The cost of typical lighting tasks

A 50plus guide to the cost of maintenance and repair work

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What are we talking about? How long does it typically take to
  • Changing a light switch/dimmer
  • Replacing a ceiling fitting
  • Repairing an outside light
  • Installing a new outside light
  • Installing a loft light
  • Installing down lighters
  • Adding a wall light
  • Repairing down lighters
Typical time

Replacing light switch - from 10 mins

Replace ceiling light 1 hr

Replace PIR light 1 to 2 hrs

New outside light 3 to 4 hrs

New loft light 3 to 4 hrs

New down lights - estimated

Repairing down lights - from 1hr & see text

Dependencies Lighting circuits will be off whilst work is carried out. Temporary lighting may be required in the winter. Metallic light fittings can only be installed if there is an earth present - can be an issue in pre mid-1960s properties. Dimmers come in different wattage ratings and cannot be used on a wide range of low energy or LED lamps. Always over rate dimmers for halogen lamps. Down lights need to comply with building regulations in respect of fire risk - intumescent hoods/fittings may be needed and if fitted in bathrooms must be suitable for the relevant zone.
Questions to ask What is being replaced / fitted and where. Age of the premises.

Replacing a light switch or replacing a switch with a dimmer is generally a simple task. Replacing a one gang (i.e. single) switch takes around ten minutes providing there are no wiring issues and the fixing screws fit and don't have stripped threads! A two gang or three gang will take a little longer as there are more wires to deal with. Replacing a switch with a dimmer is also a simple task.

Ceiling mounted pull switches can similarly be replaced (ceiling dimmers are also available) but typically take a little longer to replace than a wall switch as steps are required and cables can be set back in ceilings.

Replacing a ceiling fitting (or rose as standard fittings are commonly known) can be a simple task but in most cases at least three cables (each with three wires) will be found. The reason for this surprisingly large amount of cabling is that the ceiling rose is often used as a junction box. So replacing it means being able to identify what each cable is and ensuring they go back in the right order. This is fine if a the rose is being replaced but if a 'feature light' is being fitted and the ceiling rose being removed then in addition to the installation of the new light fitting the junction box function of the rose has to be replicated using a connection block in the ceiling. Remember bathroom lights must be suitable for the zone in which they are fitted.

If the outside light to be repaired is a 'PIR' fitting (i.e. a day/light and movement sensor with a flood light) or a 'bulkhead' fitting then it's frequently cheaper to replace the fitting. If replacing a 150W to 500W flood light consideration may be given to installing a low energy version. Although they cost more to buy they are cheaper to run. If you have a replacement light ready then that will save time. If the light is in a position that's difficult to access then the job will take longer.

When installing a new outside light the principle consideration is where power can be obtained from. If the location is really difficult to get power to consideration could be given to solar powered lights. These are fine if light is only required for short periods of time and it doesn't need to be too intensive. For 'mains' powered lights then a power source needs to be found. This can be a lighting circuit via a switch or a ring main via a fused spur. A cable then needs to be run to the light. The ease or difficulty of the cable run dictates the cost.

Installing a loft light is usually a relatively straight forward task assuming the loft isn't boarded. This is because the power for the light can usually be obtained from a ceiling rose of a room below the loft. If the loft is boarded allow additional time to access a suitable source of power.

Installing down lights usually requires an estimate. This is because (i) it is necessary to look at how they can can be fitted. Often it is necessary to access the space above the ceiling the down lights are going in but this can depend on quantity and rafter layout and (ii) where the lighting circuit can be accessed needs to be considered. The same applies to:

Adding a wall light(s) which can be similarly complex with the additional tasks of needing to route cables down the wall and if required switch the circuit separately from overhead lights. Installing wall lights is best undertaken whilst a refurbishment or compete redecoration of a room is being undertaken. An alternative is to condsider uplighters powered from sockets.

Repairing down lights. The first question is what type? Down lights can be mains or low voltage. If there is a faulty mains down light then usually either the bulb has gone or the fitting has given up in which case replacement is required. Low voltage down lights are transformer powered and it is common for these to 'die' in which case they need replacement. Hopefully the installer left them accessible. If so it's a case of investigating to see if the transformer is powering one or more down lights, obtaining a similarly rated replacement and fitting it.







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