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View Full Version : Ushio Ultraline = Horrible!


INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-01-2007, 10:18 PM
Last year after 8 years of using only GE Constant Colour MR16 lamps I decided to make a change to the new and highly touted Ushio Ultraline 10,000hour MR16 lamps.

What a mistake! So far I have had to replace almost all of the units I installed in 2006. Most have burned out with only 750 to 1500 hours use! This has become a very costly endeavour for me as I have replaced all of these lamps on warranty.

Just yesterday I came to an installation I did in October 2006. The system's hour meter read 1100 hours on it. 33 of the 47 installed Ushio Ultraline BAB-FG 10,000 hr lamps had burned out. (Yes all of the fixtures had between 11.2 and 11.7 volts to them)

I would highly recommend that people stay away from these lamps until a solution has been provided by Ushio. In all fairness they have requested that I send some of the burned out lamps to them for analysis and they are going to offer me warranty replacements. (I would prefer a full credit as I am many times bitten now and don't want to re-install problem lamps)

Anyone else using these lamps and having problems?

Have a great day.

Chris J
08-01-2007, 10:23 PM
Ushio now has a Titan 18,000 hour lamp. Maybe you can get at least 2,000 hours out of these?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-01-2007, 10:30 PM
Yes I just heard yesterday that they have an 18,000 hour lamp... I might pick one up and install it here at my home for testing.

So far the line of LED lamps I have sourced are working amazingly well. They are identical in intensity and colour (3200K and 221 LM) to a 20W BAB Halogen MR16 and operate on 7 to 14 volts AC or DC. At only 6.15 watts and a rated life of 50,000 hours they promise to be a revolution for my systems. So far the clients love them. Time will tell....

NightLightingFX
08-01-2007, 11:10 PM
James,
What is your oppinion of xenon MR16 lamps. I have been trying out Atom Lighting's xenon lamps they are supposed to be rated at 10,000 hrs? I have no real length of time in which I can testify to there performance quality yet. FYI, while we are on the topic of lamps since I began doing artistic outdoor lighting almost 2 yrs now I have gotten very frustrated. I was introduced to low voltage lighting by Unique and in that cases where I used the Unique products along with Ushio lamps. My systems performed like a champ. As I got away from Unique products and bought other lamps - Prism (from a well respected distributor) I have had nothing but problems. I HATE PRISM LAMPS!!!! I have had other well respected professionals try to steer me toward "GE Constant Color" but I am not sure the excess in price is quite worth it. I know that some of the cost of the GE Constant Color goes to the quality of light that is put out. I am not sure if I am willing to pay for that. However, lenght of life is very important and if the GE Constant Color is head and shoulders above the rest then I may have to go there. What lamps are some of you other guys using?
~Ned:hammerhead:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-01-2007, 11:35 PM
Ned. I have installed literally thousands of GE Constant Colour MR16 lamps. They are the best in my opinion. The colour doesn't shift, the reflector material is cast into the glass, and the have a very good rated life.

As for the additional cost.... well it is not you who needs to be paying for it, it is your client. Sell them on the benefits of the lamp and they will be more then happy to pay for the best.

Besides all of that, you are working on margin right? If you are marking up your materials 20, 30 or even 40 percent (it doesnt matter) then you are much better off selling a 10 dollar item over a 5 dollar item aren't you? Again... would you rather sell a $50 fixture at 1.3 = $65 or $15 to you or a $100 fixture at 1.3 = $130 or $30 to you.

The math is pretty easy.... Use the best stuff you can find (you do get what you pay for), impress the client that they are getting the finest on the market, and rest easy knowing your clients are going to have systems that work every night.

Have a great day.

NightScenes
08-02-2007, 12:03 AM
I used to use the ultraline lamps in all of my initial installations. I found that they didn't last any longer than the regular 2000 hr lamp which seems to perform VERY well. I end up replacing about 12% of these lamps in the first 3 years. I don't use the front glass lamps either. I think that they retain too much heat and therefore fail prematurely.

sprinkler guy
08-02-2007, 02:26 AM
Yes I just heard yesterday that they have an 18,000 hour lamp... I might pick one up and install it here at my home for testing.

So far the line of LED lamps I have sourced are working amazingly well. They are identical in intensity and colour (3200K and 221 LM) to a 20W BAB Halogen MR16 and operate on 7 to 14 volts AC or DC. At only 6.15 watts and a rated life of 50,000 hours they promise to be a revolution for my systems. So far the clients love them. Time will tell....

James,
You say the color, I mean colour, is the same as a BAB. Which brand of bulb is this? Every few months a rep hands me the latest version of an LED to replace MR-16s, but they always have that weird blue light to them, with zero projection. I use a lot of Xenon bulbs, mostly for the effect, but I tout the longer life to the customer.

NightLightingFX
08-02-2007, 01:10 PM
Sean,
What brand of xenon lamps do you use? And are you happy with the results you have gotten?
~Ned

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-03-2007, 04:57 AM
Ahhh yes... the brand of LED MR16 lamp I am using... Well I am in the midst of opening a distribution company and a retail web site. Once I have all of the details sewn up and am authorized to sell these LED Lamps, then I will reveal all. They really are quite amazing lamps. 3200K and as much light as a BAB. No one can tell the difference! Stay Tuned.

As for xenon lamps.... I use these pretty much exclusively in all my miniature lamp applications. They are a bit warmer colour then halogen but the lamp life is amazing. Most clients don't see a difference. I used to use Ushio but my distributor now deals in THHC. They seem to work just fine.

steveparrott
08-03-2007, 02:09 PM
James, good luck on your new endeavor. As a sometime snow-bound Canadian, are you at all concerned that LED-equipped well lights will not melt through snow? I heard from a mid-western guy that he's abandonned LED's for this reason. I guess the LED bullets would melt the snow, but only vertically, not along the path of the beam.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-04-2007, 09:39 AM
Hi Steve.

For sure LEDs installed in an inground application will not melt the snow above them. I don't think they would be very effective at melting the snow around a bullet up light either. But, for my business here they are working just fine. About 90% of my outdoor lighting is Moonlighting from the trees. I don't do a lot of up lighting for a variety of reasons (not dark sky friendly, clients dont like "showing off" their homes to the lake, not into light trespass, and the terrain here is all rocks and roots making inground lighting very expensive)

Certainly the new LED lamp technology will not work for whatever reason in all applications but you had better start learning about it and embrace it. It is the future for our business.

Have a great day.

sprinkler guy
08-06-2007, 02:31 AM
Sean,
What brand of xenon lamps do you use? And are you happy with the results you have gotten?
~Ned

Ned,

Sorry I'm taking a couple of days to get back to you. I usually order my fixtures with the xenons already installed, and FX gets 90+% of my fixture choices. All of their xenons are from a company called Xenolux. When I need to order bulbs, I order from my distributor, who orders from Vista, and they have supplied THHC the last couple of times. I ordered some bulbs from a website a few weeks ago and they sent me Ushios. I've had pretty good luck with all of them. I offer a one year warranty on bulbs after install and haven't had to change very many bulbs over the last two years. The occassional burnt-out bulb is usually a pathlight that is getting banged into by the gardener or pool guy.

My switch to primarily xenon lamps for my installs was mainly a design aesthetic driven choice. I like to softer, warmer light I get from Xenons. I work mostly in areas with little or no streetlights, so the softer light plays well here. I do use the long lamp life as a selling feature, or negotiating point when a prospect balks at price. " I could use the cheaper bulbs, but your bulb warranty won't be as long" type of thing.

Anyway, hope this helps.

ar-t
08-20-2007, 05:13 PM
Well, they can claim 10,000 hours, or anything else.

It will have almost no reflection of real life.

Lamps are a strange bird. Most electrical components.......or really, just about anything else, will have the standard "bell-shaped curve" distribution for life expectancy.

Not so with lamps. The guys who make them plug in a whole boatload of them. They come up with a life expectancy based on how long half of them last. Bulbs that last only 5 hours will register the same as one that lasts 1/2 hour before the midpoint when specifying life expectancy.

If you think that bulbs that burn out too soon are a problem for you, just ask the fixture manufacturers how they feel about that. They are usually the ones who feel the heat when bulbs burn out way too soon.

I did a job 2 years ago or so.....FX SI fixtures.....those little T4 Halogens........every one burned out in the first month. (Not all at the same time, of course, so I had to make several return trips.) Anyway, the new ones are still working. Go figure.

I dunno, bub.......2000 hours or so is still all I would plan on. But, to be honest, unless my supplier only starts carrying that make of Ushio, I will still use them.

Haven't tried the GE ones, but the sound of having a really good reflective coating is interesting. I may try some in the near future.

ChampionLS
08-21-2007, 12:41 AM
Hi Steve.

For sure LEDs installed in an inground application will not melt the snow above them. I don't think they would be very effective at melting the snow around a bullet up light either. But, for my business here they are working just fine. About 90% of my outdoor lighting is Moonlighting from the trees. I don't do a lot of up lighting for a variety of reasons (not dark sky friendly, clients dont like "showing off" their homes to the lake, not into light trespass, and the terrain here is all rocks and roots making inground lighting very expensive)

Certainly the new LED lamp technology will not work for whatever reason in all applications but you had better start learning about it and embrace it. It is the future for our business.

Have a great day.


I disagree. I don't think LED technology will have it's time in Landscape Lighting anytime soon. There are many issues to deal with, and many are overlooked.

LED lighting requires either a separate circuit and wiring method VS the conventional methods now in use, or each LED Luminary will need to adapt to an AC circuit. How would you prevent an overload if a system was designed for LED only and the end user tries to use Incandescent or Halogen lamp?

LED lighting requires less power to operate, but does that mean we should use 22 Gage wire in lieu of 8, 10 , or 12 Gage circuit cable? The secondary wiring still must last in an outdoor environment.

LED lighting does not put out enough lumen's or match the color temperature of an equivalent incandescent lamp. Even if you closely match the temperature, (about 2800K) the light output is very digital and fluctuations can be noticed by the naked eye. You can compare all the specifications the the various manufacturers offer, but several field tests rated less than optimal.

Heat and voltage regulation is one of the biggest issues. Temperatures range greatly from coast to coast, and I have yet to see any LED product that will shine through 2" of snowfall. The energy savings would not be worth the trouble and failure of retrofitting. The end users that can afford a luxurious well lit landscape really don't care about the pennies saved. The products cost more to manufacture so nobody is contributing to a greener environment. LED lighting has it's place, such as instrumentation and technology, but I still feel nothing beats the basic lamp.

David Gretzmier
08-21-2007, 07:38 AM
You make all good points. for now, Old technology is fine, but, LED lighting will be in our future. It is just a matter of when.

ar-t
08-21-2007, 12:35 PM
As it has been pointed out, the colour temperature and light output will need lots of fixin' before I embrace it. Yes, the fact that moisture getting into the splices won't have as much of an effect on things as it would with a 13A run, but..........

I know of one very successful lighting contractor that says he plans to get out of the business the second LED lighting catches on. His reasoning is that it will lower the standard for competence level to make a working install. His assertion is that anyone without any knowledge of voltage drop will be able to install lights. I feel he fails to take into account that just because they won't need to know Ohm's Law does not mean that they will not have to know lighting techniques.

Oh....wait.......when did that ever stop irrigators from thinking that they were lighting contractors?

"Never mind!"

steveparrott
08-21-2007, 01:11 PM
ar-t,

What's going on with your website? I enjoyed the pics and text but couldn't figure out anything about your company. If I was a potential customer. . .

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-21-2007, 08:26 PM
I disagree. I don't think LED technology will have it's time in Landscape Lighting anytime soon. There are many issues to deal with, and many are overlooked. Clearly you have not been keeping up to date with this fast emerging technology. I have. I assure you that most of your concerns are now worries of the past. I have installed over 300 LED Lamp Modules this year alone and all are working fine and look fantastic. You just need to find the right technology. Please see below.

LED lighting requires either a separate circuit and wiring method VS the conventional methods now in use, or each LED Luminary will need to adapt to an AC circuit. How would you prevent an overload if a system was designed for LED only and the end user tries to use Incandescent or Halogen lamp? This is not true at all. The market is filled with MR16 direct replacement LED lamp modules. The best of these have built in (proprietary) power management circuits which modulate the power being provided to the lamp. The units I use accept from 7v to 14v AC or DC.... the power modulator on the lamp then converts and controls the power to the LED elements. Do some more research!

LED lighting requires less power to operate, but does that mean we should use 22 Gage wire in lieu of 8, 10 , or 12 Gage circuit cable? The secondary wiring still must last in an outdoor environment. Yes you are correct... The best practice is to continue to build your systems as if you are installing standard lamps and loads. I have not stopped using 12/2 wire grids on any of my LED systems. Similarly, I load each branch circuit considering that the client may revert back to incandescent lamps (after 17 years or so when the LED burn out!) This may be over built but it sure works well and is safe.

LED lighting does not put out enough lumen's or match the color temperature of an equivalent incandescent lamp. Even if you closely match the temperature, (about 2800K) the light output is very digital and fluctuations can be noticed by the naked eye. You can compare all the specifications the the various manufacturers offer, but several field tests rated less than optimal. Once again... do more research! I have found a line of LED lamp modules that so closely emulates the intensity, colour and beam spread of a Halogen BAB MR16 that you cannot tell the difference unless you look directly into the lamp. I know of at least two other LED Lamp modules that perform equally well up against a BAB Halogen MR16. Having installed over 300 of them this year alone, I can assure you the product exists and works.

Heat and voltage regulation is one of the biggest issues. Temperatures range greatly from coast to coast, and I have yet to see any LED product that will shine through 2" of snowfall. The LED lamps I have found are rated to function between -40c and 50c ambient and generally operate at around 80c internal temperatures. Obviously the manufacturer has taken heat dissipation into account in their design of the lamps and they make use of aluminum heat sinks to dump the heat away from the LED modules. Will they melt 2' of snow from above an inground uplight? Probably not. But in a bullet application I would think they will. This winter will tell. The energy savings would not be worth the trouble and failure of retrofitting. Absolutely INCORRECT! In my cost benefit analysis, based on energy consumption, lamps cost, service cost, etc etc.... each LED MR16 Lamp module installed will save my clients $230 over the life of the lamp. The Majority of this cost savings is found in not having to replace the lamp for 35,000+ hours. In one new installation alone (very large) I calculated the client will save $21K in service and electricity over the life of the lamps... all this for an additional $5k in installation cost.! The end users that can afford a luxurious well lit landscape really don't care about the pennies saved. Totally ridiculous... my high end clients are not dumb people.... they understand cost benefit analysis very well... and we are not talking pennies! The products cost more to manufacture so nobody is contributing to a greener environment. Yes they cost more to manufacture and have more components in them... but think of the reduced electrical consumption AND the environmental impacts of the service calls and the materials required to replace incandescent lamps. LED lighting has it's place, such as instrumentation and technology, but I still feel nothing beats the basic lamp.Of course you are allowed your own opinions on such matters... A lot of people thought email was a fad 10 years ago....

ChampionLS
08-22-2007, 08:10 PM
James,

With all do respect- Your right on many issues here, but one important fact stands clear in my mind when I think of lighting. Light is a element of nature, caused by fire, not technology.

Example : a candle lit dinner is more romantic than one lit by overhead LED lighting.

A fireplace may burn trees, and be a bit Smokey, but it is more desirable than that clean efficient gas furnace for someone who enjoys the rustic feel.

The fixtures and or light source are important, but not as important as the actual aura they give off. You can't put a price on what feels or looks right.

-Anthony

Lite4
08-22-2007, 08:52 PM
Sorry James, but I am giong to have to agree with Anthony on this one. The LED products I have tested don't come anywhere close to any of the halogen bulbs for light quality and lumen output. You claim that this is inacurate, so please enlighten us and disclose the manufacturer and products you have been using to let us see for ourselves what you are talking about. Any of the American made LED's don't make muster on this issue yet. Now I do believe that it is just a matter of time until the technology is perfected and we will be using more of them, but just not yet.

David Gretzmier
08-23-2007, 12:26 AM
James- I'd love to see some photo's of these led's in action. The best would be uplighting a plant or portion of the home in led, then pull the led's, insert 20 watt bab, and photo. if they are nearly identical, then you make your argument. It's easy to argue words, but pictures would be awesome in this case. I'm open.