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JimLewis
02-03-2011, 06:26 PM
I was checking out the Volt series of solid brass fixtures on LLW and dang those things look pretty nice! Very close to same quality and look as Unique, which I already love. I got to thinking to myself, "Maybe I could get the best of both worlds! The look and quality of Unique, mixed with the [labor and wire] savings and longevity of LED technology" by using these fixtures combined with, say, the Illumicare LED spots.

I am kind of starting to like this idea.

The problem currently is that it's very hard to find an LED fixture that is really high end quality (e.g. brass) but also with an LED lamp in it. By the time you add LED lamps into a Unique fixture, you're REALLY expensive. But this could be a really good solution to that problem. Best of both worlds.

Anyone already doing that? Feedback on how LED lamps work with these units?

irrig8r
02-03-2011, 08:05 PM
The problem currently is that it's very hard to find an LED fixture that is really high end quality (e.g. brass) but also with an LED lamp in it.

Have you looked at the Kichler or Vista brass LED uplights? And how about DG Lights or Aurora?

JimLewis
02-03-2011, 10:10 PM
Have you looked at the Kichler or Vista brass LED uplights? And how about DG Lights or Aurora?

Yah, I've looked at Kichler Brass LED lights. And just about fell out of my chair when I saw the price. My customers have trouble swallowing the price of a Unique fixture. Much less another $60 or more for these fixtures. They're not going to go for that price.

I haven't looked into Vista, no. But I can't imagine most of the big suppliers are going to be very affordable for a really nice brass fixture with LED. The great thing about the Volt Line is you can get a great looking solid machined brass spot light for like $44 and even after you add in shipping and an LED lamp, you're still WAY under what you could get a comparable Unique or Cast brass or bronze fixture for, with LED lamps. And it's also still under what you'd pay for even a Kichler plastic fixture.

indylights
02-03-2011, 10:24 PM
So after raving about how much you love the new Kichler LED line, and then complaining about how they wouldn't give you a demo kit, you just now realized what their pricing is? Why don't you do yourself a favor and go to Home Depot, buy one of their $20 uplights and $10 LED lamps and just be done with it? It seems pretty obvious your biggest concern is price over function, so just go totally low end and compete on nothing but price, and see how long that works for you.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

JimLewis
02-03-2011, 10:51 PM
Wow. That was rather rude. Oh, wait a minute. I see you're from Indiana. Ok. Makes more sense now.... :rolleyes:

I understand your rush to judgment given where you're from. But next time try reading more than one of my posts before you pipe off with your assumptions. You'll end up looking a little smarter.

Anyway....

If you ever read any of the other hundreds of posts I've made in the lighting forum over the years, I've always been a huge fan of Unique. I love the look. Love the warranty. Love the quality. Love the service.

I only recently I said that I was impressed with Kichler LED lights and was considering switching to them. If you had bothered to read what I wrote, you'd note that what I was impressed with was the fact that they don't fade at lower voltages like every other manufacturer's lamps did in the test they were showing me.

But I'm not impressed with how all of their fixtures look.

This fixture (at $145 list price);

http://www.sprinklertalk.com/swdirect/products/kichler/15751/15751bkt_left.jpg


Just doesn't look anywhere close to as nice as this fixture (at $108 list price);


http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/v/vspfiles/photos/130-2T.jpg

And I've actually had customers chose Unique over Kichler LED in the past few months specifically because they really didn't like the look of the Kichler fixtures. I know it shouldn't matter what the fixture looks like. And that's a great theory and all. I agree with it, to an extent. But the problem is that many clients actually DO care about what the fixture looks like. They also care about things like quality of the product and warranty.

So unless I'm missing something, the Volt product looks pretty dang nice, is made of solid brass, is less expensive, and has a lifetime warranty. I admit I haven't used their product. So if you got a stick up your butt about their product (equating it to home depot crap) then do tell! Tell me why you think going to the Volt line is so unprofessional, Mr. lighting genius of Indiana.....

Anyway, I wasn't saying I'm ditching Kichler. I'm just at a juncture this year where I'm seriously looking at going to LED and not installing as much Unique lighting as I have in the past. I was pretty interested in Kichler just based on what they showed me. But I was thinking to myself this might be another way to go.

Again, if you got a problem with why that's not a good idea, do tell. It would be better than just piping off like an ******* without explaining yourself.

irrig8r
02-04-2011, 01:05 AM
"See the light, not the source" - Bill Locklin

emby
02-04-2011, 10:48 AM
"See the light, not the source" - Bill Locklin

Well said and right to the point.

The above quotation is REALLY important within your compositions. It makes it look amazing when it has been done properly.

Ken

fxcraig
02-04-2011, 12:52 PM
Interesting Thread. As an outdoor lighting designer in the Dallas Fort worth area I have found that offering a variety of led fixture options is very advantageous. Most mfg's are offering 15 year warranties with their led lines, and a 40,000 hour life. Most are in the same competitive range of pricing. So that being said, I demo several options depending on the clients specific application(s) for their property.

The design aspect is what I believe adds the most value in developing a true custom led outdoor lighting system for a client. Color temperature is key. For example, lighting the exterior facades typically will require a consistent warm color temperature for best effect. Normally I demonstrate a slightly cooler temperature when tying in the landscape. In Dallas, the moonlighting capitol of the world, most of my clients prefer a 5500 kelvin led to produce a moonlighting effect.

So, with all that said, my imput on the thread is this. Sell design, not fixtures. I use 3-4 different mfg's and they all have strengths and some weaknesses. I tell the client upfront, that I am not married to one particular mfg and I choose the best light source based on the application(s) per their property and I know which mfg's are up to the task. Very seldom does the look of the fixture come into the equation. If you are timid about selling led lights at 275-350 per installed price, then you may have a rough go at succeeding in this industry. I never ever discuss fixture price, only installed price.

I hope this has been helpful.

Craig Smith
http://fxdesignlighting.com/
Dallas Fort Worth Outdoor/Landscape Lighting

JimLewis
02-04-2011, 09:36 PM
Craig,

I really appreciate your well thought out response.

A few questions though; when selling a lighting system, the kind of lights you're going to install never comes into play with your customer? They never want to see how the fixtures are going to look? Because you must have different customers than I have then. That seems to be one of the main things I get asked. At the price we're selling lighting for, most of the people I talk to want to see what the heck it is they'd be paying so much money for. So when I bring out a solid brass Unique Pulsar light and show them that fixture in one hand and give them another plastic fixture from some off brand in the other hand, all of a sudden they perceive the value.

Sometimes even before I get a chance to show them the sample fixtures, people are already asking me about what they're going to look like.

So either you don't get that same experience for some reason, or you just try to change the subject and explain that it really doesn't matter what the fixture looks like? To me, that just seems odd. Marty Grunder has a great column in the current issue of Lawn & Landscape magazine on the subject of "What Customers Want". And his main point in the article is that we all need to do a much better job of listening to what our customers are asking for rather than telling them what they want. To quote from his article, "I am amazed at the number of sales professionals that go right into making suggestions and assuming they know what the client wants before asking questions."

So with that in mind, when someone asks about the the fixtures and what they look like, I feel like I should show them. I've always been proud of what we sell and haven't had any need to hide it. The stuff looks nice as well as being functional! You're saying I should just tell them, "Um. Don't worry about what the fixtures look like. That's not important. What's important is the effect. You're not really going to be seeing the fixtures anyway."

Well, I think a lot of customers would probably just go along with that, just because they don't want to be rude. But inside I bet a lot of them are thinking, "Really? I shouldn't care what they look like??? I'm not ever going to see them?? Huh??? Actually I am going to be seeing the path lights all day, and probably a lot of the spots too. It may not matter to you, but it kinda matters to me. If I'm going to be dropping several thousand dollars I'd like to at least make sure the stuff I'm buying is going to look nice too....." You don't think customers are ever thinking that?

I do agree that customers will often follow your lead. Most of my customers really respect our company and trust me a lot. So most of the time I can steer them whatever direction I want in terms of brand, etc. because of that trust.

I'm not saying the looks of the fixture are the absolute most important thing. I think they're just part of the equation. But to say that the looks of a fixture doesn't matter to customers at all.... my experience says otherwise.

So I started this thread just thinking maybe I could find a way to deliver both - something that looks great AND provides a very efficient and lighting system.

I'm just thinking through different options here on the forum. That's all. I appreciate everyone's input.

emby
02-05-2011, 05:39 AM
Hi Jim,

I totally respect your thoughts but one way that I handle that is to educate my customers on how important the design is and not the fixtures. Having more confidence in your design expertise will help you portray that amazing scene you are creating. Make the design the star of your business not the fixtures.
All my clients call me back year after year to enhance their outdoor world and believe me its not because they like the look of the fixtures and I know for sure that its that beautiful lighting atmosphere that I created.

Ken

JimLewis
02-05-2011, 05:59 AM
Ok. Fine. So let's assume that the looks of the fixture doesn't matter at all. I'm not there yet, but whatever....

Then wouldn't it be smart to go with the best, most reliable product you can get for the best price? If brand doesn't matter. If looks don't matter. What else is there to judge the different manufacturers on other than

1) Warranty
2) Quality
3) Price

So let's ask sort of the same question I asked at the beginning of this thread then, why wouldn't I just go with Volt fixtures then? They seem to be good quality. They got Tommy the Lighting Geek in videos on their site raving about how great the quality is. And I have immense respect for him. What he shows in those videos seems to be a real quality product. I've read other reviews here in this forum speaking positively about Volt products as well. So quality seems to be high.

Warranty seems to be about the best there is. Lifetime warranty is pretty damn good, I'd say. And I know from personal experience that they honor that warranty with no questions asked.

So that leaves us with Price. As near as I can tell, there isn't a better price to be had for such a quality product. They're selling at almost half of what many other fixtures from comparable manufacturers are selling for.

So why wouldn't I just go use the Volt fixtures, then? Why even bother with Kichler or Unique or FXL or any of those guys?

I'm just thinking out loud here. Help me think this through. Am I missing something here???

fxcraig
02-05-2011, 10:14 AM
Jim, I have found that creating that doctor patient relationship is best for my business. Concentrating on the design and what effect the light will produce to enhance their beautiful property year after year is what sells an average 5k job, not a $145 fixture or whatever list is...i don't even know what list is..because in the grand scheme of things its not that important in my opinion. Like I mentioned, I show them some options and discuss strengths/weaknesses from 3 to 4 mfg's (they all have them) and assure them that regardless of what we go with they are getting a great warranty..that I have done my home work...I will make suggestions based on where I want to go with the design...I do not sell fixtures.

Craig Smith
www.fxdesignlighting.com
Dallas Fort Worth Landscape Lighting

moonlighting
02-05-2011, 10:15 AM
Jim, i agree with you. I think that as long as the fixture is made well enough to house a good quality LED lamp then it makes perfect sense to use it over a Kichler or other fixture. i have been waiting for volt to get their CSA ratings so i can use them up here in Ontario. i think you will also find that there will be a lot more companies bringing in fixtures from overseas and offering them at lower prices, the US manufacturers will have real problems competing as more of this happens.
you are on the right track in my mind!

irrig8r
02-05-2011, 11:57 AM
I still have some issues with a "manufacturer" bringing stuff in from overseas and undercutting the market.

What LLW and Volt seems to do is cut out the middleman by selling direct... but they also sell direct to the DIY, who can see what you pay online... doesn't that bother anyone?

I know old business models are dying as the economy has shifted and both "cheaper" and less expensive (I make a distinction) products flood the market.

As lighting products become ubiquitous commodities it becomes a race to the bottom (price wise), and that can't help your bottom line.... can it?


Over in the irrigation world, companies like Irrigation Direct do the same thing. I've had mixed results with their products (though mostly good, and I must say their service has always been good).

fxcraig
02-05-2011, 12:10 PM
jim..im sure volt is a good product..im going to check it out..suppliers here in dfw?

moonlighting
02-05-2011, 12:17 PM
you might be missing his point. if you area able to give a customer the best led lighting system components at a pricepoint that is less then half of your competitors while still maintaing your profit margin why would you not do it?
i am also not a fixture salesman, always sell the design.



Jim, I have found that creating that doctor patient relationship is best for my business. Concentrating on the design and what effect the light will produce to enhance their beautiful property year after year is what sells an average 5k job, not a $145 fixture or whatever list is...i don't even know what list is..because in the grand scheme of things its not that important in my opinion. Like I mentioned, I show them some options and discuss strengths/weaknesses from 3 to 4 mfg's (they all have them) and assure them that regardless of what we go with they are getting a great warranty..that I have done my home work...I will make suggestions based on where I want to go with the design...I do not sell fixtures.

Craig Smith
www.fxdesignlighting.com
Dallas Fort Worth Landscape Lighting

moonlighting
02-05-2011, 12:33 PM
I still have some issues with a "manufacturer" bringing stuff in from overseas and undercutting the market.

What LLW and Volt seems to do is cut out the middleman by selling direct... but they also sell direct to the DIY, who can see what you pay online... doesn't that bother anyone?

I know old business models are dying as the economy has shifted and both "cheaper" and less expensive (I make a distinction) products flood the market.

As lighting products become ubiquitous commodities it becomes a race to the bottom (price wise), and that can't help your bottom line.... can it?


Over in the irrigation world, companies like Irrigation Direct do the same thing. I've had mixed results with their products (though mostly good, and I must say their service has always been good).


i would rather see all of my lighting supplies come through a website. i suspect that the service might be better and stock would also be better. it would be cheaper as in the case with Volt, the fact that they sell to the public is a problem for sure. while i do like the relationship i have with my suppliers i dont like it to the tune of 20 to 30 %.

indylights
02-05-2011, 01:30 PM
I do not use online suppliers, so I am just asking the question. What do they offer in terms of design, troubleshooting, or field support if you actually need someone in the field with you? Do they offer ongoing, hands-on training in your area? If you have a warranty issue, how long does it take to get replacements? Outside of giving you a cheaper product, what value do they offer? Again, not talking down about them, just trying to see what they bring to the table outside of a cheaper product. Because if all you care about is a cheaper product, which is fine, there will always be someone cheaper in a few months. Manufacturers who base their sales model that way will quickly find out that the Chinese have absolutely no loyalty when it comes to who they sell their molds, designs, etc to and guess what, sooner or later they will just eliminate the middle man all together and you'll be buying directly from China. I'm not saying you have to buy the most expensive product out there, but if your attitude towards the fixture is the same as the customers attitude towards the installer, you're all in for a serious pay cut. There are many reasons why we each choose to buy from who we buy from, but some things are worth an additional 5-10% in my opinion. I'm off my soap box now.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

bcg
02-07-2011, 03:44 PM
Jim, just something to think about, and this debate rages on but, we all agree that heat and moisture are the enemy of LED light sources. Given that, do you think you will have better longevity from an integrated fixture that seals the entire driver and lamp assembly from the elements and uses the entire fixture as a heat sink with direct access to outside air or from a retrofit lamp that still has to make an electrical connection to the lamp socket, which is prone to corrosion, and is enclosed in a fixture significantly reducing it's ability to cool itself? There is a time to use retrofit lamps but my opinion is that it's when you're dealing with a system that already has fixtures in place, not when you're starting from scratch.

Also, while the fixture cost is higher for an integrated LED fixture, when you compare the cost of the complete install against that of a simular halogen system, you will often find that the cost savings from being able to use a smaller transformer and less and smaller gauge wire will make the overall cost of the LED system the same or less than that of the halogen system, despite the higher LED fixture cost.

JoeinJasper
02-07-2011, 07:41 PM
I just received my sample order of LEDs from Illumicare and my selection of fixtures from Volt. I'm very impressed with the Volt fixtures, they all are solid construction and the bronze finish is attractive and durable.

The LEDs from illumicare are also impressive. The mr16s warm white were a good match to the halogen lamps that I already have. And the miniature lamps were a match to the halogen pathlights. It would take a good eye to tell the difference in a real world setting.

The Volt fixtures that I sampled are:
Top Dog (long body for LEDs) MR16
Gentle Splash takes g4 or g5.3 mini LED (the g4 is a little lose in the socket)
Max Spread Area Light takes g4 or g5.3 mini LED (the g4 is a little lose in the socket)

The only problem that I see is that the Max Spread has a set of clips that hold the halogen lamp in place. These clips prevent the mini LED from fully contacting the socket and will need to be removed.

While I haven't installed these yet, my first impression is very favorable and I look forward to installing them on my next job.

Joe

The Lighting Geek
02-08-2011, 05:39 PM
I simply point out to my client early on, that fixtures don't matter. They are the paint so what do you care what color the paint can is? If I do my job correctly you probably won't see most of them anyway.

I always talk about the effect, how light should flow, and how easy it is on your eyes with no glare.

steveparrott
02-09-2011, 06:07 PM
I do not use online suppliers, so I am just asking the question. What do they offer in terms of design, troubleshooting, or field support if you actually need someone in the field with you? Do they offer ongoing, hands-on training in your area? If you have a warranty issue, how long does it take to get replacements? Outside of giving you a cheaper product, what value do they offer? Again, not talking down about them, just trying to see what they bring to the table outside of a cheaper product. Because if all you care about is a cheaper product, which is fine, there will always be someone cheaper in a few months. Manufacturers who base their sales model that way will quickly find out that the Chinese have absolutely no loyalty when it comes to who they sell their molds, designs, etc to and guess what, sooner or later they will just eliminate the middle man all together and you'll be buying directly from China. I'm not saying you have to buy the most expensive product out there, but if your attitude towards the fixture is the same as the customers attitude towards the installer, you're all in for a serious pay cut. There are many reasons why we each choose to buy from who we buy from, but some things are worth an additional 5-10% in my opinion. I'm off my soap box now.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

I must say that I don't like the direction that this thread has gone. In the above quote, Scott really nails it on the head. The value of a brick-and-morter distribution chain is real. The value of sales guys in the field (hands-on support) is real. The value of lighting fixtures that are not nearly identical to those from a dozen manufacturers (differentiation) is real. The value of fixtures manufactured in plants owned by the manufacturer (quality control) is real.

Recognizing the real value in the fixtures you install is critical to your long-term success - because the bottom line is that you are staking your reputation on the products you install. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Ok, I'm getting off the soap box now :)

Lawnman90
02-09-2011, 06:46 PM
I have used the Volt fixtures and they are good quality. We have used Unique and Alliance fixtures also. I have tried the path lights, well, and small rectangle fixture(can't remember the name). They are good quality and seem to hold up well. As far as the customer service it's outstanding, fast shipping, and very willing to help you solve any problems. We had an issue where the client did not like the cap on a path light and they where more than fair in selling us new caps at a very reasonable price.

I'm with you Jim, if you are selling a premium fixture it needs to be built well and look good. Along with others I agree you sell the lighting effect, not the fixture but, many of the fixtures you do see. I have sold many jobs with Unique just by letting the client see the fixture and feel the quality. To me it's not so much the fixture but, the fact that the fixture will still be working in the next 5-10 years because of the quality.

Five years ago I would have argued the point about buying local and customer service but, not as much now. As the economy has gotten worse our suppliers don't have as much in inventory and usually end up ordering fixtures for larger jobs. So, why not cut out the middle man.

I don't like the fact that they advertise the wholesale price on the web but, none of my clients are going to DIY, most of the time I don't put the brand on the estimate just a description.

Well I've said enough, oh and I have only tried the MR16 with an LED for moonlighting, worked well.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-09-2011, 07:36 PM
I simply point out to my client early on, that fixtures don't matter. They are the paint so what do you care what color the paint can is? If I do my job correctly you probably won't see most of them anyway.

I always talk about the effect, how light should flow, and how easy it is on your eyes with no glare.

Tommy, your response here surprises me. "fixtures don't matter"? Really? Do you really believe that?

Thankfully there are a large number of designers and product manufacturer's out there who do not share this viewpoint. I sure don't subscribe to it. The fixtures sure as heck DO matter, both to me and to my clients. You can put all of your energy, passion, talent (and quality lamps) into installing marginal fixtures and end up with a mess after only a short while.

Besides that... using low quality and low cost components makes building a successful and profitable business quite the challenge. I have said it for years; If you want to make more money (and build a better reputation) in this business one way to ensure that is to install better quality products. You make more on the installation and you have a more satisfied client in the long run as maintenance and repairs are significantly reduced. I will not even begin to talk about aesthetics, product differentiation, and the ability to accessorize / specify, but all are big considerations for pro designers and installers.

"See the effect, not the source" is a concept I have built my business on, but is sure doesn't mean that the fixtures we use don't matter.

Regards

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-09-2011, 07:38 PM
I must say that I don't like the direction that this thread has gone. In the above quote, Scott really nails it on the head. The value of a brick-and-morter distribution chain is real. The value of sales guys in the field (hands-on support) is real. The value of lighting fixtures that are not nearly identical to those from a dozen manufacturers (differentiation) is real. The value of fixtures manufactured in plants owned by the manufacturer (quality control) is real.

Recognizing the real value in the fixtures you install is critical to your long-term success - because the bottom line is that you are staking your reputation on the products you install. Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Ok, I'm getting off the soap box now :)

Well stated Steve. I agree with you 100%

bcg
02-09-2011, 07:40 PM
James, I don't want to put words in Tommy's mouth but, I think what he meant was that as long as you're using a quality fixture, their aesthetics really isn't of any importance.

BTW - It was nice meeting you at the show. If you don't mind, I'm going to give you a call soon and finish our discussion on "The Purple Cow" since we ended up at different tables during the round table discussions. I'd hoped to get with you Saturday morning but I gather you left on Saturday.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-09-2011, 07:52 PM
James, I don't want to put words in Tommy's mouth but, I think what he meant was that as long as you're using a quality fixture, their aesthetics really isn't of any importance.

BTW - It was nice meeting you at the show. If you don't mind, I'm going to give you a call soon and finish our discussion on "The Purple Cow" since we ended up at different tables during the round table discussions. I'd hoped to get with you Saturday morning but I gather you left on Saturday.

You may be right, but I would still argue that the aesthetics of many/most fixtures surely does matter. Right up there with their performance and quality of construction.

It was very nice to meet you at the AOLP Conference, and Congratulations on your Awards! You have done some lovely work. Well done! I would enjoy continuing our conversation but will not be available until late this month, when I no doubt will return to a mountain of work. Best would be to give me that call one evening in early March.

Kind regards.

Gr1ffin
02-10-2011, 11:57 AM
It's interesting. As a sponsor, I make a strong effort not to comment on threads about other sponsors. I would rather promote myself that criticize others. Even if its not a direct criticism, I do not want to even cast a shadow on anything related to them since i know they are a fellow sponsor -- it's not a rule, it just my style. However I am not going be attacked without defending myself either. I will do my best to be as subtle (not get too deep into details) as possible...

In short everyone has an agenda, that is life.

Mr Scott Maloney has a family member who works in the established distribution chain and is threatened by our model. I do not believe he has ever bought, installed or handled a Volt product yet has very strong words against them.

Casts is not only sold thru distribution but was started by the owner of a large of chain of irrigation stores. The owner of Cast has a double investment in the distribution network. It is bad for Cast and their distribution chain if contractors start buying direct.

James, is attempting to market his products thru distribution and it will not be good for him if contractors start comparing his LEDs to any other LED that comes up on the internet-- better for him if he only has to compete with products that are in the controlled arena of outdoor lighting distribution.

I respect all of the above. There is a big need for distribution and they offer a value as mentioned above and I wish them well. There is also a great value, niche and need for what we do. We offer ultra high quality, solid cast brass fixtures, shipped out the same day, always in stock, uncompromising service, for significantly less than anywhere else.

Make no mistake about it, the established industry that makes money off charging contractors higher prices -- every manufacturers, distributor, dealer, sales reps, employee (and as we've seen, even family members of the aforementioned) hates us. But the reality is we are empowering the contractor. No one benefits more from reducing the cost of high quality landscape lighting supplies by 20-50% than the contractor. Also make no mistake about it, our contractor customers (people who have actually dealt with us, bought our products and seen our service) love us.

The people who bash are not contractors who have used us or know our product and service, they are people who are get hurt by us being here. No one can say anything bad about Volts quality or service -- they don't like our prices (too low) or our model -- it has nothing to do with quality.

I don't want to spend too much time on this because i believe people can see thru the two sides--- the people who have answered the OP's original question were people who had actually bought and tried Volt products like OP asked-- and they all loved them/had positive things to say. All the posts against Volt were people who had not ever used them.

Lastly to clarify something from an economics stand point, "race to the bottom" is such an awesome catchy phrase but all to often is getting used incorrectly. If you lower your prices because you are lowering your quality "Race to the Bottom" applies. If you are lowering your prices because you are lowering your profits, it applies. If you are lowering your COSTS because you cut out mark-ups from MIDDLEMAN -- that is NOT a race to the bottom. If you are elevating your quality and paying lower prices for it -- that is NOT a race to the bottom.

I wish everyone well. It is a big world out there and there is room for all of us. I hope I did not offend anyone and I know it is a passionate subject. We can not please nor be the perfect solution for everyone. Our mission is to be the best at what we do -- ultra premium quality, always in stock, shipped the same day, uncompromising service for the best price in the industry for what we offer. And we will continue to be focused on delivering our mission.

Respectfully,

Alan

indylights
02-10-2011, 02:26 PM
Alan,

In direct response, yes I do have a family member involved in a large irrigation distributorship. I do not live where he has a branch, so I do not buy from his company. I have no idea if they feel threatened by you or not. Judging by what he tells me are the sales volumes of their lighting lines, I doubt it.

I have not bought or installed your product, but I have handled it, and was not that impressed. To me it was just like every other fixture in that same mid to low range category, (which in my opinion there are too many of in the first place) and therefore I felt very indifferent about the line. I don't hate you or your company. I have no vested interest in your success or failure, and would not be affected one bit if you went on to be a billion dollar business or went bankrupt. It's great for you that other contractors use your line, but that is irrelevant to me.

Again, outside of offering a cheaper product, you still haven't answered the question as to how you bring any value to the contractor, or answered any of the questions I asked for that matter. Again, if everyone wants to continually lower their price, more power to them. Even in 2009, I did not, and I will not. But please remember to expect the corresponding decrease in pay.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

P.S. And Alan, I can site numerous times where you bad mouthed another manufacturer or had threads or posts deleted. Please don't get on your high horse about that, and your agenda is just as transparent as everyone else's.

indylights
02-10-2011, 02:38 PM
And Alan, after re-reading this entire thread, not one person who responded to the original question mentioned using or loving the Volt line. I did not mention you or your company when I asked my questions about online dealers. There are numerous online dealers out there who sell any number of lines, and I was just asking to get feedback from contractors who have used them so they could answer some questions that I had in terms of the value they added to their company. When you start making personal attacks on people and their family members, it's best to have your facts straight.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

Gr1ffin
02-10-2011, 03:19 PM
Scott,

This is why one of many reasons I do not post much. It can quickly deteriorate and I will not join you. I said what I needed to in my post above.

Good luck to you.*trucewhiteflag*

indylights
02-10-2011, 03:22 PM
Alan,

Good luck to you as well. And I'm still waiting for anyone to answer my questions. They were legitimate.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

Gr1ffin
02-10-2011, 04:41 PM
Ok sure.

To answer your question what value here's a partial list:

-Superior Quality than what most contractors are used to. The biggest volume of sales for both consumer and professional lights is aluminum. A co like JDL or Ewing will stock and sells mainly aluminum. Even some of the established cast brass manu's are now getting a majority of their sales not from cast brass but from value lines (sheet brass). The reality is most contractors can not afford cast brass and thus instead have been buying aluminum (or sheet brass). Now they can UPGRADE their quality. There is no excuse not to use cast brass.

-Superior inventory. Cast brass is not inventoried/inventoried well by many distributors and often special ordered. We inventory deep and ship same day. You need 250 sconces shipped today-- we are one of the few that can do it.

-Top service. Rarely voice mail during business hours. Live help. We help and trouble shoot contractors. No questions asked return policy. Warranty items ship same day. Contractors love our service. Not putting down or saying others don't do the same, but nothing beats speaking directly to the MANUFACTURER. (eg, I have called irrigation distributors inquiring about a mainstream competitors product-- the salesman did not know even basic details). Not all are that way, but no one knows more about a product than the manufacturer of said product.

-We deliver to your door, A contractor doesn't need to make a special trip to a store (or two trips if its special ordered/drop shipped). Very helpful to a lot of people especially in rural areas.

-Open 24 hr day for ordering-- order late, at night, or weekends on your own schedule. Enables contractors to focus on installing and building their business during the critical 8-5pm time.

Use the savings to increase QUALITY of the product you buy (that's a big value added). Use the manufacturer direct price savings to increase PROFITS (that's a big value added). Use the savings to close jobs you wouldn't normally get (again big value added).

-Enable the contractor to differentiate themselves and close more business. In this down economy everyone is going down in price. In variably most of your competitors are showing the customer aluminum. If you can go in and put a 3 lbs cast brass fixture in their hands and still be somewhat close in price... you will CLOSE MORE SALES.

-No hassle warranty. Read our warranty-- or speak to someone who has used it. I am not aware of a lifetime warranty that is better, with fewer manufacturer loopholes. Call us an we send out items same day.

-Not everyone lives near a convenient irrigation dealer store. Even if they do, often the product they want is not available. We provide access to thousands who do not have the luxury of being close to a contractor store.

-We elevate the industry by offering high quality components and systems that last. More people are improving their fixture quality by buying our products than people who are moving down in quality. You'd have a tough argument saying anything was a move down, it would certainly be arguable. If you did, you have not seen our fixtures recently.

-Distribution in our industry is old school and inefficient and you the contractors pay for it. Want a light? The process is so inefficient. You pay a lot for that light, yet no one is making very much money-- why? Waste and inefficiency. We are challenging the established system and bring alternative options. It will help spur progress and choice.

As far as your list, I believe the only things on your list we don't offer are design services (which is touchy anyways), in person training, or pick-up of fixtures the same day, like a store can for their stocked items.

We offer high quality products for the lowest price available, shipped same day, delivered to their door, open 24 hrs a day for ordering, backed with a no hassle warranty and friendly full service. We streamline and make the distribution of lighting supplies more efficient. These are some of the value we offer.

Thank you for the opportunity to point out some of the value we add.

Sincerely,

indylights
02-10-2011, 04:58 PM
Ok sure.

To answer your question what value here's a partial list:

-Superior Quality than what most contractors are used to. The biggest volume of sales for both consumer and professional lights is aluminum. A co like JDL or Ewing will stock and sells mainly aluminum. Even some of the established cast brass manu's are now getting a majority of their sales not from cast brass but from value lines (sheet brass). The reality is most contractors can not afford cast brass and thus instead have been buying aluminum (or sheet brass). Now they can UPGRADE their quality. There is no excuse not to use cast brass.

-Superior inventory. Cast brass is not inventoried/inventoried well by many distributors and often special ordered. We inventory deep and ship same day. You need 250 sconces shipped today-- we are one of the few that can do it.

-Top service. Rarely voice mail during business hours. Live help. We help and trouble shoot contractors. No questions asked return policy. Warranty items ship same day. Contractors love our service. Not putting down or saying others don't do the same, but nothing beats speaking directly to the MANUFACTURER. (eg, I have called irrigation distributors inquiring about a mainstream competitors product-- the salesman did not know even basic details). Not all are that way, but no one knows more about a product than the manufacturer of said product.

-We deliver to your door, A contractor doesn't need to make a special trip to a store (or two trips if its special ordered/drop shipped). Very helpful to a lot of people especially in rural areas.

-Open 24 hr day for ordering-- order late, at night, or weekends on your own schedule. Enables contractors to focus on installing and building their business during the critical 8-5pm time.

Use the savings to increase QUALITY of the product you buy (that's a big value added). Use the manufacturer direct price savings to increase PROFITS (that's a big value added). Use the savings to close jobs you wouldn't normally get (again big value added).

-Enable the contractor to differentiate themselves and close more business. In this down economy everyone is going down in price. In variably most of your competitors are showing the customer aluminum. If you can go in and put a 3 lbs cast brass fixture in their hands and still be somewhat close in price... you will CLOSE MORE SALES.

-No hassle warranty. Read our warranty-- or speak to someone who has used it. I am not aware of a lifetime warranty that is better, with fewer manufacturer loopholes. Call us an we send out items same day.

-Not everyone lives near a convenient irrigation dealer store. Even if they do, often the product they want is not available. We provide access to thousands who do not have the luxury of being close to a contractor store.

-We elevate the industry by offering high quality components and systems that last. More people are improving their fixture quality by buying our products than people who are moving down in quality. You'd have a tough argument saying anything was a move down, it would certainly be arguable. If you did, you have not seen our fixtures recently.

-Distribution in our industry is old school and inefficient and you the contractors pay for it. Want a light? The process is so inefficient. You pay a lot for that light, yet no one is making very much money-- why? Waste and inefficiency. We are challenging the established system and bring alternative options. It will help spur progress and choice.

As far as your list, I believe the only things on your list we don't offer are design services (which is touchy anyways), in person training, or pick-up of fixtures the same day, like a store can for their stocked items.

We offer high quality products for the lowest price available, shipped same day, delivered to their door, open 24 hrs a day for ordering, backed with a no hassle warranty and friendly full service. We streamline and make the distribution of lighting supplies more efficient. These are some of the value we offer.

Thank you for the opportunity to point out some of the value we add.

Sincerely,


You're welcome. We disagree on the definition of "quality" and several other things, but no one wants to read my rants anymore. Take care.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

extlights
02-10-2011, 06:05 PM
If someone is new trying to break into this industry I can understand how a distributor can help them get started. Design, techniques, troubleshooting etc are all things that they can assist with. With that said though, if someone has been in the business for a while and are capable they should no longer need that assistance. We don't use a traditional distributor to get our products because of many reasons. We've been in business long enough to the point that we don't need a distributor. We don't use an online supplier either, but I see nothing wrong with it.

In my opinion from the business end of things there are more disadvantages to using a traditional supplier. I have never used Volt products, however with what seems like a strong business model that Alan has, I can see how guys might sway to an online supplier like that.

One thing that really stands out in this business is the definition of quality. Just because one guy doesn't like a certain brand of fixture doesn't mean it's junk. Their is one major brand that many guys here use that I will 100% not use. Does it mean that it's junk? No.....but different climates, soil, and other conditions play a major role in what everyone uses and this particular brand hasn't worked out well for us around here.

So I guess for me, I see nothing wrong with online distributors vs. traditional. If you don't need anything but supplies then why not? If Alan can produce the services that he mentions, my question would be why use a regular distributor?

irrig8r
02-10-2011, 09:45 PM
I don't think this thread was reallydeteriorating Alan.

I think it has been a fairly civil discussion, with some good back and forth and good points made by both sides.

Unless something was removed, I didn't see any insults or cheap shots. Good information. Thought provoking discussion.

JimLewis
02-11-2011, 12:41 AM
Alan,

I must say that last response of yours was one of the best defenses I've ever seen made on Lawnsite in any forum. Nice, very well thought out response. Excellent points.

I must admit, I'm reconsidering which direction I want to head every day, as I learn and research more about LED and other directions I might head. And more and more I'm considering Volt.

I do agree that there is plenty of room for both your traditional chain of lighting sales and online (discounted) sales. I think there are probably always going to be plenty of people who really need local help, training and availability. But I also think there will continually be a growing number of people who, as they get to the point where they aren't as dependent on local support and aren't so concerned about local availability, who will begin to look for other, less expensive avenues to purchase quality lighting products. And you meet that need.

We had the same argument in the irrigation industry. Irrigators and distributors used to get all worked up when Toro and Rain Bird (and now Hunter) started selling their wares to the general public in the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe's - As if that was going to just ruin their business. Over time, everyone pretty much settled down, once they all realized there was plenty of room for all.

The suggestion that you can't buy quality products online or that you can't buy quality products for less than the prices we currently pay for at distributors is rather ludicrous. As if local distributors have a 100% lock on quality products. And that's the only place I'm ever going to find good quality stuff. I'm sorry, I don't buy that.

Interested conversation, though. That's for sure. I never thought my post would get anywhere near this involved into so many different thoughts! :)

The Lighting Geek
02-11-2011, 12:51 AM
Tommy, your response here surprises me. "fixtures don't matter"? Really? Do you really believe that?

Thankfully there are a large number of designers and product manufacturer's out there who do not share this viewpoint. I sure don't subscribe to it. The fixtures sure as heck DO matter, both to me and to my clients. You can put all of your energy, passion, talent (and quality lamps) into installing marginal fixtures and end up with a mess after only a short while.

Besides that... using low quality and low cost components makes building a successful and profitable business quite the challenge. I have said it for years; If you want to make more money (and build a better reputation) in this business one way to ensure that is to install better quality products. You make more on the installation and you have a more satisfied client in the long run as maintenance and repairs are significantly reduced. I will not even begin to talk about aesthetics, product differentiation, and the ability to accessorize / specify, but all are big considerations for pro designers and installers.

"See the effect, not the source" is a concept I have built my business on, but is sure doesn't mean that the fixtures we use don't matter.

Regards

James, rest assured, I was not implying that fixtures are an important part of the overall equation. I was merely making the point the effect is more important than what the fixture looks like. I was assuming we were talking about quality fixtures to begin with. We are on the same page most of the time :-)

The Lighting Geek
02-11-2011, 12:59 AM
Just to clear things up, I use the products I use by choice. I use predominately use Kichler for their LED line. I also use Volt and Unique. I like most of the Volt line because it is good stuff. I don't take chances on products, it is not worth it. If anyone wants to discuss in more detail what i am using and why, just pm me.

It is possible for both types of businesses (distribution vs. direct) to co-exist, in fact they have for some time now. 80% of my purchases are through distribution. NOBODY makes what I want for the other 20% but Volt.

Lite4
02-11-2011, 10:33 PM
Alan,

Good luck to you as well. And I'm still waiting for anyone to answer my questions. They were legitimate.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

Ok, I'll bite Scott. I have received better service from Alan than any of the 3 local vendors you and I frequent here in Indy.

You speak of local support from vendors, ha, what a joke. The last time I had a decent manu rep was back in Idaho who simply just took me to dinner whenever he was in town. (which earned a lot of loyalty from me at the time, he was a great rep). Most of the time when I ask for something specific at a local vendor I just get a blank stare. None of them have a clue about what I am talking about, (really, where is the value here?). When I know more about lighting than all of them combined how are they going to help me in the field? (where is the value here?). When they don't deliver to my job site, I have to take 2 hours out of my work day and go to their location to get product, when ordering online it comes right to my doorstep. (where is the value in a local brick and mortar here?) When I have to pay 2-3 times as much for an equal product or parts and have to wait two to three times as long to receive them (really?, where is this value you are so emphatic about?) Most manu reps have to cover such a large area they are never around if you ever really needed something done. When they are in town they are not interested in the lighting professional who might actually buy a good deal of product from them if they would even try to establish a relationship with them. Nope, they are more interested in putting on free seminars and drawing in more trunk slammers to the industry who will buy 20-30 fixtures and 2 transformers from them in a season. (what a joke, tell me, where is the value I am paying more for?)

To their credit, Kenney up on 96th has been fantastic to work with. Jeff is incredibly helpful,but they simply just do not carry enough variety and quantity of product on their shelves to be an effective distributor.

Furthermore, I have held Alans product in my hand and have used a good number of his fixtures and transformers. I am not sure what you had in your hand, but the ones I have are right on par with Uniques fixtures, Just without all the fancy packaging. He does have a few that are lighter guage brass, much like Uniques brass night series fixtures too. (maybe that is what you had) The customer service is fantastic too and Alan is incredibly knowledgable.

So in light of this, why wouldn't I buy from a distributor that gets me product in 2-3 days, has high quality products, very reasonable pricing and very responsive customer service? I think you are simply too caught up on "name brands". Now to be fair I do still purchase from the main line manus, but I also don't limit my options either. I believe you will see more quality products coming to web in the future. (is there junk out there? oh yeah, no doubt about it). You just have to do your research and you will uncover some incredible finds.

Ok, let me have it. I am sure the hate mail is going to come my way now telling my I am a trunk slammer, I am racing to the bottom, I am ruining the industry, kablah kablah kablah! The proof is in the P and L at the end of the seaon and my happy clients.

Tommy, see the effect, not the source (albeight, the high quality source).

bcg
02-11-2011, 11:37 PM
I guess I didn't realize how lucky I am to have a local distributor that will deliver to my shop or jobsite, stock what I tell them I plan to use, has good technical support if I need it and gives me no hassle warranty returns. I've run out of things on jobs before and they've been there within an hour most of the time with what I needed and have never charged for delivering anything.

They even have a key to my shop so they can drop stuff off if I'm not there. I know that's unusual but I kind of expected that there would be at least one distributor in every major market that would stock and deliver what you needed.

klkanders
02-11-2011, 11:47 PM
Hi Bernie! Sounds like you have a good relationship with that distributor. That's great!
It was good meeting you in AZ. Congrats again on your fine work and awards!

indylights
02-12-2011, 09:21 AM
Good to know there are people on both sides of the arguement. I rarely have had to wait 2-3 weeks for product and certainly don't pay 2-3 times what contractors would consider fair price for high quality product. I do get value from the vendors I use because on the rare occasions I have had product issues, they have had replacements on the shelf, and usually would deliver the replacement to me that day. As for manu reps developing relationships with you, I have found that most contractors I know come in three categories (1) guys who never want to see the reps because they think they know more than him or don't want to be "sold" something (2) or guys who constantly have to have their hands held and butts kissed, and (3) guys who view them as tolerable. I don't have great personal relationships with any of the manufacturers reps for any of the stone, landscape, or lighting products I use but I guess I'm lucky in that I do have great relationships with the guys at the distributorships I buy from, and these guys I view as more important to me anyway. As far as seminars and new guys being trained, I am continually amazed as to why this upsets guys. Weren't we all new at one point, and didn't someone have to train us? Are we the only ones who are allowed to install pavers or lighting or whatever else we do? My son is 23 and wants to start a landscaping business in a different city. Is he not allowed to go to manufacturer training or receive education from vendors? He has learned a lot while working with me, but he wants to go a few different directions than what I specialize in. I just never understand why guys get so bent out of shape about that. And before I hear the response "these guys who go to a four hour class now think they're experts", I have had to repair and rip out work from supposed lighting, landscaping, and general contractind "professionals" who have been in business for many years, and still do things very poorly. So I guess in the end, I do find great value in my local distributors, some of you don't, and I don't think we're going to change each others minds.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

RLI Electric
02-12-2011, 08:07 PM
Bernie? You're bcg? Nice to be able to put a face to the name. Awesome job again on cleaning up in Arizona. Hope the weather is nice down there. 40 more inches of melting and I may be able to start doing something too.

JimLewis
02-12-2011, 08:30 PM
Just as there is plenty of room in our industry for both local and online vendors, there's also plenty of room in our industry for both seasoned vets and small time operators who are just being taught lighting. We should be glad they are being professionally trained. Every time someone goes to a lighting seminar or training class it raises the bar for professionalism. It makes it a more level playing field. The better they get at lighting and learning what's really needed to do a quality job, the better competition they are.

When I'm competing against another company (whether it be in general, just because they work in the same area I do, or more specific like on a specific project) I always prefer to be bidding against a company who is well educated, knows what they are doing, will take their time to do it right, knows the difference between quality products and cheap stuff, etc. Because that guy and I are on a little more level playing field.

What I don't like bidding against are Yahoos who really have little clue how to do stuff right, haven't ever had much training on anything, love to use cheap products, etc. Because that guy will undercut my bid every time. And although the homeowner almost deserves what he gets for hiring a Yahoo like that, it still ends up stealing business away from the rest of us who are doing it right and charging accordingly.

It's easy to say, "Well it's our job to show the consumers the value or hiring an expert." I agree. The problem is; some of those Yahoos are also pretty convincing that they are experts. But their pricing is WAY lower. And only later does the homeowner realize maybe the job they had done wasn't quite up to par. But by that time it's too late. That company's already got a job that we probably could have gotten had we all been bidding properly.

So I'm all for educating smaller, newer companies. There's room for us all. But the more those small guys get trained, the better it is for us all. It raises the bar for the whole industry.

I do see a lot of value from local distributorships. In stocking, training, service, and as a technical resource. We do have some pretty good distributors here. One stocks a whole TON of Unique and FXL lighting. Everything I'd ever need is almost always in stock. Several of the other distributors have guys on staff that used to be lighting professionals and are very handy to call in a pinch or for advice. Even my local manuf. reps are valuable in many ways. So I see the value in all that. But just because I might be buying some stuff online doesn't mean any of those resources are going to disappear for me. I still have all the same resources. It's not like they're going anywhere. There will always be plenty of people buying from them. I just also see the value in saving $$ online, when possible.

jkingrph
02-20-2011, 10:01 AM
I just upgraded from an old Lowes pathway lighting system(junk) to Volt and am astonished at the difference in quality.

I saw this thread and was interested in led emitters and sent illumicare an e mail about their emitters in the volt fixtures.

I sent links to the volt fixture and the acutal halogen lamp used which Mr Higo at illumicaregroup says appears to be a G4 bipin. His concern is that their led G4 bipin emitter is 24mm in diameter, but in April they will have a G4 bipin unit that is only 19mm in diameter, which might work without removing the clips from the Volt fixture.

This was all corresponcence on Sat afternoon, I was honestly surprised and pleased to get a reply on a weekend and that quickly.

Gr1ffin
02-20-2011, 10:59 AM
JK thank you for purchasing Volt fixtures.
When using a Tower style bi pin LED, we recommend you just bend the bulb clips on the fixture off, or (cut them off with your wire cutters) -- takes about 10 seconds. We are removing lamp clips from future production so they don't get in the way off LEDs.

JoeinJasper
02-20-2011, 04:00 PM
I'm testing a Volt pathlight with the G5.3 mini LED. The G4 fits, but is lose, while the G5.3 is a tight fit. So far I like the look of this combination.

Joe

Illumicare
02-21-2011, 01:40 AM
Many Landscape Lighting Fixture Manufacturers are using what they call a "universal bi-pin socket" or one that is designed to accept both G5.3 and G4 bi-pin lamps.

In my experience, these universal sockets work better over time when you stick with the thicker pin G5.3 lamps. You will also find that once a G5.3 lamp has been installed in the universal sockets, that they will no longer tightly hold onto the smaller G4 lamps. This has to do with a 'memory' effect in the internal spring / paddle arrangement of these universal sockets.

Other manufacturers make use of sockets that will only accept only one or the other Bi-pin lamp size.

Illumicare offers both G4 and G5.3 Bi-pin base LED lamps for these reasons.

RLDesign
02-21-2011, 09:56 AM
Jim,

I read the posts from time to time. I am beginning to get very busy. As I read your post, it re-inforces what the AOLP is becoming for our industry. As of this year with the first graduating class of COLD (Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer), there now is a way to learn the right way. I found in the educational process at COLD that I learned so much. I cannot telll anyone how much I learned with words, but please let these pictures do the talking. I am creating a link to the snapfish photo gallery. For the rest of my career in lighting, I will always have an open mind to growing and learning. Like anything in life, there is always room for education and growth. Sometimes, it is a perceived risk...yet conference and membership has made our company money. The value of conference and my AOLP membership paid for itself 10 fold in the last 3 years. More so when I was personally involved in a committee. The best thing I retained from my COLD training and instruction is that the "right" light is subjective to your geographic area and lot type/house type. Once you learn the key components and structure of the electrical components/options and designs elements, the next step is to match what are the best key components that fits your situation. Best of luck to everyone this season. Check out the snapfish slideshow I will post right now on lawnsite.

I compete against a variety of poor contractors who do not care about the lighting project or the client. In competing against poor quality, it makes our trade and work to have a poor reputation. If better lighting and relationships were established, there would be better work completed. It know I got started somewhere, but I think the educational outreach needs to go beyond the first step at the instructional level and into the classroom.

Best, Tanek
Reynolds Lighting


Just as there is plenty of room in our industry for both local and online vendors, there's also plenty of room in our industry for both seasoned vets and small time operators who are just being taught lighting. We should be glad they are being professionally trained. Every time someone goes to a lighting seminar or training class it raises the bar for professionalism. It makes it a more level playing field. The better they get at lighting and learning what's really needed to do a quality job, the better competition they are.

When I'm competing against another company (whether it be in general, just because they work in the same area I do, or more specific like on a specific project) I always prefer to be bidding against a company who is well educated, knows what they are doing, will take their time to do it right, knows the difference between quality products and cheap stuff, etc. Because that guy and I are on a little more level playing field.

What I don't like bidding against are Yahoos who really have little clue how to do stuff right, haven't ever had much training on anything, love to use cheap products, etc. Because that guy will undercut my bid every time. And although the homeowner almost deserves what he gets for hiring a Yahoo like that, it still ends up stealing business away from the rest of us who are doing it right and charging accordingly.

It's easy to say, "Well it's our job to show the consumers the value or hiring an expert." I agree. The problem is; some of those Yahoos are also pretty convincing that they are experts. But their pricing is WAY lower. And only later does the homeowner realize maybe the job they had done wasn't quite up to par. But by that time it's too late. That company's already got a job that we probably could have gotten had we all been bidding properly.

So I'm all for educating smaller, newer companies. There's room for us all. But the more those small guys get trained, the better it is for us all. It raises the bar for the whole industry.

I do see a lot of value from local distributorships. In stocking, training, service, and as a technical resource. We do have some pretty good distributors here. One stocks a whole TON of Unique and FXL lighting. Everything I'd ever need is almost always in stock. Several of the other distributors have guys on staff that used to be lighting professionals and are very handy to call in a pinch or for advice. Even my local manuf. reps are valuable in many ways. So I see the value in all that. But just because I might be buying some stuff online doesn't mean any of those resources are going to disappear for me. I still have all the same resources. It's not like they're going anywhere. There will always be plenty of people buying from them. I just also see the value in saving $$ online, when possible.

ccfree
02-21-2011, 07:00 PM
i would rather see all of my lighting supplies come through a website. i suspect that the service might be better and stock would also be better. it would be cheaper as in the case with Volt, the fact that they sell to the public is a problem for sure. while i do like the relationship i have with my suppliers i dont like it to the tune of 20 to 30 %.


Pricing a lighting job is relevent to what you pay for the material. I can assure you that you are making more percentage than a distributor.

bcg
02-21-2011, 07:02 PM
Another thing to consider, my distibutors give me credit. It's hard to put a value on 30 days free money and a discount for paying on time.

jkingrph
02-26-2011, 05:54 PM
No LED's yet , but got my Volt mushroom path lights installed. Installed 19 lights, did 4 runs to junction boxes. Shortest run is only about 3' so used a 12 ga lead. On others longest is about 65' shortest about 30 so used 10 ga

I only got a 300w transformer so I used 10w bulbs, which give plenty of light for my purpose. I have to leave very early and return late, in dark about 8 months of the year. I installed volt's electronic timer in conjunction with the photo cell so they do not stay on all night, off about 10pm and on again about 5:30 am.. I set an arbitrary off at 7am, and an on at 6pm and set everything central time and am not planning on any changes for daylight savings. Photo cell should handle that and keep it off when there is plenty of ambient light.

This is a quantum leap over the Lowe's system I had installed. There is nothing like quality.

RLDesign
02-28-2011, 04:17 PM
Sounds much like my experiences with my distributor. I have also found that most distributors are not knowledgable enought to meet my standards in outdoor lighting... but we grow and learn together. They try to retain my business as much as possible. I find all my distributors to be helpful as much as they can and go out of their way to get me product. My reps, especially CAST, go the extra mile for our firm.

Talk soon. Tanek

I guess I didn't realize how lucky I am to have a local distributor that will deliver to my shop or jobsite, stock what I tell them I plan to use, has good technical support if I need it and gives me no hassle warranty returns. I've run out of things on jobs before and they've been there within an hour most of the time with what I needed and have never charged for delivering anything.

They even have a key to my shop so they can drop stuff off if I'm not there. I know that's unusual but I kind of expected that there would be at least one distributor in every major market that would stock and deliver what you needed.

steveparrott
02-28-2011, 04:52 PM
My reps, especially CAST, go the extra mile for our firm. Tanek

Thanks Tanek, it's a big investment to keep our guys in the field. It's good to hear that they're appreciated.

RLDesign
02-28-2011, 05:28 PM
Hello Steve,

Jeff is responsive, helpful and enthusiastic about the industry and my work. I would love to discuss the AOLP anytime you have a minute. Please email me at tanek@reynoldslbi.com to see when you have some phone time available. I would love to bring Dave B. back into the organization. His training materials and educational efforts provide one level of education that enligtens younger minds about the direciton of landscape lighting. Student membership at the AOLP is paramount to the bridge of the org.

CAST's print catalogs have been very helpful to me. CAST has one of the best industry print books demonstrating the materials, techniques, and types of lighting. Whatever company you choose, it is important to find your fit. That color book and the training manual has been a perfect fit in so many ways, for me and my crews.

Thanks again for your efforts and marketing materials. That support is not there in such a fashion with everyone in the industry. Please do check out CAST's website. My crews reference your training manual in our work trucks. We use the NS slider (only a few were ever made) and your training book. The book, pick up at Jeff's trianing session, showed me stuff I can do differently, but more so provided some technical data for my crew to have in the field. We do some things with CAST method, some a mix of what works for us. I look forward to using more of your product in the upcoming season. I see the value in buying local, and in your ability to be responsive. The telescopic stem is being installed on a job this week., 6 fixtures with 16" telescopic. I guess that can be custom ordered to height? Pricing is something I wish there was a way to get somewhat lower.... but the price is backed by a warranty and reputation that is cast in stone and your word. I look at the value in so many ways. I learned the value of that word when you backed some product this year that I did not install. Those gestures mean a lot and matter. Thank you. I know that the customer service is there from almost every manu., but that is only recently. Some companies see the value and others do not. My reps from FX, CAST, and NS all are great and helpful. If I did not have a rep from those companies, I would not have their input and help being a better designer. They all meet me in the field and give me new products and tips. There is another company that will be that level of CS, if the previous company is not, and so on and so on. Rambling at 5 p.m. I gotta go home.

Talk soon. Tanek

Classic Lighting
02-28-2011, 07:54 PM
I agree with everything that Tanek posted above. Jeff is also my area rep and I appreciate his knowledge of the industry. I attended one of his training seminars several years ago and was hooked on lighting. I continue to attend his seminars because I learn some new tips and tricks every time. He also openly communicates with me about industry news and Cast updates.

David Gretzmier
03-17-2011, 12:26 AM
I have used LED's here and there in volt fixtures, but on paths you really need a 20 watt plus equivalent and I have not found that yet. Alan has a longer top dog in this week for the longer mr-16 retrofits that are floating around out there.

in defense of Volt-

I use my distributor for what I have to, and they do fulfil a need for me here and there, but I buy most of my fixtures from Volt. I love them, have never had any notable problems other than a shipping breakage now and again.

I am not certain what folks are looking for when they say "they were not too impressed with the quality".

quality should mean- It has a great effect, a fixture looks good enough but blends into a landscape, is heavy enough to handle being abused, kicked, stepped on, or run over, is water tight enough to handle near submersion, has an excellent bulb click and pregreased socket, comes pre-lubed on the o-rings, has an awesome wire pass through stake, great adjustable shroud, the spots don't hold water and the paths are impossible to to see the bulb, and overall when I put it in folks hands that have net worth that exceeds 7 figures they are impressed.

I know for a fact Volt fixtures feel vastly superior to the nightscaping and FX fixtures I was putting in 15 plus years ago.

If you guys wish, go ahead and continue to justify spending more money on your fixtures that provide the same effect for 2-3x the cost.

JimLewis
03-17-2011, 12:39 AM
David (and those of you who use Volt a lot),

Do you specify the brand name in your bids? I'm really concerned about that. That if I specify Volt by name people are going to go online and see how cheap they are going for on Alan's site and then start to think my price for materials is way too much. Even if I don't itemize my bid out like I normally do, once they see how affordable you can get the light fixtures for, I'm afraid they're going to do a little math and figure that we are marking them up WAY too much.

Which, I guess, is everyone else's point. That does kinda mess things up. I wouldn't have ever thought it was an issue until recently when I had a customer find every freakin' fixture I had listed on his bid - online -for much cheaper than I was quoting it. It really pissed me off. I think we probably lost the bid, mostly because of that. And it was a very nice, big job. I'm learning to bid better and not itemize and sell our company and sell the lighting design that we are doing. So that should help. But still at some point you gotta list out some basic pricing for the customer, even if it's just a lump sum materials price. And it's at that point, when they see the word "Volt" and do a search online, where I am afraid we're going to start to have problems.

How have you guys overcome that? Do you just not mention the brand name?

Classic Lighting
03-17-2011, 09:37 AM
While I have used Volt in the past, the bulk of my luminaires are Cast. A major advantage that companies like Cast, Unique, and FX have over Volt is that the customer cannot find prices on the www. Therefore, I don't have the worries that you expressed so I can give thorough expalnations of the products that I install IF the customer ask questions.
I try to keep luminaire specifics out of the bid because I focus on selling a design, not the materials that are used to accomplish the design. Does this sound familiar?

jkingrph
03-17-2011, 11:06 AM
It's absolutly amazing how a thread can get off topic. This was started as LED's in Volt fixtures and went everywhere else.

I am a do-it-yourselfer, in large part because in our small town there is a lack of contractors, espicially good reliable contractors. I had a tree blow over, no problem getting a bonded tree service to remove it, a couple of years later some wind damage to some other trees, it was too small of a job to even look, took me three months to get someone, found out by word of mouth. I do not want a fly by night to drop something on my house and run.

I was looking for quality at a decent price without having to drive 50-100 miles one way to shop and Volt fit the bill nicely. Everything impresses me as a quality product from light fixtures to transformer to waterproof connectors. Best part was sales to individuals, they do have a way to sign up as a contractor and get better pricing, don't know what that is because I do not qualify

Back to LED in volt, Earlier in this thread Volt repliec to either cut off Halogen retaining clips or bend back, that they were elimininting them in future production because of possibilty of using LED emitters. Folks from Illumicare sent me a message saying that they were coming out with a smaller diameter emitter that would be better suited for the fixture I chose, but right now at $36 per emitter, and I would need 19 for my system, I can buy a lot of electricity for the $700 the LED emitters would cost, so I will stick with the Halogen for a while.

AztlanLC
03-17-2011, 01:51 PM
I have too used Volt products and I can assure you the quality is there.
My main concern is also about their prices being disclosure on their web site, I have and will continue expressing my concern regarding this technique, but I understand I have to be a customers in order for me to be heard.
Maybe then Alan will realize what percentage of his business are from contractors.
Quality and service is on par with the top manufactures, I would love to install cast all day long, but sometimes budget won't allow it.

Elegant Outdoor Lighting
03-18-2011, 12:15 AM
Back to the topic...LED in Volt fixtures

Has anyone used a LED in the "gentle spash"? This is the small wash light with a universal bi-pin socket. I tried the Illumicare g5.3. oops, it doesn't fit... too big around to fit in the fixture.

Anyone?

pamelak
03-18-2011, 09:47 AM
Hi Scott,

It's unfortunate that the G5.3 didn't fit in your small wash fixtures.

If the fixture has a universal Bipin socket, the 19mm version of our omnidirectional G4 Bipin lamp might be the answer you are looking for. And, depending on the orientation of the socket, our horizontal G4 Bipin Side lamp would work as well.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Pamela

Tomwilllight
03-22-2011, 06:47 PM
I read this entire thread yesterday and found the discussion very interesting. All kinds of issues were discussed with often-impassioned arguments that made points that left me thinking. That is the reason I subscribe to Lawn Site.

I noticed one particular word was used frequently throughout the thread - QUALITY. Many individuals made it clear they are committed to providing their client quality: installation, service, design and lighting materials. I find that strong commitment to be one of the best things about the people I know and admire in this business.

Most participants clearly desire quality and seem to be confident they can identify it when they see and or touch it.

Early on, Jim noted we landscape lighting designer/installers make our decisions when selecting luminaires to offer our clients based on 3 variables: Warranty, Quality and Price. And I agree.

A manufacturer’s warranty and how they stand behind it is an indication of the degree of their confidence in their product. A manufacturer’s prompt response to a problem is gratifying and builds loyalty among their clients.

The wholesale price of product is critically important when we go looking for our market. It is directly linked to our profits. It’s really a mathematical problem with a sociological edge that profoundly affects how we pay the mortgage and put food on the table.

Quality is different. As far as I know, there is no public or private entity that rates relative quality of landscape lighting fixtures the way DOE’s Caliper program rates LED lamps. Consumer Reports has not tackled rating the quality of residential outdoor lighting equipment. The National Electrical Code sets the standard for electrical wiring and equipment yet does nothing with quality. Quality is not a set of rules and there is very little in the way of guidelines.

So how can we decide what is and is not quality residential outdoor lighting equipment? Please allow me to share my thinking on what is quality in outdoor lighting fixtures.

I start by asking myself a series of questions:

Is the fixture made of robust materials that will resist the attacks of small children, large dogs and lawnmowers?

Are those materials resistant to the attacks of acidic soils, common landscape chemicals and salt?

Does the fixture offer the basic shielding features: a regressed lamp/light source, internal honeycomb louver and adjustable glare shield? Does the cap have room for accessories that shape the light source’s distribution with a variety of lens and shields? Is it possible to mechanically dim the light source with screens?

That means three accessories please.

If used as an uplight, will the fixture pool water that will allow organic materials and dissolved minerals to eventually obscure the lens.

Will the knuckle allow me to focus easily, precisely and faithfully hold that focus indefinitely? Can I tighten the knuckle slightly so it’s easy to tweak the focus before locking down the fixture?

Does the light source offer dependable service with an appropriate color temperature?

Can I service the fixture and maintain its’ focus?

If the fixture meets all of the above criteria, then I've found a QUALITY lighting fixture.

Tom

steveparrott
03-22-2011, 07:31 PM
Tom,

That's a good list and I have a few items to add:

Sockets that are rated to handle likely heat
Socket lead wire that is firmly connected to fixture wire by crimping or soldering then protected from water damage with heat-shrink tubing
Socket wire and/or fixture wire that is protected by sleeving if it passes through a knuckle
Socket/fixture wire rated to handle likely heat
Internal socket contacts constructed with the same metal of the lamp pins (to prevent galvanic corrosion)
Fixture finishes that withstand years of exposure (or the use of bare metal without a finish)
Fixture stems that won't bend or break (even under considerable pressure such as under snow banks, occaisional bumps with vehicles, etc.)
Fixture hoods, shrouds and hats that will not bend or dent (even under considerable pressure such as under snow banks, occaisional bumps with vehicles, etc.)
Stakes that are long enough for firm footing, and strong enough so they will never break
Fixtures that have field-replaceable parts, with parts readily available, and instructions on how to replace them
LED fixtures or lamps with adequote thermal management, surge protection, excellent optical characteristics, robust circuitry, wide voltage range with less than 30% change in lumens across range, with RFI filtering, with color rendering index over 80, and protected from condensing humidity.

Tomwilllight
03-22-2011, 08:50 PM
Excellent!

Thank you Steve! We are developing quite the description of a quality fixture. Does anybody else have something to add?

Tom

David Gretzmier
03-27-2011, 02:00 AM
I think my original list worked pretty well.

And clients rarely ask me about name brands I use or where I get stuff. They want the place to look great and they want it to last. I have had a few folks give me pictures they found on the web and note the cost. I carry pictures on my phone of my shop and my trucks and note the cost. folks either get overhead recovery or not.

but think of the words "excellent quality" and apply it to any item, television, car, home- it tends to mean it works really well and it lasts a long time. some people can even "feel" it- like maybe the way a door slams or the way a switch clicks.

perhaps another issue to add to the quality/cost equation is does the fixture save you time at install.

a stake with a wire slot is a fixture installed quicker than over one without.

a pregreased socket and o-ring eliminates install steps and time.

a 25 foot wire lead saves you time and money on 12g wire and has fewer connection points, thus fewer potential failure points and less money spent on connectors.

those of us who do warranties also gravitate toward fixtures that cost us less callback dollars.

The cost issue around here gets trampled by folks who are offended that anyone would dare think about the bottom line. yet folks are pretty vocal here about buying wire by the pallet, and I am guessing most folks know where to buy the less expensive gas.

for each contractor,once you know the list of things that means a fixture has enough "quality" for you, it seems then you locate the fixture that meets those quality expectations for the least cost.

I am happy to concede that a distibutor relationship to some carries value.

but my 2 distributors here are offering classes every quarter to "teach" my new competition.

At least I know LLW is not out calling landscapers, irrigation and drainage guys every quarter to fill up a class to show local guys how "easy" it is to do low voltage lighting.

Tomwilllight
03-27-2011, 03:43 PM
It now appears we have 3 very different definitions of QUALITY.

Steve approaches quality from a manufacturer's point of view. He maintains his approach will result in a quality fixture that will reliably perform in the landscape for many years.

David views quality through the lens of an installer who understands every minute saved in the installation is money in his pocket. He also strongly suggests the contractor should make a careful evaluation of cost vs "Quality" because, without attention to the quality of the bottom line you may find yourself short a profit...

I also have to agree with David that it seems absurd that we continue to buy from distributors who are actively trying to undercut all of us by continuously injecting INSTANT "landscape lighting contractors" into the marketplace with marginal training.

I listed my expectations for quality as those features that will, in my opinion, provide the tools I need to make certain I will achieve my design goals. And that I may be reasonably assured my lighting design will not degrade over time though faults in the design of the luminaire.

I'd like to offer one more way to define QUALITY in our industry: Rigorous self-certification by the industry.

AOLP's (Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals) CLVLT (Certified Low Voltage Technician) and the 4-year COLD (Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer) certifications. Such self-regulation through Independent Peer Certification that has the power to elevate individual contractors. These individuals have proved to their fellow members that they care about the Craft and Art in their work and are committed to providing their clients QUALITY work.

Tom

David and Steve, did I sum-up your arguments fairly?

RLI Electric
03-27-2011, 06:43 PM
Tom, I agree with you. I think it is imperative that we build our relationships with the manufacturers that support us. I know that the manufacturers need to move product and to do that they look to more customers (example more contractors). How about a different approach? The band Pearl Jam supposedly (I only heard this story) sells more live albums than anyone else. They don't go to a new market with these, they promote them to the loyal fans they already have. Their existing fans are happy to buy them. The relationship works. So, how about this for an idea? The professional contractors and designers work together with the manufacturers and the AOLP and together we work to market our trade or art (whichever term you prefer) to the public. We support each other and raise the bar on this industry and don't turn it into a commodity. Just my opinion though.

indylights
03-27-2011, 07:31 PM
I have never seen a collective group of professionals so afraid of competition. Why would it bother you that manufacturers put on training? Do you think manufacturers who don't put on training sell to only you? You do realize manufacturers are in the business to sell product and make money, right? Did no one from a distributor or manufacturer ever teach you anything? The very manufacturer this thread is about sells direct to homeowners for almost identical pricing as contractors, so how well do you think they qualify who they sell to? How is that not as bad or worse than others putting on training? Most guys here brag about how they rip out and replace systems by these amateurs. Then you should view it as job security. Should technical colleges, trade schools, colleges, and on and on stop educating people because they are training current professionals competition? Is no one who has no knowledge of a trade not allowed to seek education from a manufacturer or distributor? Do it better, run your business better, market better, take pride in your work, and control what you do and stop worrying so much about what seminar some other guy has attended. If you think a contractor who has attended a one day seminar can take away your business, you aren't doing your business very well. I don't care what my competition does or who has trained them.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

RLI Electric
03-27-2011, 07:46 PM
Scott, great points you make there and they are all very valid. I will respectfully continue to disagree with the shotgun marketing and the "anyone can do this in a 4 hour seminar, plus get a free lunch at the end" seminar. The regulations for this differ across the country. In my state, it is a felony if you are doing unlicensed electrical work. Landscape lighting falls into this category. I have been in these seminars and if there were 15 installers in there, maybe 2 were licensed to do the work. I think we can all agree that landscapers who install or have installed low voltage lighting understand this product better than 90% of electricians. I am not going to run out and tell on these installers, it is doubtful anything would happen anyway. I am just saying that the individuals who frequent sites like this are a step ahead of the general competition anyway, wouldn't you agree? What if we all collectively raised the bar of landscape lighting, wouldn't that be great?

Tomwilllight
03-27-2011, 08:25 PM
I don't think anybody here is afraid of competition. What we are concerned about is underprepared contractors who are tempted to adopt a trade they don't really understand because someone, who should know better, told them landscape lighting is easy.

Landscape Lighting is a trade that requires an artistic eye, a mastery of the craft and a commitment to quality that is often inconvenient. It is not possible to do quality landscape lighting and get off work before sunset.

At our best, we are Artisans. We are masters of both the art and craft of outdoor lighting. At our worst, we are cowboys who think that anybody who can twist low-voltage wire together is a Landscape Lighting Contractor.

I agree with Bob, the solution involves the manufacturers. I believe they should get out of the business of "certifying" contractors after a single 4 to 6 hour workshop. I think we should continue to make every effort to collaborate with Manufactures to establish the AOLP certification programs as their Gold Standard. The AOLP should continue to work with Manufactures to explore the practicality of their meeting our instructional/professional practice guidelines for the benefit of our profession and the growth of a qualified a pool of contractors who are a credit to the profession.

Most professions require Continuing Education Credits (CECs) for continued membership and participation as a member of those professions. Architectural Lighting does it and the IES administers and supervises the award of credit. It is an excellent model.

The CLVLT is a step and the COLD program is a giant step; both are in the right direction...

Tom

indylights
03-27-2011, 08:35 PM
I agree that I would not consider anyone who attends a one day seminar an expert or a qualified installer. What I am saying is that I do not begrudge anyone who goes to these seminars to help them get better educated or as a starting part for their landscape lighting career. Everyone starts as a novice, it is what you do from that point to make yourself a true professional that sets you apart. I went to pond, paver, and lighting seminars as my first point of education when I first started offering these services many years ago, but that's not where I stopped my education and training. Industry standards would be great. I would like to see all fixtures UL listed. We all know that doesn't happen, yet many contractors still buy and install them. I would like to see all installers certified. Same thing there. The question is not only how it's standardized but who enforces it, and as always, who pays for it.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

David Gretzmier
03-27-2011, 09:08 PM
I agree everyone should start somewhere in lighting, but around here, most folks just start doing it by trial and error or they go to the seminar and then do it by trail and error.

I want great competition that does a great job and charges a fair price. Please, give me someone who owns a clamp meter and understands placement and shadow. I can bid against that person. The client wins with either of us.

my biggest problem is the fact that these folks that go to the seminar then poison potential clients on landscape lighting. they present themselves as a person who knows what they are doing, charge very little, and then do a poor job. They may hire a pro the next time, but only if they become aware it can be better and they are willing to pay, usually, considerably more. I would rather folks not get it at all than be ruined by someone who does it badly. I can't bid against a person who charges less than half what I do.

RLI Electric
03-27-2011, 09:14 PM
David
ditto, well said

bcg
03-27-2011, 09:19 PM
I can only speak for myself but, the jobs that these guys that took a 1 day seminar and are installing for less than 1/2 my bid aren't stealing my customer. Neither are the customer's that are going to go look up Volt or whatever other manufacturer online to compare my material costs (which isn't itemized anyway). My customer is someone who wants something special and is willing to pay for a quality design and installation from a professional that will be around to service it for years after the job is done. I don't really care how many guys the distributors or manufacturers train, I don't see 99.9% of the "graduates" as my competition anyway and those that do take those training classes and rise to the level that most on this board are at, I welcome to the industry. They won't be the guys racing to the bottom, they'll be the ones we welcome to this forum and encourage to join AOLP.

indylights
03-27-2011, 09:33 PM
I can only speak for myself but, the jobs that these guys that took a 1 day seminar and are installing for less than 1/2 my bid aren't stealing my customer. Neither are the customer's that are going to go look up Volt or whatever other manufacturer online to compare my material costs (which isn't itemized anyway). My customer is someone who wants something special and is willing to pay for a quality design and installation from a professional that will be around to service it for years after the job is done. I don't really care how many guys the distributors or manufacturers train, I don't see 99.9% of the "graduates" as my competition anyway and those that do take those training classes and rise to the level that most on this board are at, I welcome to the industry. They won't be the guys racing to the bottom, they'll be the ones we welcome to this forum and encourage to join AOLP.

Agree 1000%

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

RLI Electric
03-27-2011, 09:33 PM
I just did a Garden show a month ago. There were 4 of us (lighting installers) there. Three of us there are members of the AOLP and frequenters of this site. I had people coming up to me and asking what makes me better or worse than the other guys. I told them they could not go wrong with any of the 3 of us. It was simply artistic interpretation and what is most along their levels of desire. I assumed that our prices would be roughly the same. I assumed that our equipment is the same. Most importantly, I knew that our skills and our passion was the same for the most part and while I would be happy if they hired me. I would be content knowing that the client was getting a solid, professional installation from either of the guys (who are great guys by the way). The fourth guy, another real nice guy but our philosophies are not in synch. I had asked him if his wife minds that he has to go out to do night time aiming sessions. He informed me that he does not do that. He installed enough so he can set it up during the day and it will be spot on. If anyone is at that level, let me know. If that is the case I underestimated that contractor and I would essentially HAVE to refer people to him because I know that I will not be able to get to that level. At least not for decades anyway. I had one of my friends (not in the industry) with me while I was talking with him. As we walked away, he said that guy has to be full of baloney, right? I just replied with a shrug and said "Or the absolute best"

Tomwilllight
03-27-2011, 09:59 PM
I've been focusing lights for... well... 40+ years and.... well... I sure wish I was as good as your friend.

It'd be nice to be home with my wife, drinking a brew, watching the tube and knowing my lighting looks good without having to bother with going out in the dark and looking at it.

I think you got it dead right Bob... He is the absolute best!

Tom

The Lighting Geek
03-28-2011, 07:17 PM
I would agree with Tom. I have been doing this a long time, and I never leave things to chance. Plus, meeting the client to check out the new system is the best part. That moment of bonding reassures that they made the right decision to hire you, and that they will tell everyone about you and their yard.
We solved a problem for the client and leave the the job a hero.

David Gretzmier
03-28-2011, 09:38 PM
I am heading out this evening to check one today as well. even though nearly every customer is happy with our daytime aiming, I tend to adjust a few for me.

I see too many million dollar plus homes that have had shoddy lighting done with distributor fixtures to think that those folks could not have been my customer. They often don't know how good it could have looked, and will probably never know, because they just bought what someone sold them.

That being said, to contradict my own argument, I do alot of redos and I am bidding 3 this week.

emby
03-29-2011, 12:45 PM
Wow this thread has been great to read. There has been a few great comments and suggestions for those that are novices.

I agree with Tom that there should be an organized system in place for all those that want to get into landscape lighting. Some of these people are landscapers or grass cutting businesses etc. looking to expand the bottom line. With organizations such as the AOLP this would allow the proper training and techniques to ensure that they are educated properly.

I won't be shy here but when I decided that I wanted to learn I had no idea that the AOLP or the Landscape Lighting Institute even existed. The reason is that the first contact I had was with a distributor and manufacturer because I wanted to purchase more robust fixtures other than whats offered at Home Depot. Then they invited me to the 1 day "fantastic" seminar which was at the owner's residence of this particular distributor. They discussed how great the product was and tried to teach all the people OHM's Law so that at the end of the day they could install the system at the house. There is a problem with this and I only see this now because of my past experiences and training. They had already completed the following before I even arrived:

1. Discussed a budget with the client
2. Discussed what they will illuminate
3. Might of completed a mock up or a demo for them to see.
4. Developed a plan and proposal
5. Presented the proposal to the owner and received payment
6. Already established what size transformer and where the 120 volts will be coming from
7. Calculated voltage drop

As a participant to these one day wonders you miss all that important information that will ensure some success. Oh, and you miss the information on which lamp your going to use because after all is that not the MOST important tool that you will use. Instead they sell you on how robust their fixtures are and how nice they look in the garden. MR16 35 watts 24degree lamps in all the up lighting with no detail or contrast to provide the client. Where do you learn the passion and artistic flare about landscape lighting in all of that. How can you ever illuminate a tree with one fixture or two fixtures with the same beam spread?
In my opinion if your going to teach your customers how to do lighting than collaborate with the AOLP and all those professionals that know how to induce that artistic flare. Sure they talk about grazing, moonlighting, and up lighting but do they ever have you stay until the sun sets and show you this is the most important time of your installation. Aiming at night is an essential ingredient to the job. I still cannot believe this did not happen and you wonder why there are so many out there that plunk the fixtures in and leave at 5pm.
Boy have I missed anything here. I think you all get my point. There is sooooo much missing from those 1 day seminar's.

So for all those manufacturers that are peeping, join and work with the AOLP and take all those potential clients to a group of individuals that are willing to educate them properly. You will still sell those fixtures because in the end they will remember who suggested they join the AOLP.
Just my thoughts as I take a break.

Ken

emby
03-29-2011, 02:50 PM
I did not inclued Bob and Bernies names at the beginning of my post so I do apologize to both of you.
Ken

emby
03-30-2011, 10:25 AM
One other thing to note..As Tom, Steve and David discussed what quality fixtures are I think that this would be an excellent round table discussion at next years AOLP Conference. Things to look for when choosing a landscape lighting fixture. Not all are equal that's for sure.

twinsprings
11-28-2011, 02:36 AM
I am planning on using Volt fixtures, as they an obvious value. I will use halogen lamps so I can't help there, but others had a small fit issue that's all. I will purchase the wire and transformer elsewhere to find a similar value as the fixtures. I am pleased a solid brass fixture will fit my budget.

volito
12-11-2011, 10:09 AM
wow!what a thread! I come here occasionally to learn and also started a few threads and also believe got into some debates on this forum because I am a DIYer yes DIYer.

OK I read first four or so pages and figure I give an outside opinion "DIYer". I found this forum because I was in search of a quality landscape lighting product other than the local stores "which are cheap we all know". I also got ridiculed for being a DIYer and maybe even been called cheap! "yes tough crowd here". I respect this is your lively hood but the world is full of DIYer's and probably more then 70% of you do your own work in your homes.

OK I went with volt and still purchasing from them over the last 8 months. First off I went with volt because the other top brands scared me away because of there prices. I never got to see there product not sure if it is that much better "I don't know". Anyways I sure do appreciate volt and there product I personally think there product is 100 times better then what I could of got from any local store. Also if I was to choose from a few if I went with a contractor of course I would go with the cheapest and good quality "form my view" as a home owner. Plus lifetime guarantee what do I have to loose.

Volt been running on my DIYer for 8 months no problems love the quality and customer service! wow! no questions asked replaces things quickly....Yes I got some minor flaws like a stripped stake for example But I used some Teflon tape and didn't even get upset or ask for replacement because I know volt would'v changed it without questions...."as in past"

Ok said enough dont wanna make enemies here a lot of people helped me and I appreciate there help....

still working on pics for people that helped me :) have to learn photography for good pics lol

volito
12-11-2011, 10:38 AM
Forgot havent used LED's yet but in future use yes ...spots seem to be getting good reviews
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AztlanLC
12-27-2011, 01:37 PM
I just saw this tread, ok ever since that tread volt came up with a dedicated led light where to my eyes it looks just as good as halogen, pretty good quality as well, they also now sell retrofit led bulbs which I have pretty mix feeling about those, on the path lights tey all look kind of diferent, some white, some warm white, not very impresed with them, the mr16 retrofit looks pretty decent I even used couple of those underwater on my pond, 6 months not a single problem so far, the new undercap light wow I really like this, wish it came in a smaller version tough.
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Gr1ffin
12-30-2011, 10:04 PM
Thanks for the kind words and feedback.

Updates:
Retro Fit LED Lamps

MR16
-In Jan we will be stocking MR16 LEDs in 20w, 35w and 50w equivalents.
-We are adding 60 degree beam angles to our existing 38 degree beam angle LEDs
Note: we have had virtually zero defects (none that I even know about), returns, failures on our MR16 LEDs that we have had in the field and sold for the last year. The reliability, feedback and closeness of a match to a halogen 20w has been exceptional and exceeded even our expectations.

BiPin (g4)
-The bi pins will have tighter binning (2800-3000K instead of 2800-3200K).

We have a lot more planned and have really listened to our contractors input and feedback. We believe it will be a great year for the industry and look forward to sharing the growth with you in 2012.

Here is to a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Cheers!

Alan