Texas Christmas Decorator
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Barcana has brought only the highest quality decor and lighting products into the commercial and residential markets for over 60 years. Their extensive relationships allow them direct access to factories to bring you the highest quality products for the best price. Continuing on a history of performance; Barcana's pledge is an unprecedented 3-season limited warranty from the date of purchase on all LED lighting products. Barcana's commercial LED mini lights were designed for the demanding needs of installers: • Fused plugs, Full wave rectified • Wide angle 5mm concave lens • Balled for easy installation • Each 50 bulb strand is 4.8 watts • Connect up to 42 strands end-to-end • Barcana's LED C7 and C9 bulbs were developed for the rigors of commercial installations: • High impact acrylic with added UV protection retrofit C7/C9 bulbs • Water tight sealed - Domed covered diodes for added weather resistance • LED C7 bulbs have 3 LED diodes/.6 watts each • LED C9 bulbs have 5 LED diodes/.96 watts each • Smooth and Faceted bulbs • All of our LED lights are UL/CSA Approved.
There is a tremendous amount of misinformation that has permeated through the lighting industry—specifically with regard to Light-Emitting Diode (LED) technology. There is no doubt that LED lighting is a far better option than its predecessors— incandescent bulbs and fluorescent compacts and tubes. Like all new products, consumers must be able to separate fact from ‘creative marketing’. Through many hours of research and working closely with the manufacturers, Barcana has assembled some helpful information that will help our clients discern between reality and fiction. Compared to older lighting technology, LED offers: • Longer life • Lower energy consumption • No mercury content • An environmentally-friendly alternative
Contrary to popular belief, LEDs do not last forever. Some sources promote LEDs with a lifespan of more than 100,000 hours—more than 11 years of continuous burning. The fact is, LED technology hasn’t been around long enough for testing to adequately support this claim. Based on current knowledge, conservative industry experts estimate that LEDs have a useful life ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 hours. While this is a remarkable improvement over older technologies, there are a number of factors that can negatively impact the life of LEDs, including associated bulb components and usage patterns. LEDs tend to dim as they progress through their life cycle, but nevertheless, they do last much longer than other lighting technologies.
Barcana LED Mini Light sets are fully rectified; the natural ‘flickering’ of the electrical wave conversion is not visible to the human eye. Most of the industry will use non-rectified or partially-rectified sets in order to save money. The result is a strobe or ‘flickering’ effect. In addition, Barcana sets are also sealed for weather proofing. Due to patent issues, most of the industry will use a replacement bulb—which 1)isn’t needed due to the long life of the diodes, and 2)creates a channel for moisture to get in and damage the internal construction of the light set. The result is either poor or non-performing light sets. Many manufacturers—in an effort to cut costs—do not color match the diodes. So, they will produce strings that may have multiple shades of the same color within the same string. Barcana invests the extra money to ensure that the diodes match.
Barcana C7-bulbs feature 3 diodes and the C9-bulb has 5 diodes that are placed in a star pattern at the base of the bulb and dome-sealed. Most of the industry will feature unsealed 3-diode bulbs, or they will stack up to 5 diodes, which leads to poor light distribution within the bulb, while allowing moisture to penetrate the inner workings of the bulb. In addition, Barcana bulbs are self ballasted or ballast-adapted—compared to the industry standard of being non-ballasted. Similar to our rectified mini light sets, this step will stabilize the ‘flicker’ effect that is generated by non-ballasted bulbs. Perhaps the biggest advantage of the C bulbs is Barcana proprietary, high-impact acrylic shell, featuring added UV protection. These shells will hold their color and clarity, compared to others in the industry that feature polycarbonate or polystyrene, which tend to cloud and get discolored over time.
How many watts or amps do Christmas lights use?
We have a wide range of high quality LED lights for any occasion. This is an example of the latest color changing LED prismatic lens C9 lights.
Pros can light up your holidays, at a cost
By Kay Bell • Bankrate.com
"Some residential installations run in excess of $50,000."
Most holiday decorating companies offer at least a limited repair guarantee.
The most common decoration is lighting attached to the edge of your roofline.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, unless you're the one assigned the task of untangling the lights, balancing on the ladder and spending hours hanging and rearranging your home's exterior holiday decorations.
Sure, a lot of folks actually look forward to taking care of the outside adornment duties themselves. But for those of us with limited handyman skills, and even less time, there's not enough egg nog around to make decking the outside of our homes a joyful experience.
If you're in the latter category, then this might be the year to give yourself the gift of hiring a Christmas Decorator lighting pro. But make your decision soon.
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And be sure to budget for the brilliance to cover both installation costs and your electric bill. Depending on just how large a display you want, hiring a holiday decorator could eat up a big part of your Christmas savings.
A growing, glowing business
Many holiday decorating companies evolved as offshoots of landscaping enterprises looking to expand business year-round. Since they couldn't mow or fertilize or plant in the dead of winter in most places, holiday decorations seemed like a natural next step. The popularity of holiday lighting, however, has prompted some companies to focus only on that service.
Brad Finkle began decorating houses as a hobby while still a teenager. When he saw the amount of neighborly interest in his handiwork -- "They'd say, 'You know what? I can't get my husband outside to do anything. Would you mind?'" he says -- he knew it could succeed as a business.
He was right. For 25-plus years, Finkle's Creative Decorating has been a full-time holiday lighting company in Omaha, Neb., and a busy company at that. "We hang close to 1 million lights each season," says Finkle. And in the off-season, there's removing the lights, inventorying, repairing and storing them and consulting with others who want to start similar businesses.
Christmas Decor also lends wannabe decorators a hand, says marketing director Brandon Stephens. The Lubbock, Texas-based company opened in 1986 as a winter component to an original lawn-care business but now specializes in holiday lighting displays for homes and businesses. It began franchising in 1996 and now has 375 operations in 48 states, Canada and Bermuda.
Anthony Minotti owns a landscape business in Austin, Texas, but not a run-of-the-mill lawn service. Got Lights concentrates only on landscape lighting, and when Minotti started the company a decade ago, holiday lighting was part of the plan from day one.
Timing is everything
While holiday decorating operations may vary in origin, size and location, they all tend to offer some basic services. First and foremost, they put the stuff on and around your house.
The most common decoration is lighting attached to the edge of your roofline, or fascia, to outline the structure. This is the task that usually prompts people to call in a pro, especially in chillier climates.
"The most frustrating things about decorating," says Stephens, "is it's dangerous and you get up there, work in the cold and dark and come down -- and it doesn't look as good as you'd hoped."
If you want to avoid such hassles, then put in a call to a holiday lighting company soon. Finkle started scheduling existing customers in early September, with installations starting at the end of October. That's also the time calls start coming in from potential new customers. "Most of the new ones wait until Halloween is past then start thinking about Christmas," he says.
Minotti's crews began working on Austin homes in mid-October, with all lights up by early November. Around Thanksgiving, his company puts up wreaths and garlands. "Then the customer can just flip the switch whenever they're ready," he says.
Stephens says Christmas Decor operations nationwide tend to book up by mid- to late November. Since the companies have a limited time to get decorations in place, if you wait much later than that, chances are you'll be up on the roof yourself again.
Additional decoration options
In addition to roof lighting, companies usually install lights around windows, in trees and in shrubs, and some offer specialty displays. But just how much latitude you have in creating the design varies with the company.
Minotti works with clients to meet their design wishes.
"When I go to the front door, I ask if they have suggestions or if they are open for suggestions," says Minotti.
Finkle takes a similar approach. "We work individually with people to come up with designs, and no two homes are exactly alike because of different trees and landscaping," he says.
Since Christmas Decor offers its services through franchises, its design options are more structured to guarantee a companywide continuity via various packages. "We do the design," says Stephens, "but we present the homeowner with options. There are several different parts, and they take as little or as much as they want."
What if the customer wants more lights than a home's electrical system will allow?
"That's one of the big things that homeowners face," says Stephens. "They don't know the power rules." The lighting companies know precisely how much power is necessary and will call in an electrician if necessary.
Depending on the company, the electrician fee is an added cost, but as Finkle says, it's better than having a display turn into "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" with 18,000 plugs in one outlet, blowing out the house's circuitry.
Pros can light up your holidays, at a cost
Buy vs. lease
Companies take different approaches regarding the decorations themselves.
Finkle's and Minotti's customers buy lights and other decorations from the respective companies.
"Some accounts will have their own decorations and we'll add to it," says Finkle. "Others will buy everything new."
Christmas Decor offers its clients a leasing program.
"If they own the lights, they have to buy them again when they wear out," says Stephens. "Some people might tend to stretch them, and it could become a safety issue. As part of the new program we launched this year, when the product wears out, we replace it automatically."
Taking care of the rest
Once your display is designed and installed, there's the maintenance. Most holiday decorating companies offer at least a limited repair guarantee. This is a big appeal for those who've spent hours trying to figure out which light blew out the entire string or had to climb back up on the roof to right a wind-toppled sleigh.
"We have such a short time frame, a lot of these lights are only on for 30 to 60 days, so we want to make sure they're working every day," says Finkle.
The maintenance might also include some troubleshooting.
"The worse situation I ever saw was this woman who had an outlet tied into her microwave," says Minotti. "Every time she turned it on, the lights went out." A little detective work and examination of her dinner schedule helped them correct the connection and keep the lights on for the rest of the season.
In January, the companies return to dismantle the displays and, in most cases, stow them. If storage is important to you, be sure to check with the decorator. Not all offer off-site warehousing.
Costs of keeping up with the holiday Joneses
So what's all this attention to your home's exterior decorating going to cost you?
Your utility bill obviously will be a bit higher. Minotti estimates that the typical Austin-area customer sees an average electric bill increase of around $30 a month.
As for the decorating itself, expect a minimum-order requirement, generally around $200 to $500. Because of the popularity of the services and the limited time to install holiday lights, companies don't want their lighting technicians spending a lot of time on relatively small projects.
Finkle says the average cost for customers in the Omaha area ranges from $800 to $1,500. "The first year is more expensive because of the cost of buying the decorations," he says. But costs also can go up later, he says, if someone starts out small and decides to expand his decorations in subsequent years.
Stephens says his company's average installation across the United States is $1,300 to $1,500. Of course, you can spend as much as you'd like, especially if your Christmas spirit and the desire to be the neighborhood holiday showcase converge. "People really like to decorate for the holidays," says Stephens. "Once they get rolling, some don't stop. We've seen some residential installations run in excess of $50,000."
Finkle wouldn't divulge what it cost one of his more extravagant customers to decorate their place. He did say, though, that Creative Decorating installed 100,000 lights on a Nebraska house. "It was a stone home, so we used hot glue to put them up in the mortar between the stones," he says. "When we take everything off it's January or February, and nice and cold, so the hot glue is hard and the lights just snap off."
When Marci Henna's family moved into their new Austin home, they didn't go to that extreme, but they did want to make the residence's inaugural Christmas a spectacular one. Got Lights wrapped the Henna homestead in 7,500 lights.
"We went whole hog," says Henna. "You could have seen us from Mars."
Extraterrestrial snooping aside, the decked-out house was a great way to showcase the new abode and served as complement to the numerous holiday parties the Hennas hosted for local charities and business clients.
Judy and Wally DeRoeck cite seven reasons they've hired Longhorn Lighting, the Austin-based Christmas Decor franchise, to decorate their home's exterior for the last five years. "We have seven little grandchildren, and they love it," says Mrs. DeRoeck. "It's not inexpensive, but it's very much worth it."
And as for their neighbors, Mrs. DeRoeck wishes they shared the same holiday decorating spirit. "My neighbors should not be jealous," she says. "My neighbors should be doing it, too. It's just so festive and fun, I just wish everyone would decorate."
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