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High Performance Lighting
05-16-2007, 10:08 PM
You should strive to engineer a "Tight" system . What is a "Tight" system. I don't know I just made it up. But I'd like to make it mean having no greater than a .5 volt difference between any given fixture of an entire system with all voltages falling within a 11.2-11.6 volt range.

You are probably saying to yourself How can I guarantee this precision
when all multi tap transformers are wound with 1 volt output increments. 12-13-14-15 etc.

Well I'm not at liberty to tell you right now how to guarantee this each and every project. But I will tell you it is possible and I am doing it.

ZX12R
05-16-2007, 10:15 PM
Spider splices with all lamp leads of equal length?

Chris J
05-16-2007, 10:16 PM
Mike,
Why such a tight guideline? I sometimes purposely design a system to have significantly less voltage at end fixtures for ambiance and longevity of lamps (as long as the lamps are incandescent)

Chris J
05-16-2007, 10:19 PM
High Peformance Lighting= HPL
High Peformance Liquor =HPL

Mike, Get off the sauce!

High Performance Lighting
05-16-2007, 10:24 PM
Mike,
Why such a tight guideline? I sometimes purposely design a system to have significantly less voltage at end fixtures for ambiance and longevity of lamps (as long as the lamps are incandescent)


I don't use incandescant lamps and halogens perform and last longer running at these voltages. Furthemore I'm an anal retentive perfectionist.

Chris J
05-16-2007, 10:37 PM
No, tonight your a trip! You wanna read your last post and re-spell that for me? I don't understand it.

Chris J
05-16-2007, 10:39 PM
never mind I got it

Eden Lights
05-16-2007, 10:51 PM
Spider splices with all lamp leads of equal length?

This would only provide a 1 volt or under variance, he said .5 volt or less for the entire system. I guess will have to wait and buy the book????

Chris J
05-16-2007, 11:01 PM
You guys need to figure out grammar: periods, commas and so forth. Your statements can mean two or three different things without the proper punctuation! I can't figure it out.

Eden Lights
05-16-2007, 11:03 PM
Wow, I took the dog out and I had to check right back in on this one. I thought we would just be talking about wire prices again tonight. I guess I can set the alarm clock and check back later.

Chris J
05-16-2007, 11:05 PM
Yep, it's Friday night and not a damn thing to do but talk about lights. So let's go!

Eden Lights
05-16-2007, 11:06 PM
Are resistors involved? If so I would consider that a kludge.

Eden Lights
05-16-2007, 11:07 PM
Yep, it's Friday night and not a damn thing to do but talk about lights. So let's go!

Friday, who's on the sauce?

Chris J
05-16-2007, 11:27 PM
:dizzy: Oh crap! All this bull scapin goin on and I forgot I have to go to work! :hammerhead: It felt like Friday! :confused: :laugh: I'm not talkin to you guys any more.:laugh: :laugh:
How about this,
I'll sleep in tomorrow,
you go to work.
We'll meet again right here tomorrow night?
Sounds good to meeeeee!:weightlifter:

Lite4
05-16-2007, 11:33 PM
Man, my wife is telling me we all need to get a life. Oh well, what are ya goin to do. It's what we do eh.

High Performance Lighting
05-17-2007, 12:44 AM
No Hocus pocus involved, no reostats, resistors smoke or mirrors.

extlights
05-17-2007, 12:57 AM
Maybe it's the lack of sleep on my part, but I'm a little confused? We are always between 11.0-11.5 on all fixtures before we leave the job. We always pay close attention to how we are going to wire the system up before we even start. I just think it comes down to proper wiring techniques and knowing your drops. This isn't normal?

Chris J
05-17-2007, 12:59 AM
What does your wife do for fun?

Lite4
05-17-2007, 01:05 AM
As long as you follow the voltage drop matrix you can always get it right there where you need it to be. However wire length to the hub and wattage on said hub is going to dictate if you are on the higher or lower end of 11 volts. Until they start making transformers with 1/2 volt taps that will be as close as we can go.

Lite4
05-17-2007, 01:07 AM
She chats on her sites when I am not here. are we a barrel of fun or what.

Chris J
05-17-2007, 01:07 AM
Maybe it's the lack of sleep on my part, but I'm a little confused? We are always between 11.0-11.5 on all fixtures before we leave the job. We always pay close attention to how we are going to wire the system up before we even start. I just think it comes down to proper wiring techniques and knowing your drops. This isn't normal?

No, that's perfectly normal. And that's the way it should always be done.
The problem here, however, is that we have a lot of amatures that don't know voltage from wattage. If you are doing what you say, you are good to go (for the first fixture).

High Performance Lighting
05-17-2007, 01:12 AM
I'm not using a hub system

Chris J
05-17-2007, 01:23 AM
What does your wife do for fun?

I just want it to be known that I posted this quote an hour ago! It is kinda starting to piss me off how some of our posts are placed into threds and change the context of the actual subject.

Lite4
05-17-2007, 01:26 AM
Well bro, I think the question had been answered several times over. Conversations are fluid things and they are always changing.

Chris J
05-17-2007, 01:39 AM
I just want it to be known that I posted this quote an hour ago! It is kinda starting to piss me off how some of our posts are placed into threds and change the context of the actual subject.

Going to bed now. Tomorrow, your ass is mine.

David Gretzmier
05-17-2007, 02:07 AM
It's all well and good to be a perfectionist, So you better put your voltage tester at the SOCKET, and I doubt your gonna be that tight. since some fixtures come with 18 guage leads, some with 16, some with 20, good luck on getting that tight. or maybe that's how you do it, just use x amount of 20 guage wire and you lower your voltage by x, and so on.

I try to keep in mind that the customer should be happy and the bulbs should last long enough to go a year without burnout. I've yet to find a customer who can tell the difference of a fixture from 10.8 to 11. So why impose a limit on your self to add time to your job?

I prefer to run between 10.8 and 11.2, and 11.5 is my top. I never go below 10.5. a 1 volt range is tight enough for me and my customers.

also, I tend to make the pathlighters with incandecent bulbs at the lowest voltage, around 10.5-10.8. the bulb life will go a year at 6-8 hours per night average. at 11.5, I experience some burnout before the year is up, even with the longer life bayonets.

My dream is to have a transformer with commons and dial at each tap between 11 and 25 volts. just plug in leads and go to fixtures, set voltage at first fixture at 11.5, and run til you drop to 10.5. go to next lead.

Eden Lights
05-17-2007, 09:22 AM
Maybe it's the lack of sleep on my part, but I'm a little confused? We are always between 11.0-11.5 on all fixtures before we leave the job. We always pay close attention to how we are going to wire the system up before we even start. I just think it comes down to proper wiring techniques and knowing your drops. This isn't normal?

While I am not going to call any body out on this, I still have not heard anyone say how this is possible??? We draw all our systems out on paper, use 10/2 on all home runs, and plan for four 4-5 fixtures with a total of 80-120 watts max on each run. But here comes the real world part: home run lengths that change and fixture counts and lamp choices change since we do editing and fixture placement on all our jobs after dark. Yes, I can shoot for 11.2-11.7, but I can only promise a 1 volt variance since the transformers have taps of a one volt variance. I am still listening for someone that can explain this one, since it really sounds great.

David Gretzmier
05-17-2007, 11:06 AM
OK_ Long POST

one way to do it- you are at your fist fixture on a run, let's say the meter reads 12.0. at the cut. depending on lead, at the socket you'll have 11.9-11.6. add lead to hit 11.5, probably 20 guage wire to limit voltage, and coil lead and zip tie. next fixture, 11 feet down, tap reads 11.7. add lead until socket reads 11.5 add bulb and so on. keep going down the line until you hit lower limit at socket with little or no lead and fixture is set. start new run.

with practice, and being good at math on the fly to figure out how much lead wire to add or subtract, and carrying extra lead with you at each socket, and extra wire nuts to add the lead, you could get really tight this way, but you need to have a temporary wireless on/off plug in switch for your transformer so you can turn it off before each cut and back on again for test.

Otherwise you are walking back and forth to turn on transformer to test/cut each light twice. I do this now, and those plug in deals are available at wal-mart in the Christmas light section during Christmas season. they handle up to 8-10 amps, so only for 300 or some 600 watt transformers and down.

The thing is, TIME. This could easily double my time, with little performance gain or durability of bulbs beyond a year. customers won't notice because they can't tell now the difference of a bulb between 10.8 and 11.1.

the reality, after you add that bulb to the socket after you think you've nailed it: the voltage is different at the tap because the load just changed. just like it will be different after you add 3 fixtures to the run. I'm not trouble shooting my profits to death.

If I could install an inexpensive adjustable voltage regulator at each cut/tap with a dial that is waterproof, so you could adjust it down let's say 2 volts in increments of .1, that would be easy to do once all fixtures are set and hot. but I don't think such a thing exists, or is cheap. even you get it THERE, as bulbs burnout, it still changes.

another creepy thing. being in The Christmas light biz, I know that voltage at the line level changes at the socket throughout the day based on house load. , and it does a little on LV systems. you check the voltage at the transformer socket one day at 11am, it is 118volts, your tranformer puts out 13.2 at the 13volt tap. at 3pm, that same outlet puts out 113 volts because 5 ton a/c unit just kicked on. some tranformers will drop to 12.9 on that same tap!

I have seen 126 volts to 108 at the sockets, although not that big of a swing in change at the same socket. I have witnessed a swing of 8 volts when I heard an A/C unit come on while I was testing. initial drop of 8, then settled at 4 volt steady drop. In huge homes with multiple A/c units, you can see how this goes.

If these things affect your tranformer, it will drive you crazy trying to achieve a perfect voltage.

High Performance Lighting
05-17-2007, 09:36 PM
Someday soon I will reveal my secret to the world but not now and not here.

Eden Lights
05-17-2007, 09:42 PM
Someday soon I will reveal my secret to the world but not now and not here.

I knew it was going to cost us something, it should'nt include extra coils of wire, extra connections, or anything extra that can fail?

High Performance Lighting
05-17-2007, 09:45 PM
just so no one gets any crazy ideas, I'm not using any electronic regulators at the fixtures either.

SamIV
05-17-2007, 10:25 PM
Alright guys, how critical do we have to be. Try lighting two post's ten feet of each other, one on the 12 volt tap and the other on the 13 volt tap with a good MR-16 fixture and a quality lamp. Stand back and take an honest good look. I know theoretically there should be a difference even though there will be probably eight tenth's of a volt difference, but is there truly that big a difference. Will your lighting project be compromised because one run is getting eight tenth's of a volt more or less.

I recently installed seven transformers on a large property and after looking back at the as-built and all of my voltage readings, all were 10.8 to 11.5.
All within seven tenths of each other. The majority of runs were within 4 to five volts and I wasn't even trying.

Mike, I truly admire what you have accomplished in this industry, and what you have done for the industry. But man, sit down with a nice glass of merlot and chill. Maybe two. And the remaining, it's your drink of choice.

Respectfully,
SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

Eden Lights
05-17-2007, 10:45 PM
Alright guys, how critical do we have to be. Try lighting two post's ten feet of each other, one on the 12 volt tap and the other on the 13 volt tap with a good MR-16 fixture and a quality lamp. Stand back and take an honest good look. I know theoretically there should be a difference even though there will be probably eight tenth's of a volt difference, but is there truly that big a difference. Will your lighting project be compromised because one run is getting eight tenth's of a volt more or less.

I recently installed seven transformers on a large property and after looking back at the as-built and all of my voltage readings, all were 10.8 to 11.5.
All within seven tenths of each other. The majority of runs were within 4 to five volts and I wasn't even trying.

Mike, I truly admire what you have accomplished in this industry, and what you have done for the industry. But man, sit down with a nice glass of merlot and chill. Maybe two. And the remaining, it's your drink of choice.

Respectfully,
SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting


I would agree, but it is still interesting from the techie stand point. I would also point out that having a balance of anal retentiveness and great creativeness is what makes many here successful. Yes technical perfection should be high on the list of standards, but many times I will end up with several more fixtures on one side of a tree than the other when evenly spaced fixtures would be better from the analytical mindset.

High Performance Lighting
05-18-2007, 01:37 AM
Let me make something perfectly clear.
I live , breath, eat and sleep low voltage landscape lighting. There isn't a waking moment that I am not thinking about it. So if lovin low voltage landscape lighting is wrong then I don't want to be right.

High Performance Lighting
05-18-2007, 01:51 AM
Alright guys, how critical do we have to be. Try lighting two post's ten feet of each other, one on the 12 volt tap and the other on the 13 volt tap with a good MR-16 fixture and a quality lamp. Stand back and take an honest good look. I know theoretically there should be a difference even though there will be probably eight tenth's of a volt difference, but is there truly that big a difference. Will your lighting project be compromised because one run is getting eight tenth's of a volt more or less.

I recently installed seven transformers on a large property and after looking back at the as-built and all of my voltage readings, all were 10.8 to 11.5.
All within seven tenths of each other. The majority of runs were within 4 to five volts and I wasn't even trying.

Mike, I truly admire what you have accomplished in this industry, and what you have done for the industry. But man, sit down with a nice glass of merlot and chill. Maybe two. And the remaining, it's your drink of choice.

Respectfully,
SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

What are you getting so worked up over? I happen to strive for perfection often fall short but at least I try. If you don't care about precision and then want to argue over it then I'm not interested. I challenge myself on every project to do better more interesting things then the one before. If you are content with status quo then so be it but don't try and bring me down because I don't subscribe to your values.:nono:

David Gretzmier
05-18-2007, 06:33 AM
I agree we have to strive for perfection, but for me the effect is way more than important than voltage. If I'm betwen 10.8 and 11.5, and the effect is what I want, I'm there.

If all my fixtures were at 11.3 ( perfect ? ) and the effect is crap, who cares. I am not in this for technical perfection, but how it looks when I'm done within a reasonable parameter.

My fear is tightening this parameter will not enhance the look of the job, and only stand to lower per job profit and take more time, thus lowering overall profit for the year.

further, It will take more time for emplyees, and they will become obsessed with technical rather than how it looks.

I may try to do an experiment on one fixture at 2 points, at the tap ( with and without bulb lit, maybe even different wattage bulbs) , and at the socket with different leads, and another read at both points after another light ( or two or three) is added 10-12 feet away, and at different times of the day.

of course I'll do this in my free time !

High Performance Lighting
05-18-2007, 08:34 AM
I agree we have to strive for perfection, but for me the effect is way more than important than voltage. If I'm betwen 10.8 and 11.5, and the effect is what I want, I'm there.

If all my fixtures were at 11.3 ( perfect ? ) and the effect is crap, who cares. I am not in this for technical perfection, but how it looks when I'm done within a reasonable parameter.

My fear is tightening this parameter will not enhance the look of the job, and only stand to lower per job profit and take more time, thus lowering overall profit for the year.

further, It will take more time for emplyees, and they will become obsessed with technical rather than how it looks.

I may try to do an experiment on one fixture at 2 points, at the tap ( with and without bulb lit, maybe even different wattage bulbs) , and at the socket with different leads, and another read at both points after another light ( or two or three) is added 10-12 feet away, and at different times of the day.

of course I'll do this in my free time !

My situation may differ from that of most of you other guys. I have no employees and perform all work myself. I have created certain standards or parameters when it comes to voltage and keep within those parameters each and every job. I don't find it costing me anymore to do things this way. I have established tools, equipment and techniques to achieve this. This reminds me of the thread where I was told that my camera was also overkill for it's applications and was questioned if it was "really" necessary to have that camera to get good shots. You guys kill me.

Pro-Scapes
05-18-2007, 08:40 AM
I push for perfection but often settle for it just being done right. Inovation doesnt come from setteling for status quo either.

SamIV (burt) has outstanding workmanship and we were able to work with him on that large project. ALL lights were getting the proper voltage. I should know I checked most myself while he was in the pit with the inground transformers (yes checked under load at the fixture). Burt documented the system thoughoghly and the system will be a dream to service in the future. All is within spec. Client is thrilled. Its led to more projects for him and its been paid for accordingly.

What is perfection tho? if your always striving for more and better then it was never perfect to begin with if there is some way to improve it. In my opinion what maybe perfect the client may not like. Satisfying our business needs and families along with the client being delighted is the closest I have come to perfection and im still FAR from it.

is 8 tenths noticeable to the eye ? hardley. It could be... but I feel it has more to do with bulb life than apearance. Just came off a job where the bulbs were 5 yrs old. Fixtures were getting 9v or less too and they were HAPPY! I rewired it to get 10.6 v at the fixture. They love it even more but bulb life WILL suffer. 2-3v brighter is VERY noticeable. 1 volt is barley noticeable in my opinion.

the half a volt variance mike is talking about is VERY possible if you plan accordingly... understand v drop and use it to your advantage. Simply adding a few feet of wire here or there can bring you within his tight system spec. I have a bit looser spec and go for no more than 8 or 9 tenths diff but its usually right around low 11's.

Always within spec tho.

SamIV
05-18-2007, 10:51 AM
Isn't it cool we can have different opinions without wanting to kill each other. As David alluded to, I feel it is the end result that keeps me in this business. When my latest project was finished, the client and I had a lighting party around his pool and he invited friends, and family. Was very nice to see everyone's jaw drop when the lights turned on and the smile on the owner's face and all asking how did you do that? Also bidding on two more projects from people there and handed out many more cards while sipping on my Merlot.

If this half a volt is a pet peeve of yours HPL, well I can't blame you. Still, have that glass of wine.

Thanks,
SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

David Gretzmier
05-18-2007, 11:34 AM
cangrats on the leads at that party- I do love it when other folks appreciate the work.

and let's face it, some folks like the look of a little yellow as opposed to white light, and you achieve that throgh lower voltage.

I'm the first to admit I want bulb life at 1 year minimum, So that's the only reason I stay at 11.5 volts and under. I like the whiter light of 12 and even 13, but you'll fry those bulbs quick.

On Landscape lighting I do all the work myself, maybe a part time helper to do digging and boring from time to time. I Use 6-8 employees for Christmas lighting, and want to grow the landscape lighting side to keep a few folks year round.

a note about the camera- a buddy of mine at church does photography for a living. He's won tons of awards, So he knows his stuff. we were talking about digital cameras and the like and he puts it this way. he does digital because of economics and speed, but he could and does pick up a professional 35mm film camera for 3-500 bucks today on ebay that was state of the art 10-12 years ago and take better pictures than most folks with a 5000 dollar digital camera. Talking about night shot photography, he prefers the older cameras to just do manually that you have to force digital to do. So maybe you can take great lighting shots without the serious cash outlay, but you gotta learn stuff about aperatures, fstops, depth of field, iso's and all that jazz, plus you don't get to see your pictures at the moment, gotta get them developed.

extlights
05-18-2007, 12:23 PM
As I stated before, we always try and stay within the same voltage realm on every project. With that said though, just as Billy said....we've had customers with existing systems where the voltage was below 10 at almost every fixture and they thought it still looked good. After replacing the system, they did notice a big difference, but the point being is that most homeowners won't know the difference between a volt varience.

Bottom line...if the customer isn't happy, I'm not happy. I'm not going to compromise workmanship to make a homeowner happy, but I will cater to their needs and wants to make sure the finished product is to their liking...even if it means dropping voltage a little bit. (Not to a rediculously low reading, but you know what I mean.)

Pro-Scapes
05-18-2007, 08:11 PM
Isn't it cool we can have different opinions without wanting to kill each other. As David alluded to, I feel it is the end result that keeps me in this business. When my latest project was finished, the client and I had a lighting party around his pool and he invited friends, and family. Was very nice to see everyone's jaw drop when the lights turned on and the smile on the owner's face and all asking how did you do that? Also bidding on two more projects from people there and handed out many more cards while sipping on my Merlot.

If this half a volt is a pet peeve of yours HPL, well I can't blame you. Still, have that glass of wine.

Thanks,
SamIV
Accent Outdoor Lighting

:cry: And I wasnt invited :(

SamIV
05-18-2007, 09:21 PM
Hey Billy,

Glad to hear you are still keeping busy. The party was kind of a spur of the moment thing. This client is always up for a party. Good people though and things turned out pretty well.


SamIV
Accent Lawn & Garden

Pro-Scapes
05-19-2007, 10:55 AM
im stayin busy but it seems like more landscape work this year. I wont complain as it pays the bills but Im still not at my goal for number of lighting installs. We have had a few really nice projects this spring. Its busier than last year and I guess thats the best I can hope for. We do have a very large residential pending but waiting on the home to be finished.

Picked up a few huge maint accts for a coperation but its still not what I would rather be doing. No word on my project on the coast yet. Client is dealing with HOA still.

Eden Lights
06-21-2007, 02:42 AM
Any updates for us HPL?

High Performance Lighting
06-26-2007, 01:46 AM
Any updates for us HPL?

Eddie, this is so revolutionary that I cannot divulge any further in this public forum. Perhaps when you do make it out to So California I can share this with you privately.

David Gretzmier
06-26-2007, 09:21 AM
ah, as Castro said, a little revolution is a good thing...