reviews.
Word of mouth is as much of a marketing tool as electricians ever need but also look for fair and detailed online customer reviews as well.
Home Team Electric can light the way
Home Team Electric is who the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley residents turn to for the most dependable, expert, and affordable lighting installation and repair. Contact us today by phone or online for an estimate on your home lighting project.