Anyone Using Volt Light Fixtures with LED Lamps?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. jkingrph

    jkingrph LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    It's absolutly amazing how a thread can get off topic. This was started as LED's in Volt fixtures and went everywhere else.

    I am a do-it-yourselfer, in large part because in our small town there is a lack of contractors, espicially good reliable contractors. I had a tree blow over, no problem getting a bonded tree service to remove it, a couple of years later some wind damage to some other trees, it was too small of a job to even look, took me three months to get someone, found out by word of mouth. I do not want a fly by night to drop something on my house and run.

    I was looking for quality at a decent price without having to drive 50-100 miles one way to shop and Volt fit the bill nicely. Everything impresses me as a quality product from light fixtures to transformer to waterproof connectors. Best part was sales to individuals, they do have a way to sign up as a contractor and get better pricing, don't know what that is because I do not qualify

    Back to LED in volt, Earlier in this thread Volt repliec to either cut off Halogen retaining clips or bend back, that they were elimininting them in future production because of possibilty of using LED emitters. Folks from Illumicare sent me a message saying that they were coming out with a smaller diameter emitter that would be better suited for the fixture I chose, but right now at $36 per emitter, and I would need 19 for my system, I can buy a lot of electricity for the $700 the LED emitters would cost, so I will stick with the Halogen for a while.
  2. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,051

    I have too used Volt products and I can assure you the quality is there.
    My main concern is also about their prices being disclosure on their web site, I have and will continue expressing my concern regarding this technique, but I understand I have to be a customers in order for me to be heard.
    Maybe then Alan will realize what percentage of his business are from contractors.
    Quality and service is on par with the top manufactures, I would love to install cast all day long, but sometimes budget won't allow it.
  3. Elegant Outdoor Lighting

    Elegant Outdoor Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Back to the topic...LED in Volt fixtures

    Has anyone used a LED in the "gentle spash"? This is the small wash light with a universal bi-pin socket. I tried the Illumicare g5.3. oops, it doesn't fit... too big around to fit in the fixture.

  4. pamelak

    pamelak LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Hi Scott,

    It's unfortunate that the G5.3 didn't fit in your small wash fixtures.

    If the fixture has a universal Bipin socket, the 19mm version of our omnidirectional G4 Bipin lamp might be the answer you are looking for. And, depending on the orientation of the socket, our horizontal G4 Bipin Side lamp would work as well.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


  5. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 284

    I read this entire thread yesterday and found the discussion very interesting. All kinds of issues were discussed with often-impassioned arguments that made points that left me thinking. That is the reason I subscribe to Lawn Site.

    I noticed one particular word was used frequently throughout the thread - QUALITY. Many individuals made it clear they are committed to providing their client quality: installation, service, design and lighting materials. I find that strong commitment to be one of the best things about the people I know and admire in this business.

    Most participants clearly desire quality and seem to be confident they can identify it when they see and or touch it.

    Early on, Jim noted we landscape lighting designer/installers make our decisions when selecting luminaires to offer our clients based on 3 variables: Warranty, Quality and Price. And I agree.

    A manufacturer’s warranty and how they stand behind it is an indication of the degree of their confidence in their product. A manufacturer’s prompt response to a problem is gratifying and builds loyalty among their clients.

    The wholesale price of product is critically important when we go looking for our market. It is directly linked to our profits. It’s really a mathematical problem with a sociological edge that profoundly affects how we pay the mortgage and put food on the table.

    Quality is different. As far as I know, there is no public or private entity that rates relative quality of landscape lighting fixtures the way DOE’s Caliper program rates LED lamps. Consumer Reports has not tackled rating the quality of residential outdoor lighting equipment. The National Electrical Code sets the standard for electrical wiring and equipment yet does nothing with quality. Quality is not a set of rules and there is very little in the way of guidelines.

    So how can we decide what is and is not quality residential outdoor lighting equipment? Please allow me to share my thinking on what is quality in outdoor lighting fixtures.

    I start by asking myself a series of questions:

    Is the fixture made of robust materials that will resist the attacks of small children, large dogs and lawnmowers?

    Are those materials resistant to the attacks of acidic soils, common landscape chemicals and salt?

    Does the fixture offer the basic shielding features: a regressed lamp/light source, internal honeycomb louver and adjustable glare shield? Does the cap have room for accessories that shape the light source’s distribution with a variety of lens and shields? Is it possible to mechanically dim the light source with screens?

    That means three accessories please.

    If used as an uplight, will the fixture pool water that will allow organic materials and dissolved minerals to eventually obscure the lens.

    Will the knuckle allow me to focus easily, precisely and faithfully hold that focus indefinitely? Can I tighten the knuckle slightly so it’s easy to tweak the focus before locking down the fixture?

    Does the light source offer dependable service with an appropriate color temperature?

    Can I service the fixture and maintain its’ focus?

    If the fixture meets all of the above criteria, then I've found a QUALITY lighting fixture.

  6. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276


    That's a good list and I have a few items to add:
    • Sockets that are rated to handle likely heat
    • Socket lead wire that is firmly connected to fixture wire by crimping or soldering then protected from water damage with heat-shrink tubing
    • Socket wire and/or fixture wire that is protected by sleeving if it passes through a knuckle
    • Socket/fixture wire rated to handle likely heat
    • Internal socket contacts constructed with the same metal of the lamp pins (to prevent galvanic corrosion)
    • Fixture finishes that withstand years of exposure (or the use of bare metal without a finish)
    • Fixture stems that won't bend or break (even under considerable pressure such as under snow banks, occaisional bumps with vehicles, etc.)
    • Fixture hoods, shrouds and hats that will not bend or dent (even under considerable pressure such as under snow banks, occaisional bumps with vehicles, etc.)
    • Stakes that are long enough for firm footing, and strong enough so they will never break
    • Fixtures that have field-replaceable parts, with parts readily available, and instructions on how to replace them
    • LED fixtures or lamps with adequote thermal management, surge protection, excellent optical characteristics, robust circuitry, wide voltage range with less than 30% change in lumens across range, with RFI filtering, with color rendering index over 80, and protected from condensing humidity.
  7. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 284


    Thank you Steve! We are developing quite the description of a quality fixture. Does anybody else have something to add?

  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I think my original list worked pretty well.

    And clients rarely ask me about name brands I use or where I get stuff. They want the place to look great and they want it to last. I have had a few folks give me pictures they found on the web and note the cost. I carry pictures on my phone of my shop and my trucks and note the cost. folks either get overhead recovery or not.

    but think of the words "excellent quality" and apply it to any item, television, car, home- it tends to mean it works really well and it lasts a long time. some people can even "feel" it- like maybe the way a door slams or the way a switch clicks.

    perhaps another issue to add to the quality/cost equation is does the fixture save you time at install.

    a stake with a wire slot is a fixture installed quicker than over one without.

    a pregreased socket and o-ring eliminates install steps and time.

    a 25 foot wire lead saves you time and money on 12g wire and has fewer connection points, thus fewer potential failure points and less money spent on connectors.

    those of us who do warranties also gravitate toward fixtures that cost us less callback dollars.

    The cost issue around here gets trampled by folks who are offended that anyone would dare think about the bottom line. yet folks are pretty vocal here about buying wire by the pallet, and I am guessing most folks know where to buy the less expensive gas.

    for each contractor,once you know the list of things that means a fixture has enough "quality" for you, it seems then you locate the fixture that meets those quality expectations for the least cost.

    I am happy to concede that a distibutor relationship to some carries value.

    but my 2 distributors here are offering classes every quarter to "teach" my new competition.

    At least I know LLW is not out calling landscapers, irrigation and drainage guys every quarter to fill up a class to show local guys how "easy" it is to do low voltage lighting.
  9. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 284

    It now appears we have 3 very different definitions of QUALITY.

    Steve approaches quality from a manufacturer's point of view. He maintains his approach will result in a quality fixture that will reliably perform in the landscape for many years.

    David views quality through the lens of an installer who understands every minute saved in the installation is money in his pocket. He also strongly suggests the contractor should make a careful evaluation of cost vs "Quality" because, without attention to the quality of the bottom line you may find yourself short a profit...

    I also have to agree with David that it seems absurd that we continue to buy from distributors who are actively trying to undercut all of us by continuously injecting INSTANT "landscape lighting contractors" into the marketplace with marginal training.

    I listed my expectations for quality as those features that will, in my opinion, provide the tools I need to make certain I will achieve my design goals. And that I may be reasonably assured my lighting design will not degrade over time though faults in the design of the luminaire.

    I'd like to offer one more way to define QUALITY in our industry: Rigorous self-certification by the industry.

    AOLP's (Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals) CLVLT (Certified Low Voltage Technician) and the 4-year COLD (Certified Outdoor Lighting Designer) certifications. Such self-regulation through Independent Peer Certification that has the power to elevate individual contractors. These individuals have proved to their fellow members that they care about the Craft and Art in their work and are committed to providing their clients QUALITY work.


    David and Steve, did I sum-up your arguments fairly?
  10. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 381

    Tom, I agree with you. I think it is imperative that we build our relationships with the manufacturers that support us. I know that the manufacturers need to move product and to do that they look to more customers (example more contractors). How about a different approach? The band Pearl Jam supposedly (I only heard this story) sells more live albums than anyone else. They don't go to a new market with these, they promote them to the loyal fans they already have. Their existing fans are happy to buy them. The relationship works. So, how about this for an idea? The professional contractors and designers work together with the manufacturers and the AOLP and together we work to market our trade or art (whichever term you prefer) to the public. We support each other and raise the bar on this industry and don't turn it into a commodity. Just my opinion though.

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