PDA

View Full Version : Here to help


NightScenes
12-19-2005, 10:41 PM
I would like to say hello, and I would like to help anyone interested in low voltage landscape lighting. This looks like a great forum of professionals who would like to not only install lighting, but design and install it well.

Landscape and architectural lighting is all that I do. I have been an electrician for 15 years and I have specialized in low voltage lighting for five years.

There are many ways to install this lighting wrong and only one way to do it right. I would like to help do it right. I'll try to answer any questions, so go ahead. Make my day.

Venturewest
12-19-2005, 11:43 PM
Hey Paul, I think it is awesome when a veteran in this industry wants to devote time to helping others learn. I will definitely be taking advantage of your experience and knowledge. I am getting ready to do my first low voltage system for a friend of mine. I hope it will generate some more business this winter.

Also, I am getting ready to general contract a house on a couple of acres... Is there anything I should do during construction that would make low voltage lighting, (either indoor or outdoor, easier or more cost effective)? Or maybe some ideas for low voltage lighting I would not think of? I am only familiar with exterior landscape lighitng.

NY Landscape Lighting
12-19-2005, 11:50 PM
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471451363/qid=1135050529/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/103-0056208-6058252?n=507846&s=books&v=glance


We ordered it from amazon. There are 2 editions, I believe this is the latest edition.

NightScenes
12-20-2005, 12:06 AM
First of all, put as many chases under the driveway and sidewalks as you can get away with. Remember that the NEC requires these chases to be 18" below grade. Next, place an exterior, dedicated GFCI outlet, at a central location that is not in plane site. If you are planning some lighting at the drive entrance, you may want your electrician to go ahead and place an outlet in that area. If this home is on a couple of acres, the driveway may be very long.

NightScenes
12-20-2005, 12:10 AM
NY, most people see the price of that book and freak out. I must say that it is worth double!!!

Dreams To Designs
12-21-2005, 08:29 AM
Paul, how do you balance the voltage on your lighting installs, while not using a hub system? I have had excellent success with the cast system and have used many other fixtures and adapted them to the system.

Kirk

NightScenes
12-21-2005, 12:04 PM
That depends on the fixtures and wattages of the lamps. The best way is either with a "T" or a loop. When using a loop, be sure to maintain polarity!! The loop method is when you feed the line from both ends. Leaving the transformer, going to several fixtures and then back to the transformer. If I am lighting a deck and have many low wattage fixtures on the run, I will use this technique. This gives the same voltage to all of the fixtures and allows you to use a lower tap on the transformer. I also use this when installing several path/spread lights.

One of the problems I have with the "hub" is that If one fixture is using a 20 watt lamp and another fixture on the hub is using a 50 watt lamp and another fixture requires a 35 watt lamp, how is each fixture recieving the same voltage? There is going to be more voltage drop on the 50 watt lamp than on the 20 watt. If using a "T" in this situation, you would split the line on the 50 watt fixture, and then feed in each direction to the 20 and 35 watt. I would probably use #12 wire to the 20 watt fixture and #10 wire to the 35 watt and #10 for the home run.

In saying all of this, I rarely use 50 watt lamps. I am just sitting here this morning thinking of possibilities. What I am trying to say is that the hub can work if all of the fixtures on the run are utilizing the same wattage lamps. It is very rare that I have a run where all of the lamps are the same.

I think it really comes down to what you are familiar and comfortable with. I have never really used the hub myself, for the reason I just stated. The main thing is that as long as the voltage to the fixtures is with limits (10.8 -12), you can service the system well, and you are comfortable with that system of installation, there is no reason to change.

Dreams To Designs
12-21-2005, 12:44 PM
Paul, when using the loop or "T", do you check the voltage at each fixture? If all of the fixtures fall between 10.8-12 volts it is OK? Do you not find with that much voltage difference and difference in brightness among fixtures that are lamped the same?

Kirk

NightScenes
12-21-2005, 05:08 PM
The numbers provided as 10.8 -12 volts are what the lamp manufacturers say are the operating peramiters of the lamps. If you operate the lamps at more than 12 volts, they won't last as long as they should. If you operate the lamps at below 10.8 volts, they won't be as bright as they should and they won't last as long as they should.

I balance my systems to achieve between 10.8 and 11.5 volts per fixture. I do check voltage at ALL fixtures. This should always be done, not only when the run is complete, but when the entire system is up and running. You will see a big difference in voltage when there are only a couple of runs installed and when the entire system is installed. Remember, every lamp puts a load on the transformer, and that will effect every lamp in the system.

Your eye will not be able to see any difference of .7 volts between fixtures unless they are right next to each other.

SamIV
12-21-2005, 07:17 PM
Paul, just curious what products you are using from what manufacturers. I have my favorite bullets, cable connectors and transformers that I am comfortable with. I buy most of my products through one distributor who has helped me more than anyone else with marketing. He is very knowledgeable about most of his products, and he carries a bunch. Just very comfortable dealing with him. He seems to be able to answer all of my questions or will find out the answer and always has the product needed.

I like the Cast bullet, BQL and Evening Lights bullets. Ninety eight percent of the time I install brass, copper or bronze. I like the Cast transformer and cable. I have used in the past a bunch of FX Luminere (I like their small paths or area lights and transformers) , a little Vista (composite in-grounds), a little SBJ and even some copper and brass Focus fixtures. Have also used a few inexpensive brass imports just to try and they have actually held up pretty well. The dinky sockets are the real issue with these. Really have never had a problem with anything I've installed except for lamps bad right out of the box. Had a couple of socket issues with the Vista but nothing else to think of.

Trying to come up with a less expensive install, maybe some aluminum fixtures and using 12 gauge instead of only using 10 gauge wire. Just afraid of installing aluminum fixtures so close to the coast here and all the rain we receive. The FX aluminum fixtures are nice but I can purchase brass and copper fixtures for a few dollars more. And the people at my Ewing branch don't know much about lighting.I have a Better and Best system but have not figured a Good system yet. Most of the aluminum products in the price range I'm looking in seem to fade almost immidiately after installation. Have you had any success with aluminum fixtures.

Sam IV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

NightScenes
12-21-2005, 07:40 PM
Sam, since you live so close to the coast, you really need to stay away from aluminium fixtures. Brass is the best thing you can use there.

The main product I install is Kichler. I live in central Texas and don't have to worry about salt, snow, acid or any of those things that cause a lot of corrosion. The aluminium powder coat works just fine here and I have had no problems with their products. I think their transformer is the best out there right now but there are a lot of good transformers. Once again, I think it is what you are most comfortable with. I also use Hadco, FXL and Vista.

I Know that cast makes a good fixture, and I might use them at some point in the future. I just like using quality equipment, whoever the manufacturer might be, as long as they will stand behind it.

I had one Kichler transformer, one time, that had one bad circuit and they replaced it with no question. That is one of the things I like best. I stand behind my installations and they stand behind me. They also have a great incentive program that no one else has. In February they are sending me and my bride on a cruise (I'm also taking my daughter). I didn't get that offer from any other lighting manufacturer.

SamIV
12-21-2005, 07:54 PM
A little about the wiring issue. You just need to get comfortable with a method trust. I and Kirk favor the hub method. Have not had any real issues with using different wattage lamps on the same run. I have never used a 50 watt lamp on an install. In all of the instances were I needed more light in an area, I got better results using another fixture. I know Paul likes using the T or Loop method and that is what he is comfortable with. I use T and Loop at times. With the hub method, you only have one point of connection. I solder these and all run to a 6" valve box for easy service if needed. These solder joints are put in a grease tube also.

Paul, I was curious about the issue you had with voltage variance using different wattage lamps on the same fixture run, so I went out and double checked one. Using a 1500 watt Cast transformer this run had four 20 watt fixtures and one 35 watt fixture with the main about 85 feet of 10/2 wire.
There was no voltage difference at any lamp while running. I took the measurement at the lamp with the lamp installed. Cast make a tool that is basically two sockets wired together so you can install the lamp in one socket and plug the other end into the fixture's socket leaving one socket open for your measurement. And all fixtures had 25 foot leads of 16/2. All wire was Cast. Maybe this is because I only use 10/2 wire and not 12 /2. I don't really know, but this has never been an issue with me.

Not trying to dissuade people form using your method or trying to say your method is wrong, I'm just very comfortable using the hub method. Makes life easy for me. One of the negative aspects of using the hub method is a lot of times you have too much wire on the fixtures as they all come with 25 foot leads , so it has to be bundled in the valve box

SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

NightScenes
12-22-2005, 10:52 AM
Sam, I have rarely used 50 watt MR16 lamps for very tall, pecans, live oaks or cedar elms. And sometimes if I am lighting a tree at a housing developement entry, you need a lot of punch. I was only using that as an example of possibility. There are as many ways to install lighting as there are installers. As long as the train gets to the station, and everything works as it is supposed to, I would think all is well.

SamIV
12-22-2005, 12:40 PM
Paul, sounds like you have been at this a lot longer than I have. Either outdoor lighting has not caught on here yet or I am not as good at marketing as I should be. Probably a little of both. I have only been at this for 3 years and would like to have many more installs out there, it has just not happened yet. Going to try some direct mail early next year. I have a lawn care division also and this is where most of my clients have come form as well as referrals. Most of my sales come from using my demo kit. Once I get them interested and demo their property, my closing rate is about 80%. Just need about 150 more demo's a year.

SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

NightScenes
12-22-2005, 06:04 PM
Sam, I don't do as much as I would like either. Next year I hope to do about 50-75 projects. That is my goal. This year was not all that great but it was better than last year. I'm starting to do more service now, on systems not installed by me. It seems there are people out there installing quality equipment, poorly!!! Imagine that!! I will only work on the good stuff though. Kichler, FXL, Vista, Hadco, Cast etc. I had a service call on an FXL system earlier this year. They could not get anyone from the company that installed it, to service it. I fixed the system and also sold them an additional $15,000 worth of lighting. They wanted that "resort" look. Now I also have a yearly maintenance agreement with them as well. 1 service call = thousands of $.

ParkerLawn
12-26-2005, 10:51 PM
Paul,
I just started doing low volt installs as an extra service to offer for my landscape business and we have done about 20 installs now and feel that I have the hang of a general install with no problems. I have alot of learning to do and have some classes scheduled to educate myself more. I just did a job for acustomer that was different than most and have had all kinds of problems. He had 8 BL-616 Hadco spots with mr16 50watt bulbs and 12/2 wire already there. He wanted to add more of these lights to the landscape for an extra bright appearance. I ended up adding 8 more of these lights to the system and split the system in half and ran 2 seperate boxes for the wattage. He loves this look but I am finding lights getting too hot, bulbs burning out and lights not coming on. I am thinking I need to run 10/2 wire for these lamps are generating too much heat for 12/2. It is not the type of lights I would lay out but he insist on using these lights after I tried to get him to use wellytes instead but he wants it so darn bright and wants to use the exisiting lights as well. Do you have any suggestions as to what to do from here. Will switching to 10/2 help out? I am running 2 Hadco 600 watt trans. Thanks.

NightScenes
12-26-2005, 11:49 PM
How are these runs devided? Rule #1 is Ohms law. Watts divided by volts equals amps. # 12 Low voltage cable is rated for 15 amps max. 400 watts devided by 12 volts equals 33.33 amps. If you devide this load in half you are still at 16.6 amps. Now, you are adding another 400 watts. 1st question is, how far is the furthest run? The way that I would handle this situation is, use #10 wire and split all run to 100 watts each. If this guy is wanting things that bright, he will be wanting to add even more lights. If each run is only 100 watts, and on #10 wire, there will be room for addition. Don't put more that 200 watts on each circuit. This will allow the addition later as well. If you do these things and you make sure that you have between 10.8 and 11.5 volts to each lamp, you will have everthing takin' care of, and your client will be happy.

SamIV
12-27-2005, 12:08 AM
That Hadco Bl616 is only rated for 35 watts. That is a very small fixture. I spent a week at a Hadco training seminar and they acknowledged that the labeling on that fixture was wrong. The 50 watt lamp is way too hot for that fixture. Going to a 35 watt lamp or changing to a larger fixture could help with the heat issue. Also using a PAR lamp instead of a MR16 might help also. There are bullets available that use a PAR lamp. Don't know your lighting situation but there are also flood lights available that take up wards of a 75 watt BI-PIN.

Sam IV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

allaccesslandscaping
12-28-2005, 01:34 AM
Paul,

I Use 12-2 wire What will you say the max. run should be. I was thinking 100-125 ft. Also what the real story with the transformer that have different voltage plugs...

SprinklerGuy
12-28-2005, 09:45 AM
Max run depends on the voltage on that run...I always stick to the rule for my self of 100 watts and 100 feet on 12-2....BUT.....there are voltage drop formulas you should use.....I don't have access to them right now, but you can go here to find them: http://www.nightscaping.com/technical.htm

Good Luck

NightScenes
12-28-2005, 03:59 PM
That's a great rule to follow. As long as you keep to 100 watts max at 100' for 12 awg wire, you will probably be fine with the multi tap transformer. I would only use the multi tap type transformers. I have had projects that only had 112 volts at the outlet. That means, you are only going to get 11.2 volts on the secondary 12 volt tap. If you put more than a couple of 20 watt lamps on a run, you are not going to have enough voltage at the fixtures. The great thing about multi tap transformers is that they make your job easier and the end result will look more professional. The regulation that covers low voltage landscape lighting is UL1838. This specifies that low voltage landscape lighting systems can not exceed 15 volts. I would never use transformers with higher taps than 15 volts unless it is being installed by a licensed electrician.

ParkerLawn
12-28-2005, 04:51 PM
Paul,
I asked about the system I am having problems with the other day and you gave me some helpful info. You said to split my runs to 100 each run but I am confused. If I am using 50 watt bulbs, does that mean have 8 runs? I have never had this many runs and would you split them up on the comms and run them to the same volt in transformer? Most runs would be setup same distance. I also thought of switching to 35 watt bulbs and I could run 5 lamps on 1 run and keep under 15 amps also.

NightScenes
12-28-2005, 05:15 PM
I was under the impression that the client "had to have it that bright". If the client wants the Vegas look, he will probably want even more lights later. That is why I suggested only 2 fixtures at 50 watts each on each run. If you can, and I suggest you do, use 35 watt lamps, that would be better. Depending on how far the runs are from the transformer, using #10 wire you could, put 4 lamps on each run. That would be 140 watts so it would have to be a short run on #10 wire. This would mean using the upper voltage taps. I would not put 5, 35 watt lamps on wone run!! The voltage drop would be too great. Make sure that you write down what fixtures are on each run. What lamps are in each fixture, what your total wattage is for each run and what tap each run is on. This way if the owner adds fixtures without telling you, you will know. Make sure to give him a copy of what you write down so he knows what he has.

ParkerLawn
12-28-2005, 05:31 PM
So what you are saying is, run 4 lamps per run at a total of 140 per run. Each run is about 50 ft. I would have a total of 3 runs with the amount of lights I have. So how do I go about tapping in the trans? I am using the hadco 600 trans and it has 2 comm and 12, 13 and 14v taps?

NightScenes
12-28-2005, 05:47 PM
This is what I would do. I would put 3 fixtures on each run. (split the runs on the center fixture) That would be 4 runs of 105 watts. (35 watts for each lamp, 3 lamps per run) You would have a total of 4 runs. Put 2 runs on each common and start out on the 12 volt tap. Check the voltage at each fixture. If your voltage readings are between 10.8 and 12 volts, you are good to go. If you are below 10.8 volts, move up to the 13 volt tap. This should be PLENTY. I don't see you needing to use anything but the 12 volt tap at that wattage and distance. If you are below the 10.8 on the 12 volt tap but above 12 volts on the 13 volt tap, use the 12 volt.

ParkerLawn
12-28-2005, 05:52 PM
Thanks alot for your time and info. I am researching and educating myself as much as possible to be as professional as possible with this new service. It is nice to know people are willing to give so much help and not get upset at the beginners ignorance, but we all have to start somewhere. Thanks again.

NightScenes
12-28-2005, 06:26 PM
I'm glad to be of service. It would be great if everyone who installs landscape lighting would just ask a few questions first. Their clients would be happier and so would they.

allaccesslandscaping
12-29-2005, 02:10 AM
Paul

U r the best

NightScenes
12-29-2005, 09:25 AM
Thanks, glad I can help.

NightScenes
01-02-2006, 09:42 PM
I'm trying to keep this thread near the top, so keep those questions coming.

SONSCAPES
01-09-2006, 10:42 PM
paul,

thank you for being so helpful to all of us. my ? is what are some good seminars to try to attend. i've got one design and install under my belt and there is only about 2 other guys doing low voltage lights in town so the door is wide open for me.what are some good marketing ideas? i tried a newspaper ad twice and no nibbles but it could have been the timing they were done in nov. and dec. thanks for helping.

NightScenes
01-10-2006, 10:19 AM
I reommend the Kichler Kollage. There is also the LVLIA conferance coming up in February. California Landscape Lighting, which is a distributor, is also having a seminar in February. I am trying to think of someplace closer to you, that is one reason I suggested the Kichler seminar, it is in Ohio.

I'll do some checking and I'll get back.

As far as advertising? News papers will not yeild very good results. Direct mail seems to work best. Make sure that you have yard signs and that you light the sign when you install a job. Those signs will be the best advertizing that you will have. 90% of my business is by referral. Once you get started, if you do a good job and you take care of your clients, you will be on your way.

Good luck!!!

Dreams To Designs
01-10-2006, 11:10 AM
Along with what Paul has suggested. Look into your local lighting suppliers. They often have seminars to promote their product and will bring in manufacturers instructors to teach the seminars. The biggest asset you may have is this board, where you can ask any and all questions and get good, but varied responses.

Kirk

NightScenes
01-10-2006, 01:52 PM
I'm sorry, I didn't mention that. I always check with the local distributor. So hit up John Deer, or another irrigation supplier in your area. This time of year they might be planning a seminar in your own back yard.

SONSCAPES
01-10-2006, 10:01 PM
thank you for the help fellas. i've been to 2 vista seminars in the past year. very helpful especially the southeasts tech support guys came out and helped me design the job and then gave me their cell# and i called them while i was installing the design and they helped walk me thru. i'm curious about any other seminars. 2 ?'s 1.direct mail do you guys make your own d.m. or do you get them from the lighting distributor. 2. is there a lighting design software made by any of the lighting manf. for presentation purposes?
thanks for the help:)

NightScenes
01-10-2006, 10:10 PM
You can download a lighting software from the Kichler site. http://www.kichler.com/kichlercatalog.jsp
At the bottom of the page you will find a 30 day trial for the software. I haven't used it yet, so I don't know how well it works.

I mentioned direct mail because the people that I have talked to, say that that seems to work best. I might try it myself, but I haven't tried yet.

You should be able to purchase the post cards from your favorite manufacturer.

NY Landscape Lighting
01-11-2006, 01:07 AM
If you use a manufacturers postcard or doorhanger, remember another LCO or Irrigation company may be using the same ones. So you may want to create your own for your company to set yourself apart. As Paul said, Lit up Lawnsigns work well, (unless a painting contractor cuts across lawn over your sign, which happened once this year).

Dreams To Designs
01-11-2006, 06:52 AM
Either way on the direct mail, it's just important that you get your name and service out there. Go with what looks the best and most impressive and is affordable.

I use the lighting feature in my design software, ProLandscape. It creates an excellent presentation, but I wouldn't suggest it just for lighting at $1300.

Kirk

SONSCAPES
01-11-2006, 01:17 PM
well that is perfect we are going to get prolandscape this spring for our designs that is great it has a lighting feature thanks guys

Dreams To Designs
01-12-2006, 09:05 AM
If you would like I can fill you in on some things with Pro Landscape. PM me and we can talk.

Kirk

SONSCAPES
01-13-2006, 09:59 AM
i would appreciate the help with prolandscape i'm the busy bee right now but i will pm you tonight or tomorrow thanks !

NightScenes
01-20-2006, 06:00 PM
Ok, I just added a chat room to my web site. Let's see what we can do about getting a bunch together, online and talk about lighting!! Does this sound like something you guys might want to do? All you have to do is go to my web site and then go to the contact us page. The chat room is at the bottom of the page.

NY Landscape Lighting
01-20-2006, 07:09 PM
Sounds like a nice idea, lets set up a time and date, would be like a conference call. I am in

NightScenes
01-20-2006, 10:14 PM
That's it, we need to set up a time and date if we can get others to chime in.

NightScenes
01-22-2006, 02:43 PM
No one else interested????

Dreams To Designs
01-22-2006, 02:54 PM
Paul, maybe best to post a schedule of times and topics for the chat room, if allowed. That way we can join if able and interested in the specific topic? Times that you would be available to host the discussions are up to you. You let us know what and when, and I think you will have a crowd.

Kirk

NightScenes
01-22-2006, 03:14 PM
Good to see you again, Kirk. How about this evening at 7pm central time. We can discuss lamps.

Sound good guys?

NightScenes
01-22-2006, 04:33 PM
I better check with Sean about the chat thing. I'll get back to ya'll as soon as I get word.

klkanders
01-23-2006, 04:00 PM
Paul
Sorry I missed out. If you get one going again just list it. Sounds like it would be very informitive. Thanks!

NightScenes
01-23-2006, 05:18 PM
NYlandscapelighting showed up on the chat last night anyway and we had a very good chat. I'm trying to see if Sean will do something here, if not we can set it up on my site.

klkanders
01-25-2006, 09:46 PM
Ok If no one else is going to ask anything I will keep coming up with questions. Do most of u install cable under or over plastic or weed barrier? Paul is mulch used the most down in your "tropical like" climate? Up here when mulch is used its sometimes on weed barrier and sometimes right on top soil.

NightScenes
01-25-2006, 10:45 PM
You should always try to place your lines under the barrier. In a perfect world, you would be called in before the bed is planted and could move the barrier and bury your lines. In most cases though, you have to deal with a bed that is planted and is full of mulch. I move the barrier away from the edge and place my lines a few inches from the edge. I then use my lead wires through the hole for my fixture and make the connection.

klkanders
01-26-2006, 01:19 AM
Thanks Paul
Washed rock is used more than mulch up here so It will be more of a pain in the a**. But since I may still be helping on alot of the landscaping installs I will have the advantage of maybe sneaking some wire in at the right time. Or if that doesnt happen that way I will always carry some scrap barrier material with me to patch any spots with.
Would it be possible for u to take some pics of your current work? Maybe some of u laying the system out, making connections, assembling fixtures and so forth. If you dont have time or think its a bad idea i understand. Its just you dont typically see anyone doing that.

NightScenes
01-26-2006, 09:57 AM
I had'nt thought of that. Let me see what I can do. I'm usually to busy actually trying to get the job done to worry about photograghing the process. I'll get back to you on that.

Crystal Brook Landscape
01-30-2006, 09:47 PM
I have a couple of questions,
Up here in MN, the land where nothing is allowed, we have to have our low voltage license before we can even think about lighting, sprink. etc... I was just wondering if it was like this in any other states?

This just came down the pipe as of Jan. 1st of this year and it effects alot of industries other than ours. I also work for a satilite company as a sub. in the winter. As of the first of the year I think they lost half of their subs due to no compiance. In MN it takes three years as an apprentice before you could even take the test.

I would love to see how you have your trucks/vans setup. Also do any of you do Holiday lighting?

Best Regards,
Paul
Crystal Brook Landscape

Broker
01-31-2006, 09:14 AM
I believe that Paul is out of town til next week. What did the LV test included and what was required?

SamIV
02-02-2006, 11:20 PM
RI Ohio,
There is no license required in LA but you have to have a contractor's license if your projects go over $7,500.00. Don't hold me to that exact amount though. Don't really have a true set up yet to do LV lighting. I use a truck and trailer that I use for other services also. Some tools that come to mind that help things along are, a good divot tool, digital amp/volt meter with clamp and wire leads, wire spinner, nice wire cutter/strippers, tackle type boxes to hold MR-16 lamps and lenses, line splitter, 4 foot long 3/4 inch flexible drill bit(for boring under sidewalks), 18 volt hammer drill, solder pot and holder it you solder your joints, and a cabinet type screw driver for terminal screws on all MDL style transformers just to name a few.

Klanders
As whether to place your wire under the mulch or under the fabric, the wire has to be at least 6 inches in the ground as per NEC code. Does not matter if it is running over open turf or in a landscaped bed. And that six inches does not include the mulch. It would be much easier to just place the wire under the mulch and also it will help in service if needed as it would no be encased in all the roots in the landscaped beds.


By the way, all these questions show that most of you want to do the job correctly, and that's a good thing. As you all know, you can install all the best product that money can buy, but if it is not installed properly, its all for nothing. I need to become more knowledgeable about using differently lenses and filters so I ask my distributors and others who have more experience with them questions. So as Paul would say, keep the questions coming and we will all keep the lighting forum in motion.

Sam IV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

klkanders
02-03-2006, 10:51 AM
Sam
Thanks for all the info! I am sure I will have more specific questions to ask going forward when I begin my first lighting job. Maybe even some before photo's. Keep your info coming, tips or things you have done, anything we could learn from. Its appreciated!

NightScenes
02-14-2006, 10:31 PM
OK, I'm baaaccckkkk. I sure am glad to see that things have not slowed down on the forum!!

I would like to get some ideas as to when we can all get together on my web site chat and talk lighting. This week I am trying to tie all of the loose ends from my absence and I will try to be on as much as I can.

I had a great time on the cruise and the LVLIA conference and certification was also off the charts!!

I hope to see many of you next year at these events.

Dreams To Designs
02-15-2006, 08:29 AM
Paul, we want details, and pictures!!!

Kirk

NightScenes
02-15-2006, 09:16 AM
Hi Kirk, the Kichler trip was great. I will post some shots of our trip. It was 7 days in the eastern carabbean and we stopped in Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maartin. The LVLIA certification and conference was also wonderful. I really enjoy talking with others throughout the US and Canada about all of the aspects of this industry.

I am very proud to say that I did pass the certification exam and now I can say that I am a certified low voltage lighting technician. I took the exam last year and did not pass. This year I went into the exam with a whole new attitude and did very well.

I came back to work all fired up and ready to light up the world!!

More details to come,

klkanders
02-15-2006, 08:46 PM
Paul
Welcome back! Can't wait for the pics either! Looking at you sipping drinks with little umbrella's in them while sitting in a lounge chair might even cheer me up. We are expecting about 6" of snow tonight and tomorrow morning!

Congrats on the certification also! Sounds like you had fun in AZ also.

NightScenes
02-20-2006, 08:52 PM
Here are some of the pics from the cruise. This is me, my bride and my daughter is St. Thomas.

NightScenes
02-20-2006, 08:54 PM
What a view!! This is St. Thomas

niteliters
02-20-2006, 09:09 PM
good pictures, probably wish you were back there today. My father is down in houston this week..said the weather down there is very cold. what do you do to keep yourself busy in this type of weather??
chris

NightScenes
02-20-2006, 10:54 PM
We installed a few fixtures today, Chris. We have another install to get started on tomorrow. We just keep on keepin on. I hope all is going very well for you guys up in Kentucky. I'm sure your pretty warm with that new bride of yours. haha

niteliters
02-20-2006, 11:04 PM
you got that right!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dreams To Designs
02-21-2006, 08:29 AM
Paul, that is my favorite Caribbean island. You all look like you were having fun, what a great place to be. Unfortunately it's back to work and make some money, maybe even gain enough points to travel again next year.

How did the LVLIA conference and trade show go. Anything new and interesting to share?

Kirk

NightScenes
02-21-2006, 09:45 AM
The conference was very good again this year. There were presentations by Sylvania, X10 Pro, and a motivational speaker. I always enjoy the round table discussions. This year there was a specialist at each table, covering things like direct mail, web sites, and press releases. The Expo was also very good with some new manufacture members.

All in all it was a good trip and a good time. It's always great to get together with other designer/installers as well as manufacturers and distributors from all over the country and Canada, to talk about lighting and where it has been as well as where it is going.

I get more out of meeting people like Chris Mitchell, from Kentucky, who is a very talented designer, than just about anything else. There are guys like Paul Leon from Arizona and Duane Koehler from Nebraska are the gadget guys who always bring new toys and lessons to go with them.

I have already signed up for next years conference and I hope to see many of my collegues from this forum there.

Lux Lawn
02-21-2006, 09:49 AM
Paul,
Great picture of St.Thomas, it is one of my favorite place's in the world.
Glad to see you had a good time.

Pro-Scapes
02-21-2006, 09:54 AM
Where can we sign up and how many fixtures or points do you actually need to go? Still waiting on Southern Outdoor lighting to pick up the kichler line. The cast line seems very impressive so far but is kinda limited for form and function fixtures.

NightScenes
02-21-2006, 09:21 PM
Billy, you would need to go to www.kichler.com and go to the landscape lighting section. Then you can sign up for the premier contractor program. If you would like, I can talk to them for you if you will pm me all of your contact info, then they could mail the package to you. You do have to purchase $2500 of Kichler landscape lighting to qualify for the program. As for points for a trip, every year is a little different. My first year I had to purch $35k for myself and my bride to go to Mexico. I think this year, if it were my first year, I would have to purchase about 37K to go to Panama, which is the next trip.

landscapelight
02-21-2006, 10:33 PM
If you only have to purchase 37K can you imagine the mark-up Kichler must be making on the crap they sell? The trip has to cost them 5K easy to drag a high roller like sr. south of the bdr put him up in the presidential suite wine him dine him so he'll drop another 40K next yr to be brought to some other exotic locale. what a racket. my distributor doesn't give me spit

ColePyck
02-22-2006, 06:47 PM
Thanks paul great thread, should be a sticky!

NightScenes
02-22-2006, 07:53 PM
Thanks ColePyck. I really do just want to help.

NightScenes
03-11-2006, 10:01 PM
This is a shameless bump. This thread needs to get back to the front page. Let's get back to business.

niteliters
03-12-2006, 01:36 AM
help me out with this paul. Where are you in the state of Texas. I can't find you around San Antonio...how far are you from houston. We are going to be down there to do a job in april...might come visit if it's not too far.
chris

NY Landscape Lighting
03-12-2006, 01:40 AM
Paul,

I usually use timer/photocell, Have a prospective client who wants remote control on 4-5 different zones/transformers. Any ideas besides X-10. If x-10 have you had any problems.
Thanks
Chris

NightScenes
03-12-2006, 10:00 AM
Chris Mitchell, I live about 200 miles nw of Houston, in Kingsland. It's about 60 miles nw of Austin. Your looking at about a 3.5 hour drive in good traffic. Maybe I could meet you around La Grange.

Chris from NY. Check out this site, it might be what you are looking for.
www.ei-products.com

SamIV
03-12-2006, 12:04 PM
Is that (ei-products) the same as Nightscaping's dominator? I was wondering when Nightscaping started offering the dominator if they were the same. The also show a timer on their website that looks way too similar to an Intermatic model. Don't have a problem with either scenario, just wondering. Maybe niteliters would know.

Sam IV

TheHotShotKid
03-12-2006, 12:06 PM
It is not the Dominator

NightScenes
03-12-2006, 01:13 PM
Is that (ei-products) the same as Nightscaping's dominator? I was wondering when Nightscaping started offering the dominator if they were the same. The also show a timer on their website that looks way too similar to an Intermatic model. Don't have a problem with either scenario, just wondering. Maybe niteliters would know.

Sam IV

This is not the dominator, it is only an inline remote switch. It can only handle a 100 watt load. I have not used it yet, but I am thinking about trying it out.

NY Landscape Lighting
03-12-2006, 03:25 PM
Thanks Paul. I dont know if this will work for this situation. I am looking for something that they can cotrol the whole transformer from inside the house. Perhaps the x-10. That one seems to let you only control each run. I would then need many control modules. This project will be 4-5 1000 watt transformers.

NightScenes
03-12-2006, 03:41 PM
It looks like you would need either the X10 pro or the Nightscaping Dominator for that. If you go with the X10 Pro, be sure to install a phase coupler! This will probably save you many headaches.

Good luck with the project, sounds like fun.

TheHotShotKid
03-12-2006, 04:37 PM
It will handle 150 Watts not 100, surprised the person who posted the link didn't catch that. then again not surprised.

niteliters
03-12-2006, 06:24 PM
never seen the product on ei website...the dominator has been offered I belive since november last year
chris

I'll call you paul when the time draws nearer. We'll hook up...I'll be looking foward to that

NightScenes
03-12-2006, 06:51 PM
never seen the product on ei website...the dominator has been offered I belive since november last year
chris

I'll call you paul when the time draws nearer. We'll hook up...I'll be looking foward to that

It'll be good to see you again, Chris. I also think it would be great to meet your father.

Take care,

NY Landscape Lighting
03-12-2006, 07:34 PM
Thanks Paul and Chris,

I am looking into the x10 and dominator, I'll try to get my hands on them tomorrow

niteliters
03-12-2006, 09:18 PM
one thing I forgot..our back doors open side to side. we didn't want the ramp because it takes up more space if in a tight spot...always traking on it and the added work of raising and lowering..maybe just a personal preference
chris

NY Landscape Lighting
03-12-2006, 11:37 PM
I may be getting a wiretrencher, so I needed the ramp. With the spring assist you can do it with one hand.
Thanks
Chris

niteliters
03-12-2006, 11:42 PM
ahhhh I see, I learned something new today, chris what kind of trencher are you going to use
chris

Mike & Lucia
03-13-2006, 12:01 AM
NY Chris and Paul,
I have installed this remote system on two projects. First one had two zones, second had four. Both are problematic. The range is weak, far less than advertised and they are prone to interference. As to the comment about 150 watts, I cooked a control module at 120W on a short run 10 ga. Called for assistance and was promised a replacement. Sent back the bad mod in August, still waiting.... The owner has a full time career elsewhere. This company is a web-based facade selling only this product. I called information and got his home phone, quite by accident, told his wife I needed help and she had him get back to me.

I'm still looking for a better way...

caveat emptor.

Mike

NY Landscape Lighting
03-13-2006, 12:12 AM
Thanks for the info Mike. I have to look at options. I sometimes believe the more gadgets, the more problems. I would like to keep it with photocell/timer, but some clients want remote control.

NY Landscape Lighting
03-13-2006, 02:01 AM
Nitelites,

It is a DMR wire trencher, basically a honda rear tine tiller with a blade and wire spool attachment. Cuts a small slit and lays wire in. I have not seen it in person yet, http://www.dogfencetrencher.com/index.html

NightScenes
03-13-2006, 07:39 AM
Thanks Mike, you just saved me a few bucks!!

NightScenes
03-13-2006, 09:05 AM
NY, please let us know how that trencher works.

SamIV
03-13-2006, 03:18 PM
Just got off the phone with the maker of DMR trencher. She informed me that it will only lay cable 4 to 5 inches deep. If the ground is very hard only 3 inches deep. LV cable needs to be 6 inches deep to meet code.

Sam IV

NY Landscape Lighting
03-13-2006, 06:53 PM
If that is the case I will need to keep looking. Like I said, I have not gotten my hands on it yet to demo. Perhaps they make a larger blade. I will be taking a look, so I'll let you know. They are only an hour from me. I saw another company as well producing a wire burying machine that only went 3-4". Don't they know the codes.

Pro-Scapes
03-13-2006, 09:24 PM
I dont know if this helps you but when I used to install cable tv lines we use a machine called a line ward. You threaded your wire through a giant needle in the bottom then it spooled on top. It had maybe 24 inch long tracks on both side instead of wheels to protect turf and it sort of "stiched" the cable into the ground as deep as we set it up to about 12 inches.

It worked really well for long buries but short buries or in tight areas it was a waste of time. It only left a thin black line on the turf and did a remarkable job on buries we had in excess of 500 ft. I think this machine would be too much hassel for short 100 ft buries. by time you unloaded it and spooled it you could of dug a 100 ft line in I would think.

Dunno if this helps but thats my experience with burial machines.

http://www.lineward.com/

SamIV
03-13-2006, 10:54 PM
The machine that Proscapes is speaking of is a vibratory plow. I see the cable guys here using them all the time except they are the Vermeer model.

The Vermeer machine sells for around 8 grand for model on tracks and the Line Ward sells for around 12 grand I think. Both work very well. When I was heavy into irrigation I could pull 100 foot lengths of 1 inch pipe very easy with the Vermeer in heavy clay. I don't know what the ideal machine would be for us. Both are a bit much to set up for short runs as Proscapes mentioned. I also use a Kwick Trench when the client does not mind for long runs. But usually I just use my divot tool.

I have hired the cable guys on occasion to bore when I need sleeves and pull my wire. They are very reasonable. 5 dollars for side walks and 5 dollars a foot for driveways as long as I dig the trench. I think they pocket the money.

Sam IV

NightScenes
03-14-2006, 12:01 AM
I was looking to by a Vermeer. I talked to a dealer and he told me that, in my area (rocky) it would be a waste. I thanked him for his honesty.

Pro-Scapes
03-14-2006, 12:40 AM
yeah i wasnt sure about the price tag on em as they were furnished to us. I wish I could find guys to do bores for me around here. I got one today that wants lights in the center of a tear drop shaped circle drive. Another way we used to cross driveways is use a power cutter and saw out the expansion cracks then lay small diameter conduit in it. Would be tough but possible with a stacked 12 inch blade and then just fill your crack with a bit of mortar mix.

No one ever said anything about it when I did it in vegas.


As far as using the vibe plow in rocky areas your up a creek lol sorry paul. The rocks and such would shred the pin and wire too. Great machines tho. I am just going to stick to the hand dug method and charge accordingly I think. Maybe after i do this a few years my mind will change. one thing I do know is your chances of hitting something like impoperly buried utilities or irrigation are MUCH higher with the line ward than with hand digging. With a spade of "slammer" i can dig much more gently.As kirk said its also a great idea to keep wires as close to the foundation as possible to reduce risks of it being cut later plus its easy for you to locate should the need arise

tdf
05-31-2006, 09:20 PM
I use to own one of those dog fence trenchers from DMR and the lady is right about the depth issue. In very soft dirt or sand it may put the wire at 6 inches, but if the ground is hard forget about it. It is a nice machine and will not throw you around like a plow will.

TF

Pro-Scapes
06-01-2006, 10:20 AM
http://www.dogfencetrencher.com/specials.html

This is new... 14 inch wheel should hit 6 inches and says works well in hard ground and is perfect for landscape cable and coaxial.

Might be worth checking out. Anyone got a DMR machine to try this and let us know ?

NY Landscape Lighting
06-01-2006, 08:26 PM
We just purchased a used MTD tiller with a similiar attachment to the DMR. We had DMR put on a new UGLY blade II. In hindsight I should have waited to by a new Honda machine from DMR with their better wire spool attachment. They are only an hour from me, so I brought ours up there for a retrofit. Andy was a big help. The MTD is not as good a setup as the DMR setup. This week was first time using it and we still had to get in and touch up a bit deeper(ground was hard). However it did save some backwork and didnt make any more of a mess than slit trenching. Like I said, the DMR machine is supposed to be alot better Maybe next year.
Chris

NightScenes
06-01-2006, 09:48 PM
I wonder if I can find one of those around here. I'll have to check that out!!

desert night light
06-02-2006, 02:14 AM
what happens to sprinkler pipe and irri wire when you hit it?

NightScenes
06-02-2006, 09:11 AM
what happens to sprinkler pipe and irri wire when you hit it?

All sprinkler pipe and irrigation wire is required to be minimum 8" deep. With a 14" blade on this machine, you should not be able to go more than 7". That said, your contact should state that you are only putting your wires in to a depth of 6-7" and any repairs to irrigation or anything else that is not installed to code, will be at an additional expense.

NY Landscape Lighting
06-02-2006, 04:53 PM
what happens to sprinkler pipe and irri wire when you hit it?

Same thing as when you hit it with shovel no? And, as Paul said should be 8" down,machine only goes 6-7 at best.

desert night light
06-02-2006, 09:27 PM
boy that's wishful thinking . around here it's 6" down as the norm and your lucky if its that deep in most places. sounds like a nice idea but too many potential problemas.

Pro-Scapes
06-03-2006, 10:27 AM
any machine has its time and place. I always hand dig if i suspect lots of crap in the ground. I was thinking one of these would be super for long runs.


Not many of my yards have irrigation. In the country people depend on good ol mother nature. I carry a bucket of PVC parts... if it aint bad and will only take a few min to fix a pipe I would just do it. No need to give the client a bad taste in thier mouths. Maybe we are too nice down here in the country.

Viking Aeration
07-01-2006, 01:30 PM
Hey Nightscape Paul!

Viking Landscape Lighting here from Barrie Ontario Canada, just read your post about wishing to help any new fellas! ("Make my day! ):canadaflag:

So yeah, on the artistic side I think I can cover that, I am actually really good, but fully realize HAVE to kow my products! And what they can/cannot do!

So onto the install.....(this I have never done)
I have looked @ Vista and Frog lights....seen product, seen the transformers and have a vauge idea of how to match the right T to the lights and distance of run...I guess this Q is kinda hard to answer on a fourm, but say I had the follwing job to do...(note vista products)

2 nice path lights on short walkway..
4204
Lamp Type: T3
Max. Wattage: 20 W
Material: Aluminum

2 spots on 2 trees
2201
Max. Wattage: 20 W
Material: Aluminum

and 2 of these cascading up on the brick
5261
Lamp Type: MR-16
Max. Wattage: 50 W
Material: Aluminum

and 2 of these @ each side of front of driveway giving soft ref points of drveway loc as it meets street....(ths run down each side is 30')
5270
Lamp Type: MR-16
Max. Wattage: 50 W
Material: Composite


Say the total run is about 150' ish...
what would be ther (as you say) 1 right way to put this together?

So you have 4 x 20W

and 4 X50w..

total is 280w in lighting fixtures....

I am unsure from here.....

tks...

eskerlite
07-04-2006, 08:38 AM
Copper or brass only with lifetime warranties. Dont install anything you are going to replace in 5 years. Get a fluke meter and learn how to use it. If you go higher than 12 volts your wattage draw is higher. You cant just add up the lamps. You have to know your starting primary voltage to know what your secondary voltage will be. The transformer should have all fixtures lit when checking voltage at your first and last fixture of that zone. 11-11.5 volts is perfect. You cannot learn this overnight.