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David Gretzmier
07-10-2008, 02:38 AM
can't go back to sleep. I just has a dream about a job I did a few months ago. 4 uplights on a very large oak tree from ground. 50 watt 60 degree mr-16's on brass stake lights in mulch bed. fall comes. leaves fall down. more leaves, more etc. leaves are 18 inches deep, dry and lights come on. poof. no more leaves, or tree, just ashes. I know the fixtures are rated for 75 watts, but I did a nighttime adjustment on those and those things were dang hot, even with leather gloves on. Given that leaves fall everywhere, has anyone actually had first hand experience with fire issues? I'm actually thinking of getting one of those laser thermometers just to see what temperature these lights actually are. anybody know ?

irrig8r
07-10-2008, 03:40 AM
can't go back to sleep. I just has a dream about a job I did a few months ago. 4 uplights on a very large oak tree from ground. 50 watt 60 degree mr-16's on brass stake lights in mulch bed. fall comes. leaves fall down. more leaves, more etc. leaves are 18 inches deep, dry and lights come on. poof. no more leaves, or tree, just ashes. I know the fixtures are rated for 75 watts, but I did a nighttime adjustment on those and those things were dang hot, even with leather gloves on. Given that leaves fall everywhere, has anyone actually had first hand experience with fire issues? I'm actually thinking of getting one of those laser thermometers just to see what temperature these lights actually are. anybody know ?

If you used the Nightscaping 7840 safety switch you could sleep nights. It's standard on their well lights, optional otherwise I guess... It cycles on and off if the fixture gets too hot...

Use the Nightscaping® brand Walliter to uplight trees, graze buildings or highlight walls. Above-ground shielding and a stainless steel gimbal ring that allows the lamp to pivot, enables you to precisely aim and position the light produced. Featuring Nightscaping's® exclusive 7840 safety switch, this fixture will turn itself off if obstructed by mulch or fallen leaves that can result in excess heat. And subsequently, turn itself back on once the lamp cools.

NightScenes
07-10-2008, 07:50 AM
I actually had a client (their gardener) dump a whole truck load of mulch onto one of my fixtures that was under a tree. This fixture was a Kichler 15384 bullet light. I guess it blended into it's surroundings too well for them to see it!! Anyway, about a week later I get a call from my client asking me to come out and replace a fixture because it's been damaged and his mulch has been smoldering for days. It never actually caught fire but this was not leaves either. When I got there the fixture still worked although it had melted!!

If you have these lights on extension rods above ground and they are bullet lights instead of well lights the wind should keep them pretty well cleared off. You may want to let the clients know to keep an eye on it though.

Pro-Scapes
07-10-2008, 08:52 AM
We did just that one time. Placed the lights on 6 inch risers with perma posts and placed some small plantings to conceal them better.

I know I got a pretty good burn when I played with a 50w fixture. I would assume dry leaves on a hot dry evening might be a bit of a concearn. This will be another area LED's shine thru. I have had an led fixture on for several weeks now and the fixture is still cool to the touch.

JoeyD
07-10-2008, 09:20 AM
Copper and Brass lights get extremly warm...definitley warm enough to smolder or even ignite dry leaves, brush, pine needles, etc........Although I have never seen a fire situation with a stake mounted fixture i belive it could happen undert he right circumstances. It is more of a concern with well lights. All fixtures should be routinley cleared of dry debris just for saftey.

irrig8r
07-10-2008, 11:09 AM
I went to do repairs and troubleshooting on a job where someone had re-lamped a PAR 36 unscreened well light with a plastic Malibu version... and then the kids buried it under a pile of tanbark.

Basically created a mound of charcoal, much of which was stuck to the melted plastic lens.

First, I wouldn't have put a well light so near a kids' play area...

Second, If this had been in dry native shrubs or similar material instead of at the edge of irrigated turf (uplighting white birch trees) it could have been really bad....

I'm thinking maybe I should be giving customers a list of maintenance tasks (lens cleaning, checking aim, re-lamping, trimming overgrowth and clearing debris, etc.) along with a maintenance proposal and as-built schematic... Cover my butt and make it sound like a lot of work at the same time... :)

Pro-Scapes
07-10-2008, 06:12 PM
if you bury a stake mounted fixture in dry easily ignitable materials wouldnt it esentially be a well light ?

I think this calls for a test.. any volunteers ? I think we need to place a brass uplight common variety rated for 50w. Fab a steel box up so its contained. Run the lamp at 11.5v and bury it in dry leaves and straw.

I think we need a couple of fixtures. Something compact in brass... compact in copper and something a bit larger like the coppermoon bullets in brass and of course a well light.

Lite4
07-10-2008, 08:14 PM
do one in aluminum too for fun.

NiteTymeIlluminations
07-10-2008, 08:55 PM
I have mentioned numerous times on this site then I wil never ever recommend or install brass deck lights. Low voltage gets hot, brass even gets hotter, its recipe for disaster. I've seen brass delta stars melt kichler 15575 beyond recognition. I've seen siding meltd from a mulch fire due to a buried well light. I've seen wire burnt all the way back to the transformer due to a bureid well light, par38. Its scary. I dont use par 38 well lights and i dont use brass low voltage. Crap I work only in the Caribbean these days on island and I dont use brass. Fire, heck yeah you can start a fire...dont sleep...fix it.

treegal1
07-10-2008, 09:58 PM
Is there someone that would suggest a good salt tolerant well light with a good safety record, We have been entrusted to advise a good friend and client, he is a thrifty fellow, but knows a good thing when he sees it!

Thanks in advance

David Gretzmier
07-10-2008, 11:43 PM
I think I am going to get one of those laser thermometers off ebay for around 40 bucks and do a test or two on lights to see how hot these things get. I saw a video on youtube of some flashlight that had a 100 watt mr-16, 12 volt, and it could set newspaper on fire immediately upon touching the light to the paper. a 50 watt mr-16 is not too far away from that. I use powder coated aluminum deck puck lights, not brass, and although they come with 35 watt g-6's, I always use 20 watt max. even at 11 volts those things still get pretty hot.

S&MLL
07-11-2008, 02:14 AM
Are you guys using guards?

Chris J
07-11-2008, 08:53 AM
What's a guard?

The Lighting Geek
07-11-2008, 10:27 AM
I think anytime you are using a 50w bulb you need to aware of heat issues and have that conversation with the client. I have a safety conversation with any client where we are using a fixture under a tree or where any possibility of an issue might arise. I do not use well lights under deciduous trees or where I feel they might get buried. I use Big Bangs if I need a par most of the time. I know some areas of the country have hugh trees and the leaf drop is massive. You have to work that out with the client and sometimes also with the gardener. I am petty much bilingual and many times offer to explain the hazards to the gardener if they speak Spanish.

There is, if any, a negligible temperature difference between copper and brass. Aluminum by it's nature may cool better but I doubt it. If you volt properly and fuse your home runs at the hub and the transformer, it will most likely blow as soon as the wires cross. I have only seen this heat issue with well lights where they were buried like Paul said, by an careless person with bark or much. I have never had a problem with a staked fixture. You would have to be blind to not notice a Big Bang...LOL

It is a good idea to have the client sign a form acknowledging your concerns and making it clear in writing that keeping the fixtures clear of debris is the homeowner/client's responsibility.

Terradek
07-11-2008, 10:36 AM
Treegal
If you must use an in-ground well light I would suggest the KIM 360 it is fully enclosed and the paint is salt spray tested.

The only time I recommend an in-ground fixture of any type is in turf. Never in mulch beds or other potential fire locations. There are plenty of suitable alternatives above ground that I just do not want to take the chance. If you must use them, then by all means get a "guard" for them. It should be a glass guard because in certain situations the "open" guards will allow pine needles and small debris to collect in the fixture.

In certain parts of the south ants just love well lights and will build their mounds in, around and on well lights. Just one more reason to limit their use. In my humble opinion they are one of the least safe products that we use in our business.

Gerry De La Vega