PDA

View Full Version : How do you attach wire and fixtures to living surfaces?


Tomwilllight
08-24-2008, 08:27 PM
I'd like to draw on the deep experience with lighting in the landscape that exists in this chat room. I'm working on a presentation about "Wire and Fixture Attachment to Living Surfaces" and I need some help.

Call this a survey of the industry.

When you mount a light in a tree for moonlighting, you have to attach wires and lights to trees. How do you do it?

I'm sure there are many installers out there who have thought through this problem and have worked out excellent solutions that are better/easier/less expensive than mine.

Thanks to all; I really appreciate your help,

Tom

Chris J
08-24-2008, 08:31 PM
Tom, I use stainless steel stand off bolts to attach the fixture to the tree. For the wire, I attach it using the black zip-ties that have a screw hole in them. Also with stainless screws, of course.

Tomwilllight
08-24-2008, 08:35 PM
Thanks Chris!!!
Tom

David Gretzmier
08-24-2008, 09:09 PM
simialr to Chris J. I use the black zip ties except on paper white birches, and then use the white. stainless screws for the base of light, and back it out and reset during rebulbing if necessary. The trees I put lights in 10-15 years ago still work, and the trees are still alive, but that was back before I knew better. the screws were galvanized or zinc, I used staples to follow the wire down. some trees will grow around the wire and base for the light without yearly maintenance. I still have stainless staples on my truck, but use them under decks or on trees only in a tight spot where a zip won't work.

NightLightingFX
08-24-2008, 10:19 PM
I may not always use a Unique fixture, But I always use Uniques' tree mount. It comes with the stainless steel hangar bolts. I do the same thing Chris does.

Pro-Scapes
08-24-2008, 10:37 PM
Started with the cast 3 point tree mount thats stainless stand offs. Moved to the unique which is 2 point. Gambino uses a single point mount which makes some sense in that the growth of the tree will not splay or be hindered by the mount in any way.

Same as Chris. I use either the 1 hole zip ties or the plastic ideal clamps and stainless screws. I think its VERY important to note if you use the zip ties.. DO NOT CINCH EM DOWN tight and leave enough room for the wire to pull with tree growth. Also I do not run the screws down all the way either. I leave some room for the tree to grow without growing around my wire or attachment.

Dont forget proper drip loops and a loosely tied bundle of slack at the top along with some slack buried at the base.

Alot of times I am forced to mount in fast growing pines

Chris J
08-24-2008, 10:45 PM
I still provide a loop at the base of the tree, but I've heard on a couple of occasions that a tree grows from the top and it doesn't take your fixture higher. Haven't ever tested the theory though. :confused:

Mark B
08-24-2008, 11:06 PM
So here is the stupid question for the weekend. Are you rapping a zip tie around the tree? Also are you using a stainless screw that has a hole on the end of it, so you can use a short zip tie?

Chris J
08-25-2008, 07:32 AM
No wrapping around the tree. The zip tie loops around the wire, then the screw holds the zip tie to the tree. You don't screw it all the way down either. Leave it backed out a bit, and back it out some more, as needed, during service visits. Otherwise, the tree will grow around the fastner. Same thing applies to the fixture mount, thus the reason for stand off bolts. The short zip ties would be fine I think, but I use the 8" and cut off the excess just because they are fatter.

Pro-Scapes
08-25-2008, 07:42 AM
i think sleepy is missing something here. They make zip ties that have a small eye hole up near the buckle so you can zip it around something like a wire then have an eye ring to place a screw

Look at lowes or home depot they should have bags of them in white and black.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-25-2008, 07:45 AM
I use the Arrow T59 Staple gun and the appropriate Stainless Steel T59 Staples.

On large mature trees I have found that the staples seem to grow out with the bark and the tree's do not need re-wiring (ever?). I have hundreds and hundreds of mature trees with wires in them attched this way, some done 8 years ago and I have never had to re-wire them.

On small, young, immature trees things are a bit different and you will have to return to re-staple the tree on a bi-annual basis or so. Fast growing species like immature poplar might require annual re-stapling.

I have seen many different methods of attaching wire to trees and the T59 SS staple is the neatest, cleanest, most effective and efficient system I have come across.

Mark B
08-25-2008, 07:55 AM
I have seen the zip tie with the hole on the end. I just have never thought about attaching the zip tie to a screw. I have used a long stapel in the past. I would just put the stapel in just enough to hold the wire. I might make a trip to fastenal to see what they have.

I have had homeowners tell me just leave the wire hanging. I also think doing that has helped keep the squirrels from chewing the plastic off the wire.

Pro-Scapes
08-25-2008, 09:17 AM
I have had homeowners tell me just leave the wire hanging. I also think doing that has helped keep the squirrels from chewing the plastic off the wire.

Til little joey gets his head caught up in the wire.

I never liked the idea of staples in the tree. It keeps the wire too tight against the tree but im sure it has something to do with the different species. That staple gun would never work in our thick pine bark

worx
08-25-2008, 09:35 AM
I also think doing that has helped keep the squirrels from chewing the plastic off the wire.

I don't mean to hi-jack this thread but does anyone have trouble with squirrels damaging there exposed wires?

Tomwilllight
08-25-2008, 09:42 AM
I also think doing that has helped keep the squirrels from chewing the plastic off the wire.

Does anybody have problems with running Low Volt wire up a tree without any protection? Do any of you have local code issues or damage problems like the squirrels above?

I once had to run the LV wire in sleeves up to the branches after repeated repairs; the owner's Shelties kept chewing the wire. I finally realized that they enjoyed the buzz the current gave them.

No offense to dogs or their owners - may Dad was a Veterinarian - but I do think Shelties are a particularly... odd breed.

Thanks again, Tom

Lite4
08-25-2008, 09:55 AM
I do all the same attatchments as above with the zip tie and stainless screw, but I also run my home run wire in flexible 1/2" copper tubing on the lower (more visible) part of the tree, usually up to the first or second branch structure and then just let the cable go from there on it's own without the copper. I have found that I don't have kids (or dogs) messing with the wire when it is protected and the copper will patina and match the bark of the tree in a couple of months making it more difficult to locate when standing off a distance and looking at it.

Tomwilllight
08-25-2008, 12:33 PM
Very cool idea! Thanks for the input Tim.

Tom

S&MLL
08-25-2008, 01:40 PM
Tim do you have pictures of that. I think that sound like a great idea. At least once it tarnishes

JoeyD
08-25-2008, 02:08 PM
Becareful when doing this on projects that have to pass inspection. They will not allow you to use copper pipe as a conduit.

We use this trick fromt iem to time on walls as well. It does work very well, especially on homes that have copper fixtures and rain gutters.

Tomwilllight
08-25-2008, 02:24 PM
How do those of you who work in Palm Tree territory attach wire and fixtures? I did several jobs in Palm Beach some years ago and ran into problems with wind load requirements. I never did get that problem worked out well enough to be comfortable.

I was told that "tree-straps" were the only way to mount on Palms... True or not?

Tom

Chris J
08-25-2008, 03:39 PM
I use the same method on palms. Just longer screws sometimes, depending on the species.

Pro-Scapes
08-25-2008, 06:38 PM
we have used the copper tubing in the ground to keep roots away from the wires . no issues yet.

Tomwilllight
09-02-2008, 04:50 PM
You guys have me helped tremendously. I think we covered attaching wire very well. Several of you also touched on mounting lights. Unique and Cast mounts were mentioned positively.

I would like to focus on mounting the lights now.

I know there are a number of other mounting systems out there. Whose mount do you use?

Do they mount directly to the tree or do they "Stand Off." What do you like about the unit(s) you use? Are they easy to mount, easy to focus, durable, are they expensive/reasonable.

Thanks again guys. You have been a giant help to me.
Tom

Tomwilllight
09-10-2008, 10:48 AM
My client's CT licensed Electrician powered a tree-mounted Metal Halide "Basketball light" with UF cable without sleeving it properly. Certainly this is a violation of the NEC Code and the Electrical Inspector noted it. The Electrician is dealing with that violation.

The next part of the story is very involved and I'll skip most of it. The essence of the long part of the story is that the inspector told me over the phone that I must sleeve all my 12/2 LV wire attached to trees to a height of 8'.

I have never had to do that before. Sleeve at the base of the tree to protect from string trimers, yes, but not a sleeve up 8'. Below is my report to my client. Is my understanding of NEC section 411 right or wrong?

"I then made the mistake of asking your (my client's) question about the low-voltage lighting; he (the inspector) had NOT mentioned it during our discussion of NEC Code violation. I asked him if there is any electrical code reason we could not mount low-voltage lighting in trees that are on the client's property... He said NO... then... he thought a few moments and said "but you should sleeve it so it cannot be harmed."

That was the type of off-the-cuff interpretation that I've tried to avoid. Section 411-5 of the NEC Code states that power less than 30 volts does not require a ground and allows the use of BARE (uninsulated) connectors in your home. The most important purpose of a ground and insulation is to protect against life endangering electrical shock should the wire become damaged. Because Low Volt does not pose a risk to human health and the NEC does not REQUIRE a ground, MOST inspectors will accept unsleeved low-voltage power BECAUSE the NEC does not require a ground. Their logic should be "If the voltage does not require a ground, it cannot hurt you if damaged and is not a risk to human health. Therefore sleeve is unnecessary and the homeowner should be spared the additional expense of installing sleeves."

Does my interpretation of 411-5 match your understanding and practice?

Do any of you sleeve low-voltage wire up a tree? If you do, how do you attach the sleeves to the tree?

Thanks, Tom

JoeyD
09-10-2008, 11:16 AM
I dont see anywhere in Article 411 that it says you have to run sleeve or conduit for any LV wireing. I know somewhere it states that wireing running under sidewalks and drives must be in conduit but nothing when running up trees.

I would ask the inspector for more insight as to where in the NEC that it refers to this rule. This is the first I have heard of it although it does seem to make sense.

Tomwilllight
09-10-2008, 11:51 AM
I know that our local codes require that my lights and irrigation have separate sleeves under sidewalks and driveways. Well... I'm sure they prohibit my wire running through the SAME sleeve as irrigation. What I don't know is if I have to run direct burial wire through sleeves or if it is just a GOOD IDEA when crossing hard scape.

I always ask for 3 sleeves. 1 for irrigation, 1 for me and 1 to replace the one that got crushed.


Thanks Joey,

Tom

JoeyD
09-10-2008, 12:06 PM
yeah as far as I can see after reading through the NEC again today is that no where in article 411 does it address LV wire in conduit. I will see if I can get Nate to chime in on this.

irrig8r
09-10-2008, 01:00 PM
... Gambino uses a single point mount which makes some sense in that the growth of the tree will not splay or be hindered by the mount in any way.

Is it his own design or can you name a source?

...I think its VERY important to note if you use the zip ties.. DO NOT CINCH EM DOWN tight and leave enough room for the wire to pull with tree growth. Also I do not run the screws down all the way either. ...

...Dont forget proper drip loops and a loosely tied bundle of slack at the top along with some slack buried at the base.


All very good points Billy.

irrig8r
09-10-2008, 01:08 PM
...I always ask for 3 sleeves. 1 for irrigation, 1 for me and 1 to replace the one that got crushed.



Funny, but too true.

I usually spec one at the top and another at bottom of a driveway (if I intend to run there) and front walkways, and then too and from each enclosed planters in patios or pool decks.

I've always used shared sleeves for LV lighting, irrigation wire and drip irrigation tubing if I needed to. Especially in patios.

Pro-Scapes
09-10-2008, 10:13 PM
You would have to ask Mike about that Gregg. Im not sure if he desiged it or if he had borrowed the idea for his tree light but it does make very good sence. You should email him about it.

Someone had messaged me about my comment about slack at the base. I am well aware trees grow from the tops but I leave slack at the base for a couple of reasons.

A) it provides me a service point should rodents or varminds decide to make a buffet out of my wire and I need a point in which to splice a new wire into the lead.

B) it allows for growth of the base of the trunk and easier relocation of my wire run should roots begin to grab it or if it needs to be relocated for any other growth.


C) In just a couple of years it has proved useful in some of our faster growing species of pine.

I think the best idea is to know the growth habits of the trees you are working with.

Tomwilllight
09-12-2008, 10:53 AM
Right, extra wire at the base of the tree is a good idea for all the reasons mentioned, and one more....

Last week I serviced one of my jobs and found a downlight's wire stretched much too tightly. The cause? I had run the wire run up the tree on the OUTSIDE of a bent branch and over a root whose growth is limited by rock ledge. The wire had grown tight because there was no where for it to go as the branch and root grew in diameter. The absolute height of the fixture remained the same but the distance the wire had to travel increased considerably, particularly at the root that could not swell downward because of the ledge.

It's always in the details!!! I should spend more time thinking like a tree. In this case, I was so pleased of the clever way I'd hidden the wire from view that I completely missed considering how the tree will grow.

Pro-Scapes
05-03-2010, 11:39 PM
There was a good thread on tree lights going but it got deleted for some reason. No idea why. I hear it was mentioned that the Yoke and toolless design was original to a NEW fixture shown.

No idea where that came from considering this fixture is several years old in design now.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-04-2010, 12:01 AM
That very much reminds me of the Nightscaping Artisan Fixture. Different materials of course, but similar concept.

irrig8r
05-04-2010, 01:23 AM
Didn't Mike G. have a hand in designing the Artisan?

Of course, his own looks sturdier. No compromises.

But I liked the screws on the prototype James showed us better. More ergonomic.

Pro-Scapes
05-04-2010, 07:09 AM
James I see a clear difference in the postings.

Gregg it is just to show that the Yoke and toolless design James showed us is not original. I heard he asked to see another fixture with this feature and I obliged. I dont care who came up witht he yoke idea but a toolless yoke is nothing new obviously.

The vista pathlight thread is a troubleshooting threat. The original poster mentioned vista but its pretty clear that particular trouble shooting and socket solution is not brand specific.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-04-2010, 08:23 AM
Billy, there is no difference in the posting. Both show a product that is not a sponsor of this forum, both show images that have a watermark on the photo leading viewers to a source (even though you cannot purchase those prototypes I showed but you can purchase MG product) and both discuss features of the product.

Pro-Scapes
05-04-2010, 06:33 PM
Didn't Mike G. have a hand in designing the Artisan?

Of course, his own looks sturdier. No compromises.

But I liked the screws on the prototype James showed us better. More ergonomic.

As I hear it from Mike he helped design the artisian about 12 yrs ago.

As far as who originated the yoke design I have seen it ever since I can rememeber in everything from track lighting to theater lighting fixtures.

James, Lets agree to disagree and move forward.

drewguy
05-19-2010, 02:47 PM
I still provide a loop at the base of the tree, but I've heard on a couple of occasions that a tree grows from the top and it doesn't take your fixture higher. Haven't ever tested the theory though. :confused:

Yeah, ever seen the branches move up a tree? The tree grows thicker while the top grows up. So the tree grows around the screw/bolt, but won't require more wire.

NightSky
07-20-2014, 04:35 PM
do you have any issues with wildlife cutting or chewing the wire?

Viewpoint
07-21-2014, 08:26 PM
Another reason to leave wire at the base of the tree: if the limb you mounted you light on is no longer viable (died, growth below obscures the light, trimmed/broke off, etc.)

I have had many issues with squirrels in my market. You can often design around them. That is, when installing the tree wires (I use the same methods Chris mentioned...stainless screws, ty-rap eyelet zip ties and 1/4" hanger bolts) run wires where it will not be convenient for the rodents (sometimes its rats) to sit and chew on them. Don't go through the "Y" in a branch, go below or over it. Don't run the wire on top of the limbs, run on the sides. In other words, if a squirrel can sit and reach the wire, it's in the wrong spot.

Sometimes, the darn things sit on the fixture and chew the wire (while warming their nuts I presume). I've resorted to braided stainless hose cover from the fixture mount to the fixture in the case of the Vista 2237 and others I've used in the past. You can pick it up at the automotive store. Slip it over the wire (because it got chewed in half) before repairing it, and it will be encased in stainless as seen in the photo below. (That light was installed before I started using hanger bolts on all tree lights 5-6 years ago, for those of you who like to point out inconsistency of my statements :nono:)

Squirrels gnawing on the glare shield of aluminum fixtures (ground or tree mount) is a whole 'nuther issue that I haven't sorted out yet.

landlites
07-22-2014, 07:33 PM
John Deere Landscapes sells a products called Tree Clips which are the best, longest lasting, and most secure method I've seen to attach cables to trees. I'll try to post a picture of one tomorrow.