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View Full Version : small jobs strategy


Mike M
12-05-2008, 09:12 AM
You know those people who want just one tree illuminated in the middle of their front yard? They can be ignored or disregarded as not pre-qualified, pita, against our business model, or bad for our portfolio's, or simply a waste of our time and resources.

But, are recent technologies making it easier to do these? I have a lawn customer who wants a palm illuminated as a focal point in his small front yard. I blew it off at first by telling him what my projects usually start at, but now I am thinking I should go back and give him a barebones budget and treat the job like a service call.

With LED's, a very small trans is all I need, and it doesn't have to be multi-tap. Intermatic makes the perfect size for this, I bought one from FOLD to mess around with, but I would rather use something with a better reputation if available, and an even lower wattage. That being said, the intermatic was stainless steel, and quite solid.

These jobs could use 14 or 16 gauge, and a small & simple trans. Even the smaller transformers could power lots of add-ons if the client wishes to build on the system as they get the "lighting bug."

Any recommendations for transformers for this kind of application?

Thanks,

Mike

Mark B
12-05-2008, 09:24 AM
Never turn it down when you make post about being bored. Even when you are busy never have your nose to high as not to do the small jobs. There is work out there to be had. Do whatever it takes to do it. Mike go and chase the paper.

Mayor_tx
12-05-2008, 09:57 AM
I just bought this focus transformer for a single light job.

http://www.focusindustries.com/products-pi.html

It's a 75w trans with a single 16 gauge lead. Cost me somewhere between $50-$65.

Good luck!

JoeyD
12-05-2008, 10:17 AM
Mike I can build you a 100w trans with lugs.

NightLightingFX
12-05-2008, 10:26 AM
I have used "ACME's" 300 W pool & spa transformers. For the price they are pretty dang good. They are small, have a 12, 13, 14, Flying leads, and these transformers don't loose their power when loaded. I get them from Terradek. This is probably still too big for your job.
~Ned

Mike M
12-05-2008, 03:48 PM
The Focus spec indicates 10 watt minimum, so that would be a minimum of 3 4.5 watt LED's. Cracks me up that it comes with 10' of #18 for leads.

Joey, that's cool. Got any spec's?

Chris J
12-05-2008, 09:21 PM
I remember some rep telling me a long time ago that I should have a 10 light minimum. Even as a rookie I blew that off as garbage. I will do any job from one light to 1000+, the smaller jobs just cost a bit more per fixture to cover my expenses. You are dead on with this thought Mike. If you charge, say, $75/hr for service calls, then why not charge a couple hundred bucks for the one light and be in and out of there is less than an hour. I think of it like this: If I'm in the area, it's a couple hundred more than I would have had if I turned down the job. At least it pays for a nice dinner for me and the hooker that night!:blob2:

Mark B
12-05-2008, 10:55 PM
I like how you think. Chris. We have somthings in common after all.

klkanders
12-05-2008, 11:18 PM
You mean you like a nice dinner too sleepy? :)

Pro-Scapes
12-05-2008, 11:25 PM
Exactly! Whats the diff between going out and adding a few lights for a client vs doing a small job. If you can price it correctly for profit or hit it on your way to or from an area why not.

I am doing a 6 light system on monday that will take about 4 hours. All tree lights. Sure its for an existing client but it is requiring a new trans to be installed in a different area. I would still do the job for a new client.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-05-2008, 11:26 PM
Mike... Nightscaping makes a 100W and a 150W Powercenter. Full Stainless Steel Enclosures and all the features of the larger units including the lifetime warranty. "Big Lugs" too! :)

The NS modular power bay offers up the most control alternatives on the market. UPB, Astro Timer, Relay Module, Digital Timer, Analog Timer, Hour Meter, Photo Sensor, X10 Module, etc.

Pro-Scapes
12-05-2008, 11:45 PM
Mike... Nightscaping makes a 100W and a 150W Powercenter. Full Stainless Steel Enclosures and all the features of the larger units including the lifetime warranty. "Big Lugs" too! :)

The NS modular power bay offers up the most control alternatives on the market. UPB, Astro Timer, Relay Module, Digital Timer, Analog Timer, Hour Meter, Photo Sensor, X10 Module, etc.

All that and fustats too??:)

Thats a pretty bold statement james considering another trans sitting in your shop :)

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-06-2008, 12:48 AM
I dont have an issue with the fustats at all Billy. And I have come across a couple transformers using mag. breakers where the short was at the end of a long circuit, 18ga lead wires red hot, and the breaker not tripping at all. Fustats don't allow for that.

As for the "other transformer" If only it was: A: Listed for use in Canada, and B: Available to the marketplace, then I would probably buy it. But it is not, so the issue of its use is moot.

Pro-Scapes
12-06-2008, 07:32 AM
Must be a demographic issue. Nearly every system I come across has some issue in the fuse area. Could be corrosion... rust etc.

Are you applying a no-ox or grease to the fusestats ?

Mike M
12-06-2008, 07:57 AM
I'm glad we are talking transformers here. What I am thinking is we need to effectively match what we are paying for vs. how much we need to get-her-done.

A smaller trans, just as durable as what we normally use, but less expensive for powering 20, 40, 60 watts or whatever. I don't even mind the flying leads.

I like the specs of the focus, I like the stainless steel intermatic I tried, and I wouldn't mind seeing the price to have Joey build me one (I picture him borrowing stuff from the back and pulling a screw driver out of his desk), and I appreciate the info on the Nightscaping models.

You would think that Kichler would be all over this, with lots of smaller units with fixed taps (14v or 15v, etc.).

Pro-Scapes
12-06-2008, 07:59 AM
Kichler does have a 75w with an analog timer built right in. I think there is even a place for a photocell if i rememeber right. FOLD had em at least when the store up here was open.

irrig8r
12-06-2008, 11:19 AM
Kichler does have a 75w with an analog timer built right in. I think there is even a place for a photocell if i rememeber right. FOLD had em at least when the store up here was open.

I think Malibu makes them too.... 88W as I recall... :laugh:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-06-2008, 04:29 PM
Must be a demographic issue. Nearly every system I come across has some issue in the fuse area. Could be corrosion... rust etc.

Are you applying a no-ox or grease to the fusestats ?

I have never had a problem with fustats corroding in the sockets, nor have I every had a socket corrode. As a result, I have never had a need to lubricate the fuse or the socket. Must be an environmental thing Billy... but I have not heard anyone else make note of a problem with corrosion either.

I have had one instance when someone tried to force a standard 25amp fuse into the fustat socket and they stripped the threads out of the socket. (Fustats are tapered) In that case I switched the Powercenter out for a new one, sent the old one back to my distributor on warranty and got a new one in a couple of days. No issues.

Pro-Scapes
12-07-2008, 07:59 AM
Must be installer error here then. I see alot of issues but I am sure there are hundreds around here running just find. These are all the single tap ones where your forced to choose. I looked at yet another yesterday with a single 10ga daisy chain and 12 well lights at 35w. Now I want a clear explaination why the fuse has not blown.. If my calculations it should be at 35A I didnt put a meter on it as I was there only to consult for a new system and knew I could not reuse anyof this.

Mike M
12-07-2008, 09:40 AM
Billy, did you check to see if the correct amp fuse was in it? Also, those 35 watt pars may have been way under-volted. At least that's what I find.

I don't know how anyone could like those transformers. I can't see not having control of specific voltages for specific runs. It also makes add-ons a nightmare, unless you plan for LED's. I assume there is a big difference between property in rural Canada and properties here, and James' designs probably don't require a lot of add-ons or changes. Here, people move plants and trees around all the time, things grow fast, landscape beds are added, owner turnover is high and personal preferences change, etc., making expandable/changeable systems a priority.

Trademark lighting jobs here: Nightscaping transformers with a combination of over-volted and under-volted runs, everything chained, wires near or at surface, indoor wire nuts wrapped in tape, corroded aluminum lights, etc. I know this is mostly installer error and not necessarily manu.

You know what else is annoying? No hubs. I hate looking for connections without an $800 wire tracer and it makes add-ons difficult unless you plan on chaining.

Don't mind me, I'm still a beginner at this compared to everyone, but these are my observations.

I think Joe of lowvolt.org has a policy to not touch or add-on to installs he did not do, but he is like Chris J. with a huge base of clients he has built up and these guys don't need the liability and headaches of messing with bad installs.

That's why I'm thinking of just going with LED's for add-ons, and providing each of these clients with a written assessment of the condition of their system, with solutions and estimates to replace things as recommended. If they choose not too, at least a disclaimer is built into the add-ons/service call.

JoeyD
12-08-2008, 10:56 AM
Mike PM Sent on the 100SS-SL w/ 1 com, a 12v and 13v tap. Dont want to publish list pricing here.

Mike M
12-08-2008, 11:25 AM
Thanks, Joey. Very affordable. I suggest you start building those transformers discretely in the break room and sell them on ebay.

I just reminded myself of when I was a kid and I went with my buddy and his dad to his dad's office on a Sunday. He worked at a high-tech factory that made stuff for the military, etc., and he let us go around taking parts out of bins and building cool safety sunglasses, and my buddy once built a custom motorcycle helmet with stereo speakers in it.

Where I come from, everyone's dad who worked in a factory knew some guy that would make custom parts for cars, fishing lures, all kinds of crap using big fancy tools and parts.

JoeyD
12-08-2008, 11:30 AM
If you only knew the stuff we build around here in our spare time...........LOL........

Mike M
12-08-2008, 11:59 AM
Did you make something for spotting deer, yet?

JoeyD
12-08-2008, 02:00 PM
No, we made something that spots thiefs wondering around the shop looking for scrap Copper though! LOL

worx
12-08-2008, 02:06 PM
Did you make something for spotting deer, yet?

yeah something that would use a backpack battery.....LOL...