A shift is happening before us

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by The Lighting Geek, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    We could talk about the differences between halogen and LED forever.

    When I started looking into LED, I first was concerned with a warranty and also the 'look' of the light it produces. I must say that I have made subtle changes in the way I light my subjects due the differences in 'brushes'. I am 100% LED these days unless asked to do halogen, and some still want it. But as time goes by I am realizing where the industry is going. I believe we will stop using halogen as a reference, ie: 20 watt equivalent. We should all know, but sometime in the future we will NEED to understand lumen, foot-candle, foot lamberts, etc. to better know what we are using.

    There is a huge shift taking place, where as lighting specialists, we are going to be less concerned with the technical methods you use to connect wire, figure out voltage drop, and more concerned with the subtleties of light it self. Let's face it, no one likes the fact that LED and it's voltage management makes the worst technician equal to you, on a technical level. The gardener will be able to do the same job as we do for half the price. You will no longer be able to use the crutch of voltage drop to differentiate yourself and sell jobs, it is about to become extinct. They have LED fixtures in Home Depot right now, and they will get better at making a cheap fixtures.

    We need to focus on the artistry of what we do to sell jobs, whether it be halogen or LED. When we can understand our 'brushes' and 'paint palette' better, we will produce better portraits. Hone your craft, it is what I have been doing for 25 years. I cannot read enough, talk enough, listen enough about landscape lighting. Challenge yourselves daily on improving your 'craft'. I know many of us do already, but we also get lazy and comfortable and quit looking around to better ourselves.

    I use my camera to sell work. It points out the flaws perfectly for my clients to see by accentuating them. I am on a mission to better my photography, and hence my lighting.

    I take fixtures I would not normally use and challenge myself 'what if this were the only fixture, how would I light this job?' I have learned many tricks this way. Nate Mullen once showed me a job where the entire job was done with Starbursts, because he wanted see how it would work. I never forgot that.

    The point is, never never settle. Learn the technical aspects of light. It is fun. Sell the artistry you create, talk about your end result, the magic. Change before you have to. In the end it won't matter what you are using for fixtures.

    Ok, I am done with my mental dump LOL
  2. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 381

    Outstanding post
  3. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 521

    I presented almost this exact same notion at a vista seminar this summer. I didn't get into the ins and outs of the painting with light topic, but basically simply asked is LED landscape lighting ultimately going to be the beast that makes this a race to the bottom. There is no denying that LED is the market of the future and in many places it's the here and now. Like you said, it will definitely lead to a huge surge in homeowner projects and lets face it, it will also hurt the "specialist" that does sub work for landscape companies and the like. Not many landscaping companies will dodge the simplicity of LED the way they do complications of halogen. One home run from a 300 watt trans that powers 30 lights on a daisy chain with plenty of room to spare vs. 6-8 home runs from a 900 watt trans that powers 30 lights with some fairly sophisticated wiring techniques when you are overseeing a 3-4 man crew installing it. Is halogen rocket science? No , but it certainly requires a level of knowledge that can't be acquired in one hour. Im honestly not sure that same argument can be made about LED (talking strictly on the technical side here, not artistic).

    I to agree that soon prices will dramatically drop on LED products, especially with the LED lamp market on the rise.
  4. emby

    emby LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 380


    Excellent perspective my friend.

  5. tadpole

    tadpole LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,221

    Wonderful!! Excellently stated, Tommy. It is this philosophy that separates the Craftsmen from the contractors. And I am sure that it is more than partly responsible for your success. This philosophy is applicable to any trade and should be adhered to a lot more than it presently is.
  6. Prolightscaper

    Prolightscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    I respectfully disagree. LED's will have minimal effect on landscape lighting only businesses.

    The landscaper and electrician will continue to get the lion's share of the jobs.

    Maybe there will be more DIYers but who cares you don't want that business.

    The dedicated specialist will still get her share as landscapers in general do not go back for service or repair. This is where the pro can start a relationship and get the new system when the first system goes in the tank because it was installed wrong and the parts were cheap from lack of budget put aside along with the landscape job.

    As long as gardeners exist their will always be a market for repair and maintenance will always be needed LED or not.

    The same issue that exists today will exist if and when LED's become the norm.

    the issue will be how will the dedicated service provider get the project before the landscaper?

    Most projects you will not get because the public is uneducated and don't know you exist and the landscaper will give such a sweet deal that the owner will think you are not needed.

    Sophisticated high end homeowners who value your expertise and with marketing and good sales techniques that is the only way you can differentiate yourself now and in the future.

    So nothing will really change. landscapers and electricians (not all) will screw up just like now because they have no passion for the art just the money.

    But make no mistake they will continue to take most of the jobs because they are better positioned to and that is something you must work on real hard if you want to succeed as a stand only landscape lighting co.
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I agree that LED is the future and we should build a bridge and get over it. But 95% of my Landscape light clients are not going to install fixtures that now come with LED bulbs. perhaps more lawn care guys and landscapers will enter the light field and they will now do it for them. but top 5% income homeowners are not going to wake up one day and discover they now love to dig, whether LED is here or not.

    while we may argue the technical merits of connections, that is the number one reason I believe that my landscape lighting market share will continue to grow whether LED or not. For the last 15 years, I continue to fail to have competition that can even get a simple connection right. forget about all the other stuff too. I can't find anyone that can even get basic uplighting on a house right.

    If this LED "shift" adds more lawncare, landscapers and electricians and homeowners, I hope these new folks to the field will at least spend 5 minutes doing some research on how to use a grease nut, ace, or lighting shrink.
    I doubt that, so now I will be discovering and replacing ruined LED fixtures with black corroded copper wire instead of halogen.

    maybe they will spend an hour reading the basics of how to uplight. or moonlight. or safety lighting, or whatever. Since it seems that no one in my 500k population area in my 2 county area has bothered to do so in the past 15 years, I cannot imagine them starting now because LED fixtures are now on the shelves.
  8. Prolightscaper

    Prolightscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    There are alot of lazy uncaring and unsafe installers out there and most come from the landscape industry.:nono:

    Most will not take the time to make a proper splice or pay the price to purchase one. Electrical tape and red wire nuts are good enough for them.

    This has always been a good and a bad thing. Good because they make for alot of repair/replace work. bad because they leave alot of scorched earth behind themselves and make the public skeptical of the industry.

    When all you've been exposed to is junk how can you know any better.

    Hasn't changed in all the yrs I've been practicing and I don't expect it ever will.

    Too many forces at play that I'd rather not bring up in order not to create anymore controversy.
  9. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    I agree with the gist of this thread that the changing lighting technology will not disempower the skilled lighting designer. There will still be a dozen ways to light a tree, a dozen ways to light a deck, a dozen ways to light a water feature, a dozen ways to light a house.

    The homeowner may still want LED's but who is qualified to select wattages, beam spreads, and fixture placement? Who is qualified to create a lighting design that achieves cohesion, perspective, balance, and symmetry? Who is qualified to set moods that are romantic, dramatic, or subtle? Who is the artist that expresses his or her creative vision to create an experience appropriate to the scene?

    DIY'ers will always be there, but so will lighting artisans. We must elevate our own stature, communicate our passion, share our vision - lighting can still be the work that makes our lives meaningful.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    To Tommy and Steve... Both excellent commentaries and concepts there Guys! Well Stated.

    The talented lighting designer will never go out of style or be usurped by any shift in technology or even techniques. I have been saying this for years. If you are out there selling "stuff" then you need to take a serious look at your business plan. Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle. Just like a Chef de Cuisine, the clients can get quality meat from any number of sources, its how the meal is prepared that makes the experience special, and why so many people will spend hundreds of dollars for a fine dining experience.

    Also, in regards to separating yourself from the crowd AND making money in this business there is another "rule" that I often talk about. "If you want to make more money then use better quality (and thus more expensive) products." Most of us still work on a markup/margin basis on product. I would much rather make 15% on a $200 fixture than I would on a $60 fixture. Adopting the use of better quality, spec. grade products separates you from the competition, and from any online retailers (they do not sell spec. grade anything) and it provides the clients with longer lasting, more maintenance free systems. Doing so makes your service more remarkable as the clients will comment that their lighting systems are trouble free.

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