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LED Quote

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Richie@, May 31, 2012.

  1. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    I did have a situation last year where we'd installed some 15700 fixtures in a fountain that were suffering from water intrusion. I called my distributor who talked to the Kichler rep about it as replacement was going to require dis-assembly of the fountain at a cost of about $1500. The Kichler rep told him to have me replace all the current fixtures with 15711SS (as warranty replacements for the 15700's) and that he'd issue me a $1500 credit to cover the cost of the fountain work. We didn't ask for it, they offered. Like I said, I'm rethinking my commitment to integrated fixtures but...they did go above and beyond what they promised in their warranty for me so I do have some loyalty to them because of that. I don't know that there are many others that would have done the same.
  2. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,262

    Bernie, I suspect that kind of treatment is probably reserved for buyers of your stature. I can't imagine that Kichler would shell out $1500 re-imbursement to just anybody.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I have to hand it to you guys, this LED thing is creating a lot of passionate responses. And all your points about overall costs of wire, trans, and all are duly noted.

    but it is not just a cost issue with me. I have to look deep in my heart and ask myself how long will what I put in LAST. not just trans, or wire, or lights. I have built irrigation systems, water features, retaining walls, stone patios, drainage systems, decks, pergolas, etc. I am 43, and I started paying with mowing and landscape stuff when I was 13. I look back over that 30 years, and a ton of my stuff ( maybe thousands of actual tons) is still out there. I drive by retaining walls I did 20 years ago and they are rock solid. irrigation systems I did 15 years ago are still running fine. I took alot of pride in my work back then, and while learning many things, I tended to look very long term in how long things should last that I charge people for. If they chose to not take care of something that was one thing, but if they took care of it, it should outlast THEM.

    I think of all those things, and I ask myself would I use any item in any of those things that essentially has a permanant destruction clock built in, even if properly maintained.

    take wood for a pergola or deck. Cedar, when properly maintained, will last more than a lifetime. but lets say you can use a brand new material. it will need no maintenance, but lets just say it will self destruct in 15-20 years. the whole thing will have to be torn down and rebuilt. period. no way around it. Is this something I would be proud of? I mean, I am all for less maintenance, but really, tear it down?

    take that same 15 year philosophy on all the things I have built with my hands and my employees hands. Nothing would be left that is older than 15 years. no irrigation heads, no stone patios, no retaining walls. it would all be wiped out. I can't stomach that. not just on all the other stuff, but I have way too many fixtures that I put in 15 pls years ago that I still mainain that just need a bulb, wipe, and some grease, and it is good to go for another year.

    And I really,really hope you LED only guys understand that 15-20 years is on the outside range of life you can expect from the latest hour test ratings from L70. (I really don't know why we are ok with losing 20, then 25 % but 30% of lumens is then officially bad) , but anyway, you only get that many years if we are talking 1500-2500 hours of use per year, 5-7 hours per night average. we get 4400 hours of yearly darkness here in Northwest Arkansas, and I have Alot (a bit above a third) of my clients that like the lights on all night, every night. I am sure you have got to have some too. I am hearing 40,000 hours and 50,000 hours being thrown around, and that to me is a 10 year self destruct or less number. and THAT I absolutely cannot believe you guys are ok with.

    even if I could stomach watching everything I did 15 years ago be torn out and replaced, even if I am the one doing it, when you talk about the 1/3 or so clients I have that are all nighters and the number drops to less than 10 years, that is my trump card. I am dead set against installing that.

    Sorry guys, I am in this for the really long term. and by that, I mean I am doing this for another 20 plus years. you show me a LED fixture that will run all night for at least 30 years at L70, then I am very interested.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    We went from having to replace lamps every 6-18 months (halogen, incandescent) to the ability to have to only replace lamps every 12-36 months (drop in LED) to not having to replace them for 15 years. But you're not satisfied with that? You say, "15 years isn't good enough. Show me 30 and maybe I'm in."

    Ummm....Ok. You're hard to please. :rolleyes:

    It's a trade off. We currently have a choice of installing fixtures that need to be replaced on a regular basis or ones that won't need to be replaced for 15 years, but when they do, the whole fixture needs to be replaced.

    I can tell you from a lot of personal experience - that a lot of consumers LOVE the 15 year option. The number 1 complaint I get from customers who we did outdoor lighting systems for over the last 5-10 years is how they constantly have to be out replacing lamps on a regular basis. They either have to go out and do it themselves every month or two, or pay us to come out and switch them all out on scheduled intervals. In fact it's the #2, #3 and #4 complaint I get. People hate that about outdoor lighting. Especially since they never go out all at once. They just randomly go out - one or two every few months. The #5 complaint is how they have to go out and adjust their clock every month or two.

    Now I offer customers a system where they don't have to ever adjust their clocks or rely on photocells (astro. timer) and they won't have to replace a lamp for 15 years - they are freaking eating it up! As I said in a previous post earlier in the year, lighting is the segment of our work that saw the biggest % growth last year. I've had an easier time selling lighting jobs than ever before because material costs on a whole system are less, labor is less, maintenance is virtually nonexistent, and energy costs are 75% less. It's a no brainer.

    A lot of the systems we have installed have been for people who previously had an outdoor lighting system at their old home, or even at the current home I an doing the install on. And the one thing they are most excited about is that they aren't going to be out changing bulbs regularly. The number 2 thing they are excited about is the decreased energy use. And the #3 is the not having to adjust the timer every month or so. I've given bids to customers that were only sort of interested in lighting and once they learned all of this, it pushed them over the top to purchasing them.

    There was a time when every mechanic out there was still resistant to fuel injectors too. Carburetors were easier to fix (simple rebuild kit) and they were easy to get to. But we all know how that battle went down. LED isn't perfect and will continue to get better. But even back when fuel injection was fairly new, it was still kicking a$$ all over the similar cars that still had carburetors. That's how I look at the best LED stuff now. It's all still WAY better than the old stuff.

    I wish there was an option on the market that lasted 15 or more years AND was replaceable. I'm sure it's coming. But until then, I'll take the one that has 15 years over the one that has a lot less years but is replaceable any day. I just like the concept of no worries, no maintenance way better. In 15 years - for the 5% of customers who are still in the same house, still using our company, etc. - I'll be able to then sell them on a system that will probably last for 30 years, be totally field serviceable, and use 90% less energy. Technology always improves over time. Low voltage lighting is like a flat screen TV. You're not going to want the same one forever. Eventually, the newer technology is going to be so much better that you're going to want to do away with the old one anyway. 15 years is about that time, for most people, I think.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    jim, all points duly noted.

    I will concede that LED has in the last 2 years, at least among the higher priced stuff solved a ton of problems. the color problem and output problem, and given the last 24 months of testing, it would appear that longevity wise they are a vast improvement over previous LED's. I will concede that it is easier to install LED's, faster, with smaller less expensive trans and wire.

    I won't concede that the spread choices are all the way where they need to be, as far as having the ability to take a 20 watt equiv. fixture and make it 10 degrees for a long throw. but most spots are available in 3 spread choices, and that is good enough for 85% of what we do.

    I won't concede the hour rating. I think you know that LED L70 testing is done in a lab. it is extrapolated based on a year or so of 24 hour testing and looking at lumen degradation over that time and they draw a bell curve. they then assign a L70 or L80 hour rating and thus, the hour rating in the 25000-50000 hours that they throw around. I really need to know that you understand that none of the LED fixtures on the market now have anywhere near 20000 to 25000 hours of testing on them, much less double that, even in a lab.

    I won't beat a dead horse, so I will ask you point blank- what are you telling clients that want the lights on all night long? have you shown them the math that says they will need full fixture replacement in year 9 or 10? are you counting on kichler or other manu's to warranty the lights and possibly reimburse you labor? what do you plan to say to any clients noticing when the lights start hitting 80% lumens and they seem a bit dimmer? because according to the way I read the L70 charts, that starts happening around the 20,000 hour mark. that would be around the middle of year 5 for all nighters. and the end of year 10 for the 6 hour folks.

    I am really not trying to pick a fight here, but I sense that many folks don't have good answers for the above questions. to me, saying that only 5% of folks won't be living there is not a reason to put in stuff that self destructs. saying that folks will redo their landscape anyway is not a reason. I get that on a new home, some stuff does fail over a 15-20 year period- carpet, paint, roofing, a/c, appliances, etc. but plumbing, drywall, insulation, electrical, framing is not that way, and lighting fixtures does not have to be.
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I gotta get back to work. But I'll answer a few of these real quick......

    I don't see any reason why people would have their lights on all night long. Haven't run into it yet. In fact, everyone so far has asked me - before we signed the contract - "Now, this is something we can turn off like around 11 or 12 at night, right? We don't want them running all night long." Not to say some people wouldn't want this. I just haven't run into any of them. If I do, I guess we'll have to have a discussion about decreased life expectancy.

    But again, my analogy with Flat Screen TVs applies here. Technology always gets way better over time. Even if they have to replace them in 9-10 years, what they'll have in 9-10 years from now we'll be so much better that they're going to WANT to replace them.

    No. Only if it becomes a huge problem would I ask them to do that. The thing is, I'm making WAY more profit on outdoor lighting than any other product we install. One reason I love lighting so much is it's the one part of our industry (at least in my area) that hasn't been totally ruined by cheapskates doing work for next to nothing. So I can still enjoy a nice markup AND top dollar for labor. The markup on materials is so good that it often makes my lighting jobs twice as profitable as the other landscape work we do. So if I have to send a guy back to replace a light or two, no big deal, in my mind. We're making enough off the current lighting installs to have some extra money on hand to pay a guy to go replace a fixture on an old lighting install, if needed.

    I don't see that being too much of a problem. The Kichler fixtures actually seem to be a little too powerful right now. The medium spot, which they say is equivalent to a 35 watt halogen - seems more like a 45w output to me. And their small spot (supposed to be like a 20w) seems more like a 30w to me too. Anyone who's installed a lot of Kichler that I've spoken with agreed that these are a little stronger than they say. So if it decreases by 30% or so - slowly over time - I don't think it's going to be too noticeable. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But I think the performance of them, even at 70%, should still be pretty strong.

    I'm just saying it's not going to be a big problem for the installer. And if someone came to me in 15 years and said, "Hey. I bought these lights from some guy 15 years ago and they were supposed to last a long time but they seem to have dimmed now and a couple have quit working." I'd just say to them exactly what I say to people now when I run into that situation - "That's okay. The technology we have now is soooo much better than what we had back then. It's probably time to just install a whole new system at this point. These days, the fixtures we use last _____ years, use _____% less energy, you never have to adjust your timer, etc. etc. etc. The stuff you have is old technology. Let me install a new system and you'll be loving it for the next decade or two!" Then we move on to discussing their new lighting system and how much better it will be!

    Honestly, I don't want systems that last forever, anyway. For the same reason Ford doesn't want to make a car that lasts forever or LG doesn't want to make a TV that lasts forever. I want to be able to keep selling more lighting over time! And technology always improves so much over time with anything electronic that eventually most people are going to WANT to upgrade - simply because what's available now is SOOO much better than what was available 15 years ago.

    Can you imagine having the same cell phone, TV, car stereo, refrigerator, computer, sprinkler system, etc. that you had 15 years ago? Not me! Things don't last forever. And especially in today's age of consumerism, people understand that very well.

    A/C units certainly fail or need major work over 15 years. I know mine has. Appliances too. I certainly don't have the same fridge or microwave or dishwasher that I had 15 years ago. In fact, when I think of what I had 15 years ago I have to laugh.

    Outdoor lighting is like consumer electronics. It changes very rapidly. I know of a couple of changes that two of the big outdoor lighting manufacturers are working on RIGHT NOW that, if they come out, could totally revolutionize the outdoor lighting industry - again! Outdoor lighting isn't like indoor lighting. It doesn't need to last for 30-40 years. And even if it did, it would be severely outdated by what will be available then. Most people change the paint on their house every 5-15 years, re-roof their house every 10-20 years, buy a new car every 5 years, get a new TV every 7 years, remodel their kitchen every so often, get new windows, new cell phones, new computers, etc. It's not unreasonable to treat outdoor lighting in the same way. To have to change out an outdoor lighting system in 15 years or so, is something that should be expected, IMO. If - for no other reason - than what will be available then will work so much better, use so much less energy, look nicer, be easier to use and program, have more features, etc. And that's what I tell people if they ask about the 15 year thing. I haven't had one consumer who didn't agree with that yet. But usually, it doesn't even get brought up.
  7. Richie@

    Richie@ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 187

    I'm sure I will get beat up over this question but who cares.

    Anyone here using Lenses or Filters with their LED fixture Installs because I'm not getting that Eye popping view with LED like you do with Halogen.
  8. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,262

    Not sure of what you're saying, Richie. How do you make LEDs "pop" by using filters?
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    I don't quite follow what you're wanting the lenses to do either. But yes, we do use lenses sometimes on our LED installs. With FX Luminaire, they have a slick system where the lenses just snap on - one on top of the other. Unfortunately, each lens also decreases the lumen output substantially. So the more you add, the less light output you get. But I've used the lenses on the FXL stuff.

    We also use the lenses on the Kichler fixtures too. I just put 4 frosted lenses on some fixtures today, because they were a little too hot and we were already using the small spot light with the 60 degree flood. So it was already about as soft as you could get and was still a little too hot. So the frosted lenses helped. But Kichler does it differently. You have to fully remove the clear lens that the fixture comes with and replace it. Which is a PITA. But the benefit is you don't get as much loss in lumens by doing that. Even the clear lens that most fixtures (like Kichler) comes with actually decreases the lumen output. So if you were to add another lens (say an amber lens) on top of the existing clear lens, you'd lose even more lumens. By just replacing the lens, you don't use as much. So I like the way Kichler does it that way, in terms of minimizing lumen loss. Unfortunately, it's just a PITA to switch them out.

    We also use the amber lenses for customers who don't like the more natural light color that the Kichler lights or FXL lights come with. The amber lens will create a more amber glow that you are used to seeing with incandescent. So we use that once in a while. We did a whole big install with all amber lenses on every fixture a month or two ago.
  10. Richie@

    Richie@ LawnSite Member
    Messages: 187

    I didn't say that I did make LED pop with Filters but was just wondering if anyone did use Lenses or Filters.

    Take 2 bullets 1 with 2700k LED and 1 with 2700k MR 16 20 watt , aim them at Identical objects - Plants - Tree - Roses and tell me what you see.

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