Ask the Expert: 5 Steps to a Successful Smart Outdoor Lighting System

The modern homeowner demands a fast and personalized experience at the push of a button…smartphone button. So, it’s no surprise that more than ever homeowners are asking for their lighting and landscape to utilize smart products. To make it even more challenging, they are increasingly educated and empowered through social media and other online platforms. This means contractors have to be educated, prepared and understand the products available to meet the customers’ needs. That’s why we’ve reached out to Kevin Adams, Central’s Area Manager in Michigan, for his insight on how to do that. Kevin has more than a decade of experience in the industry with a focus in lighting.

From Kevin:

Technology in outdoor lighting has changed more in the last five years than the previous forty combined. If you are not currently using smart products then you are putting yourself at a disadvantage and missing your customers’ needs. What was once expensive and cumbersome now can be accomplished through simpler products and at many price points. Determining what products to quote and sell can be challenging if you are not educated and understanding of the customer needs. Let’s go over a few simple steps to ensure the homeowner is getting the best experience and you are fulfilling their complete wants and needs.


When discussing smart products with a customer I always encourage contractors to walk the site with the homeowner. If they are unwilling, then do a walk through yourself to determine if you will have any obstacles to overcome. By doing a walk through you will be able to better understand zones (areas) of interest, plants/objects that are of interest and unforeseen issues that the owner of the property would bring to light. Having this time with the homeowner is crucial because you start to build the trust and relationship as well as understand their needs and wants.


Often this step can be done in conjunction with step one, but not always. Take this time to ask every question possible and to understand if each of those is a want or need. Keep in mind that Mr and Mrs Homeowner rarely have the same wants and needs and both should be considered and respected. During this step you need to make sure you uncover what their primary and secondary use of their landscape is. Each homeowner is different, so don’t judge them by the cover of the book or house. Below are a few examples of questions to determine wants and needs, as well as follow up questions assuming they say yes.

  1. Are you interested in zoning the property so you can independently control areas of the yard?
    • Would you like multiple zones or just a simple on off for the entire system? If yes, then how many zones?
  2. Are you interested in the ability to dim the lights at certain times of the day or certain times of the year? (HINT: dimming lights can save the homeowner loads of $$$$)
    • Do you want to dim them all as one or individual fixtures or zones?
  3. Are you interested in any color changing lights on your home or landscape?
    • Do you want the entire system to be color changing or just a select number of fixtures?
  4. Do you have a quality internet connection on the exterior of the home?
    • IF YES. Can you show me where we could mount a transformer and get a quality WiFi signal? (HINT: when looking for a good signal make sure your smartphone has more than a 50% signal on the chosen network)
    • IF NO. Where could we get access to a LAN line to hook up an ethernet cable?
  5. Do you care about remote access or do you want all of these features automated and never touch it?
    • Do you want remote access from anywhere or just onsite?
  6. Does your home have an automation system and would you like your outdoor lighting integrated?
    • What software does it run on?

Just like everything in this world you get what you pay for. The homeowner is going to pay more for products that feature more tools and benefits. That doesn’t mean you cannot get a similar look and experience from an economy system as you can from an expensive one, but you definitely won’t have the same tools and functions to make it simple and user friendly. For some this is a very uncomfortable conversation, but it is a necessity. If you aren’t already having these conversations, I would challenge you to start and see if your close rate increases. When it comes to smart outdoor lighting the budget can vary drastically based on products and features.


Now it is time to pair products that fit the customer’s needs and keep everything inside their budget. Keep in mind that installing smart products takes more time than traditional lighting products. Also there will likely be some hands on training with the homeowner. These two factors should be considered when presenting the final quote to the homeowner. The homeowner may have to concede on their budget to get all their wants and needs, or concede on less important wants and needs. I find that it is usually beneficial to provide better and best options when proposing smart products.

FX LUXOR* $$$ Y (250 zones) Y Y WiFi/LAN Anywhere
VISTA TCS $$ Y (4 zones) Y N WiFi Anywhere
UNIQUE SMRT LOGIC $$ Y (with each transformers) N N LAN/RF Anywhere
BRILLIANCE SMARTSOCKET $ Y (with each transformers) N N WiFi Anywhere
KICHLER SMART CONTROL $ Y (with each transformers) N N WiFi Anywhere
LUXOR ZDC $$ Y Y Y Not Needed Anywhere
VISTA RGBW LED $ Y Y Y Needs WiFi Anywhere

* FX LUXOR – Integrates with Crestron, Lutron, Control 4, Elan and Savant


Don’t be shy to involve your local lighting specialist or manufacture rep on install day. Smart products always have a learning curve and bringing in the specialist can help expedite that process. Be sure to train the homeowner on the smart product to prevent callbacks and site visits.


Rely on Central to help, whether that’s getting you back to basics, helping with an audio or lighting demo/installations, or sharing insight and recommendations on the newest technologies or design styles. We stay at the leading edge of the industry and we’re ready to help you grow!

About Kevin Adams

Kevin Adams began his career in the Green Industry working at the counter and meeting with customers on the jobsite. During this time, he gravitated toward lighting and began participating and hosting lighting training and design–even traveling the Midwest giving hands-on training to industry professionals and contractors so that they could learn lighting basics, design, and selling to their customers. Now more than a decade later Kevin is an expert in the category, and well versed in the Industry as a whole. As an Area Manager for Central, Kevin has continued lighting training and during Covid, hosted virtual trainings. Whether it’s a technical or design question, or helping source the right product for a special job, Kevin is ready to help you make money and grow your business.