Outdoor lighting has the lucky distinction of making your property more attractive while also making it safer for the people walking it. This is especially true when you install deck stair lighting; the soft glow highlights your deck and allows friends and family to safely climb and descend.
In addition to the basic costs of your lights, you need to consider the cost of installation, and best practices for hiring an installer. Installation needs and costs vary, depending on whether you also need to install wiring and other electrical supports.
Why Install Deck Stair Lighting?
The main reason to install deck stair lighting is to improve safety between dusk and dawn. Lighted stairs helps people see where they’re going, of course, but it also highlights the stairs and safety railing, protecting family and visitors against falling down one or over the other. To improve safety even further, install directional lighting that points downward, toward the steps. This concentrates the light on the stairs themselves and protects people’s eyes from the light.
In addition to making your deck stairs safer, lighting makes them more attractive, accenting this truly decorative feature. It helps delineate the deck from the rest of the property and the soft glow of outdoor lights helps create a warm, welcoming environment.
How Much Does Deck Stair Lighting Installation Cost?
Installation costs depend mainly on whether you need to run additional wiring and install an electrical box or electrical panel. If this is the case, you probably want to hire a licensed electrician to complete the job instead of a handyman. Hourly rates vary widely between the two, and also differ according to your location.
Electricians charge, on average, between $75 and $150 per hour. A handyman’s average hourly rate ranges between $60 and $90. A simple install that doesn’t require extensive electrical work takes around two to three hours to complete. More involved installations take around four hours.
Your installer may also charge a flat, per fixture rate, which averages around $75. In that case, your costs depend on how many fixtures you wish to install.
Materials costs also vary according to the type of lighting you choose and whether you need to run electrical wire. Low wattage, flush mount lights start as low as $6 for a single light. Pricing goes up significantly for designer, multi-light options, which may top $800 for a four-light set. Electrical wire averages around $7 per foot.
Deck Stair Lighting Considerations
The kind of bulb you choose makes a difference as to cost, both to buy and operate. Incandescent bulbs cost less than LEDs, but last a fraction of the time, around 1,500 hours versus over 25,000, and require significantly more power to operate.
You also need to look at the power type your lights require, as well as wiring needs. LED bulbs typically need a 12-volt DC transformer, whereas incandescent lights use a 12-volt AC transformer. LEDs also require parallel wiring rather than series wiring.
Another consideration is the transformer, which converts standard 110V line voltage to 12V for the low voltage requirements of deck lighting. Again, the transformer you choose – AC versus DC – depends on whether you use LED or incandescent lights. It plugs into a standard outlet, with wiring running through a loop for each fixture. Base your transformer size on the number of lights times their wattage, plus 10 percent. So, 10 lights at 15 watts each (150), plus 10 percent (15), equals 165. Round that number up to the next highest transformer size, if that exact size isn’t available.
Your wire gauge also needs to match your lighting needs. LED lights typically use 18/2 gauge wire; incandescent lights usually require 12/2. In addition, your connections need to match. Wires for this type of lighting generally feature a single split, with one side being black and the other featuring white markings. To ensure a working connection, connect like with like.
When hiring an electrician or handyman, check licensing board sites to ensure he or she has the appropriate credentials, including insurance. This protects you and your property in the event a problem occurs during installation. You should also look at consumer review sites, which offer great feedback regarding reliability and quality.
Finally, if you have an HOA or other community association, you may need to get approval for your lighting project from them. There may also be other local requirements, particularly as far as building codes. Look at your local government website to make sure your project falls within guidelines.