Outdoor Astro Timer???

JimLewis

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Beaverton, OR
Every once in a while we run across an existing lighting system with a transformer that doesn't allow us to put a timer inside of the transformer, like we normally would.

And we like to use Astronomical Timers.

To date, when we have this situation we use the Intermatic HB-880R timer. But I'm not a fan of this timer. It's very difficult to learn how to program and my employees always have challenges programming them correctly.

There's gotta be something better out there that is water resistant and can hang on the wall outside of a transformer. Y'all have any recommendations?
 

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Hayduke

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
Oregon
Any reason you couldn't upsell a new transformer install?
We don't do a ton of lighting, but hands down my favorite timer is the FX DX.
It is spendy, but by far the easiest to program for my guys, and more importantly my clients...if you
 
OP
JimLewis

JimLewis

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Beaverton, OR
Usually that's what I do. And if I am successful then this isn't an issue. The transformer I use has room for indoor timers inside it.

This is for the situations when the client refuses to upgrade the transformer. But I still want to upgrade their timer to something astro and it has to be outside the transformer.
 

starry night

LawnSite Fanatic
Usually that's what I do. And if I am successful then this isn't an issue. The transformer I use has room for indoor timers inside it.

This is for the situations when the client refuses to upgrade the transformer. But I still want to upgrade their timer to something astro and it has to be outside the transformer.
Hey Jim,
I assume you use an Intermatic DT620 for inside the transformer? I have used those for 10 years with zero failures. And I can program them in less than a minute.
The stand-alone timer that you pictured: whew! tried once once and couldn't figure out how to program it. Sorry I don't have any other suggestions.
May I ask what transformers you use?
 
OP
JimLewis

JimLewis

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Beaverton, OR
I have been using that DT620 mostly, for the last 15+ years. Love that thing, for the most part. Like you, I can program those in under a minute and so can most of my guys. But I agree. The outdoor model from Intermatic is a huge PITA. That's why I'm looking for something else.

So I love the DT620. Except for the fact that the backup batteries eventually die after 3-5 years and then once it gets unplugged or there is a brief power outage, now the customer's lights all don't work. And we have to come back and install new batteries and re-program. That's annoying. So recently I've been switching to the new Kichler 16085BK WiFi Astro timer. All phone-app based. Connects to home's WiFi, super easy to program from the phone. And can override on/off at any time right from that phone app in less than 10 seconds too.

So far, I am really impressed with it. And no batteries. Just an internal backup battery to remember programming. Super easy to connect and program. No WiFi connections issues at all (unlike most of the WiFi Sprinkler controllers on the market). And installs quickly. Only thing I don't like about it is the astronomical features aren't 100% there yet. For instance, our normal schedule for most customers is like Dusk to Midnight. And it has that feature on this timer. It's a pre-set setting you can just choose. But not everyone wants midnight. Some people want the lights to go off at 10:30, or 11:00 or even 2:00 am sometimes. With this timer there is no way to do Dusk-On & Custom-Time Off. That's annoying to me. But they're still developing the app. And I gave them this feedback. So I think that will be a feature on the next iteration of this app. That unit also has an on/off button right on the front for manual override any time you want as well. Pretty slick. And it's really affordable, surprisingly - for what it does.
Kichler-16085bk2.jpg
 

starry night

LawnSite Fanatic
I am a little too old school to go Wi-Fi and I have never had a client ask for such a setup. As for batteries in the DT620, I immediately replace the OEM with silver oxide batteries ( a tip from James Solecki years ago.) Also, almost all my clients have me do an annual maintenance / checkup at which time we replace the backup batteries routinely.
 
OP
JimLewis

JimLewis

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Beaverton, OR
I am a little too old school to go Wi-Fi and I have never had a client ask for such a setup. As for batteries in the DT620, I immediately replace the OEM with silver oxide batteries ( a tip from James Solecki years ago.) Also, almost all my clients have me do an annual maintenance / checkup at which time we replace the backup batteries routinely.
We tried really hard to get the annual maintenance thing going. We created nice brochures, created 3 different service levels, even at one point we made it mandatory if you wanted to keep your warranty with us. But we just couldn't get it up and going ever. For one, nobody around here really does it, so it was hard being the only company doing it. For two, most customers just don't feel it's really needed. Even if I explain it to them in person so they understand the need, when we go to schedule it a year later they don't feel like paying or want it anymore. For three, we are just so busy with everything else that we do that it was hard for us to stay focused and schedule the annual maintenance when we needed to.

Anyway, I'm a fan of the annual maintenance. And we replace the batteries when we do that too. But just has been a struggle getting that going. But since we don't do annual maintenance on most of the lighting installs we've done, we don't get the opportunity to switch out the batteries. So having to do that is a pain.
 
OP
JimLewis

JimLewis

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Beaverton, OR
I am a little too old school to go Wi-Fi and I have never had a client ask for such a setup.
I get that. It's something I've only had a request for occasionally. Here in Portland - especially Hillsboro area, where there's a lot of High-Tech companies - there are a fair amount of people who are high tech and like to have as many things as possible controlled by a phone app. Their irrigation system timer, lights, even water features. But not too many ask for it.

Nevertheless, the few we have installed so far, people REALLY like having that technology. They may not be asking for it. But after we install it and show them how easy it is to use, I can tell you they wouldn't want it the other way. It's like something that you didn't know you needed, until you have it.
 

starry night

LawnSite Fanatic
We tried really hard to get the annual maintenance thing going. We created nice brochures, created 3 different service levels, even at one point we made it mandatory if you wanted to keep your warranty with us. But we just couldn't get it up and going ever. For one, nobody around here really does it, so it was hard being the only company doing it. For two, most customers just don't feel it's really needed. Even if I explain it to them in person so they understand the need, when we go to schedule it a year later they don't feel like paying or want it anymore. For three, we are just so busy with everything else that we do that it was hard for us to stay focused and schedule the annual maintenance when we needed to.

Anyway, I'm a fan of the annual maintenance. And we replace the batteries when we do that too. But just has been a struggle getting that going. But since we don't do annual maintenance on most of the lighting installs we've done, we don't get the opportunity to switch out the batteries. So having to do that is a pain.
I guess it must be a difference in markets. Almost all my clients, when we first agree on a project, say to me "you will come back and take care of us, right?"
For the ones that don't ask, the most I have ever said was "Most of our clients have us come back each year and do a checkup and preventive maintenance." And I have never had anyone go past two years before maintenance.
 

mitchgo

LawnSite Gold Member
Location
Redmond, WA
We use this junk as well for timers that can't fit inside the transformer. we have the same problems with techs.. I had one last week in which the 3 year old kept pressing buttons and changing the settings . I suggested a transformer replacement but for the time being I crammmm packed that timer inside lol. I miss the old intermatic dial timer ( I forgot the model) it was fazed out about 5 years ago.
 

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