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MY demo kit weighs...

7375 Views 66 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Mike M
I gotta tell you, I am developing a love/hate relationship with my demo kit. the more I use it, the more jobs I get, which i am thrilled to say i have picked up 3 landscape light jobs in the past week, after doing 6 demo's. after a dead time of a month, I am happy to be doing at least part time lighting work again before the big christmas light work starts September 15.

my love hate thing goes like this- I love having 4 75 ft runs of multi-plug cord, 20 brass mr-16 uplights, 5 deck lights with clamps, 2 600 watt trans, and a few paths and a few extension cords. really everything you need for a decent medium home demo.

my hate thing is weight. I have maxed out 2 very large ice chests on wheels w/ collapsable handles ( like luggage) , and I keep the paths and deck lights in a seperate box. each ice chest easily weighs 65-75 lbs, and I am tired of loading and unloading these things in the back of my truck.

I know that firefly does awesome demo's, and probably easily doubles the weight of mine, but I am also curious about the rest of you guys- what do you bring and how do you lug it around? how much time do you give yourself to setup, bid and load back up a demo? I am taking about 35-45 minutes to setup, 15-20 to write out and bid, and 20-25 minutes to load up and go home. all by myself. some demo's take longer if the customer wants me to move around lights, but a single demo typically takes me from 7:30 pm leave house time to around 9:30-10:30 get back home time at this time of year. February is much easier as you can get there at 4:30 pm and be back home by 6:30 pm. let me know if my experience is normal, or what you guys are doing different.
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I have to "buy" my credibility with blood, sweat and tears.
Amen! Takes me 2-3 hours to set up. I am now bringing some LED's on batteries for quick "let's see this illuminated, too."

I use 2 transformers and boxes of fixtures, and only 1 stanley roller. I need another roller.

I am now using the Firefly method: haul a bunch of stuff over thrown in boxes, use regular twist-on connectors, keep a spool of #12 handy, no short cuts.

I set up in daylight, return at night, with a fresh start.

Demo set-ups suck at 2-3 hours, especially in this ridiculous heat. I need to hire help, but I'm keeping expenses low.

I always make myself climb trees if applicable and hang a few by bungee cord, and do some pita stuff as if it's an install.
The twist-ons I use for demo's are regular non-direct-burial stuff. The red ones with the wings are best and cheap.

I bought the cool kwick clips like the ones Uneek uses in their demo kit (ignore my spelling, I have no working "cue" on my keypad). Only problem is that I keep cutting wire and making new connections, so I found it's easier to just cut-and-nut when hooking up demo's.

I laugh at my ultimate laziness--does anyone take the time to measure and tweak voltage at the lamp?? I just guestimate.

I'd like a system to gather/contain fixture wire that is easier than velcro straps.
Hey sleepyhead--I'm with Paul and Chris. The only victims are the people who go to misguided installers. There are bad lighting designs and corroded/failed materials everywhere around here.
To all those concerned about my (q) problem, I have fixed it. My apologies to Uni(q)ue.
Chris, I tried some large plastic tubs from lowe's to save money, and they are in pieces on my garage floor.

Also, for what it's worth, anyone planning on purchasing the cool opening tool chest from stanley (upright, expands outward, several drawers, on wheels), beware that it is not even close to rain proof. That being said, it's an awesome way to instantly organize. I use it for installs and try not to leave it in my truck overnight for threat of rain.

For demo's I like the stanley roller that is at h-depot & lowes and plan to get a second one.
Fact is, you will still need to mess with many main runs and leads at various unpredictable lengths, and need time to plan a design, position and aim fixtures, lamp properly, climb trees maybe, etc. etc.

There are freakin wires everywhere, man. No short cuts.

The best thing I came up with to save time and stop sweating so much and to feel less stressed out, was to be organized. Figure your lighting plan. Unload the fixtures. Place the fixtures. Extend the leads. Unload the transformers, place them. Unload main wires, lay them all out on the ground first so you can see them. Select your wires for runs, hook them up. Hook up your hubs.

Whatever the system, just stick with one task at a time and try to be organized. I also learned to clean up my demo kit the same way, focussing on one area at a time, grouping the stuff I collect on the lawn, and putting it all away neatly, so my next job is faster (everything where it belongs, no tangles, etc.).

While setting up or breaking down, I tend to lay-out and organize lots of stuff on the lawn so I can readily know what I have and get it quickly.

This keeps me from changing my mind, running back and forth to the truck for each specific item, and it keeps me from being distracted or overwhelmed. It also keeps me from "jogging" around. I take my time, relax, and practically go into autopilot.

My first demo's were unfocussed and made me worn out, creatively and physically.

A great idea my labor guy had for me was to use a checklist before going. So I hung a white board in my garage, and wrote checklists for "Installs" and "Demo's" ... No more, oops, where's the ladder?

Oh yeah, I'm still learning--I'm not an expert. By the time I master them, I probably won't need to do demo's anymore. hehe.
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I have one of those white boards. I bought it a long time ago when I arrived at a job site, for the second time, without any transformers. Guess my mind isn't what it used to be.

I can relate to that!!
"Has anyone seen "downlights with "moonlight" pole " from the FX demo kit?"

Hey TP;

I'm not positive of what you mean, but I got an extension pole idea from Joey and Billy that sounds like what you are talking about.

I made a mount on the end of an extension pole to put mini-wall washers or a spot on it, to demo hitting upper building surfaces, I suppose you could invert the light to show downlighting, too. I only used it on my own house to experiment.

But for downlighting during demo's, I just use a bungee cord on a tree and hang one of my bullets upside down, but I use at least one or two actual tree lights to hide the source.

Big demo for me = nice size job. But, like Chris suggests, I leave some stuff out if it is already represented in another area.

The demo, like Joey will tell you, pushes the scene to a full portrait, and keeps them from thinking just 4 fixtures will do the job.

Chris, this is important to newer guys, since most peeps are merely responding to a postcard and not a referral.

Also, it helps me to position things "just right" as I am still learning some tricks of the trade.

That being said, I hate demo's. haha.
Spreading out the "weight" of the demo (think of this as mental mechanical leverage).

Most classical artists throughout history used to sketch their landscapes/portraits on separate paper until they studied the scene long enough to get it.

Until I get a lot better at planning, it helps me to show up for a consult on one day, go back to set up the demo on another, and go back to flip the switches in the evening. I gives me time to notice and think, and then each return I come back with a clean (dry) shirt and a fresh start to "see" again and have the energy to care about making some changes or additions.

I also like the consult out of the way, so I can concentrate on a set up without distractions or pressure.

After the demo, I just leave the stuff there and break it down another day. This allows me to see everything in the daylight, and to have a fresh start to carefully put it all away properly.

Oh yeah, I almost have to spread the time to do the demo's this way; I can't bring a commercial truck inside the communities in the evening.
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I mentioned that Stanley upright thing. I have one; it makes good use of vertical storage in my truck, and it's awesome for being organized. I open that up on the job and I'm good to go.

One problem: Not at all weather-proof.

I also have a Stanley storage box, white/clear lids, that's opens butterfly style, and has several trays on the middle section. I use this for connectors, screws, anchors, etc.

Again, one problem: not weather-proof.
The quick connects that Unique uses are also a good idea, I bought 100 pairs from; however, I find that I just revert back to the Tim method while setting up demo's. Just cut and nut with regular red twist-ons.

The product is called Anderson PowerPoles. The trick is in making a good connection, and I highly recommended buying the special tool for the job unless you feel like wiggling a lot of connections during your demo.

Unique sells all the stuff you need for this, including the special crimper, but Joey is telling us they will put all those connectors on for us. Their demo kit comes with them on the fixtures and the transformer. I think the Unique kit is a great starter kit and recommend it for that purpose.

Be forewarned--that power-pole crimper is expensive.

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