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View Full Version : Ubiquitous Lighting Fixtures - Exposed!


INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-10-2009, 11:11 AM
I have been doing a lot of research on foriegn sources for all of these Ubiquitous products like bullets, path lights, step lights, deck lights, that the likes of Alliance, BQL, Cucamonga Products, VOLT, Clarolux and so many many others are "manufacturing".

I have developed my leads to the point of having documented communications with the factories and their local (Asian) agents who have provided me with wholesale price lists for many of the products that you will find available through these companies. You would be amazed and perhaps even shocked if you saw the pricing.

I have decided not to post the pricing here in this public forum as It serves absolutely no purpose what so ever for the Professional Lighting Company that uses Professional Grade components that are fully listed and guaranteed by actual manufacturers.

I firmly believe that we MUST stop this race to the bottom in terms of component costs.

You get what you pay for guys. It is an age old rule that applies not only to our services but also to the components that we use in our systems. Let's stop this race to the bottom... it is only going to hurt the Professional designer/contractor and only going to propel the Direct Sales Importers of offshore products.

irrig8r
04-10-2009, 12:52 PM
What was the name of the Chinese province or city that we found where a lot of the import lighting is produced James?

Seems that one could get these things so cheap (in cargo container quantities) that they could still make a profit at $29 for an uplight....and a huge profit if they're marking them up from that.

It's no wonder so many "manufacturers" are popping up, and that so many of them look like they rolled out of the same factory...

Did Unique get the ball rolling by contracting with factories in China a few years back?

I think they call this unintended consequences. Weak patent laws, cheap labor and lax environmental standards all contribute to the problem.

But not all Chinese manufacturing is the same. I've held some hefty and nicely finished brass fixtures from Unique, Coppermoon and a company that doesn't get mentioned much here, and whose fixtures I haven't seen copied, Atom Lighting (http://www.atomlighting.com/).

JoeyD
04-10-2009, 01:25 PM
All of our products are now obtaining Over Seas Chinese Patents. We hosed ourselves years ago by not protecting ourselves and then a bunch of others saw that we were on to something easy to duplicate in their eyes and fast forward and we are where we are today. But that is why we are continuing to re-design products, make them better, and innovate new products and systems to better the industry and force the copy cats to play catch up. China can produce some quality products but to this day I will tell you that trusting China's QC is suspect! Big reason why we do all of the Assembly, Packaging, QC, Marketing, Design, and Sales here in the USA! Increases overhead costs but ensures quality! Something else that gets dismissed is all of our hard R&D work in figuring out how to make these products correctly has just been capitilized on by these factories and by these importers. Before buying a knockoff product you have to ask yourself what went into the design and did they do the work or did someone else!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-10-2009, 01:38 PM
There is more and more excellent quality product being produced in SE Asia and China. Heck turn over your Ipod, your Motorola cell phone, your Canon DSLR camera, etc etc. There are even some excellent LV lighting products coming out of China as you noted. The key seems to be the level of involvement that the 'parent' company is willing to invest with it's offshore factories.

All of these knock off lighting "Manufacturers" are not investing that same level of involvement and commitment to quality. They are simply attending massive trade shows, finding the manufacturers and vendors of these ubiquitous lines, and then importing them by the container load. The products arrive without listings (the N. American distributors are left to submit for and obtain the necessary listings) and are generally 're-branded' and repackaged for sale here as something 'new and improved'.

The products might very well be of decent quality, and they might stand the test of time. The real uncertainty is going to be in the distributor being around for the long haul to back up the warranties.

The thing is, you don't have to purchase a container load of product to get the insanely low prices... you can work through a local vendor /agent / distributor in china and get nearly as low prices for this stuff by buying case quantities. Of course they will not be listed for use here, which will pose an issue for the professional installers. But when you see the prices that these products cost these distributors, and you see what they are charging for them... well let me tell you, the spread more than accounts for the 'inconvenience and expense' of shipping, importing and listings!

As for your question re: China it is the Guangdong Province and specifically Zhongshan's Guzhen township which is the lighting capital of the world, with 1,800 companies employing 40,000 people and making all manner of lighting products.

Tomwilllight
04-10-2009, 02:19 PM
I've been complaining about the race to the bottom on line for years.

All you have to do is to collect catalogues and just start matching product. It's no accident the "bargain brands" out there look alike. Most is spun or very thin die cast. Very little is actually machined from bar stock.

You have to buy American to get quality metal and finish and that kind of quality is not cheap.

Tom

Now I'm all grumpy again.... and I'm really looking forward to seeing a Broadway opening tonight....

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-10-2009, 06:27 PM
I would appear that my post here struck a nerve as I received a call from Chris Walden from Alliance Outdoor Lighting today. We shared a rather long, in-depth conversation about the state of the lighting manufacturing industry today. Chris had some interesting insights and viewpoints.

I have taken another look at their product line, and although it does have a number of rather familiar looking products, there are also some that are different enough than the rest to make me consider that they might do business a bit differently than some of the other direct to market distribution companies that are posing as manufacturers.

Check them out for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. I encouraged Chis to come onto the site and post in his own defence.

Regards

Pro-Scapes
04-11-2009, 09:27 AM
I just got an email today

Dear Sir,



This is Robert from China, live and work now in Guzhen ( the lighting capital of China), ZhongShan City.



I am already in the foreign trade field of lighting and furniture(exportation) for nearly 7 years, to give good

services and with high work abilities for foreign customers as requested. Care more what customer needed

is my aim.



As now more and more foreign customer comes to China searching for good production supplier(products)

or establish factory(company) in China local to achieve more profits by their own, this is a trend on new type

of business extension,and I am honourned willing to serve you as your company staff or agent(if you need to

hire the one like me), to make matters easier and convenient.



For more details,please feel free to contact with me!



I have attached my resume, please kindly review once you are available.



Thanks for your attention and waiting for your highest comments!



With all best regards!



Sincerely Yours



Robert


Not sure but he even attached his resume. I for one appreciate a company who does R and D. Companies like Coppermoon and Unique will adjust things as needed. 2 weeks ago I needed special mounts from Unique. DONE right away. 3 weeks ago I needed a custom riser fabicated by Coppermoon and a special request on some ordering. DONE and shipped in the same day even.

On another note alot of these guys are popping up with lifetime warranties. That does me little if there is a high failure rate besides hurt my business and cost me any money I may have saved.

I do agree some of the quality we are seeing from overseas is improving over things I saw 3-4 years ago. You do really have to watch what you get from over there. Some is paper thin like Tom said and some is much thicker like Unique and coppermoon.. This race to the bottom will definatly kill the industry. Its just another reason we need licensing and better education for it.

David Gretzmier
04-11-2009, 05:40 PM
ah, the new world order. it is only a matter of time before the guys that install alot of lights will bypass the distributor and go directly to the Manu in china. This is not a matter of a race to the bottom, as I think that light guys will demand high quality fixtures and sockets. but rather this will be a squeezing out of distributors. I am already at container volume for my Christmas light biz, when I hit container volume for my landscape lighting biz, I too will be seeking a way to get quality at a lower price. Heck, if I can get my lights branded with my name and phone number on it like Mike G, I'm all for it. I've always stood behind whatever I sell, why not brand it?

Warranty issues can be discussed all day long, but the reality is I repair/replace all my lights out there now at my cost anyway. who doesn't carry spare sockets,lenses, and o-rings on thier truck? the only real warranty I use is on the trans, and with FX, I have only had one or 2 warranty issues in ten years.

BrandonV
04-13-2009, 03:57 PM
David Alliance told me that they're more than happy to have your name branded on the fixtures. of course you'd have to buy in larger volumes than little ol me... but it's good to dream. I think as most companies have found manufaturing in china the problem lies in the lack of protection for intellectual property. Lets say unique has some new lights made there, its VERY common for the factory to run that order and then in the off hours or after that order is run make a bunch more and sell under another name. GM has learned this the hard way because on of china's most common cars is pretty much a grey market chevy aveo. of course they cheapen the steel, change the badges but supposedly you could take a door off the aveo and put it on the chinese version it's that an exact a copy... until you get in a wreak.

David Gretzmier
04-13-2009, 08:42 PM
this is still several years away for me. It took me 8 solid years in my area to reach container volume in Christmas Lights. Although I have dabbled in LV lighting for 15 years or so, I did not get serious about it until a few years ago as a stand alone business. I figure in 5 years I will be at container volume, but dang, that will be a buncha bullets .

BrandonV
04-14-2009, 04:38 PM
everytime i see this thread I think of the old SNL cartoon

Go Halogen
04-16-2009, 11:33 PM
David,

You mentioned FX Lighting. What is their quality like? I do not have FX in Maryland or Delaware. I have not actually seen it before in person. I recently heard that Hunter Industries purchased FX. I expect to see it soon in my area, since Hunter us represented well in my area.

Can anyone share opinions concerning FX Lighting. I may want to try it.
They have some really cool looking path lights. At least they look interesting on the web site.

Thanks

-Andy

JoeyD
04-17-2009, 10:57 AM
FX is one of the nicer product lines available. I would put FX in the top 5 of lighting MANUFACTURERS for low voltage lighting. At minimum the fixtures they make are their own and are listed. I believe they use ETL as well.

www.fxl.com

Tomwilllight
04-17-2009, 11:29 AM
It's my opinion that their glare control for the entire line is insufficient, with the exception of their submersible luminaires.

I want a full 45 degree cut-off to provide reasonable glare control without interfering with lamp distribution.

Tom

irrig8r
04-17-2009, 12:08 PM
FX is one of the nicer product lines available. I would put FX in the top 5 of lighting MANUFACTURERS for low voltage lighting. At minimum the fixtures they make are their own and are listed. I believe they use ETL as well.

www.fxl.com

Joey.... you are correct.

Focus also uses ETL and have the cETL label (I was looking at one of their fixtures yesterday.)

irrig8r
04-17-2009, 12:14 PM
It's my opinion that their glare control for the entire line is insufficient, with the exception of their submersible luminaires.

I want a full 45 degree cut-off to provide reasonable glare control without interfering with lamp distribution.

Tom

Tom, what do you mean by "full 45 degree cut-off"?

Do you have a picture? Or an example of a product on the market?

The FX RS-20 is probably insufficient (glare control) for a lot of applications. They used to have an adjustable deep shroud option when they first came out. It tended to collect debris. I wish they had worked on that.

Eden Lights
04-17-2009, 12:33 PM
It's my opinion that their glare control for the entire line is insufficient, with the exception of their submersible luminaires.

I want a full 45 degree cut-off to provide reasonable glare control without interfering with lamp distribution.

Tom

Amen, Amen, Amen

I have ranted about glare control for years and how much of a difference it makes, but it seems that most don't care. I guess I owe that lesson to Jan and Tom, Thanks.

David Gretzmier
04-17-2009, 06:34 PM
I've installed many FX paths and bullets, and I have not noticed a lack of glare/shroud control, as I tend to up light and keep fixtures out of folks eyes by location rather than rely on shroud. Other do tend to have larger shrouds, with the new Volt fixture i just posted a review on having an abundance of shrouding available.

I would say that FX is my favorite trans out there right now up to 15 volts, and many of thier odd fixtures are just not represented out there anywhere else. The bullets are silicone ring and squirt sealed at the wire, and heavy copper with powdercoated finished over the copper available. They invented the mini-path 10 plus years ago, and probably 98 % of the FX fixtures and trans I have put in in the past 8 years or so have been trouble free.

I don't like the way they name thier products.

Tomwilllight
04-23-2009, 11:19 AM
Sorry I'm slow getting back to you guys on this, I've been fighting the darnedest cold I've ever had. Naomi and I are both down with it; we decided last evening that we may live after-all.

The photo below is of a pair of Vision 3 FL1B w/ a step lens. The step lens is flush with the face of the bezel and promotes drainage. The 45 degree (full-cutoff in my mind) glare shield is coded AC4B-AGE-C4. With this combination, I can adjust the amount of glare shielding I require in each application and still have a self-cleaning uplight.

For downlight, I use a bezel with an integral glare shield and place my fixtures very carefully to block the glare "behind" the luminaire. I always use a hexcel louver in both up and down light to help out just-in-case.

This installation is on top of the seawall for a residence in Old Greenwich, CT. As you can almost see, the rock provides glare shielding for viewers in boats in the Sound.

Vision 3 custom-made the solid brass mounts for me to use in applications that may receive more abuse than usual. The 5/16 brass mounts are attached using 4" 1/4" SS hanger bolts that are glued in place using a slow-cure Hilti 2 part epoxy.

The system works very well - with the exception of the "solid brass" acorn nuts. My bad... I didn't check closely enough.

Tom

Last Spring, I serviced the job that I first used the combination of step lens and adjustable, separate, glare shield for all of my uplights. Of the 65 or so ups, I found a single walnut shell sitting on the face of one lens. ALL or the remaining 64 uplights were CLEAN. I didn't even have to deal with mineral build up.

irrig8r
04-23-2009, 12:33 PM
Thanks Tom.

pihta
04-24-2009, 02:55 AM
As for china quality and US QC...:laugh:
Look at mounting screws holes. Even Gods make mistakes! :laugh:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-24-2009, 06:10 AM
OOOpsy! Hey Joey, you going to take care of this and send Egor a case of those fixtures for his trouble?

Egor, what type of lead time do you have to take into consideration when ordering materials from N. America for delivery to Russia? Do you have to get things shipped in via Air Freight?

Also, do you have any European Manufacturers of LV outdoor lighting products that we here in N. America might not know of? I am always on the lookout for different / new products.

Thanks.

pihta
04-24-2009, 06:35 AM
We have some amount of popular fixtures in stock here. Others are order-only, it takes about 30 days approx to get in our hands. In this time approx 1 week takes to get fixtures from US to Moscow via TNT (air delivery) and 2-3 weeks in paper customs work.

LV is not very popular in Europe. Almost all landscape-oriented fixtures are 220V. Only LV fixtures that comes in mind is difefrent LED fixtures (12-24V). Manus likes to make all them hi-voltage mainly. Even if fixture(lamp) itself is LV it comes with little trans IP68 or embedded in fixture body.

Completely LV wiring under ground is new to market as I see. I can speak for Russia mainly, and new less about Europe, but if I cant see any LV from Europe in our country - I think the same is there.

So we are somehow like pioneers in completely LV systems. :laugh: It makes some trouble because we need to educate people a lot and find pros in LV fixtures\wiring between popular 220V systems. Now we say\think that most important is 1)design 2)small size 3)safety. Electrical economy is almost useless, underground wiring not greatly different in compare w 220V. So... but if take in mind that decorative landscape and arch lighting market is not so big here - we can make it better :).

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-24-2009, 07:20 AM
Thanks Egor. Breaking open a new market is always fun, exciting and challenging! Kudos to you! Of all the LV Outdoor Lighting Guys in Russia, you are #1 in my books!

:)

pihta
04-24-2009, 08:26 AM
Thanks James! :weightlifter::drinkup:

Lite4
04-24-2009, 09:16 AM
Hey Egor. There is nothing like being the trailblazer for something new. Go get em. I love reading your posts. I can't help but assign a thick russian accent in my mind as I am reading the words you have typed. I love it.

Have a great day and good luck selling those demos.

pihta
04-24-2009, 09:29 AM
Thick accent :laugh: Sure.

Thanks!

irrig8r
05-02-2009, 06:28 PM
I'm listening to this author on Bob Brinker's Money Talk right now:

Manufacturing Insider Exposes the Problems in the China Production Game

April 2, 2009 – Americans consumers know about the crisis facing China manufacturing – recent problems with drywall in Florida houses are only one of many problems that have come up this year. And yet, even after numerous national headlines involving major product recalls, there is still little understanding of what has caused related failures.

POORLY MADE IN CHINA: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game (Wiley, April 2009; $24:95) is the true story of Paul Midler, an American manufacturing agent, who worked behind the scenes in China. While many believe American companies are taking advantage of overseas companies, the Chinese economy has indeed grown rapidly while the American system is on the verge of collapse.

Although American importers and Chinese suppliers are supposed to work as partners, Midler reveals how they are more often at odds. “Chinese manufacturers view their business as a game,” explains Midler, who speaks Mandarin. “America relies on importers, but our side is often losing the China game, leaving the American public more susceptible to quality failures.”

Not long after graduating from Wharton, the author relocated to China where he offered assistance to foreign companies outsourcing production. What he uncovered was the disturbing and dangerous practice known as quality fade—the deliberate and secretive habit of widening profit margins through a reduction in the quality of materials over time.

U.S. importers don’t stand a chance against Chinese factory owners, who have little to lose by placing American health and safety at risk. In fact, U.S. importers usually never even notice that quality fade is happening; downward changes are subtle but progressive. The initial production sample is fine, but with each successive production run, a bit more of the necessary inputs are missing. Midler sees this as pervasive in China, spread across seven major industries, including health and beauty care, diamonds, and construction.

While some quality issues are not all that serious, others are downright frightening:
# One American company had been importing a line of health and beauty products for over a year when the cardboard boxes that held its product started collapsing under their own weight. There was no logical explanation for the collapse…except quality fade.
# Another American company decided to outsource the production of the aluminum systems used to support tons of concrete in the construction of high-rise commercial buildings to China. There, the supplier elected to reduce the specifications, and the amount of aluminum used in the supports. When the “production error” was caught, one aluminum part was found to be weighing less than 90% of its intended weight.

Poorly Made in China offers constructive reflections on the world’s most dynamic economy. The book provides a unique look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are made. This narrative takes the reader on a romp through a number of manufacturing sectors; part business book, part comedy, the book pulls back the curtain on China manufacturing to reveal the folly of producing consumer goods on the other side of the planet.

http://wileyptnews.com/2009/04/02/poorly-made-in-china-paul-midler/

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-02-2009, 10:23 PM
Thank you for this Gregg! I had never heard of "quality fade" before. It is something I will keep a very close eye on! (I am soon taking delivery of my 1st order of custom specified and manufactured LED lamps, with more to follow in a short time.)

NightLightingFX
05-02-2009, 10:37 PM
I'm listening to this author on Bob Brinker's Money Talk right now: http://wileyptnews.com/2009/04/02/poorly-made-in-china-paul-midler/

I love Bob Brinker!!! He has been off the radio in my area for about 8 years. So did he predict the problems our nation had in Sept? I had thought about him when all this stuff went down. I wondered what he would have been saying.

irrig8r
05-03-2009, 12:16 AM
You can listen to his shows (http://www.bobbrinker.com/) online. (You might have to subscribe, or you can listen to him on the website of the station I listen to, KGO (http://www.kgoam810.com/) out of San Francisco.)

I wish I had heeded more of his advice. My grandmother used to listen to him.

irrig8r
05-03-2009, 12:24 AM
Joey.... what about "quality fade" in outsourcing? Ever run across it, or had to change any parts suppliers because of it?

The author also said that it's easy to get something from design to production there faster, like in 60 days, but he also said that it means that knockoffs follow close behind.


Also, biggest Chinese export to US: shoes, $50 Billion annually.

Meanwhile, biggest US export to China : soybeans, $7 Billion annually.