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View Full Version : I have no idea why your bulbs are blowing up :-)


BrandonV
07-09-2009, 11:14 PM
Had a fellow landscaper flag my maintenance crew down last weekend wanting some "emergency" lighting repair done for a home that is more of a holiday house. Of course I wasn't in the area that day but went by the next, because frankly I believe if you only use a house 5 times a year, when you're day it should be perfect. Anyways I'd never been there but it was a nightmare on all fronts. I replaced about 25 bulbs all together, mind you this involved finding those bulbs and scorched connectors/fixtures they were housed in. I changed the bulbs but informed the HO that these wouldn't last long... guess why? The property had I installed it would have 3 transformers tops they had 9 900W transformers!!! everything was daisy-chained and the fixtures were averaging 16-17w @ the lamp. This is unfortunately the typical install in our area, people go to the supply houses and the guys at the counter sell them the product and the idea of how easy it is, and eventually someone's house gets burnt down.

Mark B
07-09-2009, 11:55 PM
You are correct. I have seen it a few times even in my tiny town. They go to JDL and over night they are in the lighting biz. Gotta love it.

David Gretzmier
07-10-2009, 12:05 AM
I always struggle over whether to rebulb jobs when things are so haywire. I am seeing a few redo jobs lately, and when am I going to go to a job that was done right? It seems all have either horribly low voltage everywhere, or if they have discovered multi-tap, and they think it is for heavy loads and huge daisy chains. 9 volts here, 16 volts near the trans. same wire. And they don't want to fix anything, but add a dozen fixtures or so. you try to lead them to the light, but then the cost is double what they paid the other guy.

BrandonV
07-10-2009, 07:27 AM
well on this particular project I've called the manager and asked her to turn things off, and also that I'm recusing myself of any liability. It always worries me when you work on a shoddy system (lights, irrigation or whatever) because some lawyer someday might tie you to the project when things go wrong.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-10-2009, 08:30 AM
Smart plan Brandon. Last person who touches it "owns it".

I would also submit a detailed written report of your findings to the owner and keep a copy for your records.

JoeyD
07-10-2009, 10:31 AM
Smart plan Brandon. Last person who touches it "owns it".

I would also submit a detailed written report of your findings to the owner and keep a copy for your records.

Awesome advice. I explain this every time I get a tech call regarding this subject. Once you touch the system it now becomes your problem!

In response to something David eluded too and I hear from time to time from other customers who are worried about the distributors and manus teaching lighting......

Don't blame distributors and manufacturers for guys who hack a system in. More times than not these guys were going to do the lighting anyway and if they didn't get it form JDL they would have ordered it online from an online wholesaler. Its not the Distributors or the Manufacturers fault for trying to lead the guy in the right direction.

For a bright guy learning low voltage lighting is fairly simple in comparison to other trades. Of course techniques and design education can take years to perfect but overall with a volt meter, amp probe, and a good hands on seminar or on site assistance, you can gain the tools necessary to go out and install a working and safe system that will last.

Its a case by case argument I understand, and sure there are guys who are doing lighting that shouldn't. Maybe they went to a one day class and got a certificate and now they think they are pro, I am not saying those guys aren't out there but you cant generalize it. I know some very good and successful lighting companies who started by attending a seminar and perfected their trade by setting up lots of demos and installing lots of jobs over the years. Everyone has to start somewhere.

On that note, I hate seeing a daisy chained, Under/Over Volted, wire nutted, aluminum corroded system as much as the next guy!

Pro-Scapes
07-10-2009, 11:09 AM
If we remotly touch service or work on a system that is sub standard it is clearly noted on the invoice.

Brandon get a new meter than reads in tenths or even 100ths

at 16 to 17v I wouldnt have even lamped it. Sometimes you cant tell what it will be til you do. You should have also lowered the taps since you already touched it.

Tomwilllight
07-10-2009, 05:20 PM
I will not work on another's system/mess other than rip it out and do it right.

The best money an installer can spend is on a quality meter and Cast's CTESTMR16 Voltage Tester.

Tom

Pro-Scapes
07-10-2009, 07:19 PM
I use that very same tester all the time Tom. I took the liberty of cutting the socket off one of the leads and attaching them right to a set of meter test leads. No more fumbeling with the meter trying to stick the leads in a socket while balancing a lamp thats getting hot.

Tomwilllight
07-10-2009, 07:21 PM
Great idea Billy!!! Where are my wire cutters?

Tom

BrandonV
07-11-2009, 08:03 AM
Thanks for the advice gents, the manager called the HO which then called me. Oddly enough his actual residence had a low voltage fire about 10 weeks ago he explained, he asked me to price reworking everything and also (after my suggestion) to disconnect all the transformers until it is fixed. score.

Pro-Scapes
07-13-2009, 07:46 PM
I looked at one today with the opposite prob. 50w lamps in everything... biggest loop you ever seen. Trans hung on trees. This was done by one installer


Merc vapors in the tops of trees was done by another firm. Somewhat cleaner work but Im never crazy about alot of equipment mounted to a tree.

JoeyD
07-14-2009, 12:04 PM
so you wouldnt approve of this Billy?

http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb97/ulsjoeyd/lighting/NicePlugJob.jpg

Pro-Scapes
07-14-2009, 06:11 PM
not even for the holidays. Does Griswald mean anything to you ???

JoeyD
07-14-2009, 06:35 PM
LOL..yeah I work for him! hahahah

Pro-Scapes
07-14-2009, 07:02 PM
you must be talking about Randy because Nate looks more like Cousin Eddie than Chevy Chase ?

JoeyD
07-14-2009, 07:53 PM
hahahahaha...............no comment..............hahahahahaha

BrandonV
07-14-2009, 10:07 PM
here are some pics... nothing makes me angrier than a $$$ with poorly designed/constructed landscape anything.

i'm going to replace ALL of these little well lights, I hate them so much. and Joey I want an honest opinion on how to light this bell... is it the comet that has a flush mount? will that be too hot against the wood? better method? solaris on each side? as you can see the wonderboy that put all this in has a 50w flood shining on it, only problem is where I'm taking the photo from is at the front door... which is also lit by more lovely well lights.

oh how do you like the drain? I'm glad they used green grates, blend in nicely

Lite4
07-14-2009, 10:10 PM
cool bell!

BrandonV
07-14-2009, 10:12 PM
cool bell!

no kidding, my father who grew up in nippon said they're to scare away "evil sprits" every time I'm there I want to bang it, but haven't yet... doooooong

Lite4
07-14-2009, 10:18 PM
It reminds me of a landscape job I did about 8 years ago. The guy had been to Japan and found a very old antique bell from a budhist monestery. He bought it and brought it home. I designed and installed a full Japanese garden for him with the bell incorporated in the tea house garden. Unfortunately he died tragically of Cancer 3 months after I finished the install. He didn't even know he was sick until 2 weeks before he died.

BrandonV
07-15-2009, 11:23 AM
thats a shame

JoeyD
07-15-2009, 11:26 AM
here are some pics... nothing makes me angrier than a $$$ with poorly designed/constructed landscape anything.

i'm going to replace ALL of these little well lights, I hate them so much. and Joey I want an honest opinion on how to light this bell... is it the comet that has a flush mount? will that be too hot against the wood? better method? solaris on each side? as you can see the wonderboy that put all this in has a 50w flood shining on it, only problem is where I'm taking the photo from is at the front door... which is also lit by more lovely well lights.

oh how do you like the drain? I'm glad they used green grates, blend in nicely

Well I would definitely recommend against the use of Comet-FM's or any other fixture mounted to the small bell structure. You don't want to take away from it during the day. I think I would consider using our small Polaris MR11 Bullet Light to up light the inner posts and use the spill to light/silhouette the bell itself. I would like to hear others opinions. Being that it looks like you have 360deg. views its not a good idea to set lights back like they did and flood light it. To much glare produced. In the perimeter of the bell area you could put some area lights to give some more ambiance and illumination on the foliage and walk way.

I will see if I have some pictures that apply........

Also I would replace those green grates with brass grates or at minimum paint them.

JoeyD
07-15-2009, 11:37 AM
Polaris-B25-20-WB

http://www.uniquelighting.com/Spec%20Sheets/Polaris.pdf

http://www.uniquelighting.com/product_pages/POLARIS.htm

This picture is about actual size.....


http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb97/ulsjoeyd/lighting/Polaris.jpg

Tomwilllight
07-15-2009, 12:41 PM
This appears to be a 360 degree viewing situation. Am I right?

Those are poorly selected "Well Lights" for that application. I do everything possible to avoid using wells because they are always a maintenance pain-in-the-butt. If I have to use a well, I'll go for the best shielded and regressed luminaire design I can find.

The basic problem is that you are lighting a black object. You will have rely on reflections to define the shape or to define it by silhouetting it against... something. But I think silhouetting may be boring.

You may want to consider mounting your fixtures high (on the house?) or go with with an in-grade unit with enough glare shielding and regression to avoid glare. This will provide some reflections but high will do the best I think.

I guess you could mount MR8's on the timber stand but that would be ugly too. Not to mention the unstable lamp. Perhaps the DG XT LED would work but even it's going to stick out like a sore thumb.

I would go to height and use the tightest spot I could find - Check out the GE EZX 20W 7 degree spot MR16. It's a "hipped" lamp and won't fit in all manufacturers' bullets. Check first.

I would also advise the client that the bell will "shine" at night much better if there's a light coat of wax helping the light to reflect off the black surface.

Tom

BrandonV
07-15-2009, 03:40 PM
thanks gents, I think I might try it w/ 4 mr11s one on each post, anything has to be better than a 50w flood in the face

Lite4
07-15-2009, 05:23 PM
Ok Brandon, here is my take on the bell design. I wouldn't do any of the techniques that have been suggested for the bell. I wouldn't want to see any fixtures sitting by that bell. I would cut a dado groove on the bottom side of the crossbar and insert a Lightwild Project linear warm white LED light. This will down light the bell and will be completely hidden from view. You will have to be creative about drilling and hiding the wire but it is doable.

Mike M
07-15-2009, 06:09 PM
I use that very same tester all the time Tom. I took the liberty of cutting the socket off one of the leads and attaching them right to a set of meter test leads. No more fumbeling with the meter trying to stick the leads in a socket while balancing a lamp thats getting hot.

Billy, what do you mean by this? More info, please.

Tomwilllight
07-15-2009, 06:14 PM
Tim,

That's an interesting idea. I certainly like it better than sticking any surface mount fixtures on the bell's log structure. I would want to take a long look at the log itself to determine how strong it is.

Could there be a heat build up problem with recessing the LED into wood? Heat rises and wood is a fair insulator.

I checked the Lightwild literature and it looks possible to order a wide angle lens and spec the length of the LEDs to be near the width of the bell. That may end up with a box shape lighted area. That could be interesting.

I would still think a lot about how to reflect light off the apparently mat surface. It's really hard to light black objects unless they are shiny. I still think that's Brandon's central problem.

Tom

BrandonV
07-15-2009, 06:46 PM
I have a plan... I'm off to lowes to buy some krylon. I think a nice gold finish should do the trick :-)

Tomwilllight
07-15-2009, 06:50 PM
I love it!!!
Tom