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View Full Version : The REAL deal


Alan B
02-29-2008, 09:17 AM
We all know the difference between high and low quality fixtures, and can debate the country of origin, the components, price, splice technique, etc.. However I would like to hear other peoples experience on the end result(afterall that is all that matters). Lets keep cheap fixtures and pierce points out of the equation as I find they last 1-4 years.

My question is: 1. How much MORE longevity do you get from mid-priced fixtures to high priced? 2. How long of a life span are you getting? (until you have to do a maintence item beyond bulb replacement). Lets "assume" that the splice, voltage, location and install was done properly.

Yes there are lots of variables depending on your area and the installer, however the same installer should have similar variables. Accordingly, we should compare lifespans of mid vs high with-in each installers experience.

I have kept brands and specific prices out, so much will be subjective as to mid vs high, but I believe that there is marginal difference in longevity between mid and high priced items to justify the doubling of cost. You may feel differently, but I think that once you get a cooper, brass or a quality powder coated aluminum body, combined with exc moisture seals, stainless clips, ceramic sockets, high temp braided wire, etc., that the difference between mid range and high range is more related to higher mark-up, lower volume, and paying for sales reps than it is to double longevity.

I would like to hear specific experience from pro's who have installed a variety, not subjective opinions on why one is better. Most of us have our preferred brand, but I would like to hear numbers on longevity between your experience with mid vs high tier/priced fixtures. Part of this is to maximize profit while stillproviding a quality fixture, the second part is to see if it might be worth while to install a quality transformer, burial cable, layout-- spend less on the fixture, but replace more frequently. It has been my experience that even the best fixtures I've used need to be replaced after 10 years. If a fixture 1/2 the cost lasts 7, why not use it? Thanks.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-29-2008, 09:34 AM
Welcome to the group here. How about introducing yourself to us here?

As for the best fixtures... I fully expect that a quality built, high end, spec. grade fixture will last way beyond 10 years. Pick yourself up a Hunza DL-COP or DL-SS and compare that to a Lumascape LS201 and then compare that to a Nightscaping Guardian. If you actually do this, you will find three different grades of the same basic fixture type, at three different price points. Guess which one is going to outperform the others in terms of longevity? Then look at the build quality, fit and finish. There are reasons why spec. grade fixtures cost much more.

Similarly, pick up a Nightscaping Vermeer, a Vista 5260 and a Dabmar 4751. Go for it, actually go out and buy these three fixtures and compare them. Install them in at your home, subject them to the elements over time. Service them repeatedly. You will quickly understand why the spec. grade market exists.

The age old rule applies. You get what you pay for.

indylights
02-29-2008, 09:36 AM
Please don't take this the wrong way, but we need to visit what your defintion of "best" is. If the best fixture you use has to be replaced in 10 years, to be honest, it's nowhere near any of the top fixtures on the market. Every fixture I put in the ground has a lifetime warrranty, and if it has to be replaced, assuming what you said in your post about correct installation, voltage, etc., I'm not paying for a replacement fixture. I either warranty the fixture, or do a field repair. For the kind of client I install for, telling them I am using anything but the best fixture, transformer, wiring and installation practices is just not acceptable. If I had to go back every 7 years and change out systems, I wouldn't be in business more than 7 years because noone I deal with would put up with that. Don't sink to the bottom and sell on price only. Just my two cents.

extlights
02-29-2008, 09:45 AM
I can't say that we've ever installed mid-priced fixtures....I'm not even sure what is considered a mid priced fixture? I can say this though. Before I went into business for myself, I worked for my father in laws company. We have many systems in the ground that are over 12 years old with no problems. I can also say that I have torn out plenty of systems that were 4 years old in which I guess I could consider "mid priced stuff."...or lesser quality if you will.

I'm not going to install something that I know I'll have to replace in 7-10 years...doing that would be an injustice to my company and my clients. In a niche business like this your name and reputation is everything, so why take the chance and compromise with lower end or "mid priced" stuff?

Alan B
02-29-2008, 10:07 AM
Thank you, those are good answers so far.

Don't want to de-rail...but regarding being a bottomfeeder, keep in mind, I can't change Tampa. The fact is that our market will only bear $150/fixture. You CAN be a market leader, an artist, the forerunner in absolute quality, but if the highest perceived quality lighting co's are at $150, you have a very tough time finding the "right" customers who will pay $250+.

Secondly Tampa is infamous for its tough environment on fixtures--coastal, superstrong rainfall everyday from 4-5pm 6 months of the year (just in time to leave ground soaked all night), very high humidity, lightening captial of the world with power surges, the soil and the water supply is a corrosive as it gets due to the underground composition. Its like putting your fixture in the Lousianna swap.

Going back to your responses-- it was great to hear that you were getting welll over 10 years with out anything but bulb replacement--I was enlightened. The only set-ups around here that I see last that long are line voltage set-ups, permenant outdoor fixtures/lamp posts and undereave lighting. With your results, I too would stick to the highend fixtures.

FYI- regarding price I used mid as $40-$60, high as $70-$100

Alan B
02-29-2008, 10:12 AM
One other thing--regarding warrantees. Most warrantees have details. I don't care much about the body corroding through--its the electrical components, sockets, wiring that I get issues with. Most 10 year and lifetime warrantees I see tend to be on the fixture (body)/manufacturing defects with al sorts of exclusions about the wiring and the things that actually fail.

Venturewest
02-29-2008, 10:15 AM
In the mid-price range you describe, do you know of any manu's that have good warrantees. I know Vista only warranties the electrical components for 3 years.
I guess I just need to go to the different catalogs and websites.

Lite4
02-29-2008, 10:22 AM
Even in a copper fixture which is what a lot of guys consider "mid grade", you will find vast differences. Pick up a copper bullet from 3-4 different manus and you will notice a difference in the guage of copper "thickness" of the body. Some out there are very thin and lightweight, while others are very solid and heavy. You also need to look at other components of that fixture. Are there any weak points that are going to cause this fixture to fail prematurely. Can the shielding be taken off and on many times for servicing over the years? What is the availability of replacement parts? What do these parts cost? What about the knuckle, is it made of a composite material or brass? How about the sockets? Easy to service overall? As you can see there are a lot of variables in the mid range class you have to weigh out. I used to consider my grades to be, Powder coated - good, Copper - Better, Brass- Best.
To a degree this may be true, but I use some copper fixtures that I would take over some brass ones anyday of the week. You really need to base it on a fixture by fixture basis. I will say this though, the gap between a copper and a brass fixture for overall quality is a whole lot less than the difference between a powder coated alluminum and a quality copper product. IMO

Alan B
02-29-2008, 10:38 AM
I think body weight/gauge is overrated. More important to me is the corrosion resistance of electrical components, keeping moisture out of the fixture in the first place, and ability for connections to withstand heat. Like I said earlier a corroded body is not the problem, its the components. However-- a quality body (thicker gauge/heavier/corrosion resistant) is USUALLY an indication that the other components and craftsmanship are higher quality. So its a good indicator of the overall quality, but its not the guage or weight that determines the quality. Just my opinion.

For this reason, and Tampa's environment, I don't like aluminum, and I copper doesn't have to be heavy although it seems the heavier ones tend to have better construction.

NightScenes
02-29-2008, 10:42 AM
I think body weight/gauge is overrated. More important to me is the corrosion resistance of electrical components, keeping moisture out of the fixture in the first place, and ability for connections to withstand heat. Like I said earlier a corroded body is not the problem, its the components. However-- a quality body (thicker gauge/heavier/corrosion resistant) is USUALLY an indication that the other components and craftsmanship are higher quality. So its a good indicator of the overall quality, but its not the guage or weight that determines the quality. Just my opinion.


I would have to agree with this statement. If you have a farrari with a loose nut behind the wheel, you pretty much end up with a yugo.

Lite4
02-29-2008, 10:58 AM
I think body weight/gauge is overrated. More important to me is the corrosion resistance of electrical components, keeping moisture out of the fixture in the first place, and ability for connections to withstand heat. .

Ok, what are going to screw your socket into when the body falls apart? They both have to be top quality. From a maintenance standpoint, The cost of replacing a socket versus a light body. I agree with you about the necessity of having it water tight. However, I feel you need a good fixture that is going to stand up over time and not allow water intrusion as it slowly starts to break down over time.

NightScenes
02-29-2008, 11:17 AM
I think the point is that it's very rare that there are problems with bodies of mid and high end fixtures.

Alan B
02-29-2008, 12:02 PM
exactly...and if there is, the components already went long before.

A note on life span, I don't mean every fixture in the system, no doubt many will last a longer time. I mean you start to see several/many of the fixtures need some kind of maintenace/socket/wiring repair or they won't light.

So the answers seem to be, if I interpret correctly, most use "high-end, arc't spec", usually spend over $70/fixture Copper/brass, ($70-$120 --don't know because out of Tampa's market range) and expect well over 10 years for the average fixture in your system without anything but bulb replacements.

With mid range $40-$60, in the cases you've used them, it can be anywhere from 3-6 years. If this is the case, its worth the double price for top notch because you get double+ the life and don't have the maintenance and happier custs.

JoeyD
02-29-2008, 12:05 PM
we warranty every component and part for life on brass and 15 years on copper and life on transformers.

Eden Lights
02-29-2008, 12:33 PM
Thank you, those are good answers so far.

Don't want to de-rail...but regarding being a bottomfeeder, keep in mind, I can't change Tampa. The fact is that our market will only bear $150/fixture. You CAN be a market leader, an artist, the forerunner in absolute quality, but if the highest perceived quality lighting co's are at $150, you have a very tough time finding the "right" customers who will pay $250+.

I have not read this whole thread and I was getting ready to make a reply to your original thread, but after reading this it really doesn't matter. If your post is true your only option is to close the doors asap.

NightScenes
02-29-2008, 01:48 PM
I use mostly mid priced fixtures and some upper end stuff when needed. I have not had any maintenence issues and the fixtures that I installed 5 years ago look like they just went in a month ago. I have yet to replace a socket on a fixture that I installed either. I do live in a very good climate though.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-29-2008, 02:49 PM
Don't want to de-rail...but regarding being a bottomfeeder, keep in mind, I can't change Tampa. The fact is that our market will only bear $150/fixture. You CAN be a market leader, an artist, the forerunner in absolute quality, but if the highest perceived quality lighting co's are at $150, you have a very tough time finding the "right" customers who will pay $250+.

I hate to beat a dead horse.... but man you need to take some sales and marketing courses geared to this industry, and I mean soon. Here are a few simple concepts to start with:

Stop selling stuff and start selling art!

A good lighting system is worth far more then the sum of its parts.

Stop thinking in terms of price per fixture immediately. Start designing and selling systems. Leave selling fixtures to the lighting stores.

I am staying just a bit south of tampa right now and am overwhelmed by the potential market that is here. Give me a few weeks in this area and I would have a year's worth of work lined up, people who would be more then happy to be paying between $16000 and $50,000 for a complete lighting system. The opportunities here seem endless.

JoeyD
02-29-2008, 04:37 PM
James I think everyone understands that selling a portrait is what we should be doing but you need good materials to allow your portrait to last. It is important to know the products you are installing and how they are going to hold up. People should not be paying for a $50K system and gettign aluminum powdercoat junk, it doesnt matter how good the design is if the lights all fall apart.

Eden Lights
02-29-2008, 05:13 PM
James I think everyone understands that selling a portrait is what we should be doing but you need good materials to allow your portrait to last. It is important to know the products you are installing and how they are going to hold up. People should not be paying for a $50K system and gettign aluminum powdercoat junk, it doesnt matter how good the design is if the lights all fall apart.

Joey, should I take the deposit check back that I recieved today for a upcoming project? Since you brought it up, while we have design freedom we did have to meet a equipment spec. for the fixtures used in the project. While brass is nice, it doesn't make or break fixtures in Tennessee. I can't imagine trying to get the shroud on properly for glare control on 200+ fixtures, I spent 10 mintues gettign the hood on just one of those poorly cast, machined, or whatever brass junk fixtures a couple of days ago.

JoeyD
02-29-2008, 05:36 PM
Joey, should I take the deposit check back that I recieved today for a upcoming project? Since you brought it up, while we have design freedom we did have to meet a equipment spec. for the fixtures used in the project. While brass is nice, it doesn't make or break fixtures in Tennessee. I can't imagine trying to get the shroud on properly for glare control on 200+ fixtures, I spent 10 mintues gettign the hood on just one of those poorly cast, machined, or whatever brass junk fixtures a couple of days ago.


I dont know exactly what you mean here and how this applied to my post Eddie? My fixtures are all tested for fit here so not sure if you are claiming my lights as not fitting well?? Sometimes it requires undertanding the fit of certain lights and becuase they are casted individually some shrouds wont work with certain bodies. My Big Bang can be a bit tougher at times due to the size so sometimes you need to work with it for a second to get the lenses and lamp gasket to fit when adjusting the shroud. One of the negatives I guess but I would rather have it take 10 minutes to assemble and last a life time then take 1 second and fail in 10 years...just my opinion.

Eden Lights
02-29-2008, 06:01 PM
Joey, we seem to beating around the bush here. What I am trying to say is I have many Lumiere 203's that are 6-10 years old and in some of the worst environments that we face in Tennessee and they are in excellent condition and are easily serviced. The 400 Unique fixtures that I didn't install that I have under service contracts fall short for many reasons against the Lumiere's. I think that spec grade aluminum products are a far better product for my clients than the brass Unique or Cast type products. I love your star hub system and your customer service, but your fixtures don't compare to Lumiere, HK, BK, Vision3, and etc. When will these fixtures start failing? 15,20, or 30 years? I am sure your stuff works for some, but the open wire knuckle, lack of infinite adjustment of the shroud and adjustment knuckle are deal breakers for me. Your response is exactly what I have experienced with the Pulsars in getting the hoods to fit on the fixtures, but it may be a lack of understanding like you stated.*trucewhiteflag*

Alan B
02-29-2008, 06:23 PM
what do you mean by "infinite adjustment of shroud"? (the glare shrouds you can attach to lumiere spots?)

Also who are HK and BK?

thanks

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-29-2008, 07:11 PM
James I think everyone understands that selling a portrait is what we should be doing but you need good materials to allow your portrait to last. It is important to know the products you are installing and how they are going to hold up. People should not be paying for a $50K system and gettign aluminum powdercoat junk, it doesnt matter how good the design is if the lights all fall apart.

No kidding Joey.... Did you read my first post in this thread?

I start with the best for the application every time. I rarely, if ever, downgrade my component selections in order to "save money". I would rather install fewer zones with only the best quality possible then downgrade components.

Regards

pete scalia
02-29-2008, 11:32 PM
You guys are real jokers. Leave Joey alone he's good people.

The Lighting Geek
03-01-2008, 01:04 AM
I believe that you can sell 250+ per fixture in any market that has people living there who wear Rolex, drive SL55 Mercedes, or any other well crafted quality item. They pay for the ambiance not for the fixture. It is not about the fixture. That said, anyone who delivers top artistic work in landscape lighting is most likely going to use top or high end quality lights. I think there are many areas that support 150-ish per fixture, I don't do them nor do I want to. They would not truly appreciate your work nor would they find value in what you do.

JoeyD
03-03-2008, 10:16 AM
Joey, we seem to beating around the bush here. What I am trying to say is I have many Lumiere 203's that are 6-10 years old and in some of the worst environments that we face in Tennessee and they are in excellent condition and are easily serviced. The 400 Unique fixtures that I didn't install that I have under service contracts fall short for many reasons against the Lumiere's. I think that spec grade aluminum products are a far better product for my clients than the brass Unique or Cast type products. I love your star hub system and your customer service, but your fixtures don't compare to Lumiere, HK, BK, Vision3, and etc. When will these fixtures start failing? 15,20, or 30 years? I am sure your stuff works for some, but the open wire knuckle, lack of infinite adjustment of the shroud and adjustment knuckle are deal breakers for me. Your response is exactly what I have experienced with the Pulsars in getting the hoods to fit on the fixtures, but it may be a lack of understanding like you stated.*trucewhiteflag*


Its all good Eddie, I cant win them all. It is possible to have some bad apples out of 400 + lights. But I will also stand behind those that give you fits. If something isnt holding up then let me know and lets get it replaced. We build our lights to last and although the quality of the Lumiere, BK, and HK lines are known my line being much better in price has some of the same qualities any of those lights may have. I am sure out of 400 lights you could find a handful of any of those other manufacturers lights that too are having problems. A lot of the way a light holds up has to do with its initial installation. A hack can ruin the best of lights! Not making excuses, but we continue to make improvements in our products due to things we see over time, I would love to see a little of what you are experiencing. Lets work a return for some of your bad Unique fixtures, in exchange I will give you some fresh new lights to replace them with. (BTW when you say infinite adjustement what does that mean. Our pulsar has an 8 position locking shroud, it does not telescope though? You can custom order fixtures with longer shrouds from us? not sure what that means?)

We stand behind our products 110%, can we continue to improve? absolutly and we will but it is hard to say that those lights when you weigh their strengths vs ours including options, availability, customer service, warranty, price, and selection are that much better...well a lot of that is opinion driven and not always factual honesty. Again those lines you mention are the best of the best, some mention our products in the same breath. But like one said in another thread the slower economy is causing people to cut back in areas and that is including the spec market. In which case Architects and Designers are finding our products to be on par at a much better price. Most consider us to be more expensive when you compare us to the Vista's, FX's, Hadco's and Kichler's but compared to the Lumiere's, HK's, Bk's, and Hunza's we are a solid option. Heck one LA just replaced an entire 600 light Winona design with our products based off of seeing them and getting brought up to speed on our complete power management system. Something the others just dont have.

I look forward to helping you resolve some of your issues with our products Eddie! :)

Joey D.