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View Full Version : Holiday Lights - My Rookie Year


MowHouston
09-03-2008, 12:38 AM
Hello guys, been following and reading back on this forum as far as christmas lights go. Thought about it last year but ended up doing firewood. Sold the F150 and trailer and got a Ranger so that is out of the question this year.

Aaaanyhow. I'm going to give holiday lighting a go this year. My grandfather has a lot of knowledge in installing lights and the electrical side of it. Gonna go visit him this weekend and have him show me what I need to know.

Dont have a lot of startup money so I'll be playing most of this by ear.

I actually got ahead of myself and already got an estimate lined up for Sept 13th. I'll be ordering some sample lights from somewhere so I can use them on my estimates. (not sure yet who I will use as a supplier).

This guy just wants the front and sides done with white lights. I think he wants icicle lights. Not sure about the measurements yet. I do know he has a two story house. He said to give him a call a few days in advance so he can give my name to security at the front gate so I can get in (that sounds like good news).

I havent figured out exactly how I am going to price it. I was thinking around $4.00/ft, and perhaps more for steep eaves. Feel free to chime in on your opinions, throw me some advice-bones and such.

I hope to be prepared enough for this estimate and hopefully land it, and others for the season.

Thanks.

hotrod1965
09-03-2008, 05:22 PM
Holiday lite source is in Texas, I would set up an account with them. You will get product way faster that way!

KINGSBURYLANDSCAPELLC
09-03-2008, 05:33 PM
im interested in this as well. I have been debating doing it this season to keep the $ coming in

MowHouston
09-03-2008, 08:24 PM
im interested in this as well. I have been debating doing it this season to keep the $ coming in

Same here but I'm not the one to sit around and just wait for it to happen. I'll take advice from folks that do it, learn some stuff and jump in it. I'll make some mistakes here and there but I'll make it through. Hopefully I'll do well. :D

MowHouston
09-03-2008, 08:25 PM
Holiday lite source is in Texas, I would set up an account with them. You will get product way faster that way!

Great, thanks a lot for the info. Any idea where in Texas? Do they have a website? I'll google it but just in case....


www.litesource.com
Lubbock, Tx... answered my own question hehe.

hotrod1965
09-03-2008, 11:30 PM
It's good to have a supplier close to you. It's also good to know of other suppliers that have what you need too.

MowHouston
09-03-2008, 11:57 PM
It's good to have a supplier close to you. It's also good to know of other suppliers that have what you need too.

Yeah I've been looking at tons of sites. I still really dont know what I'm doing so I dont know about -everything- that I need to be looking for.

I do know I am going to order in some cord and bulbs both incandescent and LED so the customer can compare and choose what they want hands on.

From there I just need to learn the electrical limits and see about clips, difference in wire gauge, extension cords, and tricks of the trade... I like stuff like this. My girlfriend isnt happy about this choice though :D

David Gretzmier
09-04-2008, 12:56 AM
I would steer him away from icicle lights unless they are from HBL, Brite Ideas, or the ones mounted on steel frames from Bethlehem/GKI. Those all look straight and are repairable. All the icicle lights you buy without steel frames are not repairable with a light testing unit. most are 150 and 200 light sets, and finding a loose bulb or failed shunt will drive you crazy. I'd consider selling him bulk C-9's, In addition to the cord being a 15 year life, they are easy to repair and making them straight is easy with the all-in-one clips from Litesource. I'm not sure what your market will bear, for sold, installed, taken down and stored in I am at 6.50 per foot for c-9's the first year, and the rehang price for next year and following is 3.25 per foot.

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 02:04 AM
I would steer him away from icicle lights unless they are from HBL, Brite Ideas, or the ones mounted on steel frames from Bethlehem/GKI. Those all look straight and are repairable. All the icicle lights you buy without steel frames are not repairable with a light testing unit. most are 150 and 200 light sets, and finding a loose bulb or failed shunt will drive you crazy. I'd consider selling him bulk C-9's, In addition to the cord being a 15 year life, they are easy to repair and making them straight is easy with the all-in-one clips from Litesource. I'm not sure what your market will bear, for sold, installed, taken down and stored in I am at 6.50 per foot for c-9's the first year, and the rehang price for next year and following is 3.25 per foot.

Yeah he said he has his own icicle lights that he hung last year but he said he is open to other possibilities. I've been trying to find a way to steer him away from them but I'm unsure as to how to do it yet. I'm hoping he will like the sample lights and perhaps I will bring some pictures of some clear c9's installed to give him an idea. I wish I could afford that landscape pro software :D it seems like it would help.

Anyhow, thanks for the tips on the icicle lights. No way I'm gonna kill time troubleshooting those lights. Nasty.

Are you storing your customer's lights in your own storage even though they bought them from you? Do you find that this is a better way to do it rather than "renting" them out? I havent totally figured out how I'm going to do that aspect either.

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 02:08 AM
I've got another question... I need to get some samples shipped to me pretty quickly.

I'm not sure that I want to buy a 1000ft spool of c9 right away unless i know that this is going to work out. Would it be feasible to just order a 25ft strand and show off some multis and clear lights as well as the difference in incandescent and led c9s... Should I even waste my time showing the difference in incandescent and LED c9s?

hotrod1965
09-04-2008, 10:08 AM
If you look back a couple treads, we all talked about renting vs. selling. The pro's and cons are there for both. The bottle line is, they both work, just pick the one that fits you best.

Yeah he said he has his own icicle lights that he hung last year but he said he is open to other possibilities. I've been trying to find a way to steer him away from them but I'm unsure as to how to do it yet. I'm hoping he will like the sample lights and perhaps I will bring some pictures of some clear c9's installed to give him an idea. I wish I could afford that landscape pro software :D it seems like it would help.

Anyhow, thanks for the tips on the icicle lights. No way I'm gonna kill time troubleshooting those lights. Nasty.

Are you storing your customer's lights in your own storage even though they bought them from you? Do you find that this is a better way to do it rather than "renting" them out? I havent totally figured out how I'm going to do that aspect either.

hotrod1965
09-04-2008, 10:12 AM
A 25L strand would work for a demo. You would have to decide if you want to show the LED's or not. That's up to you on what you want to sell. I would recommend not selling what everyone else is selling.

I've got another question... I need to get some samples shipped to me pretty quickly.

I'm not sure that I want to buy a 1000ft spool of c9 right away unless i know that this is going to work out. Would it be feasible to just order a 25ft strand and show off some multis and clear lights as well as the difference in incandescent and led c9s... Should I even waste my time showing the difference in incandescent and LED c9s?

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 11:20 AM
Thanks a lot for the help. I think I'll probably just sell the lights.

I'll post again if I come up with more questions :D

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 12:00 PM
What his this wire (lamp cord) used for? I'm assuming for making your own customer extension cords, correct?

http://www.litesource.com/ProductDetail.jsp?LISTID=80000B4C-1182285575

David Gretzmier
09-04-2008, 05:01 PM
Yes, you can use that to make your own cords, but why? costwise it is cheaper to buy cords at Lowes or Home Depot and do a good job hiding them. I used to make my own cords, but quit when bulk copper wire tripled and premade cords just went up around 30-40%, then I switched to premade. I have went so far as to try and order 20-30 2000 foot spools of spt-2, 18 guage, and even from a manufacturor in china, 25,50 and 100ft 16 guage orange cords at Lowes/Home depot are still cheaper by the foot.

hotrod1965
09-04-2008, 05:21 PM
I think there is a thread about this too...

I use all LED so I can use 18 gage cords, so on the longer cords it is cheaper, but you are better off buying anything under 7-10 feet pre made.
If you need 18 gage, then you are almost always better off pre-made.

I am going to try the "make your own cords" a little this year and see how it pans out....

Ordering from China only works out of you fill a container. It's the shipping costs that kill you. I can order C9 spools from China @$120 each, but it costs $80-90 to get them here!

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 09:37 PM
I use all LED so I can use 18 gage cords, so on the longer cords it is cheaper, but you are better off buying anything under 7-10 feet pre made.
If you need 18 gage, then you are almost always better off pre-made.
to get them here!

This is another question that I need answered. How do I determine what gauge of wire that I would need for extension cords? I havent found anything on that yet.

On that note, does anyone know of a guide that I could read up on for all of this rather than attending seminars or paying out the rear to be a part of some "group" that trains me?

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 10:44 PM
It seems like my biggest challenge is learning about the electrical limits of homes. Does anyone have any advice on this as well? How do I know how many amps I have available for a home so that I can see what the options are for lighting?

One website says most homes only have 175 watt plugs. Another tells me outdoor plugs are usually rated at 16 amps... its starting to get confusing.

hotrod1965
09-04-2008, 11:08 PM
Can't help you out on this one, I bet Dave can. I use LED for everything, so I can use 80-90% more lights per circuit than the incandescent folks. So power is never an issue.

MowHouston
09-04-2008, 11:26 PM
Can't help you out on this one, I bet Dave can. I use LED for everything, so I can use 80-90% more lights per circuit than the incandescent folks. So power is never an issue.

Hey hotrod, could you send me some pictures of what your LED lights look like? and are you using LED c9s? I was thinking about doing this as a solution as well but worried about how everything would look.

I'd appreciate it. Thanks

support@mowhouston.com

David Gretzmier
09-05-2008, 02:26 AM
lots of stuff on this thread- cords- look on the package and it wil tell you how many amps it is rated. they don't make 18 guage cords anymore, but if you make your own, it is limited to 10 amps on spt-2 insulation and 7 amps on spt-1. DO NOT OVERLOAD ! this cord will melt. The last time I checked the price of 18 guage it was close to 18-20 cents a foot without shipping on 500 ft bundles. 15 foot cord, 5 bucks, 25 foot cord, with male and female end adds up to 7 bucks. 50 foot, 12 bucks. 100ft, 22 bucks. at all levels it is cheaper to use the heavier 16 guage pre-made cords from Lowes or Home depot.

16 guage is the thinnest you can buy pre-made, and is rated different amps based on how long the cord is. 25 foot and under is 15 amps. 50 feet is 12 and 100 feet is 10 amps.

on outlets and circuit breakers. Be aware many houses have the outside outlets tied into GFCI outlets in kitchen, Garage or Bathrooms. therefore, if they have a fridge in the garage, a toaster oin the kitchen, or a hairdryer or curling iron, and you also are trying to run your lights, it can and will trip the breaker or GFCI. Rain will trip the GFCI. Outlets normally can handle 15 amps, and 20 amp breakers wil handle 16 amps for all outlets on that breaker. 1/3 of our new installations each year require brand new outlets on new breakers to insure minimal problems. I ususally have the electrician install 2 "seasonal" outlets on the box that feeds the A/C unit outside. Typically Christmas lights and A/C don't run at the same time unless you are south of Arkansas.

MowHouston
09-05-2008, 09:39 AM
lots of stuff on this thread- cords- look on the package and it wil tell you how many amps it is rated. they don't make 18 guage cords anymore, but if you make your own, it is limited to 10 amps on spt-2 insulation and 7 amps on spt-1. DO NOT OVERLOAD ! this cord will melt. The last time I checked the price of 18 guage it was close to 18-20 cents a foot without shipping on 500 ft bundles. 15 foot cord, 5 bucks, 25 foot cord, with male and female end adds up to 7 bucks. 50 foot, 12 bucks. 100ft, 22 bucks. at all levels it is cheaper to use the heavier 16 guage pre-made cords from Lowes or Home depot.

16 guage is the thinnest you can buy pre-made, and is rated different amps based on how long the cord is. 25 foot and under is 15 amps. 50 feet is 12 and 100 feet is 10 amps.

on outlets and circuit breakers. Be aware many houses have the outside outlets tied into GFCI outlets in kitchen, Garage or Bathrooms. therefore, if they have a fridge in the garage, a toaster oin the kitchen, or a hairdryer or curling iron, and you also are trying to run your lights, it can and will trip the breaker or GFCI. Rain will trip the GFCI. Outlets normally can handle 15 amps, and 20 amp breakers wil handle 16 amps for all outlets on that breaker. 1/3 of our new installations each year require brand new outlets on new breakers to insure minimal problems. I ususally have the electrician install 2 "seasonal" outlets on the box that feeds the A/C unit outside. Typically Christmas lights and A/C don't run at the same time unless you are south of Arkansas.

Great info thanks. And I am well south of Arkansas so it looks like it might be an issue. I'm going to see if I can't rustle up a frienship with an electrician to see what they could help me with this season. I know that is stuff that I cannot do.

hotrod1965
09-05-2008, 10:40 AM
18 gage spt2 10 amp wire is 0.12 per foot. 40 ft cord would be $4.80 plus 1.50 for plugs, which equals $6.30, I was paying $7.99 for 40ft cords at lowes last year. The shorter cords are better to buy premade becasue your plug cost will always be $1.50.
I would try looking at local electrical suppliers instead of online for your wire. They typically buy in huge bulk so thier prices are better.

I have to use a lot of LED lights to get up to 10amps. Our 15 amp AL boxes can handle 1600 strands of led lights. Can't say I have ever put up 1600 strands of lights in one place. But it sure would be cool though!

But, if you aren't using LEDs. you need to use at least 16 gage cords or you will melt some things!

Also remember that the longer your cord run the more internal resistance builds up, so the less you can put on that cord.