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Seeking contractor input for new fixture line

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Alan B, Jul 2, 2009.


Dream fixture lead wire length

Poll closed Jul 12, 2009.
  1. 25' - the standard for Hub ready fixtures

    9 vote(s)
  2. 30' - longer the better, sometimes 25' isn't long enough

    2 vote(s)
  3. 10' - don't use or care for hubs but extra length is handy

    5 vote(s)
  4. 36" - the short leads most manu's use are just fine

    4 vote(s)
  1. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    You must have gotten the old stakes like me. Give Doug a shout on your next order and make sure its the new stakes. He should also have the 10 inch monster brass ones in stock now too.

    Alluminum stakes are worse than PVC. I replaced what i think was the remnants of vista fixtures (at least the transformers were vista) that had alluminum stakes around a saltwater pool... 4 years old... corroded right thru the stakes. Have brass stakes on the gambino paths around the pool deck now and all they have done is slightly greened a year later.
  2. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    THANK YOU for the feedback thus far. Based on your input the next production will have:
    -25' lead wire
    -stakes that can be hammered in first then fixture attached after
    -Convex lens
    -brass only fixtures in bronze finish, except area lights will also come in copper finish.
    -brass but not add brass heat dissipating fins
    -we will offer brass stakes as an option for those who like them
    -underwater lights will be smaller so they are less noticeable (water will dissipate the heat of the smaller fixture and made of brass

    COUPLE NEW ITEMS QUESTIONS, seeking feedback:

    1a. Currently the shades on the path and area lights are spun brass. There is only so thick you can go when using spun components over cast. Our current shades are thick for being spun and will not bend. We are considering adding cast brass shades. There is little tangible benefit other than heavy weight perception to the customer. There is no doubt that a cast shade will be heavier/more robust and will enable a customer to see these are no ordinary fixtures. They will cost about $5-$10 more and have little practical effect other than being heavier, however with all the other great components/solid construction I think it will be one more differentiator to show the quality. Your thoughts on spun vs cast shades on area lights?

    1. All of our PRO grade brass/cooper path/area lights are technically "area lights" and not dedicated "path lights" (i.e. they have straight stems like a China Hat and not an L stem for a dedicated path lights). I prefer area lights to path lights as the path light will draw attention to hardscape walkway whereas area lights will illuminate both the walkway and the landscape adjacent to the path. Do you think Volt should incorporate some dedicated path lights (L stems) into our product mix. Personally I think it would be good to have 1 or 2 but do not think they are in as big demand as the area lights.

    2. If we made 1 or 2 path lights they would be more ornamental/decorative (add some copper scroll/detail) for the customers that are looking for something more decorative given our area lights focus is currently about being robust, utilitarian first then decorative second. Would you like to see a mix of materials (brass body with copper accents) for decorative path/area lights?

    3. We will add a brass grate to our PAR36 well lights for the more robust appearance and as a quality debris cover. We are considering adding an MR-16 well light similar to the Atom Lighting/Gambino Lighting style (sealed and adjustable MR-16 well light) however I am not sure of the demand (see below regarding current demand for our PAR36 well light). Currently only David G has expressed an interest in the MR16 well light--any others use them?

    3a. Do you prefer an open well light PVC tube, or sealed canister well light

    4. Copper can not be cast molded and is softer/less durable than brass. Accordingly you will see that solid copper items tend to be copper pipes with spun copper when there is a "shaped" component (i.e. a china hat will have a copper pipe stem with a spun copper top). Where as with brass you can cast components and make then both thicker and molded to any shape. We have opted to cast solid brass then plate it in copper for those who want a copper finish. It is heavier, stronger and will patina to the same finish as it ages. Do you prefer solid copper and be limited to spun components and more rudimentary designs or solid brass with copper finish?

    5. Most fixtures are void of any markings of the manufacturer brand name. I personally feel this is because manu's don't want people to know due to warranty issues, calls from consumers, and possibly a general lack of faith of how their fixtures hold up over time being in/on the ground. Would you like to see brand names (very small discreet markings) on the fixtures or prefer anonymous?

    New things we are working on:
    -There is a lack of innovation, design and selection in the wallwash/flood fixtures out there in general. We are working on some new fixture designs from scratch that will address this.
    -New deck, step and underwater lights are in the works.
    -All our risers 6", 12", 24" will be made of solid brass (1" diameter) to match the stems of path area lights. This makes for a better riser than the typical aluminum 3/4", plus enables path/area lights to be made higher for that unique need.
    -adding new brass spot similar to Top Dog, but in a wider body and wider glass lens (not as extreme as a Kim KLV205) whose purpose is to be a bigger fixture, wider glass lens, more air space and heat sinking for flood applications and higher wattage's for up lighting larger tree canopies.
    -refinements to the Top Dog fixture: shorten body 1/4" to get MR-16 just below convex lens (leaving just enough space for accessory lens to be added). Currently lamp sits 3/8" below lens. Add a second glare guard adjustment screw so adjustable glare guard can be lower all the way. Add female nipple molded to glare guard so adjustment screw does not fall out when over loosened. Reducing angle of glare guard from 55 degrees to 45 degrees. All of these are to enable full beam spreads on 60 degree bulbs.

    Thanks for your input.


  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Any chance we are going to see the VOLT line with appropriate ULc, cETL, or CSA listings for use here in Canada anytime soon?
  4. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446


    Thank you for the input.

  5. eskerlite

    eskerlite LawnSite Member
    Messages: 222

    1. Regarding Hub ready fixtures, 25' (16 g) lead wire is the common standard. Would you like to see longer 30' lead wire or does 25' take care of the majority of the needs?
    Answer. 30 ft for tree lights, 25' for pathlights for the hub guys, 4' for flushmount fixtures on deck posts ect. and 3' for the spots and paths for non hub users.
    2. Which do you prefer domed lens or flat glass lens on bullets? Domed lenses are good in that they prevent water from collecting on the lens. Down side is the curved glass causes very minor striations at the very edges of the beam spread (only notice if your looking for it and its projected onto a flat wall). Flat lens don't have that issue, plus they can be made of higher quality (tempered glass) -- but you get water staining.
    Ans. Flat lenses i prefer as long as the angle is going to let the water run off the bottom.
    3. Tinned copper wiring in the fixtures. Volt currently uses tinned copper wiring throughout but does pay about a double premium in price for it. Not a big deal now, but as we move to 25'-30' lead wire it makes a slight difference cost wise. Is tinned wirting important to you?
    Ans. No regular wire.
    4. I prefer brass significantly over aluminum for obvious reasons. The only thing aluminum has over brass is that it is a better conducter of heat. We are considering adding heat dissapating fins to the knuckle area for our brass fixtures (bullets and floods only). Do you care about heat build-up from brass fixtures? We haven't had any issues with it, but its obvious that the cooler the better.
    Ans.NO ALUMINIUM it has no place in the outdoors!
    5. Migrating towards all brass fixtures (phasing out our aluminum products), and offerring predominately brass with bronze finishes only (some items like china hats and paths also availble in copper). Thoughts?Ans. Copper very good and brass very good. Get rid of the aluminum.
    6. Is adjustable height important to you for path/area lights like china hats? We can add them, but you can make a stem more robust if its one solid piece and feel the slight adjustment is rarely used on adjustable height models. Your thoughts? I think the stem height should be adjustable. My clients dont like to see a tall fixture with small immature plant material. They like the option of raising the fixtures with the growth of the plant material. Make 3 different stem sizes as an option for a stronger stem.
    7. Custom stakes (i.e. having brass spikes, larger spikes and "3-prong" metal spikes) as options over the standard PVC spike. Yes. different soils call for different spikes as well as the height of the fixtures dictate a larger more stable spike.
    8. Underwater/pond lights -- prefer stainless steel/brass or synthetic?Brass.
    My 2 cents.
    Sean Curran
    Donald B. Curran Inc. dbcurraninc.com
    Past President of AOLP aolponline.org
  6. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Just a quick thought: I believe to make every fixture with an adjustable stem would be cost prohibitive. Instead, why not have available various length extensions which would accomodate every situation that the adjustable stem would? In other words, I don't want to pay more for every fixture just because it has the adjustable stem. I'd rather pay less and keep the option to modify it to suit my needs, if necessary. My .0001364875 cents.
  7. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    Sean and Chris, thank you for your input.
    I didn't communicate very well, so let me clarify...
    -By adjustable, I am only referring to the shade relative to the bulb (i.e. a 1" adjustment to compensate for elevation changes (to hide lamp glare when area light is installed on a higher grade and visible from below). Also enables micro adjustment of illumination area (from a 5' diameter to about 15' diameter if you raise or lower the shade section only). This is a feature we will likely incorporate in our next production.
    -Regarding the stems, we are changing our risers (6", 12", 24") to be 1" solid brass in the same finish options) so that you can raise area lights (and all lights) with a stem that is an exact match and blends in seamlessly. We will definitely incorporate these changes in our next production run. Our current risers are 3/4" aluminum and were only intended for raising spots- we will discontinue those.
    -We will go with the 25' leads on all fixtures.

    Unresolved questions:
    -2 new well lights are in the works. PAR36 and MR-16. Both will have brass grates, adjustable gimble and be sealed canisters (no more open wells). The big question is, we are planning on using a PVC sealed canister for the below ground portion and brass for the above ground finishing. The goal is to make a sealed, quality well light at a very affordable price. However I have heard input from high end contractors that love the Nightscaping Vermeer (which has an all cast brass canister). It is unlikely we would use a brass canister as the weight makes shipping, manufacturing and cost very high for what may be negligible function and quality improvement. However I maybe completely wrong, please fill me in if/why a cast brass canister would be worth the significant increase in price? The PVC may actually outperform brass (less internal condensation, better seal, no metal underground).
    -I personally dislike having multiple screws on the face of a brass well lights (makes a great seal however time consuming to change bulbs/install) and even when pregreased, the is the chance of screws freezing/stripping into fixture body. I prefer tooless if it can be made solid and water tight. I would like to make a thick PVC sealed canister with a brass grate that screws onto the canister and is sealed with a thick O-ring. Tool-less, faster, cleaner presentation, no metal on metal corrosion, tight seal. Your thoughts? (we will have screws for underwater lights however).

    Thanks again for helping us understand what you want.


  8. Alan B

    Alan B Sponsor
    Male, from tampa, fl
    Messages: 446

    By tool-less I meant the entire brass grate is threaded and your twist the brass grate to screw it down into the pvc canister (no individual screws).
  9. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I really doubt you can make a tool-less ingrade well light that is also water tight. It might keep out moisture for a little while, but eventually it will leak.

    Even some of the mid grade product that uses 4 or more screws tends to leak over time. Oh to have the NS Vermeer available again!

    I would recommend to any manufacturer that they do some research into IP ratings and then start to build and test to IP65 or better. Keeping dust, moisture, etc out of fixtures is a sure fire way to ensure long lamp and socket life.

  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Although I would love a tool free well, i am with James on this one, I don't think it can be done. It must be essentially waterproof. I hate taking off 4, 6 or 8 screws to change or aim a bulb, but if it means the fixture lasts 20 years, so be it. If your going to try a no screw, the reason the brass would work far better than plastic is the structure of the brass will be less likely to "shift" in the ground. you put plastic in the ground, and over a period of several frost/heave, root sqeeze years, when you unscrew the lid to change a bulb, the plastic structure may very well "unround" itself and the lid may not screw back on. Brass won't do that.

    a nice feature would be to use standard phillips screws so you always have the bit needed for your drill. what is up with Manu's using hex, square or star drives? maybe they think they are cool, maybe they strip out less, but it really just serves to frustrate me when I go to change a bulb. Although I try to keep 2-3 of every bit out there, I always seem to lose the one I need.

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