LED, im still trying to find the benefit to

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by GreenLight, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    the contractor. I don't deny that LED is the future, that being said I don't really know if that is great news for the contractor or not. Im just trying to get the good news on these things that im missing.I have to ask because I have prepared my LED moaning list.

    1. What type of warranty are you putting yourself into with the led installation? This is by far my biggest hang up with LED. Obviously I have heard the great news about Kichler and the rest offering in some cases 15 year warranties on their led bulbs in the fixture. Some companies offering full field replacements and others offering to fix. But a warranty is doing nothing but costing me money if the technology doesn't live up to it and their doesn't seem to be a bunch of proven field evidence that outdoor leds are rock solid in their design yet.

    2. Secondly, without naming companies, I have spoken with some different sales reps from some of the bigger names in the lighting and they simply don't come across as overwhelmingly confident in their led product. Not saying they are disappointed in their craftsmanship, simply they all seem hesitant to really put their stamp of approval on the products life. Of course they push the long warranties, but I have not spoken to any that haven't at least admitted their is still heavy "experimentation" in this product and you probably should at least advise your clients of this. That logic seems like the last sales approach I would ever use, but im curious about how others feel.
  2. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    I think some of the potential customers are the same folks who would buy a hybrid, as more of a statement of their values than the result of doing the math.

    On the other hand, doing the math shows huge potential savings, especially in those markets that pay a higher price for power... and within those markets, especially the top tier users... the customers with large landscapes, pools, spas, ponds and fountains and in general large homes that use more power.

    As far as how it effects how you sell your services, if you think longer lasting lamps will decrease your maintenance sales, then maybe think about all the other maintenance tasks that need to be done besides changing lamps... trimming overgrowth, cleaning lenses, seasonal re-aiming, etc.

    I also see LEDs as potential problem solvers for retrofitting existing jobs, like where voltage drop has been an issue because the original installer didn't account for it...
  3. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    I don't have any problem with that response and I agree that maintenance services could still be obtained without bulb replacement. Yet, this doesn't apply to my complaint or question about LED. How are you warrantying these things? With a standard Halogen most of us are putting a one year warranty on a bulb that ranges from $2.00 - $12.00. With the cost of these bulbs a customer will gladly settle for a one year warranty knowing that halogen life isn't going to compare with LED. At worst you have put yourself in a one year loop of expense vs. guarantee. Yet with LED comes the monstrous difference in lamp cost and the customer knowledge that these things have a lamplife rated in some cases up to 15-20 years. I just can't imagine putting a 15-20 year warranty on something as delicate as an outdoor lamp in brutal conditions. Sure the manufacture is going to replace your problem, but they aren't going to pay you to do it.
  4. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    To be completely honest, I haven't actually installed any yet, just experimented.

    I'm looking at three upcoming jobs where I can put them to use... and haven't decided whether I want to go with Kichler, DG Lights or Vista...

    Actually, come to think of it I did one partial retrofit with new fixtures from Troy-CSL for a sprinkler customer who had ordered them and planned to change fixtures out himself, but got tired of it part way through and asked me to finish. No obligation on my part since he provided the materials... it will be interesting to see how they do...
  5. extlights

    extlights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    The service aspect is also something that's crossed my mind when I think about led's. I understand that if a bulb goes out while it's under warranty you have to make a trip out there to replace it. However, with a properly installed conventional system, most of the time premature bulb failure isn't much of an issue. I think that eventually we will start to integrate led systems, but it's not going to be this year and maybe not even next year.

    There are too many question marks for us to take a chance. As you said, it's fine if the manufacture is going to warranty the products, but it also costs alot of money to be going out and fixing these problems. By the time you figure billable man hours, rising fuel prices and time away from other projects....that dollar figure grows quickly.

    Customer service is our number one priority and I'm not going to install any components at a clients home unless it's 100% proven. As far as I can tell, it's going to be some time until led's get there in my mind.
  6. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Appreciate the responses Gregg and Dave.

    Gregg, good luck with your upcoming projects. I will admit that I have done one LED job on outdoor fixtures and it was exactly as you described your customer experience in your led job. The customer was up in arms about getting LED and I basically told him here is what I will do. I will let you choose the fixtures you trust and I will get you my discount. I will simply charge you an installation labor rate for install, but I will require a release of liability from guaranteeing or warrantying the fixtures. Obviously I told him this was contingent on all the fixtures working after installation and then he would be on his own. He still wanted the led install, so I did it. I admit this was over a year ago and so far so good for him.

    Dave, I agree with your sentiments completely.
  7. sprinkler guy

    sprinkler guy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 223

    Greenlight, what kind of warranty do you offer for a traditional system? I currently offer 1 year on new installs, labor and bulbs. Anything goes wrong the first year, I come out and take care of it, no-charge. After the first year, I honor the manufacturers warranty, but charge my standard labor rate for any work to be done. With a few customers, I have maintenance contracts, so I visit their property quarterly. Coming to someones house two years after an install to change out 4 or 5 bulbs, then billing labor plus parts is how I have been signing them up on a maintenance contract.

    With the LED systems I have been installing, I still offer the same thing. First year unconditional, after that, the manu warranty honored on product, standard labor rate on work. I include this verbage in my contract. I've had to change three LED bulbs in the last 8-9 months, and one LED fixture. Both times I was back at the job doing extra work and getting paid for it. If I was to have a wholesale failure of a particular manufacturers product, I would give that manu a chance to make it right. Most will try to do something to compensate you for your time, a free transformer, a couple of fixtures, something like that. That you had a product/job failure isn't as big an impact to the client as how you respond and handle it.
  8. sprinkler guy

    sprinkler guy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 223

    I spent several years working for a manufacturerr, and I can tell you there are sales people who love new and different, and there are those who resist change. When a new product comes out, some folks aren't excited, because they now have to work a little harder. The job becomes selling, not just order taking. Unless these guys are being told internally by their engineers/managers that the product just doesn't work, but go try and sell it anyway:laugh:.
  9. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Hey Sean,

    Thanks for the follow up. Yes on our current installs of halogen products the first year is basically an unlimited warranty unless there is some type of neglect or malice towards the system by the buyer. After that we are pretty much like everyone else, we offer the yearly bulb replacement and maintenance contract which in turn is warrantied for the full year until the next term comes due. We treat the fixtures themselves just like you described, they carry the manufactures warranty but we still charge labor for replacement and fixes once the first year expires.

    As to how you are presently doing your led contracts, that is really the only way I could justify doing it. I just didn't know what the customers reaction would be to this as I haven't really cracked that ice yet.

    When I was mentioning the lack of overall confidence by sales reps for the lighting companies I wasn't intending to say that these guys are not excited about the product. What I meant was their responses to my questions were honest and they didn't sugar coat it. I asked most of them if they had field tests under outdoor conditions for their present leds that backed the length of their warranties, to which they more or less said no. Almost everyone also said they anticipate vast improvement in the LED fixtures and replacement lamps over the next couple of years. That being said, everyone seems extremely confident about the direction it's going in and the future of leds.
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    I extend my warranty further, as long as I am yearly rebulbing and cleaning/trimming etc, I extend the full warranty for another year on everything, trans, wire, fixtures, labor, etc. I continue to do this year after year.

    Although I am not on the LED train, some of the obvious benefits to the installer is ease of install with daisy chain galore, so less expense of wire and labor time to run more wire, less labor time spend working out voltage drop to the nth degree. less expense on the transformer side, higher initial profit now from an overall initial higher transaction price, and at least a hope that if the customer never has you on the property again to do any maintenance, The bulbs will theoretically work for 6-8 times as long as halogen.

    most of the bulb ratings I am seeing from Sylvania and GE 3000k bulbs on the 240 lumen mr-16's are UL listed at 24000 hours. That leads me to believe They actually tested those out as opposed to the 50,000 and 100,000 hours I have heard thrown around the last 2 years. all night long, at 12 hours a night average burn time, that is actually closer to 6 years. and remember- real UL hour ratings on bulbs is when 100 in a lab are set out to burn and 1/2 of them are burned out- so at 24000 hours. or over 6 years, you still would have experienced half of your bulbs burned out.

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