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View Full Version : "The betterment of the landscape lighting industry"


steveparrott
04-05-2009, 05:51 PM
Mike brought up a good question. What does "The betterment of the landscape lighting industry" mean?

Also, what is preventing or hindering the betterment of the industry?

Do we see ourselves as having roles in this process?

Pro-Scapes
04-05-2009, 06:05 PM
The race for the bottom is hurting the industry alot but what I see that bothers me even more are 2 things

The big box store projected image that low voltage lighting is easy and anyone can do it. How many times have you opened the paper to see 10 lights for 90 bucks ? Sure the Savvy client knows better but it still affects the image on the industry.

The main problem I see is the uninformed or careless installer who takes "pro grade" gear and chains it around without care for proper techniques or code. This leads to poor system performance and less than pleasing results when viewed. I am sure just about anyone here that has been doing this for any lenght of time has come across a client who has been apprehensive to spend the money for one of our systems because of thier bad experience with low voltage in the past. Standardization and licensing might be ways we can help that.

I also think the major players in the manufacturing end need to unite and work together to bring around some of these changes. There is so much drama and as Mike would say "dirty laundry" in this industry its not even funny. It seems like "manufactures" are popping up like weeds. Each has some form of the same fixtures and each races for a lower price.

There will always be the low priced junk on the market and plenty of guys willing to install it so possibly one of the best ways to boost the industry image is to have a state or even national permit needed to install low voltage.

steveparrott
04-05-2009, 06:06 PM
Here's one part:

Improving the public's perception of the profession. Through marketing, public relations and word-of-mouth communicating the fact that landscape lighting is an artistic craft, primarily a design profession. When a general lay-person goes into a crafts store and walks by the acrylic paint section, they don't think of buying a bunch of paints and brushes to paint a portrait of their family. In the same way, I'd like it if a majority of people walking by the outdoor lighting section of home depot are thinking "I'd like some outdoor lighting but I really should hire a professional to do it."

Pro-Scapes
04-05-2009, 06:32 PM
Here's one part:

Improving the public's perception of the profession. Through marketing, public relations and word-of-mouth communicating the fact that landscape lighting is an artistic craft, primarily a design profession. When a general lay-person goes into a crafts store and walks by the acrylic paint section, they don't think of buying a bunch of paints and brushes to paint a portrait of their family. In the same way, I'd like it if a majority of people walking by the outdoor lighting section of home depot are thinking "I'd like some outdoor lighting but I really should hire a professional to do it."


The big box stores portray all home improvments to be a do it yourself and save type of thing. I can nail 2 boards together but I am not about to frame up the vaulted celings going in our addition am I ? You wont stop the DIY but I agree with you Steve. The publics general perception of landscape lighting is less than perfect.

MAGLIGHTING
04-05-2009, 09:00 PM
What I'm going to say is this.

There are many players in this industry who beat the drum for safety first , UL, ETL listings etc. That's fine.

And then they turn around and put the product in the unsafe hands of those uneducated and inexperienced in the science of landscape lighting or have absolutely no electrical knowledge or background at all.

Though these purveyors will be the first to agressively oppose any kind of state or city or national regulation or licensing to install that may hinder the distribution or sale of their products.

It historically always has been a numbers game. The more distribution the more product will sell. The person selling the product should not be the one responsible for the one purchasing it to make sure that it is being installed properly and safely. That is what inspections are for.

Some of the teaching is being done by unqualified individuals who themselves have never installed a lighting job professionally or who are failed contractors themselves.

Seems kind of hypocritical and a screwed up system to me.

The industry will never achieve it's peak until there are accepted and acknowledged recognized standards.

As an HVAC contractor you can go out on a service call and replace a compressor unit without having to replace all of the electrical and ductwork because it has not been originally installed properly or with deficient materials.

As a plumber you can go on a call and replace a faucet without having to re-do all the plumbing because it wasn't supplying the proper water pressure to the sink.

More times than not the same cannot be said of this industry.

Design cannot be standardized nor should it be. Installation technique and materials minimum standards can some what be.

Mr. Quik electric
04-05-2009, 09:22 PM
I agree with some licensing and standardization. The only ones afraid of it are the ones who won't pass the test or inspections. Time for a limited energy specialist license. Just my opinion, but who gets to set what the standards are for installs? Are we limited to 1838 standards or everything under 30v according to the NEC for limited energy? Certainly some kinks to work out, but would probably keep alot of landscapers and trunkslammers out of the biz since they wouldn't want to deal with permitting and inspections. Just thinking out loud.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-06-2009, 02:10 AM
I agree with some licensing and standardization. The only ones afraid of it are the ones who won't pass the test or inspections. Time for a limited energy specialist license. Just my opinion, but who gets to set what the standards are for installs? Are we limited to 1838 standards or everything under 30v according to the NEC for limited energy? Certainly some kinks to work out, but would probably keep alot of landscapers and trunkslammers out of the biz since they wouldn't want to deal with permitting and inspections. Just thinking out loud.

Here in Ontario, we are moving towards a more standardized and structured model that will see us having technical installation standards, a certification program and specialty trade licensing. We have been working together with Landscape Ontario and the Electrical Safety Authority to bring these changes to our industry. I for one am looking forward to it and firmly believe that having such standards and certifications, supported by inspections and permits, will result in a stronger LV Outdoor lighting industry. The number of 'hacks' will be greatly reduced and the technical quality of the installations should be improved. This will result in more business for the pro's, as the general opinion of the quality and efficacy of LV lighting improves across the marketplace.

So far, I have been directly involved in this process by collaboratively composing the technical standards of installation, and most recently completeing the the training module for Lamps.

It will be nice to finally have a clear, concise and firm set of installation standards to which all contractors will have to comply.

jshimmin
04-08-2009, 08:52 AM
I recently went to a local seminar put on by a major manufacture. The seminar was held at a local supply house that primarily promotes irrigation systems. I was the only full time lighting guy there, the rest being irrigation and landscape installers.
The seminar covered the possible economics of installing lighting and a new system they recently rolled out. There was no mention of our states requirements (low voltage license) and insurances that should be carried to do the work.
When I commented on it, there was a big silence over the room. Irrigation techs are supposed to carry the license as well here.

Later I asked the supply house manager about it. He estimated that 95% of his customers do not meet the states requirements. Another local supply house I purchase from gave me the same number.

I think the manuís should at least promote and educate prospective installers on the legalities of their products. With no license should they be able to purchase wholesale?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-08-2009, 09:59 AM
Jim: The issues you raise are valid and exactly the type of thing that I think the AOLP should be dealing with. Unfortunately I don't think the AOLP have much stomach for getting involved in the issues of regulation, compliance, licensing, et al.

These issues are no longer limited to local municipalities, they are becomming issues in many states and provinces throughout N. America.

Are you a member of the AOLP? If you are, I would push the Board pretty hard on this topic. It is something that must be dealt with.

Pro-Scapes
04-09-2009, 09:22 AM
I agree with Jim. I attended a seminar a few years ago. Most of the guys attending were lawn guys and couldnt grasp the concept of ohms law let alone tell you how many watts you can run on a given lenght of wire.

How do I know ? I got called out to a job installed by one of them several months later and found about 8v at the fixtures. Most distributors will look for any warmed bodied soul who will buy lighting. Some are better than others but all want sales. If they helped thier qualified contractors boost sales more thru co-op advertising and other means it would benifit the industry more.

Its sad how they do a 1 day seminar to launch someone into low voltage.

Anyone have a clue as to the percentage of top name brand lighting systems that get installed properly vs thoes who are hacked in ? So far I have come across 3 brands on a routine basis that are installed all wrong.

Tomwilllight
04-09-2009, 05:08 PM
This whole issue makes me too mad to even comment...

One comment: AOLP is the only national organization we have. We must support it.

I was very disappointed to hear that a major manu recently split because they thought there were too many employees from another manu on the board.

I've been there when board members are elected and anybody who wants to work can get in the race.

If you want to improve our industry, you can complain in this or other chat rooms or you can join AOLP and pitch in and work together. We need the help.

Tom

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-09-2009, 11:29 PM
Why does this discussion anger you so much Tom? I think there are a number of valid opinions presented here that deserve to be discussed and explored. Is the AOLP above reproach for some reason that I am unaware of? If so, please do tell...

I don't think that Unique Lighting cancelled their membership simply because of the number of Kichler loyal contractors and employees on the current board. There were other issues too. Im sure Joey would be happy to send you a private email outlining their full position on this.

I do not doubt that the election process is handled in a fair and democratic manner. However, as I have mentioned previously, the simple optics of having so many board members who are either directly involved with, or loyal customers of a single manufacturer can be seen as questionable by some.

Want to improve our industry? Absolutely, join the AOLP, get involved, lead a committee, and try to make some positive changes... Establishing regional chapters is one area that will greatly assist the organization to become more responsive to the needs of its contractor membership base. Just don't for a moment suggest that healthy discourse and debate should be stifled simply because the AOLP is the "only national organization we have".

JoeyD
04-10-2009, 10:13 AM
I am over getting into the debate of why we left but it had nothing to do with the ammount of Kichler employees on the board. There is only ONE employee on the board. There was much more to it than that and I think there is atleast 3 threads of wasted time explaining our postion on this subject. One is in our Unique Lighting Forum here on LS. Botom line is the association should be ran by and for contractors and not for Distributors and Manufacturers. They should be limited to associate membership and be able to only attend the tradeshow portion. That is JOEY D.'s opinion and not that of Unique Lighting.

Tomwilllight
04-10-2009, 10:18 AM
James,

I was inarticulate and a bit jet lagged. Sorry if I came off a bit hot. I don't think I have, in any way, suggested there should be any reduction in discussion. My goal always is to increase discussion and reflection.

The part of this thread I was mad about is several posts back and concerns the continued problems we have in this industry with inexperienced or lazy installers and big box stores who sell junk and give our industry a bad name.

As far as I know, there is no other viable national organization on the horizon to replace the AOLP. If there are problems, let's fix them. A lot more can be done on the inside of the tent than on the outside. We need to maintain an independent voice and source for design training. The manufacturers can only go so far and their prime goal is to sell their product - as it should be.

AOLP is just now emerging from a number of years of... lets call it "licking its wounds" caused by various problems. It has scheduled the first conference outside of Scottsdale since the first in Key West. It has an excellent technical certification program with the CLVLT and the COLD program will graduate it's first class next year in San Antonio. This kind of stuff takes time and work to make happen.

If you don't like the board, then come to the conference and vote in the people you do like.

If we lose AOLP, the only independent LS Lighting Design instruction left will be Jan Moyer's Landscape Lighting Institute and that incredible experience is too costly in time and money for many LSL installers.

Tom

Cassius
07-04-2009, 08:43 AM
or some of you guys could do what i did and make a career coming from the entertainment design industry. There is no end to the education available if one can think outside the box and apply standard theatrical design techniques to this industry instead. the cross-over of information is virtually 100%. Then people seeking info can look up theater design books instead of landscape lighting books. there are many many theater lighting books. plus then you will have a marketable skill with theatrical lighting which i use to much effect when landscape lighting is slower du e to weather, etc... parties, tradeshows, weddings, plays, car shows, you name it. lighting is where its at.
amazon.com has a ton of theater lighting books available. some helpful, others not so much.

Lite4
07-04-2009, 08:53 AM
Hi Cassius, welcome to lawnsite. There are a few on here with theatrical lighting backgrounds. What books have you read that are appropriate for what we do? I thought about picking up some theatrical lighting books in the past but was unsure of what to purchase. Thanks for the help.

Cassius
07-04-2009, 09:20 AM
interesting that of all the people to reply first its the dude from Indy! I'm moving to That area in about 3 months! small world. we should eat pizza or drink or do something to affirm that we're both men once i land out that way. a few books of merit:

Designing With Light: An Introduction to Stage Lighting
by J. Michael Gillette

Backstage Handbook: An Illustrated Almanac or Technical Information
by Paul Carter and George Chiang (this is a spectacular manual with all manners of technical stuff besides a good electrical section)

Stage Lighting Design: The Art, the Craft, the Life
by Richard Pilbrow

Light on the Subject: Stage Lighting for Directors and Actors - And the Rest of Us
by David Hays

there is much in these books which doesn't apply to outdoor lighting. there is however, much that does. (for example, 10, 26,36,50 degree units to give narrow or flood beams etc.) the main stuff is figuring out how to apply the design concepts more than the specific technical stuff, although ohm's law etc are still the same lol.

Lite4
07-04-2009, 09:33 AM
Hey fantastic!! Definitely have to do lunch. Funny, I just moved here 4 months ago myself. Pretty decent economy here. Fairly stable, which is good. It is also a very beautiful city. Thanks for the info on the books, I will definitely check it out. Are you taking a job out this way or moving your biz here?

Cassius
07-04-2009, 09:41 AM
actually starting fresh out there. i have done the pro-stage gig to death. i have done Broadway, off-broadway, and what is known as off-off-broadway. i have worked with/ for most of the people listed as authors or people of note in almost all of the aforementioned books. i have done large music festivals. and you know what? time to leave the hectic pace of the east. i'm from east central illinois originally anyway. i just got married 2 months ago and my wife is moving her photography business as well. the economy and the large number of high end clients were major deciding factors for us too. and you can buy a house there worth the $$$ still. now i live on cape cod and do high end maintenance, but also do lighting gigs (stage and outdoor)all over the area from NYC to New Hampshire.

Lite4
07-04-2009, 10:31 AM
Very cool! Indy has turned out to be a great area. I am sure you and your wife will definitely like it here.

emby
07-04-2009, 07:51 PM
I thought I would add my experiences into this particular conversation as I am sure all of you will find interesting. By trade and qualification here in Canada I have both my Industrial and Construction & Maintenance Electrical tickets. Each trade requires 9000hrs of apprenticeship and an interprovincial exam which you have to pass with a grade of 70% or higher. All of this is conducted by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Univeristies.
Personally I love working outside and I had a passion with landscaping. I decided to make a carreer change and go with something that I love and that was landscape lighting.
This path was a hard one to follow. Unlike the trades in Canada which all have an organized venue landscape lighting does not. So with that being said how would someone like me with lots of knowledge of OHMs law start a landscape lighting business and make it succeed? Lots and lots of networking with guys like you all over the world!! All of you have the knowledge and life experiences and most of you are willing to teach and share that information so that apprentices like me can learn from you.
Yes there should be a designated trade for doing this but how do you all get this to happen? Well with my experience all you have to talk about gentlemen is safety. If there is a risk of fire or a person getting hurt than there should absolutely be some sort of designated trade with formal training.
Unfortunately, every irrigation and landscape company will install landscape lighting and most of them will call an electrician to supply the receptacle that is required to plug in the transformers. The electrician has made sure that the wire supplying that receptacle will not burn because of his training. What happens after the transformer is plugged in is all up to who? I guess you hope that the employee from the landscape company listened to that one day seminar and especially tuned into the ten minutes of OHMS law. If the manufacturers want to train people to install there products than I personally feel that they should be responsible and liable.
Talk about safety issues with the right people and this should not take very long to get rolling.
I am not trying to offend anybody but just sharing my experiences with all of you.

Ken

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-05-2009, 09:04 AM
Ken, it is time for you to call up Landscape Ontario and get an associate membership in our Lighting Commodity Group. (Horrible name, we know!)

In that group you will find about 25 seriously interesting outdoor lighting professionals. We are working on things like Standards of Installation, Developing a section of Code, Training, Certification, etc. It is a strong, diverse group filled with passionate people.

Next meeting is in late July in Milton, not too far from you!

emby
07-05-2009, 09:19 AM
Hi James,

I would be very interested in attending that and siging up with Landscape Ontario. Will put that on my list this week to complete. When you have a chance email me the info in regards to the meeting in Milton as I would love to attend. Email is...ken@copperexpressions.com
Thanks.

Ken