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when a 150 watt halogen looks dim...

David Gretzmier

LawnSite Gold Member
You gotta wonder where the light goes.

not really landscape lighting, but a light story nonetheless...

The other day a client asked me to replace the bulbs in a couple of high voltage fixtures on thier sign beside thier road at a commercial location. I removed the old bulbs that were burned out, could not find a wattage on them, and found on the fixture it would take 150, 300 and 500 watt bulbs. the fixture was located about 7 feet from the sign, fixed in a j-box on the ground, and was about 8 inches by 10 inches rectagular. the sign was from the ground to 5 feet tall and about 7 foot wide. I thought that 150 watts would be plenty, as I would normally give this sign plenty of white light with 2 35 watt 60 degree mr-16 floods on each side. maybe 50 watt bulbs each if they really wanted it searing white.

I put in the 150 watts bulbs and noticed the inside of the fixture
is pretty much dull aluminum. no problem, I though, this is a 150 watt bulb. I put one in each side of the 2 sided sign and took a look that evening.

was i surprised. rather than a bright white light, It was a warm yellow, what I would probably call a 9.5-10 volt low voltage halogen color. Upon checking the voltage at the taps, I got 102 volts. the bulb is a long life 130 volt bulb, so I may go to grainger and see if they have a 110 volt halogen bulb, but also, i gotta tell you, I was underwhelmed by the output regardless. Even with proper voltage and a lower voltage rated bulb, I will only see 30% more light. where do the lumens go? backwards? This is why so many folks use/waste electricity on 300 and 500 watt bulbs, the fixtures just don't reflect out the lumens like a good mr-16. worse/further, these bulbs are only rated at 1500 hours. why don't folks install a good reflective 70 watt metal halide fixtue for the same application and get a 24000 hour bulb and use half the electicity for the same lumens?

And of course these folks do not think a reasonable path to energy conservation is paying me to replace these 2 fixtures with a small trans and 4 low voltage fixtures. Since i am not an electricain, I cannot do a high voltage replacement as mentioned above.

David Gretzmier

LawnSite Gold Member
So what would you guys do or advise the client to do in this situation? just put in 300/500 watt bulbs, get a quote from an electrician for 2 new metal halide fixtures, or maybe put in a small trans and 4 fixtures? maybe show a chart comparing 2 500 watt bulbs to whatever you reccomend to show the pay off in a x number of years?

RLI Electric

LawnSite Senior Member
Durham CT
David, they may have lost a phase and you are getting a lower voltage rating due to the fact that the circuit is being completed through a 240 volt load someplace for example a well or a range. I see this a lot when phases are lost although the voltage usually falls in at 76 volts from hot to neutral.


LawnSite Member

I cannot understand how you could begin to call yourself someone else's name. I guess you have been sleeping and walking in your own shoes like this for 10 months!! How do you wake up in the morning and feel original? I put my cell in the other post, but here it is again 609-468-8488. Maybe because Tommy is such a great, helpful guy is why I am a little PO'd at this situation. I know there are better things I have to do with my time and I am going to leave it at this... unless someone starts a thread on this topic. Why Tommy, why The Lighting Geek, why not something your own? I try to separate myself from my competition and create unique product, and it seems like you are passionate and experienced - why would you need to piggyback on someone's personality. I gave you advice about growing your business the other day, and I truly meant that heartfelt advice on how to expand and support your family. I am always about helping others, but not helping people that are hurting my friends. What is up with that?

Why is it that you did this?

Talk soon.

Tanek - Reynolds Lighting