Budgeting a Home Lighting Project

Manage costs, whether you're upgrading bulbs or designing an entire lighting system

The costs associated with upgrading home lighting can be as minimal as a $30 dimmer bought at a home improvement center and installed by the homeowner, or as comprehensive as the estimated 1 percent of construction costs that lighting is said to represent during a major renovation.

In terms of minor upgrades to lighting, much of the cost may be simply the cost to replace a fixture or even a light bulb, particularly if homeowners do the work themselves. A homeowner may spend $500 for a decorative table lamp or splurge on a vintage chandelier for several thousand.

LED Lightbulb

A 40-watt-equivalent LED light bulb costs about $30 but it is designed to last 25 years and will save you on energy cost.

Also worth noting is the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs beginning Jan. 1, which will require many homeowners to adjust what they expect to spend on light bulbs. For example, a 40-watt-equivalent LED light bulb costs about $30 versus the $1.50 we're accustomed to spending on a package of four 40-watt incandescent bulbs. Rather than focus on what you pay at the register, consider other factors that save you money, like longevity (that LED is designed to last 25 years) and energy cost (the LED only requires 8 watts to generate the same lumens as the incandescent).

When lighting is replaced during a major renovation, it is particularly hard to isolate the costs because tradesmen are working on many factors, not just the lighting, when they remove and rebuild walls, ceilings and floors. Furthermore, an electrical contractor will be doing many tasks in addition to running wiring for lighting. Work with your architect or contractor to design the right lighting plan for your renovation.

You can also consult a professional lighting designer to plan a lighting upgrade to a room or to the whole house. Costs can vary greatly. Some lighting designers will work through your architect, so the lighting design fee will be part of the overall design fee; in other cases, a lighting designer may be amenable to charging an hourly consultation fee, which may run from $150 to $300.

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