View Full Version : Help with first Job

04-18-2009, 01:17 PM
:waving:Hi All,
I'm new to the world of landscape lighting. I do some landscaping and Maintiance. I have a customer that wants to replace their lighting and could use some help picking one that is dependable - low maintance - will last.
the Hubbell's (that i did not install ) are 2 years old and they have nothing but trouble from them. So thanks for any help you guys can give.
they have one under each large Shrub and one uplight at far right tree.Total of 4 lights. This is my first Post so go easy on me guys.*trucewhiteflag*


David Gretzmier
04-18-2009, 01:29 PM
ah, such a loaded question. everyone has thier first job, so I'll help you out. try to do some research on HOW to do this job as far as wiring ,connections, fixture placement, load and voltage ranges. Check out your nearest irrigation supplier and get in a beginner class that is offered by several landscape light vendors. After you know HOW to do this, THEN start looking at the WHAT on products. The best products in the world will fail miserably if you wire this system wrong, period.

I know, I know, it is way more fun to go find pro-quality stuff and gee whiz over it. try and separate yourself from everyone else and learn how to wire and install properly before you stick one fixture or lay one wire in the ground.

Your local Irrigation supply company will stock some line of fixtures or trans you can use to install. Please learn how to do this first and you will create a reputation for doing good lighting work.

oh, and if Lowes or Home depot sells it, don't use it.

04-18-2009, 01:47 PM
the customer need this by May 15th.

Soooo i don't think ill have that amount of time, and i have been researching your forums and have some ideas on what to use but could always use some experts advice. I will be installing something because they won't wait and we live in a extreme rural area and after all i won't come looking for you if i screw up, its my butt on the line not anyone Else's.

04-18-2009, 04:47 PM
Having a lighting system that will last and perform properly for years comes down to this.* 95% of lighting system failures are a direct result of using poor or improper connections and wiring and power management tecniques.Most of the time it has nothing to do with the fixtures.* Even homeCheapos, if wired correctly will last for as long as the fixture holds together.* How long will that be,* could be one year or it could be 5. It just depends on where you live. The sole purpose of using a quality solid brass fixture is to extend life to your system assuming you have already wired it correctly by giving it that added weather resistance and durability you don't find in a box store piece of junk. Another key to the longevity of a lighting system is periodic maintenance. Regardless of what you buy it will need some degree of ongoing maintenance. There is not a fixture out there that is a plant it and forget it fixture. In the outdoor elements, EVERYTHING needs some attention at some point to maintain performance and longevity.

So heres the bottom line. Lighting systems with all the best components will perform no better than the box store crap if you install it the same way. If you are not going to take the time to learn the correct way to install these fixtures, the only benefit to giving your customer high end durable fixtures will be that I can reuse them when I have to sell them a system overhaul when yours fails. Sorry to drop a bomb on you, but these are the facts and I am constantly overhauling lighting systems and repairing disinformation from contractors who dupe trusting consumers.

The Lighting Geek
04-18-2009, 07:52 PM
50% of my current work is redoing other contractors work. Learn it right the first time or people like Tim, I, or a host of other people here will be re-installing the job. The bigger issue is the bad reputation that follows any contractor who does incorrect work or never learns the trade. You will find much info on this forum to help you. I would suggest Nate Mullen's book on landscape lighting for starters, it will help you get going with the least amount of problems. I'm sure Joey from Unique can hook you up if you contact him. You have taken the first step, just keep at it and learn the trade. Good Luck with your job!

04-18-2009, 09:24 PM
Thanks for the info it is usefully. But----:confused:
I can see that i will not get anything from you as to what light to start with.
Soooo who wants to come and install these lights in lower Arkansas for little or no money ( 5 Lights and a Budget of $1,000.00 that includes labor and fixtures) or less. The type of customers i will have aren't going to spend that much on lighting they just want some because there is none (street lights or such.) I do know they want better than Home Depot and Lowe's. and I have some water proof and explosion Proof wiring knowledge.

none the less i would love to go to some classes. anyone know where in Arkansas. :usflag:

04-18-2009, 10:59 PM
Order 5 coppermoon spots and call it a day.

If you already have a suitable trans then 1000 dollars is more then enough for 5 fixtures installed.

If you need to provide trans then go with a powdercoat Kichler 15384

You should tell them to take that 1000 and get there roof cleaned though

The Lighting Geek
04-18-2009, 11:13 PM
I would say a good start would be a Unique Brass Knight bullet or some thing similar. Up lighting is a great starting point but you really need to understand that you are the lighting expert (in the eyes of the client) and you may need to educate the client as to what and why you light the way you do. Many times I will show up and the customer will already have a plan in mind, based on all the bad lighting they have been exposed to. It is our job as lighting designers to point them in the right direction. The jobs they have been exposed to most likely will have a light in front of every tree and a bunch of path lights. That is the worst way to light most jobs. Can you put a light in front of every tree? Absolutely. Can you use a bunch of path lights? Absolutely. The question you should be asking yourself is: Do I want to be a lighting installer or a lighting designer? A lighting installer typically does what the client wants based upon all the bad lighting they have seen. A lighting designer takes charge of the situation and educates if necessary the client into understanding the difference you can make in their outdoor environment. I usually don't talk about others, only why I am different and what I have to offer. I am not afraid to walk away if necessary, and that comes with time and experience. Learn your trade and strive to be the best you can be at it and you will most likely be VERY successful.

Just remember one thing: Lighting installers are a dime a dozen. Great lighting designers are a rare commodity.

The Lighting Geek
04-18-2009, 11:15 PM
You should tell them to take that 1000 and get there roof cleaned though

That's funny! LOL!

04-18-2009, 11:18 PM

Thanks at least i have something to go on.
Remember this is redneck country with a attitude down here lol.

We like to look good just not Millionaire Good.:hammerhead:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-19-2009, 10:28 AM
If it is not worth doing well then it is not worth doing at all.

Don't set the bar so low that you wreck your market before you even establish one. If all they have is $1000, then pro grade lighting is not in their future. Cleaning that roof would probably be a better use of the $$$.

Remember you can always lower your prices, but once you have established yourself as the $1000 lighting guy... well best of luck at that!

04-19-2009, 02:02 PM
James if they have a good working trans in place then 200 per fixture is more then enough for cast/copper.

He said his client only wants 5 lights.

04-19-2009, 02:21 PM
They had a 120v light system not a low voltage system.
and looks are not the main issue with them they want light for looks and security. They do sometimes clean their own roof as they have plenty of labor ( Farmer.)
Thanks Again
I accept any and all Ideas.:clapping:

04-20-2009, 08:42 PM
Welcome to the forum. John Deere Landscapes along with Vista offer training courses and they're usually free. If yo go to www.vistapro.com you can check out some of the courses that are coming up. A good peice of advice would be to get you a good volt meter. Voltage drop is major concern with LV. Don't go cheap on fixtures, no home depot, or lowes. You don't have to use the most expensive either, although thats great if you can. Vista, FX, and Nightscapes make great mid range products. Nightscapes Ace Connectors are the best thing sinced sliced bread IMO. A demo kit is a great tool not only for showing your ability to clients, but you also get the chance to play around with the fixtures and see what looks good and what doesn't. Read as much on this sight as you possibly can. There is a mountain of info on here. When you get enough post you can pm me if you have any question.

04-20-2009, 09:11 PM
I appericate the advice its the type i was looking for all along. I look foward to finding a training course. I've been on this Forum and others researching all the data i can find for some time now and the is some but not enough to take the place of a good hands on instructor. I'm looking at the Kichler 15385 and the dual 300watt Transformer, Trans may be a little over kill but room to grow. Also i was wondering about runing nothing but home runs to each lite on 12/2 ( i know lots of wire ) since 50 Watt on longest run being 125 ft. but less VD to concern about. Of course this is not to say I know this is right just asking if I'm in the ball park or out in the ocean

Again Thanks for the info*newusflag*.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-20-2009, 09:43 PM
Are you thinking that you will be using 50W lamps?

1: Not many fixtures out there are rated for 50W MR16 lamps
2: Unless you have a Streetlight fixture over the house you probably don't need anywhere near 50W per fixture
3: The 50W lamp compared to the 35W lamp is a 'suckers bet'. It uses much more power in proportion to the extra lumens it produces.
4: Think in terms of "less is more" when it comes to lamping a system. It is much better to use more fixtures with lower wattage lamps than it is to use fewer fixtures with high wattage lamps.
5: Use the best quality lamps you can find. GE Constant Colour = #1. Sylvania Titan's are pretty darned good too. Some guys like Philips but not for me. Some guys like Ushio but they have let me down so many times I prefer not to send them anymore $$$.
Avoid cheap, aluminized reflector and no name lamps. You get what you pay for.

04-21-2009, 12:09 AM
the kichler k-15385's i found come in a six pack with 50 watt T4 GY6.35 12v xenon. and i agree with you but for some reason the customer wants something like the 120 volt 75 watt 's they had -- go figure --
and i may still be over killing it to get that 75 watt look they want, what do you suggest?:confused:

Alan B
04-21-2009, 08:28 AM

TechLight is a manufacturer of 120v landscape lighting and sells direct to the contactor. They offer both aluminum and copper 120v bullets. Google them and give them a shot.

Good luck and thanks for being a part of the forum!



04-21-2009, 09:06 AM
Thanks, and i know i will get it but i realy want to stay away from the 120v system and stick with the low v systems unless you guys have a good reason for going back with a 120v system ---- cost ----install -- their wiring is pretty much shot i would have to start from scratch--- trying to keep cost down as much as possible, not trying to go cheap just best bang for the buck thing.:dizzy::confused:

04-21-2009, 09:32 AM
Not sure if i understand exactly how a mulity Tap works, have several tell me two different things trying to sort it out.

Can you use all the Taps or when you use one thats the only one you can use.

other words 12v for close run and 13v for next longer run (vd considered) and so forth based on VD and not going over rated watts of the Transformer after VD. LOL and I know thats why I need a Class but I really need a Crash Course due to the timming of this one.

It always looks easier, Till you do it.:hammerhead:

The Lighting Geek
04-21-2009, 10:45 AM
you can use any combination of taps. Be sure not to load the transformer or the cable more than 80% of it's capacity.

04-21-2009, 11:03 AM
Thanks ---- Good, thought it strange that they would design it to only use one tap --- would be making a daisy chain no matter how you wired it --- full set of lights and all.

I THINK ( Still Learning ) LOL.:clapping:

David Gretzmier
04-21-2009, 09:10 PM
OK, I'm an Arkansas boy too, so-

what part of south Arkansas are you ? southwest area has Texarkana and I am pretty sure they have an irrigation supply store near Stateline Ave. My brother lives there and he could give you some pointers, he has installed with me on a few jobs. at the least you could have a local source for lights and supplies. If you are over on the South East side, Your nearest source is keeling company or Ewing irrigation in Little Rock. Keeling will stock Nightscaping products and a Keeling brand, Liteline, I think. most Liteline is aluminum, but they have a copper and brass uplight that has silicone o-rings, and with a squirt of 100% silicone in the wire exit area, they will do. If you buy from Keeling, they may have Ace connectors, maybe not. my local one is phasing nightscaping out after the latest scare.

I would choose the FX line from Eweing, but you may not like what 5 FX spots, 5 20 or 35 watt 60 degree mr-16 bulbs, a FX 300 watt trans, and 500 foot spool of 12/2 wire, and a bag of XL ( use the blacks that Ewing sells) SILICONE filled wire nuts will set you back. Using these or similar quality/priced items, and installing this properly, at 1000 there may not be enough profit in it for you. I'm up in Northwest arkansas, and I would do this job up here for around 1250 because it looks pretty straightforward. Given my cost of materials ( which I would use way less than 500 ft of wire. ) That would be a more reasonable cost in Arkansas for a minimal job.

You also could pick up a manu's field guide from either store, but FX's is the best, that will give you the charts they have online, and voltage ranges and such. good luck.

04-21-2009, 09:37 PM
I'm in the deep Southeast corner these jobs will be few and far between I'm sorry to say. But one can always Dream a little. I did talk to Keeling in Little Rock today just missed a Kilcher class about a month ago, he could not tell me when another class was in the works, said to keep calling back, HMMM thought he might give me a call but said for me to call him back ( he expects me to set up an account and start ordering, then he will call me ) Lighting business must be real good.:walking:
and after looking at all the supplies i need i got together with the customer and went over the pricing and they agreed to up the amount to cover and make a fair profit.:cool2:

04-21-2009, 10:38 PM
I would do that job for 1000 with painted fixtures all day long. Myself and 1 guy 4 hours in and out.

04-22-2009, 12:50 AM
I would do that job for 1000 with painted fixtures all day long. Myself and 1 guy 4 hours in and out.

4 hours?? really?

04-22-2009, 11:31 PM
5 spot lights along a home. 4 hours would be pushing it.

I guess you guys have dull spade shovels in texas hahaha

04-23-2009, 04:04 PM
Nah, just regular spades. i can install about 10-15 fixtures in 4 hours by myself! (i know ive done it) but hey good times!

04-24-2009, 11:20 AM
Nah, just regular spades. i can install about 10-15 fixtures in 4 hours by myself! (i know ive done it) but hey good times!

Wow, are you digging in beach sand?:laugh:

I would love to be able to install that many fixtures that fast. Most of my installs usually involve getting inside the structure of the house at some point which really slows things down but makes it worth it in the end. Oh, and the thick, heavy clay doesn't help either. And I thought the clay was heavy in Idaho, boy oh boy!

04-24-2009, 08:27 PM
every install is different. We have done as few as 2 fixtures in a day and as many as 40 plus.

I set a minimum price for it to make it worth it for me to roll out and do a job and I stick to it. I would add a few more lights to up the value to the client and make the job look a bit nicer. A single spot under the trees is not how i do things.

If they want security get some light on that home.

15 fixtures in 4 hours isnt too bad but I dont count on it to happen every day thats for sure. When you get into mortar work or building/structure mounted I think everyone will agree it just eats the time up.

04-24-2009, 11:29 PM
As soon as the fish comes off the truck I know half the day is gone

David Gretzmier
04-24-2009, 11:44 PM
I would guess that if I did this job, I'd probably be looking at a morning with a helper as well. Honestly, if we are only talking the front of the house, and maybe uplighting some trees nearby, it would be a similar time for 5,6 or 12 fixtures. only real issue: You're either going to have to go under or diamond cut a groove ( I'd open up an existing expansion joint) in the sidewalk to entry, set trans,timer/photocell and wire, connections, bulb, cut groove ( or tunnel ) trench and bury, test, then mulch and cleanup, inspection with client, invoice, get check.

04-25-2009, 12:03 AM
I would guess that if I did this job, I'd probably be looking at a morning with a helper as well. Honestly, if we are only talking the front of the house, and maybe uplighting some trees nearby, it would be a similar time for 5,6 or 12 fixtures. only real issue: You're either going to have to go under or diamond cut a groove ( I'd open up an existing expansion joint) in the sidewalk to entry, set trans,timer/photocell and wire, connections, bulb, cut groove ( or tunnel ) trench and bury, test, then mulch and cleanup, inspection with client, invoice, get check.

Your right. This is a half day job at best. We did one similar with 12 fixtures a couple weeks ago that went in around 3 hours start to finish. Shot under the sidewalk in about 4 min with my flex bit.

Took longer to visit the job prior to install and come back for night viewing than it did for the actual install if you include drive time.