LV Lighting Design/Product Help :)

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by ErikU19, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. ErikU19

    ErikU19 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Hey Guys,

    Looking to do a low voltage lighting installation on my house. I've seen the home depot kits and they are *JUNK*. I'm looking for some recommendations on what products to use (brand, angle, wattage, etc) so I get a quality job.

    Both of my neighbors use line voltage for their lighting, which i was told could be duplicated without the expense/hassle because of the advancements in low voltage lighting, true? The neighbor across the street uses a low voltage system, and it is dim compared to these line voltage systems (why i'm coming to you guys, the experts).

    So here is the layout. The blue stars represent architectural lights (shinning from the ground up onto the house) (7), the orange stars represent tree lights (trees vary in height, 15'-50') (8). The yellow lighting bolts represent power availability (2). The diagram is to scale, small sq=2ft, larger ones =20.

    I'm looking for a breakdown on what to use and where to get it...do it once, do it right!

    I have included a picture of my neighbors house which i would like to use as a reference...

    Thanks for any advice, I GREATLY appreciate it!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2010
  2. emby

    emby LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 380

    A day time photo of your house would be great? Is your neighbor's house identical to yours?

    Ken
     
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    1st off you need to resize the drawing- the moderators on this site don't allow that large of a file- it resizes the resolution on many auto browsers and then makes everything hard to read. I think the max width on uploaded files is 800 wide.

    as far as design, I cannot really tell you if what you have placed will look good on your home without a photo of your home. where your windows are located make a huge difference on where to exactly place lighting on buildings.

    I would agree most LV items at Lowes and Home depot are not long lasting or very sturdy. however, purchasing quality wire, fixtures and transformers are only 25% of a good lighting sytem. Everyone here uses different items based on preferance and experience with certain products, and even that is evolving as new items come along. I have installed most brands, and while I have have had good luck with some, others here will praise thier items. and my word is no better than thiers. I will tell you that there are a few sponsors on here that make very good products, with Joey and Alan being two that come to mind. Alan has went so far to do a couple of threads on here to improve his products based on the suggestions of folks here that install for a living. Joey does Unique as a manufacturer representative, Those products are sold through distributors, and he can direct you on how to purchase unique, and Alan has landscapelightingworld.com, more of a direct to buyer internet site.

    by far the most important part is the effect that those quality items produce. and to get great effects, most lighting pro's need to be there and do it. photo's would help all of us make suggestions on lighting your home and trees, but really accurate placement, aiming, and the ability to get the perfect bulb is just about impossible unless the pro is there.

    The other tough thing to give you advice and reproduce online is wiring your system. every fixture needs to have a loaded voltage of 10.8-11.5 volts, and every zone from your trans needs to be loaded properly from trans to each fixture to achieve that. I keep waiting to find any sytem I am called in on in my area, installed by a landscaper, "pro" or homeowner that when testing fixtures falls within this range. I have not.

    connections are one more thing. even folks on here disagree on the perfect connection, but we all agree on bad ones. and while stripping and connecting seems easy, to do it in a waterproof and permanantly safe buried fashion seems to elude 95% of the systems that our competition installs. It is easily the number one failure of all systems I replace.

    There are books that others can reccomend on how to wire and connect, aim and place, but I would advise you to read a ton of the threads to get a feel for what we all do and how we do it.
     
  4. ErikU19

    ErikU19 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    I will get a daytime photo of my house up tonight.

    I'm fluent in connections and wiring, that wont be an issue really. It's the type of products and where to put them that i really need the help with. it seems having good equipment (transformer, lights, bulbs, etc) makes or breaks these lv jobs.

    Thanks for the reponses guys
     
  5. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,109

    Using the proper connectors, loading and balancing transformers properly, managing voltage drop and distributing equal voltage to all the fixtures as well as using quality lamps. These things are far more important to the success of a lighting job than which path light or bullet you choose. I can make malibu lights look good if I use the right transformer, lamps, connectors and wiring techniques.
     
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    ok, no offense, but I, along with plenty of others on here have replaced plenty of systems put in by electricians that were fluent in wiring and connections. I would do some research on LV wiring and waterproof connections.
     
  7. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,109

    Ditto, I must have pulled out 15 systems last year that were installed by either an electrician or some trunk slamming lighting guy. All had wire that was oxidized heavily due to poor connections. A lot of the equipment was even of pretty good quality. the guts of the system though, (wiring) were shot due to poor connections and wiring techniques.
     
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    what I also see with poor connections is the corrosion goes upstream of the fixture and ruins the socket. which then requires time to rebuild.

    I have a sytem I am looking at now that had 2 overloaded nightscaping trans, a ton of nightscaping pathlighters and footliters, and pars. all the pars had no heatshrink on the spade connectors, so corrosion is everywhere. The trans no longer put out more than 12 volts on high unloaded, so those are worthless, most of the connections on the wire were poor, black corrosion is everwhere, so all the wire needs to be replaced, along with several of the sockets, it all adds up to a system that has total meltdown and is 4 years old. and although I am no longer "nightscaping" guy, several on here swear by them, and when installed improperly, the whole thing can go to pot.
     
  9. ErikU19

    ErikU19 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Sorry it took so long.

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  10. ErikU19

    ErikU19 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    None taken. :)


     

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