For those of you who don't like Unique

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Desertdweller, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    I'm new to lighting and have doing a lot of research and talking to installers, reps etc. We just finished our first job and used FX. It went great. The customer liked it so much he just signed to do the front yard also. We also have 3 more sold. My question is, Why wouldn't you use Unique? I'm not sold on the hub system or the transformer but what about the lights? They seem to be made well and they seem to have a lot of options for an installer. Just trying to sort through all the BS you get from reps. Any help would be appreciated.
  2. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    If you are not "sold" on the Hub method as your primary method of power distribution, then frankly you are doing your customer a disservice and have no business installing lighting until you learn to install it correctly. It doesn't matter which manu you use. If you don't wire correctly they all fail.
  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Tim... I think your statement above is a bit too broad and generalizes too much.

    I do not use the hub method of wiring (albeit for different reasons then most) and can tell you straight up that my customers have been done no disservice and that my systems do not fail.

    It is most certainly possible, effective and reasonable to install a LV outdoor lighting system and not use the hub method of wiring.
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    I used to use ONLY the hub. As I learved about drop more and got more comfortable I use a variety of methods now but for main part I still use a hub. Some of my favorite fixtures do not come with leads on them so I am looking at other avenues as well. I still love the central connection point of the hub method tho. I am within .5v on my last project at ALL but 1 lamp and that lamp is .6 off at 11v. Rest are within 11.1 to 11.6 I did use some T's and a small 2 fixture chain as well. Gotta love the .5 taps!
  5. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159

    I've helped a couple of the top guys in the Valley and they don't use the hub and don't seem to have a problem. When you mention Unique they roll their eyes and say they wouldn't touch it.
  6. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    James, Are you daisy chaining? How are you managing your VD without using a central measuring point with known drop distances? A T is just a hub with 2 fixtures on opposite ends. If you are using LEDs, then this is a different story. I guess it really doesn't matter which method you use as long as you are measuring the correct voltage at the lights; which is the bigger issure here. I have just not personally found a better way of getting equal voltage across multiple fixtures. James, as you and I both know, most of the systems we run into out there are just a bunch of fixtures that are undervolted and daisy chained.
    Desert dweller, So you have some animosity towards Unique. That is your own business. However, lets seperate the method from the manufacturer. It is true Unique does engineer their systems around the HUB method, but this certainly does not mean that if you are using products other than Unique, you can't use this method as well. I use several brands of fixtures, Unique is one of them. They are a very solid fixture choice. If your associates have had trouble with their products, I would personally be more suspect of their installation techniques than I would be of the product. Ultimately I don't really care what method you use, I am only giving my opinion here about my own lighting methodology. You will have to find your own way.
  7. Desertdweller

    Desertdweller LawnSite Member
    Messages: 159


    I appreciate your opinion but I think you're getting your panties in a bunch. I never said I had animosity towards Unique. I just wasn't sold on the hub. That's why I'm asking about the fixtures. Most of you have experience with many manufacturers and I just wanted to draw on that experience and not make mistakes from the start. I'm actually meeting the Unique rep again Thurs to go over a small job that I want to try their product in.
  8. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Desert dweller, Sorry, I had to go back and read your original post. The fixtures themselves are as solid as they come with a very good pricepoint compared to fixtures of similar quality. I havn't used their transformers yet, so I can't comment on them. I also don't use their ultra long 16 guage leads. I use 12g for my leads to minimize voltage drop. I use UL 1838 compliant transformers to keep the voltage level down so I don't have a large voltage spike and a cascading failure of my bulbs if one burns out.
  9. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    Every installer will have their own opinion on fixture line. Although I've never really used Unique much I will say this. Last year we did a tear out of an existing system that had all Unique fixtures. Although the installation was done very unprofessional, the fixtures had held up very well in our climate. It was actually one of the very few tear-outs we've done where the fixtures have held up. Most of our tear-outs end up being kichler, Nightscaping, or fx and they look like they've been through a war.

    I think what Tim is trying to say is wiring is the veins of the system...if done incorrectly it won't matter what type of fixtures you're using, there will be problems. You have to find what works best for you in your climate and soil. Take into consideration the warranty, what kind of service you're going to get if there shall be a problem etc. For us, we've had great luck with Hadco and Hinckley. Maybe a couple of bad sockets over the last 4-5 years with the Hadco, but overall it's been a very reliable line that has held up very very good in our climate. Let's just say this...if there was only 1 good line out there, then all us professionals would probably be using the same line....If you've been reading these threads you know that's not the case.
  10. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

    I guess I will chime in, I will try and keep the rep BS to a min. LOL... In all seriousness you dont have to be a fan of the Hub to like Unique. You can order your lights with no wire lead now, we did this for those who dont like using a Hub method all the time. The Hub to me is a no brainer, I prefer to make one connection for every grouping of lights vs. 2 connections for every light. It is easy once you learn the Hub to design lighting around it. Obviously there is no better way to ensure proper voltage to every lamp then keeping all the wire the same and in most cases it is the quickest form of wiring due to the fewer connections needed. It is hard to argue the Hub and most that do either dont understand it or are loyal to another manufacturer who preaches against it. Of course there are those who just feel that their way of wiring works best and they still like Unique for it's many products.

    As for transformers well those who are loyal to FX usually will roll their eyes at Unique, for the most part FX and Unique have been like water and oil, they (FX) even modified their warranty years ago to state that if you used a non ul 1838 compliant transformer with their lights they would void your FX warranty. Most of this anamosity starts from the manufacturers themselves which then carries down to their loyal users. It is rather unfortunate but it is just the way it is. What people tend to forget is that Unique carry's more UL listings than any of our competition, if it is a UL1838 unit you want then we will build it for you, and we will build you any direct burial unit you want, we will build you an I Force, we will build you a custom unit consisting of all 15v taps if you want or all 12v taps if you want. Anything you want we can build when it comes to transformers. It is just reality that over the years the bulk of our customers want to run long distances with smaller wire utilizing higher taps to compensate the drop, and so we listen and we continue to build these units. Does it increase the chance for a chain reaction burnout when using higher taps? Well sure it does, but in a Hub if I have only have 5 lights the worse that happens I lose 5 lights. We always explain to homeowners that LV is not like the line voltage in your home, if you see a lamp burnout you need to replace it. But this is no worse than using a UL1838 unit and diasy chaining or using an improperly regulated T method with inconsistant voltages. Undervolting will also cause burnout and thats what so many people forget. It is an inherant problem with Low Voltage and I can be on the 15v tap and have one lamp burnout and cause over volting so it is all relevant.

    So why wouldnt you use Unique? Well you wouldnt use Unique if you are loyal to another manufacturer who hates wouldnt use us if you are into the cheapest product you can find...So I ask you, why wouldnt you use Unique? I want to know, I want to know why these guys roll their eyes, it cant be because we lack quality or suport. It cant be because we have a small product line in terms of available fixture choices and transformers. It usually boils down to price and loyalty. We dont appeal to everyone, not everyone likes brass and copper, and not everyone likes our transformer layouts, but one thing is for sure, there are a whole lot of new "manufactuer/importer" companies popping up everywhere that have built their entire buisnes models off of Unique Lighting Systems, that says something about what we have going on over here. You owe it to yourself to generate your own opinion about us. I think you will like what you find. No manufacturer has the field experience and understands the challenges the contractor faces int he field and that is what drives us to develop the products and systems we do. Just like the new 24v system!!

    Not everybody likes us, but we make some customers very happy!!

    Joey D.

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