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A few question about Christmas Lights

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by umpire, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. umpire

    umpire LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    This will be my second year and hopefully it will be much more profitable than last year although I did turn a average profit but nowhere near what David or Hotrod do. This year I want to present a more proffesional look than just a guy with some buisness cards that wants to put up lights. How important are the proffesional grade lights compared to the lights you get at wal-mart. Also how do you know how many to order before the season starts. Would also like to know if you guys have company shirts and magnet signs on your car etc....? Is that all worth the money. What do you charge for your minimum job or tell people when you call that you have a minimum? Thanks Umpire
  2. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    I can offer a little help as to the grades of lights, but also probably leave you a little more confused as to what to do in the end, lol.

    Pro. grade lights are the best way to go for sure, you can buy them in pre cut lengths with ends on the wires of in bulk 1,000 foot rolls (talking C-7 and C-9 sockets here) You have several choices of wire guage and socket spacings too. Heaver guage = longer runs possible. Usually the sockets used in the pro light strings are superior to the "cheapo" strings you find at the discount stores. Also when you buy bulbs from a commercial supplier you have a MUCH wider choice of colors and most are 130 volt bulbs, meaning they last much longer than the 120 volt bulbs from the store.

    Now, the problem with bulk lights is that the bulbs are not installed and each job the strings need to be cut to fit the house. Screwing in hundreds of bulbs is VERY time consuming... That's the nice thing about pre-made ready to hang sets from the discount store.

    Mini lights are even more different than the larger bulbs between commercial and store grades. If you want quality and strings that don't randomally go out on you go with the commercial grades. Granted you will be paying 3 to 4 times per 100 lights over what you pay for them at walmart...

    Don't forget LED's. They are FAST taking the holiday market by storm. The energy savings is incredible as well as their longevity. The cost of them is coming DOWN considerably every season. The minimal power useage is great for doing homes with older and inadequate electrical power available to the outside of the home.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    We only use the 1000ft spools on c-9's and custom cut and bulb each job. the 130 volt bulbs are rated at 3000 hours mostly and rated at 130 volts,so they will last closer to 5000 hours everage at 120 volts. but they do go out randomly so you will fix bulbs here and there. walmart bulbs, mini-lights are typically rated at 600 hours.

    I don't see much difference in the c-9 sockets from wal-mart to commercial c-9's, but the wire on commercial is usually 18 gauge, rather than 20 in walmart. there is also the insulation, as some commercial spools are rated at 10 amps, and have the thicker spt2 insulation rather than spt1. stick with one or the other, as the slider plugs only work for one or the other.

    There is some heavier 12 gauge c-9 socket stuff out there using twisted 12 gauge wire, but man that stuff runs over a buck a foot wholesale, without bulbs or plugs. heavy and tough, but expensive. I know guys that use tons of that stuff.

    I use cheap mini-lights because we cut alot down, squirrels eat them, and commercial strands that cost 5,6, even 10 bucks a strand still seem to have problems in year 2, 3, 4. so I buy tons of cheap mini's at 75% off the day after Christmas at all the area lowes and Home depots. I guarantee all my stuff, and we typically replace alot of sets rather than pay a guy to fix it.
  4. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    We use all LED lights for our installs. Most the lights we get have three year warranty if not lifetime. The bulbs are all rated for at least 50,000 hours.
    We use the 18 gage 1000ft spools with LED C9 retro fit bulbs.

    Now, the big box guys also sell LED lights. They are WAY different than the commercial grade LED lights. So there is a huge difference unlike the incandescent lights.
    The commercial grade LED lights are brighter, flicker free and don't rust.

    I personally think that if you want to bring in the big accounts you can't be installing lights that you can buy at a big box store. You also need to have a professional image. That means you dress nice when you do quotes, you sell high end products, maybe you get a company shirt you wear for quotes. If you put a sign on your truck it lets the nieghbors know who is putting up the lights...

    but if you are going after the lower end jobs, the ubove isn't as impoertant. It all really depends on how you want to set up your company.
  5. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    Not to get off track here, but what's the best, or most economical C-9 replacement LED bulb you have found? (where do you buy them?) I've found a few sources online, but don't know what to go with...
  6. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    We buy from a direct importer.

    You also have to know that there are a few different grade of C9 LED replacement bulbs out there. Some have 1 LED in the, some have 3 LED's in the and some have 5 LED's in them. You want the ones with 5 LED's in them, or they won't be bright enough to be comparable to an incadescent C9.

    Price on these tend to depend on how many you order. We sell these retail, but canget a good prie on bigger orders.
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I agree with hotrod on this one. The better LED c-9's out there are the 3 and best 5 leds. The weak part of the LED equation is not the diode itself but how it is connected to electricity. waterproof is essential to long life. the connection will probably fail long before the led's themselves will. I really like the ceramic led c-9s, as they completely minic incandescent. I have not found a perfect "clear" c-9 that mimics traditional.
  8. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Are the lens's really ceramic? Or is that just what the style is called?
    We use the warm white C9's with 5 LED's in them, but they have a plastic lens that is facetted to reflect the light so they aren't as directional. They look pretty close to a incandescent. They are made by a company called Minleon.

    Dave is right, the LED's never fail, it's everything around them that fail. So make sure you spend a couple extra bucks and buy nice quality LED bulbs and strands.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    They mimic the old time ceramic coated multi-colored bulbs of old. they are identical in color and really close in brightness.
  10. DeepGreenLawn

    DeepGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,372

    Now, again, I am a newbie of newbie,

    I am 99.999999% sure I know the answer...

    Do the lights in the C9's go out all together or one at a time? If one bulb goes out, do they all?

    What about the minis? One bulb out and the rest go with it are they double wired(?) so you don't loose the whole strand?

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