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PaperCutter
11-30-2012, 01:54 PM
A client of mine (I do landscape design and consulting) had a low voltage LED system installed by a professional landscape lighting company this summer. The FX Luminaire well lights are all producing a ton of condensation inside the lens. I met the foreman on site this past week and he said that because the lamp itself is a sealed beam unit there's no longevity issue, which is great, but it kind of looks like crap. Is this common to these fixtures? Is there a fix, short of just leaving the lens off?

JHFMX
11-30-2012, 05:08 PM
A client of mine (I do landscape design and consulting) had a low voltage LED system installed by a professional landscape lighting company this summer. The FX Luminaire well lights are all producing a ton of condensation inside the lens. I met the foreman on site this past week and he said that because the lamp itself is a sealed beam unit there's no longevity issue, which is great, but it kind of looks like crap. Is this common to these fixtures? Is there a fix, short of just leaving the lens off?

He is correct and it is common because what happens is when it cools then heats and cools then heats it creates a vacuum , which sucks the moisture in but doesn't release any do to the water tight seal. Leaving the lens off is not ideal because you will shorten the life of the LED. What type of lamp is it? If the LED itself is sealed from moisture then maybe it would work? You would still have to worry about fixture/ pin corrosion over a long period of time though.

PaperCutter
11-30-2012, 05:56 PM
Yeah, between understanding the basic science and having dealt with lighting for years I get why it's happening. What I'm trying to cipher out is how to get it to stop happening. Up till now all the well lights I've had installed have been PAR36s with no lens besides what's on the lamp. Aesthetically speaking the perpetual fog and water droplets on the inside of these lenses doesn't look great and the client (who is super picky anyhow) is complaining.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-30-2012, 06:01 PM
My first suggestion is to use better quality fixtures. In-grade well lights are one category of fixture that I strongly encourage people to spend money on. Spec. grade, no less.

That being said, send me a private message here or an email and I will provide you with a solution.

PaperCutter
11-30-2012, 06:40 PM
I just realized my reply may have sounded snotty - sorry if it came across that way, JHFMX.

Thanks for the comment, James. PM sent.

Illumicare
12-01-2012, 05:00 AM
Hi PaperCutter,
I would look for the type of wire coming into the fixture, and whether the wire entry is sealed also. Some fixtures use a paper wrapped 3-conductor wire. The fixture can be completely sealed, but water can wick up the paper, causing the fixture to have water or moisture inside. If this is the case, completely seal the wire entry into the fixture, but also seal the supply side of the wire, so that no moisture enters.
Another solution, is to use large silica gel packs. The same kind you get with your shoes or electronics, just a lot bigger! These will absorb any moisture that gets in the fixture, and stop it from condensating (Is that a word?) on the lens. If the fixture is flooding..these won't help, but if it's just atmospheric moisture, they should do the trick...just don't eat them! lol
John Higo

PaperCutter
12-01-2012, 11:10 AM
Given all the warnings, those gel packs must taste awesome. And do very bad things to you.

I'll def check for that. Standing water isn't an issue. Are issues like this more prevalent in areas with heavy clay soils that hold water like a champ? Because that would describe Virginia.

Illumicare
12-02-2012, 09:24 AM
Given all the warnings, those gel packs must taste awesome. And do very bad things to you.

I'll def check for that. Standing water isn't an issue. Are issues like this more prevalent in areas with heavy clay soils that hold water like a champ? Because that would describe Virginia.

If it is wicking, it definitely would be, because the clay holds th moisture, the paper would sit in it longer, thus having more time to wick the moisture.
If it is purely atmospheric, soil type shouldn't matter, but humidity would. If you have a lot of condensation you might need to swap out gel packs after the first couple of days.

John Higo
Posted via Mobile Device

steveparrott
12-03-2012, 11:45 AM
If it is wicking, it definitely would be, because the clay holds th moisture, the paper would sit in it longer, thus having more time to wick the moisture.
If it is purely atmospheric, soil type shouldn't matter, but humidity would. If you have a lot of condensation you might need to swap out gel packs after the first couple of days.

John Higo
Posted via Mobile Device

Wicking may be an issue, but even IP68 (completely sealed) fixtures will have this condensation problem unless the atmosphere within the fixture was extremely low humidity when it was sealed. Sealed lamp mfgs. flush the air out with near zero humidity and certain gases. Sealed fixture mfgs. most likely don't do that.

PaperCutter
12-03-2012, 04:36 PM
The lights were installed in Virginia in July. It's not quite as bad as Arkansas was, but it's still pretty darn swampy, so it sounds like humidity at time of install really is playing a role.

JimLewis
12-07-2012, 04:39 PM
I didn't want to post this in the forum because people already give me too much shĭt about supporting Kichler so much. But at the risk of getting smacked around again, I'll give you my 2 cents. My opinion is they used the wrong fixture. You'd never see that problem with Kichler Design Pro LED lighting. The LEDs and driver are fully potted and encased are 100% moisture and waterproof. And the lens is completely sealed as well, unless someone has taken it off and put it back on incorrectly. I try to explain this to people all the time. FX lights are not designed that well, IMO. Aside from the bluish light they put out (covered only by the amber lenses they install stock) they haven't taken care of the main issues that get to LED lights and make them fail over time. Kichler has designed their spot lights so well that you can actually submerge them in a tank of water for 30 days - plugged in and running the entire time - and pull the fixture out and it will still be working perfectly and you won't have any water or moisture intrusion.

I know there are other brands that are equally impressive. I just can't speak to them since I don't have any personal experience. My only point is that it really pays to do your research and install quality stuff that isn't going to fail like that. And although the lamp itself hasn't failed, I still consider that a failure if the light has to go through condensation before it can get outside the fixture - that's a failure IMO. You're losing lumens and the light is not dissipated evenly anymore because of this. So it's not functioning like it should. To me, that's a failure.

indylights
12-07-2012, 06:22 PM
O.K. Jim, I'll bite. Is the powder coated finish pealing off of a fixture considered a failure, because if it is, I've seen hundreds of Kichler "failures". ;)

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

JimLewis
12-07-2012, 07:12 PM
I have only been installing the Design Pro LED fixures for 2 years now. But I have yet to see any problems like you describe.

Perhaps that's a problem with their older line of fixtures, I don't know. Or maybe it's just too early to tell on the ones we've installed. All I can say is I've been really impressed with the ones we've installed over the last two years. They are really well build in terms of the lamps and circuitry being protected and as far as I can tell so far, the finish is great too.

I can only guess that if this was a big problem, they would have fixed it by now. Most companies over time realize their failures and take measures to fix them going forward. Just from what I know of Kichler and seeing how well they test their products at their headquarters, I'd be very surprised if they didn't know about this problem and have already fixed it.

Are these older fixtures you're referring to? Or newer ones? Do you have any photos? Examples? You seem to have seen a lot. So I figured maybe you took at photo at some point.

indylights
12-08-2012, 10:16 AM
I'm sure they are mostly older fixtures. No photos (as a general rule I don't photograph anything that's not mine, whether it's hardscape, pond, plants, light, whatever), but I have 3 old Kichler and 2 old Vista fixtures I've ripped out of previous jobs in my storage that I can bring out if people want to see the long term effects. I've been at this a long time, so seeing a couple hundred defective fixtures really isn't that much. Maybe they've gotten better, I don't know. I just know what I have seen over the years. I was really just more busting your chops because you are obviously a Kichler guy through and through, and I just think Kichler is overpriced junk. I'm not talking about the technology, maybe that's great, but the actual housings themselves, in my own opinion, are just garbage. Obviously I'm in the minority as they sell a ton of fixtures.

Scott Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes

steveparrott
12-08-2012, 02:00 PM
One thing to keep in mind is flexibility. As you work at setting fixtures into the landscape and seeing the effects at night, you might decide you need a different beam spread or more or less luminance. You might also see that changes are required as the landscape or seasons change.

In the MR-16 days, you could carry a box of lamps with various beam spreads and wattages. I've been on many jobs where the designer changes his mind and swaps out lamps after seeing the effects.

Now, with the advent of fixed beam spread and fixed luminance LED fixtures (like the ones Jim describes), you are stuck with what you buy prior to installation. If you want to change anything, you're out of luck. This is not a small matter and seriously limits your flexibility in lighting design.

The alternative is to select LED fixtures with adjustable beam spread (by changing lenses) and adjustable brightness by switchable luminance or dimming. As an example, the CAST LED Bullet (http://www.cast-lighting.com/products/fixtures/led-landscape-lighting-fixtures/223/) has two brightness settings and 3 lenses - that's the equivalent of 6 different fixed LED fixtures. CAST's next generation bullet will have 5 brightness settings and 5 lenses (one of them asymmetric) - that's the equivalent of 25 fixed LED fixtures.

By using adjustable LED fixtures you have tremendous freedom to fine-tune your designs on the fly and accommodate the changing landscape.

S&MLL
12-08-2012, 03:10 PM
There is a reason i gave up on the forum. You guys make me sick to my stomach. Really Jim..... really steve (&steve pt.2 aka indylights)

Great how this turns into a kichler vs cast battle when it started over condensation in underground sealed fixtures.
Posted via Mobile Device

steveparrott
12-09-2012, 01:14 PM
There is a reason i gave up on the forum. You guys make me sick to my stomach. Really Jim..... really steve (&steve pt.2 aka indylights)

Great how this turns into a kichler vs cast battle when it started over condensation in underground sealed fixtures.
Posted via Mobile Device

You're right - I shouldn't have chimed in on a thread that's gone so far off-topic.

Maybe someone else would like to start a new thread on whether or not it's important for designers to have more flexibility in adjusting beam spread and brightness - after installation. CAST is not the only mfg. to go in this direction.

PaperCutter
12-09-2012, 04:14 PM
Honestly, I feel like the tangent was helpful. After all, the points Jim (and others) raised give me more info on which I can base future decisions - so I don't have this problem again. And I'll admit that I was surprised to hear you speak so highly of Kichler, Jim. The last two places I worked in design/sales, my bosses took the approach that Kichler was where you turned when the client wanted something the preferred vendors didn't carry, but otherwise spec these other brands. I'd love to learn more about who really is doing LED well at this point.

JimLewis
12-09-2012, 09:30 PM
I think maybe you're a little too sensitive S&MLL.....

I didn't say anything negative about Cast. I didn't even realize anyone was talking about cast. And I didn't read anything about Cast vs. Kichler either. I didn't feel like Steve and I were comparing the two. If just felt like we were offering solutions. For my part, I just heard that someone was having problems with condensation in an LED light fixture. I was just saying that yes, this can be a problem. And the real solution (rather than trying to figure out how to fix a fixture that has these kind of problems) is to start with a fixture that doesn't have that problem. Doesn't have to be Kichler. If you go back and read what I wrote you'd see the part where I said that there were probably other brands that wouldn't have this problem too. Go back and read my second paragraph in my first response to this thread. I know there are other brands that make nice integrated fixtures that are fully sealed and don't have this problem. But I am not sure which ones that would be, since I've mainly just installed Kichler and FXL in the LED market.

But if you have a good idea about how to fix the problem, go ahead and post it. I didn't have any thoughts to post about how to fix the bad seal on the light fixture that is in question. But I did have an idea of how to prevent that from happening in the first place. I felt it was pertinent to mention it. It's not like I work for Kichler or get anything for promoting them. I just feel they have some big advantages. And if I was having a lot of problems with a certain brand I would want someone to come to me and say, "Hey Jim, I'm not sure how to fix that problem. But this brand that I use doesn't have that problem. Might want to check it out...." I wouldn't have a problem with anyone saying that to me. I don't understand why you're so offended at that.

S&MLL
12-09-2012, 10:33 PM
I think maybe you're a little too sensitive S&MLL.....

I didn't say anything negative about Cast. I didn't even realize anyone was talking about cast. And I didn't read anything about Cast vs. Kichler either. I didn't feel like Steve and I were comparing the two. If just felt like we were offering solutions. For my part, I just heard that someone was having problems with condensation in an LED light fixture. I was just saying that yes, this can be a problem. And the real solution (rather than trying to figure out how to fix a fixture that has these kind of problems) is to start with a fixture that doesn't have that problem. Doesn't have to be Kichler. If you go back and read what I wrote you'd see the part where I said that there were probably other brands that wouldn't have this problem too. Go back and read my second paragraph in my first response to this thread. I know there are other brands that make nice integrated fixtures that are fully sealed and don't have this problem. But I am not sure which ones that would be, since I've mainly just installed Kichler and FXL in the LED market.

But if you have a good idea about how to fix the problem, go ahead and post it. I didn't have any thoughts to post about how to fix the bad seal on the light fixture that is in question. But I did have an idea of how to prevent that from happening in the first place. I felt it was pertinent to mention it. It's not like I work for Kichler or get anything for promoting them. I just feel they have some big advantages. And if I was having a lot of problems with a certain brand I would want someone to come to me and say, "Hey Jim, I'm not sure how to fix that problem. But this brand that I use doesn't have that problem. Might want to check it out...." I wouldn't have a problem with anyone saying that to me. I don't understand why you're so offended at that.


Wasnt just you. Its the forum as a whole. Your solution is a valid one. But when someone comes on here and wants to start a lighting company and i suggest to him to just network with his local lighting pro my post gets deleted. Because some sponsor would rather sell this guy fixtures. (and that is not any jab at CAST. Probably more from the company that pays to have their fixture on the banner above.

I dont hate the cast product. I might disagree with some of their business ideas but Steve and I have talked about it and we agree to disagree. I think the cast product (halogen) was always very heavy duty and for a non "spec" grade line it was at the top of its mid level market. I have no take on their LED line as I have never used it. I do have a spotlight that has been running for a few months. Still looks good.

So dont say Im a hater on cast.

I also do use from time to time Kichler product. Quite a few movers and shakers in our industry question why. But that is neither here nor there. The 3000k color temp looks great on pines/conifers and the like. I have original Kichler LED fixtures still in the ground.... Going on 4 years this spring. Yes the azt had faded terribly but the led still shines. And if I really wanted to I know I could swap them under warranty. But they are hidden in the landscape where most fixtures should be hidden. I notice in most designs people go pathlight crazy and well if a pathlight faded and chipped you would be dealing with a very unhappy homeowner. Btw pretty much the only "well" lights we ever use now are core drilled into stone. So using non round fixtures like a kichler is out of the question.


BTW Jim ALOT of us have been to cleveland and seen fixtures sitting in a rubbermaid tub filled with water. You seem to have embraced that trip and came back a die hard kichler guy...... And nothing is wrong with that. But I hope all your designs are not straight from the kichler catalog because then you would be doing your client a disservice by designing from 1 manufacturer and not designing to give your client the best possible lighting scene.

I will end my rant. You can call me sensitive. But atleast im not gullible

JimLewis
12-10-2012, 11:57 AM
Ok....

:rolleyes:

ELumin8
01-05-2013, 01:31 AM
When your putting any fixture in the ground you have to make a decision, buy a cheap unit and end up replacing it and then complaining about it on Lawnsite or spend a couple hundred and install something decent, do it correctly following the manufacturers direction and never think about it again. Check out the BK Co2 series, I've installed about 300 of these and had only 3 go bad, my fault not the fixture. Another great unit is the Kim LED mini vault.

PaperCutter
01-06-2013, 01:06 PM
Well, I don't think I was complaining, just trying to understand why something happened and how to prevent it from recurring in the future. You know, like a professional. Anyhow, I worked with the lighting contractor and the client and they're swapping out the solid lenses for a louvered cap. These folks have been good clients and we're looking at renovating the front this spring, so I'll keep an eye on things and see what I think of the solution.

I'll also take a little more active role in specifying fixtures. I've typically done a rudimentary lighting schematic and left the fixtures, spacing, etc up to the lighting guys (it's a dedicated local company that only does landscape lighting). Grow and evolve, grow and evolve...