View Full Version : homemade fixtures

Mark B
04-27-2006, 10:40 AM
Aight ya'll I know this sounds nuts. But has of you guys ever thought abobut making your own light fixtures. I have been thinking about trying to figure out making my own well lights. Any ideas?

desert night light
04-27-2006, 07:41 PM
how r u gonna get em UL ed?

04-27-2006, 08:19 PM
Aight ya'll I know this sounds nuts. But has of you guys ever thought abobut making your own light fixtures. I have been thinking about trying to figure out making my own well lights. Any ideas?

Can you say liability? If you make your own homemade fixtures and somebody gets hurt, you are done!! You could spend the money to have your product UL tested and listed though.

04-27-2006, 08:43 PM
I have heard a lot of people thinking of making their own. What is to a well light?? you are not making the socket, since there is no socket. You are just making the casing.... I breaks down to about 15 per each one and send me a message if you want the know where to get the part that holds the bulb.

desert night light
04-27-2006, 09:41 PM
can you say HACK?

05-16-2006, 01:04 AM
I missed this thread while on vacation.

It depends on your needs. Are you doing enough to justify your own line like Gambino? or are you just trying to pinch pennies.

I really dont see the point. Use something tested and approved and charge accordingly.

desert night light
05-16-2006, 01:23 AM
who is Gambino? Is he making his own wellights?

05-16-2006, 09:14 AM
he is having his own exclusive fixture line made for him.


desert night light
05-16-2006, 09:57 AM
I only see 1 fixture on his site

desert night light
05-16-2006, 10:03 AM
and the one I see doesn't look homemade.

Roger TheShrubber
10-27-2008, 08:56 AM
I got the bug several years ago to invent my own light fixtures. I fiddled around will several concepts. In the end, I wanted something a little more professional in appearance and ended up submitting one design to Nightscaping. That's where the Nightdialite came from (although my design didn't have a threaded joint halfway up the shaft). My cousin did the same and thus was created the Scottliter.

Let someone else have the liability.

10-27-2008, 10:54 AM
That is really cool. That has to be a selling point to customers. Also says a lot about a manu that will listen that closely to the contractor.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-27-2008, 12:54 PM
There are manufactuer's out there who will "private label" product for you. This is what Gambino and some others are doing for the most part. It involves some design time with the manufacturer for sure, and you have to have the market depth to be able to purchase minimum order volumes to make the whole endeavour worth while.

As for "home made" fixtures? why bother? You are not going to come up with anything that is better then most manufacturers can supply, and you are going to have a ton of liability and risk brought into your business. Remember, you cannot install an electrical product on another person's property unless it is properly listed and approved for the purpose. UL, CSA, ETL, ARL, etc etc.... check it out.

10-27-2008, 05:25 PM
So James, are you telling me that if I encounter (or purchase new) a cast concrete (or even cast iron) Japanese-style lantern on a property, that I can't wire a bayonet or wedge base socket it to it and add a lamp?

Because I've been doing it for years... and will probably continue to... in fact I'm wiring an existing one up in that looks like #516 on this page next week.


Mike M
10-27-2008, 06:52 PM

I never figured you for a "pagoda light" guy.

10-27-2008, 08:59 PM
People make custom lamps and interior fixtures all the time. There are entire businesses devoted to this. I can't see why making low voltage fixtures would be any differant. As long as you are using UL sockets and connectors in the intended manner I don't see what the big deal is. I would also say, if an individual doen't have the knowledge to fabricate a safe fixture, they probably shouldn't be installing systems.

I would love to make some hand hammered copper and brass fixtures using manu's components as the base.

Now if you start braiding your own wire or molding wire connectors, you may have a problem.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-28-2008, 12:09 AM
Gregg, I am not saying that you, or anyone else for that matter can't do it.

All I am saying is that when you fabricate any electrical fixture or component yourself, and it is not inspected and approved for its intended purpose, and you go about installing that product onto a paying client's property, then you are expanding your level of risk and liability if that unit fails or causes injury or damage.

Different people will have different tolerances for risk. What you are doing with the cast concrete ornaments is probably very low risk, and probably within your realm of competancy and poses no significant threat. However, you are still assuming more liability then you would by purchasing and installing an inspected or approved fixture.
Transformers are not exactly magic... would you build your own out of some SS boxes, cores, terminals etc? Of course not.

I was educated on this very topic a number of years ago when I did a freind of mine a favour at his retail store entrance. I built up some composite bullets on the end of long copper tube stand off stems to light his signage. Built the stuff in my trailer on site and installed it that day. Months later during an ice storm one of the fixtures bent down under the weight of the ice and into the path of pedestrians. Thankfully it did not break off and fall on anyone. Lesson learned... leave the fixture fabrication to the pros, who have to build to standards, and let them assume the liability of production.

M&N Maintenance
10-28-2008, 12:36 AM
If you can build a great light then I would do it.

M&N Maintenance
10-28-2008, 12:37 AM
Don't some of the great manufacturers start this way?

10-28-2008, 01:34 PM
Don't some of the great manufacturers start this way?

we started that way. Nate used to make fixtures out of wood that would mount in soffits and what not. Very basic designs, the likes of a high school wood shop project. But it worked and once painted it blended. He would utilize MR16 sockets bought off the shelf and they lasted and people were happy to keep buying them.

Then came along our injected molded well light the F125 which also is a very basic design and still one of our top sellers. But as time goes on you do realize that what James is saying has merit. God forbid something does happen with your home made product, it not having a properly tested seal or listing may cause you a lot of problems. Chances of it happening are slim to none but there is a chance none the less that could come back to bite you.

10-28-2008, 02:57 PM
There is something VERY different between what you could call homemade and what some guys are doing to private label or design thier own.

Personally I would never make a fixture of wood. I wouldnt hessitate however to do something like what Greg does to illuminate some garden art.

It takes a great deal of financial investments and planning to create your own designs and have them manufactured to your specs.

Some guys can afford and justify this cost and some cant. As for coming up with something better than what a manufacture can supply is totally ones opinion. The quality I have seen from some privatly speced fixtures far exceeds what I have seen from any manufacture.

10-29-2008, 10:51 AM
The quality I have seen from some privatly speced fixtures far exceeds what I have seen from any manufacture.

any examples?

10-29-2008, 11:48 AM
There is something VERY different between what you could call homemade and what some guys are doing to private label or design thier own.

Personally I would never make a fixture of wood.

It seems counterintuitive to me, just because wood is combustible, and MR-16s can generate some heat. I also wouldn't be comfortable installing a "homemade" fixture in a soffit or anywhere else on a structure.

I wouldn't hesitate however to do something like what Gregg does to illuminate some garden art.

I've illuminated cast concrete and cast iron Japanese lanterns, cast iron owls and fish originally intended as lanterns for candles, etc. Never been a problem.

BTW, as Nightscaping approaches it's 50th anniversary, how long did it take Bill Locklin to get approval for those fixtures that were originally made up of orange juice cans and mayonnaise jars? Maybe the trick was using the transformers with Fustats that would fail before a system would "melt down", but wasn't he winding his own transformers to begin with? Homemade in his case ended up benefiting us all. American ingenuity at work. I wish he was here to tell us about all the trials and errors along the way.

10-29-2008, 11:51 AM
There is a difference in using concrete and Iron. Its not combustible.

Say you use wood or install a homeboy special fixture in wood that does not property expel heat. Over time... night after night that wood gets baked by the heat of that lamp. The wood dries. Begins to splinter. Maybe even the socket corrodes a bit adding to the heat.

Just not a scenario I would like to sleep on.

I dont want to get into examples Joey. You know I love the unique product and use it especially in trees and recessed ingrade applications. In fact I just put in some novas into some brick which turned out great as always.

I will always respect Locklin for what he did in pioneering low voltage. Im sure back then it was a much different scenario and the saftey standards were alot more lax.

10-29-2008, 12:02 PM
No I know Billy. It was just a strong statement you made and in all my years I have never seen a privatley spec'd fixture or home built fixture that would far exceed the products I have seen made by manufacturers. The only contractor I know of that makes his own lights or has his own lights made is Mike G. and although they are very nice I wouldnt say they "far exceed" anything you can get from a manufacturer. So thats why I asked for an example, it was purely out of curisity to see why they are so much better.

as for the wood...there is wood out there that has the same heat tolerances as concrete., made correctly I could see why back in the late 80's early 90's when fixture options were limited why Nate would have done this. He had them on his old house I remember and they worked awesome. They had no lenses so the heat wasnt trapped and they were only used in areas where they would never get wet. We spoke of a job this morning that was done 15+ years ago by Nates old company and they have a bunch of those home made wood lights on it and they all still work. A guy was at the project yesterday servicing it.

I am not saying wood would be my first choice for a fixtrue but when speaking of "Homemade" lights how many options do you really have. I dont see many guys having brass or copper refineries int heir garages and I dont think anyone is still making well lights out of Coffee cans.......

10-29-2008, 12:33 PM
I dont see many guys having brass or copper refineries int heir garages and I dont think anyone is still making well lights out of Coffee cans.......

I'm sure you realize some manus still use copper pipe and plumbing fittings to produce fixtures Joey.

If I was in 8th grade metal shop again, knowing what I know now, I might be making fixture bodies instead of trowels and tool totes... :-)

10-29-2008, 12:44 PM
I realize that. Although that would be cool from a home made (garage project) standpoint, as a manufacturer we would never consider that as an option for us as we prefer to make the cleanest, quality fixtures we can. Why a contracting professional would buy a fixture that was soldered togeather with products you could buy at the home depot plumbing department is beyond me.

At the same time if I step off my high horse, a fixture is only a housing for a lamp and if it works it works. I am a handy guy, I love making things and doing things myself in my own hobbies but sometimes, especially if you are selling to someone else, it is better to just stick with stuff made by the pros.

I would love to see some examples of home made light fixtures, I am not against it by any means. I am going to try and dig up some photos of those old wood lights Nate made.

10-29-2008, 06:42 PM
Some of the things we see from some manufactures could pass as homemade. I have seen numerous well lights out there that could easily pass in this catagory.

10-29-2008, 07:51 PM
I put up a wood fixture on a shed. I will take pic of it tomarrow. This is an interesting thread. I would love to see some pics of homemade fixtures.