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Posts Tagged ‘Twin Cities’

Winterization – Sprinkler System Blowout

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Every year we hear a story of someone moving to Minnesota from somewhere warm, Texas, Flordia, California.  Usually the person moves into their residence in the summer or fall and doesn’t realize their sprinkler system needs to be blown out before the Winter hits.  Inevitably they discover should have been winterized only after the pipes freeze and break.

Some things to remember if you are new to Minnesota:

1.)  Late September/October is the best time to get your system blown out or winterized.  Once November hits the chances of the temperature dropping below 32 degrees is very high.

2.)  Once your system is blown out do not turn your system back on if it warms up.

3.)  Your sprinkler system needs to be in working order before winterization.  Broken or cut lines can allow water to get back into the system and potentially damage the system.

4.)  Schedule your winterization in September even if you don’t want it blown out until late fall.  Trucks fill up quickly and it is less likely you will be able to get someone to Winterize your system if you wait too long.

New 2011 Twin Cities Metro Area Public Utility Water Rates.

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Is your water bill higher? Think your lawn sprinkler system has sprung a leak? Chances are your bill is higher because of a bill the Minnesota state legislature passed last year. Minnesota statute 103G.291 has become active as of January 1, 2010.  It states that all cities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area must adopt a utility rate structure that encourages conservation.  However, the exact implementation of these laws has been left to the individual municipalities.  This means that every city will have different rates and rate increases for over-usage.  We have compiled a list of residential water rates for various cities around the area and this is what we have come up with.  Just click on your city to see your new water rates.

Note:  Some cities use measurements such as units, cubic meters or cubic feet for some reason.  So, in addition to the city’s structure we have done the conversion to gallons for you for a better frame of reference.

For ways to conserve water and lower your bill contact us and check out our previous blog post.

How Much Does it Cost to Run Landscape Lighting?

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

The answer will vary, and it may be necessary to look at an old electric bill to determine the electric companies’ rate.  Usually the cost of electricity is measured in kilowatt hours.  The average national rate is 11.53 cents per kilowatt hour.  The cost per hour can vary wildly, check out the department of energy here to find out how much your electricity costs.

To find out the monthly cost it will require a little math. First you need to calculate approximately how long it is running per month.  So the average person in the fall would run from dusk to midnight.  Here in Minnesota that is around 6 hours a day so, 6 hour  multiplied my 31 days equals 186 hours.  We then need to decide how big of transformer we are using, a 600 watt transformer could run roughly 10 – 20 lights and is a good size for an average residence.  We will then base our calculations on this size of transformer.

1000 watts = 1 kilowatt

We divide the 600 watts by 1000 to get .6 killowatt hours as our usage

.6 multiplied by 186 gives us 111.6 kilowatt hours for the month.

In Minnesota the average kilowatt hour is 11 cents so we multiply 111.6 by 11 and divide by 100

The cost to run an average sized system in Minnesota is then $12.28 a month.

Soldering Wire Connections in Landscape Lighting

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Poor wire connections can causes major maintenance headaches for homeowners.  The problem is they usually occur after the warranty for the original work has run out. It is easy to cut corners in landscape lighting, poor design, low quality lamps, poor connections all do not cause major problems for several years after the system is installed. This is why some contractors do not spend extra time ensuring good connections.  In fact many contractors do not offer service plans or even service the lighting systems they install.   Homeowners should always inquire if a contractor will provide a service plan or services landscape lighting systems.  If the answers is no, this should be a cause for concern.  It is from our experience servicing other contractors’ work, that made us decide soldering wire connections provide the highest quality final product.

Splices in landscape lighting can be a serious maintenance hassle years after a system is installed. This is because wire connections in landscape lighting are very important.   Corroded connections can cause improper light temperature and decreased voltage to the fixtures and every time a splice is made you have the potential for a short and extra voltage loss.  Soldering together  wire splices and then inserting the connections in a waterproof grease cap, solves a lot of common service problems.  We believe a well designed lighting system deserves good connections.  Homeowners want a system that does not need constant maintenance and solid connection eliminates some future problems.  If the connections are strong and well waterproofed, the system will last much longer without the need for a major overhaul.  It can cost hundreds of dollars to redo corroded and frayed connections, so why not prevent future headaches?  Soldering together wire splices are worth the extra time and provide a better quality product.

If you have any questions about how we solder wire splices or want some more information please leave a comment below.

Wiring Connections – Hub vs. Daisy Chaining

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

There are two different types of ways to design wiring in Landscape Lighting. One method usually called, “Hub” or “Spider Splicing” has a big advantage over the other method known as “Daisy Chaining.” The hub method, illustrated below,  consists of a run going to a central meeting point for all the lights connected to that particular run.  The wire going to each fixture is then the same length to each fixture, even if this means burying extra wire beneath the fixture.   This lets the designer know that each light will have the same voltage on that run and the color temperature of each light will be the same.  The life span of the lamp should also be longer and the wear on each lamp more consistent.  From a service standpoint once, one lamp goes out on that run the other are likely to burn out as well.  The first lamp wearing out is a good indicator for the homeowner to replace all the lamps at once.  The disadvantage to this method is it takes more time from a design perspective and might take a little more time to install.

hubexample2

The second method that is popular with quite a few contractors is “daisy chaining.”  This method one wire runs to the farthest away light fixture and any other lighting fixtures are connected along the run at the easiest point.   The reason this is popular is because it saves on wire and is easier to plan and install than a “hub” wiring system.  The problem with this is that the voltages across the fixtures can vary by several volts.   This is particularly annoying to homeowners because the uneven wear on the lamps cause the rates of burning out to vary by a larger amount than the “hub” system.  When the first bulb burns out it could mean that the other need replacing or the others might last much longer since they have less voltage.  Second is that if line up a long wall or fence the color temperatures will be different because of the uneven voltages.  In the Twin Cities with our varied temperatures throughout the year, voltages on long runs can vary by up to one volt between summer and winter.  This makes it important to set the voltage in accordance to the season and design the system so it allows for a change in voltage.  “Daisy chaining” makes this task much more difficult because swings in voltage either up or down will dramatically decrease life expectancy of the lamps.

Daisy chain wiring method

Daisy chain wiring method

The hub method in all respects is superior to the daisy chain method.  The only person who it might not be advantageous for is the contractor or installer.  It is much easier to cut corners using daisy chaining than it is with a hub.  In the past, most landscape lighting systems were designed with a daisy chain method. Now the industry has begun focusing more on service and maintenance, the hub method has been gaining in popularity.  Green Acres only installs landscape lighting using a hub method and we believe the extra time taken creates a higher quality finished product.