Expanding new systems

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Pro-Scapes, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    When we installed our first clients over a year ago we oversized the trans by about 350w to enable them to expand within reason.

    we did 1 expansion of 8 lights... then another of 4 lights. Thier 900w CAST trans is now comfortably full.

    They just called wanting to expand again (not sure how many lights but if its more than 2 or 3 we need new trans).

    I wanna go in prepared. Do most of you guys take trade ins and give credits on the transformers ? If so how much ?
     
  2. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    I offer upgrades within the first year, meaning that I will change out the trans. for the difference in cost plus labor. Beyond one year, they will either have to simply add another trans, or upgrade to a bigger unit. I don't usually give any credit towards the old unit unless it was garage mounted and in really good shape. I can't see selling a used transformer to anyone as new equipment. On the other hand, if you run into a really "tight" prospect that's looking for a cheeper way out, it's nice to have some of these units on hand to offer a discounted price. Comes in real handy when you are in a bidding war with some clown and you need to shave some $$ off the cost. Just let the customer know what you are doing, and that both have a lifetime warranty regardless.
     
  3. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Billy,
    I would go ahead and do it also just make sure you figure in a little extra for the swap. Like Chris said keep the old tranny around for someone who is looking for a deal. Seems like this is a customer you want to keep happy and I would too. Maybe you can make it look like you are giving full credit back on original trans but then just add cost onto new one with more labor.?
    Good Luck!
     
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Yeah I think thats what im gonna do. They just emailed back and not ready to expand just yet. I can eat a little on the trans and use it here actually after the pool goes in.

    I just dont get this client tho. Original system went in 5/06 added 3 lights within a week. Called back and added 11 or 12 more within 6 mo.

    Handed them thier service contract this month. They freaked at the price of 389.00 and said it comes to 130 a visit (not true) and that some of the system was not yet a year old. I saw thier point in that so I bumped it to 329 this year and full price next year. They are happy now and paid it.

    They call us for everything... Deck work... I built them a hand made turn of the century swing... Thier landscape we restored after katrina was featured in a regional magazine... they paid my price on lighting...but they think thier 5 visit service contract (3 schedualed and 2 floating included service calls ...service call only labor and parts extra) was "a little steep"

    Oh well...9 more hours off then back to the grind. Looks like maybe a wet week.
     
  5. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    Billy,
    Even not knowing the total amount of fixtures I can tell you that your price for the yearly contract is both fair and reasonable if you are doing a 5-visit contract. Personally, I would charge more but it seems like this is a very good customer for other ammenities so don't burn your bridges.
    For other customers who balk at the cost of service, I am quick to let them know what it will take for them to do it themselves and let them have at it. I don't particularly like to do service, and I only do it as a courtesy to my clients. The other option, which I prefer, is a "pay as you go" type of service. You have a problem? It is $80 per hour (whether it's just a burned out lamp or cut wire). There is a 1 hour minimum even though I may be there only 15 minutes, and I will do nothing more than fix the problem at hand.
    People soon realize that the low cost of having a service contract is well worth it. Bigger question is how to get them back on the service plan if they have been a "non-renewal" for a couple of years? I just don't think it is fair to my steady paying customers to let someone go for two years without a contract, then hop back on the band wagon. I used to charge "back taxes" so to speak, and let them pay for every year they missed. Not good, as this can be quite expensive if it is a larger system. Now, I'll charge them about $150 per hour to get their system back in order. After that, I'll let them renew the service plan.
     
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    call me crazy, but why upgrade the trans? I know It is nice to have one cabinet, but I have many jobs with two or more transformers. they are located on different sides of the house or closer to the lights at hand. a few pieces of literature out there reccomend this approach, and I rather like sorter runs to thr trans anyway, so this is the way I'd go.

    why take out all the current wires and re do them on a new trans, when you add a 600 or 900 and use that with the new lights, and build in more growing room?

    Also- my maintenance contract runs 10% of the new job and includes one visit to replace all bulbs, greas o-rings, clean fixture and reposition, and trim organic growth around fixture. any other visits are free, or included. since I change out all bulbs, I only occaisionally do a 2nd visit in a years time. Since they get all new bulbs and feel as though each fixture gets " maintained", most folks are OK with it. 5 visits? man, I don't have the time to do that with our Christmas light season !
     
  7. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    I usually design my lighting systems with room to add additional lighting on the existing wire runs. Unless the customer is adding lighting in another area, away from the currently lit zones, I prefer to keep everything on one unit. This way, everything is "all on" and "all off" at the same time. Having said that, if the receptacle that the transformers are plugged into are switched, or if they are controlled by UPB, it would be ok to have another trans. Another reason to use a single trans vs. multiples side by side is if you utilize photocells.
     
  8. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,207

    Chris, you could do side by side and just add a sequencer to one of them. This would still give you the "all on and all off". I use sequencers on most of my projects to tie all of my transformers together.
     
  9. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    I did over size the trans considerably...They added 14 lights since my original install... want to add 8 more.

    I would of just added a trans and UPB (its just timer and photocell now they dont wanna fuss with controls) but the lights are going about 20 ft from the existing transformer. I took amperage readings yesterday when I went to preview the job and give them a quote. I will be ok.. I can add this and be just over 80% loaded and I got the extra common to help distribute the load.
     
  10. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    I've never tried the sequencers, but I have seen them. I also don't know what they cost, but when it comes to side by side set ups, I guess I just prefer the cleaner/neater look of just one trans. As far as sequencing all transformers together, don't you still have to trench to each zone with the connector wire? This seems like more work than it's worth. Wouldn't it be more cost effective to just set them up with the UPB?
     

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