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RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 11:01 AM
I am curious, I am sure we all have demo kits. I have accumulated my own over the past couple of years. What do your kits consist of? I will list what I can remember mine has:
2-150 watt transformers
1-300 watt transformer
3 well lights (1 35watt and 2 18 watt)
1 Stellar
1 Kichler LED 8.5 watt (I think)
1 FX LED MR11 bullet
wire nuts, extension cords,
13 Hadco BL 516 with 20 watt BAB's
2-Vista 2219
1-Vista Pathlight
1-Hadco MUL4 pathlight
1-Hadco DWCL1
1- Hadco DWCL2
1-Hadco SRL
Various lengths of jumper wires 25 and 10 footers
Extendable painters pole (for simulating tree mounted fixtures up to 18 feet)
I think this is it, I can't remember if there is anything else.
If you can think of anything I can use that I don't have, let me know.
If you know a way of making speed connections (anyone who has been to Jan's class will know the connectors she uses) or a means of getting them, please let me know. Right now I use wire nuts and have the neutral wire phased white so I can see them easily in the dark.

Pro-Scapes
02-13-2010, 11:11 AM
I cant rememeber the last time we used our demo kit. It has about 20 bullets... some wash lights... selection of path lights but, it is stuck in the corner of the shop.

My photos and list of refferences serve as my demo. Now I often do mock ups of an area with the actual materials by completing the installation but leaving it unburied until the clients approve but I have not been proceeding with just doing a demo without first obtaining a deposit and go ahead on the project.

RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 12:01 PM
Billy, that is great that you have that large of a portfolio to work with. I am assuming that the majority of you are at that point. I am not yet a stand alone lighting company. I am still doing 95% regular electrical work. My goal is to go around and ask to light interesting landscapes and architectual features and have a photographer follow me around. I would love to do my own photography but that is something I don't have the time to learn or the camera to do it with right now. Wow, that really sounds like a lame excuse. While we are talking demo kits maybe some of you can suggest an affordable camera (I don't even know where the prices for these are) and a tripod.

The Lighting Geek
02-13-2010, 12:03 PM
I use my demo kits for a few demo's but more often than not I use them to light different booths at home shows, public venues, special occasions, weddings, etc. If it gets complicated I charge for my time, but mostly I do it for free because it always comes back to me 10 fold. Everything is fitted with the connections that Unique uses for their demo kits.

3 840 watt transformers
1 500 watt tf
60 well lights
8 pulsars
8 stellars
2 centaurus 6
2 starburst
60 frosted lenses for well lights
2 sequencers
6 100' 12/2
8 75' 12/2
7 50' 12/2
8 25' 12/2
4 10' 12/2
4 green star lasers
other assorted water lights, etc.
5.11 tactical vest and thigh mount to hold the tools
Tactical headlight to save my forehead from low branches...lol
unrelenting sense of humor

RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 12:08 PM
Tommy, do you have quick connects or are you splicing these with wirenuts?

RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 12:12 PM
I have thought about the wedding and outdoor parties type of thing. Who would you market these to? Think back to if you were starting out and how you would approach it. I am sure that you are pretty popular in your area. People still equate RLI Electric with regular electrical work. I am trying to promote IllumiNIGHTing as a special service of RLI. I also approached realtors that advertise heavily with the idea of night time curb appeal. Renting a kit for lighting a nice house with the understanding if they want it, it can be incorporated into the purchase price of the house. The seller would pay me, the new homeowner would have lighting for oh, let's say $2.00 a month for the next 30 years. Or something like that. They stage the interior of homes but rarely the outside.

The Lighting Geek
02-13-2010, 12:13 PM
i use quick disconnects, the only way to go.

RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 12:14 PM
Can you post a picture or a link on where to get them?

The Lighting Geek
02-13-2010, 12:21 PM
what I have I have had for years. check with joey at Unique.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-13-2010, 12:23 PM
Billy, that is great that you have that large of a portfolio to work with. I am assuming that the majority of you are at that point. I am not yet a stand alone lighting company. I am still doing 95% regular electrical work. My goal is to go around and ask to light interesting landscapes and architectual features and have a photographer follow me around. I would love to do my own photography but that is something I don't have the time to learn or the camera to do it with right now. Wow, that really sounds like a lame excuse. While we are talking demo kits maybe some of you can suggest an affordable camera (I don't even know where the prices for these are) and a tripod.

Bob. I have a gently used Canon 20D body available. You would need a good lens, tripod, shutter release, which you can pick up on ebay pretty easily. email me for more deets if you are interested.

klkanders
02-13-2010, 01:38 PM
I would love to do my own photography but that is something I don't have the time to learn or the camera to do it with right now.

My advice would be to let a pro take your pictures at this point in your lighting business. Let them do what they do best so you can concentrate on doing your best...with the lighting. Starting a portfolio with great pictures is much better than just using ok pictures.

It might be fun however as a hobby to buy a starter camera ( James camera) and play around with it. Hire the pro and help them set up and shoot and at the same time ask as many questions as you can to further your own skills.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-13-2010, 04:15 PM
Keith, hiring the pro is excellent advice, given that you have the funds to do so. I took all my own photos for years with a little Canon G3. Then along came a job that I wanted to have done "by a pro". It was a complex site that required a shooting plan and then the photos. The pro I called quoted me $4K to $5K to do the shooting plan, shoot the photos and then provide me with 10 to 12 'production quality" photos. AND he would not release the original digi-data back to me but would retain it at his studio for any future prints that I would need.

Now this guy was a pro. A true commercial photo guy and I have seen his work and it is really good. Did he have night / lighting experience? Not like George Gruel does.

I balked. Instead I went out and bought a whole camera rig. The 20D body that is now for sale, a great primary lens, a great tele/zoom lens, tripod, trigger release, flash, memory cards, and a hard case... all for less than $5k. I preferred to invest in me and my abilities to shoot, process and learn.

You dont have to spend $5k on equipment to get decent photos. Many of the guys here on lawnsite shoot their own work with strong results.

Hiring a pro for you portfolio and web photos is nice, but it does cost a lot of $$$

RLI Electric
02-13-2010, 04:23 PM
I have a photographer in town that is excited to learn this aspect of photography. She has taken shots and they were ok. Someone posted in here somewhere about some of George's tips, I would love to see what they were. I know there is a link but I can't find it. I think I am fortunate to have someone willing to learn with me. I have told her that in the future to shoot with an artists perspective rather than me tell her what to shoot. I need to learn to view these scenes artistically rather than technically. Millions of people shoot nature shots but there aren't too many Ansel Adams' out there. Anyway, James, do you do mockups and if so whats in your kit?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-13-2010, 05:00 PM
Hey Bob. No, I dont do mock ups or demos. I did one once and I did not enjoy the experience at all. I found it more efficient and more effective to rely upon some good photos, my knowledge of the topic, and my passion and enthusiasm to sell the client.

If these are not 'natural qualities' at your disposal then my advice is to lead your prospective client on a tour of one or more installed systems. Having the client experience what you do first hand is a strong motivator and it is MUCH more efficient use of your time in my opinion, and as an added bonus you get more face time with the prospect so you are better able to understand their aesthetic and motivations.

Regards

klkanders
02-13-2010, 06:52 PM
James, I appreciate what you experienced with that 4-5k photographer. Reminds me of when we were looking for someone to do our daughters high school graduation pictures. My daughter had done a one time photo shoot for a local magazine article promoting hair salons. We were so impressed by the photo we went with the same guy for the graduation photo's. He did a great job and they turned out fantastic but we did not get to keep anything unless it was purchased such as you mentioned. Looking back we could have gotten more photo's with similar quality for much less money.

I can't blame you for taking that same amount of money and purchasing equipment. I agree that you don't have to spend 4-5k on equipment to get decent photos. But I also believe you don't have to spend that hiring a capable pro who is willing to learn and experiment right along with you as it sounds like bobby will be doing. If they have some experience in bracketing and photshop it should go a long way in getting at least some very good pictures.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-13-2010, 07:04 PM
Agreed. The guy I contacted was a well regarded commercial photographer. He wasnt in learning or experimenting mode. I dont blame him for his quote, I just found a way that worked better for me in the long run.

Lite4
02-13-2010, 07:05 PM
Bobby,
guys on this forum can tell you I used to be a demoing maniac. To date I havn't done a demo in probably 5-6 months. I really havn't had to. I have a pretty strong portfolio I use to visually walk my clients through what I can do for them. We are also charging for demos now, unless someone really twists my arm and I don't feel I am wasting my time with them.

About the photography, When I came on this forum several years ago I did not know squat about photography, "literally", not jack squat. After reading through this forum and all of the advice from from pros like Steve Parrot at Cast, Mike Gambino, Paul Gosselin and several others I picked up the main and crucial principals pretty easily and with some practice was shooting some decent photos in no time. I bought a Nikon D40x which at the time was about a grand, "good entry level DSLR". Today you can buy the same camera and lenses for about 250-400 on Ebay. I have learned a lot about photography since then and have reached the limits of what I can do with the lenses and body of this Nikon so I am probably going to upgrade this year to a D90 with task specific lenses and filters, but I have no reservations in telling you to get out there and just do it. Read through some of the posts on this forum and it will give you all the info you need to get going and start taking some good photos of your work.

extlights
02-13-2010, 07:46 PM
I know this demo topic has been beat to death in the past but I'll put in my input based on our experience.

We still do demo's and always will. On some smaller jobs or add-ons we don't always do them though. I can honestly say that we land 5-7 new projects a year because of the demos. We know this because the customer tells us that. We've considered taking potential clients to show them previous work that we've done. We asked one really good customer of ours what he would think of that and his response was simple. "Are you going to show me a house exactly like mine with the exact same landscape?"

Agreed....he didn't care about what we did for someone else...he wants to know what we are going to do for him. Not saying that one way is better than the other....just saying that every customer is different.

Pictures are great but I don't put a lot into them. Maybe I have an old school mentality. Maybe it's the fact that these days there are so many photo editing programs that you can make almost anything look good.

Being in the service industry in these tough economic times can be harsh. Sometimes it's the company that goes above and beond who's going to be there when things turn around.

Like I said, 5-7 projects a year because of the demos....even if they are only average size projects you get, are you willing to leave that money on the table because sometimes you don't feel like going out at night? Just my 2.5 cents.

extlights
02-13-2010, 08:32 PM
Oh yeah and with the original question, although I don't know exact numbers....

2-900w multi-taps
50 well lights...combinations of 50's, 35's and 20's.
15 bullet style lights.. again with wattage and lamp combinations.
20 pathlights
a few specialty lights...180's etc.

Pro-Scapes
02-14-2010, 08:08 PM
If you are not charging at least a consult fee for your demo or mock up it can be alot of time spent setting them up and praying for the sale. You would have to sway someone your way.

While I may miss some projects by not doing them the people that come to me by what they saw at a peers house or becuase someone they trust is reffering me (landscaper....friend...electrician) the chances you will be brought in to do the job are much higher.

In the March issue of Landscape/Hardscape Design and Build Magazine I have a side bar on Demos. Rememeber a demo gone wrong or if the client sees something like a circus with wires running all over thier cherished landscape it can do more to hurt your chances of landing the project than if you were to just speak to them and show them photos.

It seems the more affluent your clientel are the more they know the other affluent client you worked for. I am at a point now with my list of refferences that 9 times out of 10 the prospect I am speaking to knows someone on that list.

The Lighting Geek
02-14-2010, 11:13 PM
I would have to say it is less likely that I would need to do a demo to get a job these days. However, demo's have helped me learn a tremendous amount. When you have the experience and self confidence of time, demo's are probably not needed. Doing demo's taught me placement, effect, lighting levels, and most importantly, as James said, how to spend time with the client and bond with them. It really is not the demo, but the process. I made the demo fun for me and the client. I always look at a demo like a piece of art. I always finish it with proper lamps, lenses if appropriate, fine tune. The more you do, the better and faster you get. I can set up a 20 light demo now in about 15 min. Sometimes I get the client involved with the adjustment showing them how a small adjustment can make or break a portrait. Sometimes I set my demo up the way everyone else does lighting (front light every tree and path lights) and then change it in front of the customer to show them the difference. Each customer and situation is different, I have learned to be flexible. What a demo does for me is allow me to demonstrate my passion for lighting.

I say these things for the benefit of the newer people, or people who want to take their portraits and salesmanship to a new level. I would liken it to a kata or form in martial arts. First you learn individual moves, then how to connect them, how to get the moves to flow to the point that many moves looks like one. Our lighting should flow, but first you need to learn the individual parts first. Doing demo's can help with that.

David Gretzmier
02-15-2010, 12:37 AM
My demo kit has 2 600 watt multi taps, 4 coils of 10 guage LV wore, aprox 110 ft each, with triple female plugs every 10 foot or so. I have 25 or so raw brass mr-16 spots and a few paths. all of them have 20 watt 60 degree bulbs, but I switch those out as needed.

for the quick connects on the lights and coils of LV cable, I just used inexpensive brown 1 buck 16 guage 6 foot exptension cords, and cut off 1 foot from the female end with 3 female taps, and wirenutted it into the LV cable every 10 foot and used the other five foot with the male end onto the existing light leads. I used black tape over the wire nuts to clean it up and provide strength.

I put it all in 2 fairly large ice chests with wheels that I bought at Sam's club for around 20 bucks each.

Demos flat out sell jobs, although I have many photo's as well. I probably close over 70% of demo jobs and less than 40% on portfolio bids. demos also avoid the common complaint folks have when you don't demo- with the demo they know what they are getting and they have the ability to up or lower the amount of light they want. I have never had a dis-satisfied demo customer, ever. but I have had to add or remove lights on jobs when homeowners had different lighting desires on portfolio closed jobs.

That being said, demo's also kill family life. The best time to set up , demo, and take down is after 4 pm most of the year. I think that is why most folks hate it and when success arrives it is the first thing to go.

I am also pretty sure all the bread and butter lighting franchises out there ( nite time decor, Light House, others) have had very good success closing jobs with the demo. whether you like it or not, if you are competing with a franchise in your area, unless you have a fantastic reputation, you probably will have to demo to be on an even keel.

as far as photography, a tri-pod and digital SLR with timer, "sensor up setting" and a no-flash setting will get you pretty good photo's of landscape lighting, but again, it takes away from family life. the best shots are the 45 minutes around sunset. I just play with the fstop from 8-16 and take a photo every minute or so. moving water features with lighting are really hard. I use the canon xsi, they are around 600 bucks or so new. the new canon ti has a better light image sensor, even shoots 1080p HD video, and is around 750 at Sam's club.

And hey, Firefly's demo's were the best in the land.

extlights
02-15-2010, 12:43 AM
I would have to say it is less likely that I would need to do a demo to get a job these days. However, demo's have helped me learn a tremendous amount. When you have the experience and self confidence of time, demo's are probably not needed. Doing demo's taught me placement, effect, lighting levels, and most importantly, as James said, how to spend time with the client and bond with them. It really is not the demo, but the process. I made the demo fun for me and the client. I always look at a demo like a piece of art. I always finish it with proper lamps, lenses if appropriate, fine tune. The more you do, the better and faster you get. I can set up a 20 light demo now in about 15 min. Sometimes I get the client involved with the adjustment showing them how a small adjustment can make or break a portrait. Sometimes I set my demo up the way everyone else does lighting (front light every tree and path lights) and then change it in front of the customer to show them the difference. Each customer and situation is different, I have learned to be flexible. What a demo does for me is allow me to demonstrate my passion for lighting.

I say these things for the benefit of the newer people, or people who want to take their portraits and salesmanship to a new level. I would liken it to a kata or form in martial arts. First you learn individual moves, then how to connect them, how to get the moves to flow to the point that many moves looks like one. Our lighting should flow, but first you need to learn the individual parts first. Doing demo's can help with that.

Well said Tommy.

I guess another thing for us is that the area that we service is probably much larger than alot of other stand alone lighting companies. That plays a part because we might be doing a project in an area that we haven't done a lot of work in. Demo's work well for us in that case so we can showcase certain design skills to people who haven't already seen our work first hand.