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White Gardens
10-22-2008, 07:53 PM
So I'm starting to get into installing lighting for some of my customers. Nothing major, just mostly for accents in the landscaping.

One of my customers has a Toro converter box, and I want to know if it's still good or not.

What kind of test do I need to run to figure it out. I'm guessing a voltage tester will be needed, but what numbers am I looking for.

Thanks.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-23-2008, 12:47 AM
"Toro Converter Box"?? Do you possibly mean a Transformer?

I seem to recall hearing that Toro took a brief stab at Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting some years ago but it didn't work out very well for them. Here are some clips from google:

TORO® low voltage outdoor landscape lighting, replacement parts and accessories are no longer available. For warranty assistance on existing systems please call:

Acquired Lunalite, Inc., a marketer of low-voltage outdoor lighting.

Wal-Mart is the major distribution channel for Toro, said Pete Klukken, a marketing specialist. Toro projects a 5% market growth for low-voltage lighting from a 1996 base of $107 million in manufacturers' shipments. The three major factors driving the low-voltage market are to beautify one's home, add safety to steps and walkways, and provide more security against crime. Toro and Malibu control 90% of the market, Klukken said, while Brinkman, Twilight and direct imports from the Orient account for the balance of 10%. At Wal-Mart in Tom's River, N.J., the opening price point for an 11-light Toro kit is $29.95, while a 16-light kit, with 10 path lights and six floods, retails for $54.96.

The transformer you have there might be just fine. You will need a digital multimeter/ammeter if you want to do any significant work in this area so go get yourself a Greenlee CM-80 or Fluke equivalent to start.

Best of luck

TXNSLighting
10-23-2008, 01:34 AM
O wow, so basically its malibu crap! Well thats just nice...

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-23-2008, 09:07 AM
Was there ever any question about that Ryan? :)

SamIV
10-23-2008, 10:03 AM
Guys, I make a very comfortable living in another field, but I truly enjoy designing and installing outdoor lighting systems. I do this part-time and am quite successful at it. I do lurk here from time to time but don't participate much at all, due to my schedule but other factors weigh heavily.

White Gardens asked a simple question but in response received responses that were not deserving. Those of you who treat people as if they were somehow lessor of yourself will truly never make it to the top of the ladder.

Seems there is very little participation here lately and this is not relative to just the economic times. Maybe take note of what just transpired.

White Gardens, feel free to PM me for advice.

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-23-2008, 11:36 AM
Burt, I think you will have to be more specific.

I dont see where my response was out of line. The information I provided for instance was factual. I am not treating "White Gardens" as if they were somehow lessor... just A: trying to understand what exactly he means by a "lighting converter / converter box" (transformer? controller? what exactly are we talking about?) and then B: stating what I know and quoting what I found online about Toro's involvement in LV lighting products. Followed by C: advice on what meter will be required to get started in diagnosing and installing systems.

As for the slam on Malibu... well that was just having fun with Ryan. And we all know that Malibu is substandard product.

To White Gardens: When you get your meter feel free to ask us here how to diagnose that Toro unit. Also take down some specifications from the label which will help us help you.

Have a great day.

TXNSLighting
10-23-2008, 01:31 PM
Was there ever any question about that Ryan? :)

Well i used to be in the mowing business and Toro is top of the line...But your right i shoulda known better...especially since i never heard of it!

TXNSLighting
10-23-2008, 01:33 PM
Its all in good fun in this section!! He needs to post some pics so we can see the condition. I think James' answer was fine...Just trying to get a feel for the guy and what hes got.

White Gardens
10-24-2008, 10:35 AM
Dang, I wasn't trying to stir up controversy.

Thanks for the info about the toro stuff the initial response to my post.

I'm guessing that it's the transformer that I've been looking at. I'll try to take a pic of it today and I'll post it later if I can. We got 2 inches of rain last night so I ain't doing crap today. :p

I haven't done my homework yet for lighting setups and I thought I'd start here first. I understand that it's a low-voltage system though, and from what I can tell it's not that hard to get it right the first time. This job I'm doing is very unique in it's design, and I would love to see some real lighting and not the solar crap you see everywhere.

Thanks again, I haven't taken any offense to the posts, I just don't things personally, especially on the Internet.:rolleyes:

JoeyD
10-24-2008, 11:00 AM
Dang, I wasn't trying to stir up controversy.

Thanks for the info about the toro stuff the initial response to my post.

I'm guessing that it's the transformer that I've been looking at. I'll try to take a pic of it today and I'll post it later if I can. We got 2 inches of rain last night so I ain't doing crap today. :p

I haven't done my homework yet for lighting setups and I thought I'd start here first. I understand that it's a low-voltage system though, and from what I can tell it's not that hard to get it right the first time. This job I'm doing is very unique in it's design, and I would love to see some real lighting and not the solar crap you see everywhere.

Thanks again, I haven't taken any offense to the posts, I just don't things personally, especially on the Internet.:rolleyes:


If your interested you may PM me your contact info and I could get you information on our next educational lighting course in your area. My Illinois rep could contact you witha ll you need to get your lighting educationa nd buisness up!

Let me know!!

White Gardens
10-25-2008, 07:02 PM
Here's the box.

irrig8r
10-25-2008, 08:41 PM
O wow, so basically its malibu crap! Well thats just nice...

Mostly worse than. They sold fixture kits that included a bunch of pathlights and a couple of spots for $60 at Costco back in the early 90's. I reluctantly installed some for my uncle at his request. All the fixtures had plastic bodies.

irrig8r
10-25-2008, 08:44 PM
If your interested you may PM me your contact info and I could get you information on our next educational lighting course in your area. My Illinois rep could contact you witha ll you need to get your lighting educationa nd buisness up!

Let me know!!

Wow Joey. You are good at what you do.

Mike M
10-25-2008, 09:34 PM
We need a simple FAQ for getting started, that doesn't sound like we're trying to scare people away.

We can all knock down basic manu seminars, etc., but I think they are great starting points. Also, Unique has the best book (by far) on the subject, from both the design & technical/installation perspective, so I think that should be included in a list of recommended reading along with the Moyer book.

Mention could also be made regarding demo kits, including various manu's kits and how to make your own.

That all being said, I think anyone jumping into lighting right now is out of their flipping minds and should be talked out of it. lol.

Mike M
10-25-2008, 09:43 PM
I just read the print on that lightstyle transformer. They somehow fit a photocell sensor and a timer in that thing, too.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-26-2008, 11:45 AM
White Gardens... Ditch that Toro transformer. It is only going to give you more headaches then solutions. It doesn't owe the client anything at this point and I would suspect that what is attached to it is ready for replacement as well.

As a business model, you will do much better at removing and replacing such systems then you will trying to repair and extend the life of them. Your hourly rate is probably more then that transformer was worth brand new.

Have a great day.

Mike M
10-26-2008, 02:03 PM
James is 100% right, and if it was me, I would qualify the person first to see if they would hire me to install a proper system.

I did this with my first customer. He wanted me to trench his wires in, and to add-on some fixtures. All this using his Malibu transformers. It was my first real post/topic on this forum, and this prospective customer wrote a newspaper column on gardening.

I educated him on the basics (which is all I really knew at the time), and gave him a quote to do it "my" way, and added that I wanted to do a demo to show him some ideas he hadn't considered. I was actually surprised when he hired me.

I really don't think we are doing anyone favors when we try to "save" them money adding on to problematic stuff, bad installs, or poor designs.

That all being said, I'm broke, and you don't have to take my advice.

Let me add this: I could start putting in cheaply made fixtures and cheap materials, and skip good practices to save money, and lower my rates in hopes to keep business active, but I won't. Instead, I'll find other revenue opportunities and hunker down, until the market fires up again.

Lawn & Landscape Magazine's latest issue has a guy on the cover ripping up his "2008 Business Plan." The issue covers a lot of ideas on how to survive present market conditions in the green industry.

TXNSLighting
10-26-2008, 07:43 PM
Mostly worse than. They sold fixture kits that included a bunch of pathlights and a couple of spots for $60 at Costco back in the early 90's. I reluctantly installed some for my uncle at his request. All the fixtures had plastic bodies.

Wow that is just fantastic! I hate when companies put this crap on the market.. especially reputable ones.

K c m
10-28-2008, 07:45 PM
So I'm starting to get into installing lighting for some of my customers. Nothing major, just mostly for accents in the landscaping.

One of my customers has a Toro converter box, and I want to know if it's still good or not.

What kind of test do I need to run to figure it out. I'm guessing a voltage tester will be needed, but what numbers am I looking for.

Thanks.

sir. there is going to be a schamatic on it which will tell you the voltage output of the transformer. H side = the high side or 120(residential) and the load voltage indicator being an X--->X0 is the neutral and the X1,X2,X3,X4 is the hot

1. To test this transformer determine the load voltage of the transformer and plug it in. Can find it on the inside cover or faceplate. 120-12v

2. Turn the voltage tester on for AC (unless there is a rectifier involved)

3. When the transformer is plugged in stick the red lead on the X1,X2,X3,X4 and the Black lead on X0 or ground it on the box. that will read your phase voltage

Repeat this step on all four or whatever output loads there are. If one voltage is lower then the rest that winding of the transformer is bad. and can't be used. and questions Pmme.

rob.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-29-2008, 07:34 AM
sir.
Repeat this step on all four or whatever output loads there are. If one voltage is lower then the rest that winding of the transformer is bad. and can't be used. and questions Pmme.

rob.

Well that will get him started Rob... but you neglected to tell our friend that once he begins down this path it will be his company that "owns" this transformer, wiring, and fixtures. He can bust a nut putting band-aids on this "system" and as soon as it fails again, the client will be thinking of White Gardens and not Toro.

Like I said previously, White Gardens, your hourly service rate is (should be) worth more then that transformer. Why throw good money after bad?

SamIV
10-29-2008, 02:22 PM
James sorry it took so long for my reply back, I have been out of town. The way I read it, you asked him if his converter was a transformer being you already knew what it was and then told him to go out and buy a meter that was probably twice the price of the system he was going to check. Then criticized the equipment he was going to service, although the criticism is probably justified. Seems a bit condescending to me.

Maybe I misread it, my wife reminds me every day how often I am wrong. So I could be wrong or maybe I'm right. I'll go ask my wife.

Burt Wilson
Accent Outdoor Lighting

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-29-2008, 02:55 PM
It's cool Burt... text based media are pretty poor ways to communicate properly.

Now, when it comes to my Meter recommendations. do you really think that a $110 Greenlee CM-80 meter is over the top? It is autoranging and includes a clamp on ammeter and a lifetime guarantee! How much would you spend on two cheapo- meters? I have always been one for good quality tools. As they say, good tools make you money, cheap tools cost you money.

Regards.

JoeyD
10-29-2008, 04:33 PM
I dont think Burt was saying the meter was over the top, I think he meant what he said which is that meter is over $100 and that system probably cost $40! LOL

At any rate I would suggest buying a real transformer and going from there.