• Online Events For Landscapers!
    With GIE+EXPO cancelled, virtual education and product launches are filling up the fall. Check out dates for Caterpillar, Exmark, NALP, and more. Click here to learn more.

Fixtures and transformers

Turf Troll

LawnSite Member
I don't have experience with anything but Vista fixtures and transformers new, I liked their guarantees.

I have rewired different manufactures transformers so voltage would be between 10 and 11.5 at the end. I have took different manufactures fixtures and pieced them together (like 5 old fixture 2 working take the other three and come out with one or two that can work) to make them work for people while installing new lights.

If I was to try a new manufacture what would you recommend and why, what do you use mostly and why?

Am I missing something from some other maker ?

David Gretzmier

LawnSite Gold Member
whoo-! - the "I have rewired old tranformers" stuff scares me- don't do this- buy a new transformer from Unique or FX, maybe others that give you different taps with different voltage starts for different lengths of runs from the transformer. If you rewire a tranformer and something goes wrong and there is a fire- guess who's fault? YOU. be careful.

About the guarantees- I am reminded of the movie Black Sheep with Chris Farley . His dad owned a company that sold auto parts and a buyer said his customers wanted a guarantee. he basically said he could take a dump in a box and guarantee it. just because it is guaranteed doesn't make it better.

I installed many Nightscaping transformers that were guaranteed for life 7-8 years ago, and I've replaced almost all with FX transformers over the years. FX is Only Guaranteed for 10 years. but it is a much better transformer for multiple runs to get voltage right so the bulbs last longer than a year.

Unique has a similar concept, and good quality,but it is a nonstock item at both my distributors here. good luck

Chris J

LawnSite Silver Member
Maldive Islands
I use Kichler mainly, but that is because it is what I started out with. I think this is what you will find with most contractors: They will usually stay loyal to whoever they begin with (for the most part). I do use other manufacturers on occasion for specialty pieces, but I think Kichler has the best value. They aren't the most expensive, but you get very high quality merchandise for a fair price. In addition, the customer support is top notch and the yearly trips to over seas resorts doesn't hurt either. But then again, when it comes to customer support and good fixtures your going to hear the same sermon from a Nightscaping contractor, Vista, FX, Unique, etc....
Again, everyone will normally defend who they started out with (at least this is what I have witnessed)
By the way, you should try to get your voltage to a minimum of 10.8v if they are halogen lamps. Let me know if I should explain the halogen cycle.


LawnSite Gold Member
Indianapolis, IN
I seem to use a lot of Vista's transformers. I guess for the same reason as stated before-familiarity. I hate their tiny lugs though. If you have an 8 strand good luck feeding 3 more wires in that lug with it.

Dreams To Designs

LawnSite Bronze Member
Troll take a visit down to Aquarius in New Castle. You can get some great information on Cast, Kichler and Focus and maybe they will have an installation class running in the area this spring. The Cast lighting rep is a really great and intense instructor and it would help you out a lot to go to an actual installation rather than a classroom.

If you'd like to see some Cast products in service, we are doing a couple of jobs in north Wilmington by Naamans ans Rt 202 if you have the time and are in the area.



LawnSite Platinum Member
dave i think when he said he rewired the transformers he meant adjusting the voltage taps but i may be wrong.

We use mainly Cast and have had pretty good results with it. Its a durable fixture line up but it does have limited selections of path lights. The pricing is on par with other quality brands. No exotic trips or anything but I still feel like Im getting alot for my money with Cast.

We have been using Kichler more and more tho andhave some experience with SPJ....RSL...Nightscaping and FX. We have switched to the kichler transformers as they are still MDL units like the Cast ones but considerably less expensive. The only prob we have had with the kichler units so far is we had to invert the timer plug on a few (takes 10 min and 7 screws) because the new astro timers we are using had the plug on the opposite side.

Only draw back we have had with cast is a few clients get a bit irritated when thier fixtures turn all white for a few month. One client did the WD40 thing AFTER the fixture turned white and its been that way 6mo now.

Chris J

LawnSite Silver Member
Maldive Islands
Thanks Chris, Why 10.8 volts
OK, this topic is really complicated but basically it works like this: Halogen lamps have an operating temperature of at least 10.8 volts because of a self cleaning cycle they go through. As a halogen lamp burns (illuminates) the tungsten particles detach from the filament, fly around in the halogen gas inside the lamp housing and then re-attach to the filament. This is a halogen cycle, but it can only occur if the lamp is burning hot enough (10.8v) to perform this self-cleaning process. Failure to supply enough voltage to halogen lamps will result in reduced lamp life just as supplying too much voltage will shorten the lamp life.
On a side note, some customers may want the option of dimming some or all of their landscape lighting. This is still possible with halogen lamps, as long as you periodically turn the voltage back up to let the lamps run through their cycle.

Turf Troll

LawnSite Member
Yes the transformer comment was about runs off the transformer that read 16V
and 9V at the fixture./bulb

Chris Thanks for your explanation,

Kirk and Thank You for the invitation, yes I would like to see I am about 15 to 20 minutes away from there,