Making Landscape lighting easier

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Prolightscaper, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Prolightscaper

    Prolightscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    If we can look back at the history of landscape lighting we will see that the powers that be are constantly and consistently attempting to make landscape lighting easier and easier to install and open it up to more trades to sell more product. My chronology may be off but please bare with me and no slights intended.

    First there was low voltage landscape lighting invented.

    This opened it up to trades other than licensed electricians and the powers that be have fought hard to keep it that way- thank you.

    12V technology proposed a problem for widespread acceptance because you needed some care, experience and intelligence to safely and properly volt a system.

    Somewhere along the line someone invents the quick disk or quick connect to save time connecting the fixtures to the main cable.

    The kit light system is developed and sold with widespread distribution to contractors and DIYers alike. Flimsy fixtures with flimsy sockets made from ferrous metals and low grade plastics. 50-100' of small gauge wire, low wattage bulbs and a black box transformer with timer. All connections made with pierce point metal quick connects. Open the box lay out the cable in a straight line, mount your transformer attach the cable and connectors to the lights and you are done.

    Someone comes along with a multi-tap transformer that does not have low voltage breakers or fuses-selling points include time savings by not having to load balance and be restricted by a 25 amp breaker. The device also has multiple voltages up to 22V. The idea being that you could now put up to 5 35 watt lamps on one cable run thus saving time and presumably money. 12-2 cable is recommended as the only cable required.

    someone widely and loudly proclaims to anyone that would listen that you only need 1 lamp for landscape lighting and that's the 35 watt halogen PAR-36 installed inside a wellight. Keep it simple stupid. K.I.S.S.

    Then someone pre-installs 25' of 18 or 16 gauge leads on fixtures with butt splices and teaches to install 5 of them to a centrally located pipe stuck in the ground where 1 connection can be made and voltage checked and its called the hub or spider system. Once again the idea is to simplify and or dummy proof the installation and make it easier for installers to get closer to having proper voltage at the lamps without much effort.

    Someone invents an electronic device molded into a flower pot that has leads coming from both ends that is supposed to boost power at the end of voltage dropped lines. This device was designed to improve poor system engineering . Again supposedly a savior for those who don't know what they are doing.

    Then there is the equalizer which is basically an electronic device molded inside a plastic stake that touts to deliver 11.6 volts to each and every fixture as long as you provide more than 11.6 volts to the fixture for the lifetime of the system.

    Fiber optics are introduced as the latest greatest since the invention of 12V. product needs some special installation tools and techniques and ultimately fails as a replace or even a supplement to 12V landscape lighting. Finds limited use in water features.

    Then we have the introduction of LED light sources. Now you can supposedly load up multiple fixtures on small gauge wire without worry of overloads or voltage drop. It is said that smaller transformers can be used.
    Now general trades are salivating. A dream come true. A Promotion of more lazy and non passionate installers who are in it for the buck.

    24 volt is introduced contrary to what is going on in the county and the world. marketed for it's simplicity to install , less voltage drop issues and less use of cable when wiring a system. Again more fixtures per cable run are

    Company that invents low quality low price kit lighting discontinues production after close to 60 yrs. Don't worry there are many others to pick up the slack :cry:

    landscape lighting in the early 1900's was originally intended for the wealthy socialites and hollywood industry people. There was a sense of exclusivity to it. Quality, design, products and installation techniques were paramount.

    Somewhere over the course of 75 yrs this has really changed. Just something to think about.
  2. Prolightscaper

    Prolightscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    Tuck this in there somewhere near the end

    Early 2000's a manufacturer of professional lighting products puts several service vans in the southwest on the road wrapped with fancy graphics and company logos.

    They start offering free nighttime site demos to prospects of contractors who are presumably too lazy to do them themselves.

    In addition they offer service and repair on those systems that contain 100% of their product coddling and supporting the contractor who will not care enough to service his own system.

    This spawns a frenzy of other manufacturers to follow suit and assist with the sale of their products via free Nighttime site demos and even assistance from sales reps on the first few project installations.

    Rumor has it that they would even follow the contractor into the port a John holding a roll of toilet paper but that rumor was never substantiated.
  3. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    There's an alternative view to the development of our industry.

    Many manufacturers entered the low voltage market in the 80's and 90's with materials and installation methods unsuited to the outdoor environment.

    A few manufacturers entered the market with better quality products and installation methods.

    Manufacturers and distributors expanded the outdoor lighting industry (formerly the sole province of electricians) with training and support to include landscape professionals.

    Landscape professionals embraced landscape lighting design and installation. They continue to practice this extremely rewarding profession. They are supported by manufacturers, distributors and fellow professionals through communities such as this forum.
  4. Prolightscaper

    Prolightscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 65

    The heading of this topic was altered by someone other than me for what reason I have no idea.

    That's an interesting perspective perhaps through rose colored glasses I suppose :)

    Yes there are some suppliers who indeed are raising the bar and do a very good job supporting professionals who use their product.

    And then their are some who give with one hand and take with the other by selling direct to your customer from retail stores and or websites they've set up under shell names.:cry:

    It's about time we all wake up and take our heads out of the sand .Hello :waving:
  5. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 284

    Do business with people you trust.

    Buy the equipment you consider quality.

    Remember that quality is the ultimate value.

    You may not be buying the cheapest but you are giving your customers the best you can offer.

    That is how I keep my head out of the sand.
  6. twinsprings

    twinsprings LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    Bump for a good post

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