How did you get started with lighting?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by indylights, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. indylights

    indylights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    Given that there are some differing sides on the advantages or disadvantages of seminars, I was just curious how some of you, both for and against training, got your education or did your first lighting job. A few years into my landscaping business, I went to a seminar, then read and researched about product, methods, etc. on my own, worked on my own home and played around with that for a while. I then did my brother's house on my own, played with that for awhile, and then got my first paid install (6 lights) which I was nervous as hell about. I actually went back every night for a week just to make sure everything came on and looked how we thought it should, and also verified my readings probably three or four times. That was about nine years ago. From there it just kept getting a little bigger, a little better, and a little more often. I continue to research on my own, have a great relationship with my distributor who keeps me informed of any new product or technology updates, and still do attend the occassional seminar (for all trades I offer) just to refresh, see if there is anything new I should know and what trends may be. Just curious how others got their start.

    Scott Maloney
    Sunflower Landscapes
  2. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 381

    All kidding aside, I went for the 4 hour seminar for a free pizza:laugh: Seriously, I forgot my lunch and my supply house (electrical) had a seminar going on with a lunch. So I went. I didn't take it seriously but I was fed well. I then started doing a little when my customers would ask me to do it for them (stupid quick connect discs:rolleyes:) Anyways, I went back at night and thought, wow this looks pretty cool. Fast forward a couple of years and I was at a Lutron controls class in Florida and one of the other attendees told me about Jan Moyer. I thought maybe I would look into it and was hesitant. After all, I took a course that showed me how to do hubs (now I was light years above other electrical contractors) I thought what else is there really to learn? Needless to say, I went and when I came back my view was changed. The LLI and joining the AOLP and having the individuals in that organization as my teachers and friends has been a complete blessing. Being able to utilize left brain and right brain is completely inspiring (That's for you Phil, if youre there lurking). I heard John Pletcher say "Don't you just love what we do?" He is absolutely correct. I have been doing electrical work for 21 years and the last 3 have been the best ever. I am excited for this profession and art form like I would never imagine. I am learning plants. I am learning artistic perspective. I am learning photography. I am learning about pruning. I am learning about preventing light pollution. John was absolutely correct. Yes, I do love what I do.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    my first paying lighting job was my neighbors house when I was 13 back 28 years ago. I had done my parents Christmas lights and my neighbor paid me to do thiers. the neighbor down the street and a few of my lawn clients had me do it that year, and so on. The next year I had a couple of lawn customers who had high voltage pagoda lights that needed new sockets and bulbs, so I took them apart and bought new sockets at the hardware store and made them work. cleaned all the fixtures, painted the metal parts, straightened them out, and I remember mrs. parish mentioning they looked better than when they were new. replaced a few ground mounted spots that had HUGE shrouds and those really heavy glass spotlight bulbs. a few j-boxes here and there. she told a few friends and I fixed a few more over the years, and hired an electrician or two to replace lines.

    all my early "landscape lighting" on the job training was highly illegal by the way, no electrician me. :nono:

    1st low voltage lighting was around 1987, mostly Nightscaping repairs for a few years, and my 1st full LV system was Nightscaping about 20 years ago. ah, 8g wire back in the good old days. :dizzy:
  4. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    I took a one day class from my local Cast distributor 4 years ago. I had the mindset that lighting would be an additional add-on to my current landscaping business. That summer, I did 3 jobs and and got hooked. Since that initial introductory class, I can't imagine the hours that I've spent researching anything and everything about the LV business.
    So yes, I am a "one day wonder" who has continued to hone my skills and learn everything I can to improve not only myself, but the LV industry too.
  5. jlouki01

    jlouki01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    Vista class 6 years ago JDL put on. I read lots of books, Janet Moyer has a great book everyone should own.. it's pricey though. I didn't know she also offered classes. Looked at doing as an add on to my existing landscape business.

    If I could do just lighting that make me absolutely content. It is by far the funnest work I get to do.
  6. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    Way back in 1987, I was working with my cousins now ex husband who did lawn irrigation. We had a client who had gotten some Nightscaping from a distributor, who came out and marked where the fixtures were supposed to go. The client asked us to install the lighting for him and we did.

    Once it got dark, and I got to see the results of this lighting, I was hooked. No pun intended, the proverbial LIGHTBULB went off over my head. With similar installation practices, tools etc, and similar higher end clients, lighting and irrigation made for good companion businesses.

    That was November of 87. In March of 88, we got two booths at the Providence Home Show and I spent 9 days talking to people about landscape lighting as if I'd been doing it for 10 years already. I built a display with some samples I got from Nightscaping, cut and matted some of the photos from the " ORTHO" book, and talked and talked.

    Here I am, 23 years later, still doing landscape lighting and STILL TALKING!~

    Landscape Lighting Concepts[​IMG]
  7. Utah Landscape Lighting

    Utah Landscape Lighting LawnSite Member
    from Lehi
    Messages: 6

    My first job was a surprise. They never asked if i had installed a system before and it was for 26 lights. I did my research and installed it right. For those that specialize in outdoor lighting - you quickly seem to know more than your suppliers and other professionals in the industry.
  8. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,322

    Because of the recent discussions about "manufacturer's one-day seminars," I was going to start a thread about how our forum members got their start in landscape lighting. Then I came upon this old thread. Interesting. Anybody care to contribute to this subject?

    As for me: Five years ago, at a couple of high-end homes where I maintained their landscapes, I discovered their landscape lighting in somewhat dis-repair.
    So I asked to work on it. Just found some lamps out and some bad connections.
    I started studying. More than half of what I learned, I found on this forum current and past. I signed up for a one-day at Kichler Lighting since I lived only a couple hours away from its headquarters. It turns out that I had already learned everything that was presented. However, the seminar did add a lot to my enthusiasm. Then some more repair jobs. Then my own home installation.
    And on from there.
  9. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    Like many I know. I was a foreman of a mid size landscaping company and specialized in irrigation. Thus, I was really the only one who really knew how to troubleshoot low voltage circuits and I was the only one who could operate a locator and meter (for the most part). Ultimately I would get thrown to the wolves to "troubleshoot" low voltage lighting on a few of our projects and this forced me to really investigate design strategy and a long list of different techniques. I was always pretty anal about the electrical side of irrigation because when it's done wrong, it can completely compromise everything. This translated well to lighting. I ultimately began to come back to projects I repaired at night to review them. I found myself being pretty enchanted by the effects that could be created and the capacity to create a completely unique scene at night. That was about 12 years ago and I would eventually go solo and began installing a lot.
  10. Mark B

    Mark B LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,020

    I attended a sti university (99 I think) at kiawah island while I was working at elon university to learn more about irrigation, then I skipped a few install classes to take a landscape lighting class. We did a install at some house. I was like I can do that. I had my first project the first week I was back. I did irrigation repair and lighting install for several yrs. now I'm a part time lighting guy since I work at the best place to work at in the US.

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