Video | VOLT® University | Articulator MR16 Well Light Installation Guide
Summary: This instructional landscape lighting video shows how to install the solid cast brass VOLT® Articulator MR16 Well Light and the effects it can produce. This fixture is covered by the VOLT® Lifetime Replacement Warranty. (Note: an integrated LED version of this fixture is also available.)
Today, I want to talk to you about the correct way to install the VOLT® Articulator well light. As you can see behind me, we have a flowering pear tree and this particular tree is like many others that have thick, leathery leaves that are difficult to light. You'll also notice that it doesn't have a bed around it. In fact, it is sitting in the middle of a grassy area, which can be a problem for ordinary stake lights because they'll get run over by lawn tractors and lawnmowers. So here is a great solution for that kind of a problem - the Articulator well light. We’ll show you how to put that in right now.
The Articulator was created to overcome a common problem: lighting designers will often want to include trees and structures in their design but realize that a stake-mounted fixture will eventually be destroyed if it's placed in a turf area. The Articulator fills the role of a spotlight great - however it’s safely tucked away in the ground and out of harm's way.
Here's a typical tree in the middle of a grassy area, and you can’t put any stake-mounted lights in there without them getting destroyed by a lawnmower. So we've got to look at a different type of a light. You can't really put them in a mulch bed like this because with a thick, leathery leafed tree like this pear, it just isn't going to illuminate up the tree properly. So you've really got to be able to get it out and illuminate the outside of the tree. This is what the Articulator light was made for - to be able to get it out and away. Instead of putting it close, we’re going to bring it out into this grass area so we can illuminate this upper canopy.
The first step to figure out how we want to place this light is to look at the tree individually. Every tree that you're going to light is going to be a little bit different - you’re going to have different branching structures and different sizes, so you're going to have to place your lights accordingly. You want to look for the best place where the light can get up through the canopy the best way possible. In this particular situation, it's pretty evenly dense all the way around, so we're going to come out about about 7 or 8 feet from around the edge of the mulch bed and place it in the grass. So let's go ahead and start getting this thing buried.
Once you located where your fixture is going to be placed, it's time to excavate the hole for the light. I prefer to use a set of post hole diggers for this but you can certainly use a shovel. The post hole diggers will make the hole much cleaner around the edges and it's just easier to get the dirt out of the bottom.
This next step is absolutely critical if you live in areas that have high clay concentrations in the soil. If you live in areas with loamy soil or sandy soil, this isn't going to be as big of an issue - but for me, I have to deal with it. So here's what I'm recommending - dig your hole extra deep. I like to go about 24 to 30 inches - as deep as I can get those clamshells down. Get all of that dirt out and try to get down to some free-draining soil if you can. If you can’t, you've got to back-fill that hole with some drainage. You can use regular gravel; I like lava rock because I don't like to lift heavy bags. Lava rocks allow a very porous area and they allow a lot of space between the pebbles themselves. If you use bigger types of rocks, it allows more water into those spaces, which means more water away from your fixture. The Articulator is a great light but it is not waterproof, so it is important to keep the water away from the fixture, especially when using an LED. So I recommend taking lava rock and fill all the way down to the bottom of the hole. Get it to where you can get that light set just below level. It should be sitting right on the gravel or rock. Remember - very, very critical. You have to do this. If you don’t do this, you can expect failures in your Articulators. So, in clay areas - add extra drainage.
With our hole now excavated and back-filled with gravel, it’s time to trench out the path for our cable that's coming in, supplying power to our fixture. I find that a sharp garden spade or even a slit trenching shovel is ideal for this. Just be sure that when you tuck your wire down into the ground, you're getting your cable at least 6 inches below so that it's below the depth of where a lawn aerator could potentially damage the cable. The next step is to go ahead and make your electrical connection at the light and then place the whole fixture in the hole. Make sure and doublecheck that it sits at the right height.
What I love about this fixture is that it is so much more versatile than a spotlight, especially in grassy areas where you just can't put a spotlight. Look at this - you take the secondary ring off that goes on top, and look at the adjustment on this thing. You loosen these knobs, and for full recess into the ground, we can drop that fixture all the way down. Now you’d probably never need it that low. But if you needed it straight up and you were really worried about glare, you could drop it all the way down like that. What is cool about this fixture is as you put it up a little bit higher, you're still keeping it down below mower level. See, this sits flush in the ground. Your mower can go right over the top. It’s heavy brass; it’s not going to get hurt. It's great - but here's what's even better. As you raise that fixture up just a little bit higher to the top bezel, you can actually rotate this fixture. It's got this oblong cutout on the front - when you aim, you need to put the more cut-out area toward what you’re aiming at so your angle of deflection on the fixture will be able to fill that front part out. So that’s fantastic; I love that about this fixture. You just can’t do that with anything else. So if you’ve got a tree in the grass or anything in the grass you want to light - I'm telling you what, this is the fixture to have.
With your fixture set in place, take a small trench compactor or even the back of your spade and close up the slit and pack the ground tight against the fixture. Next you'll need to install your lamp. We're using a 5 watt 38 degree LED for this project. Simply unscrew the top of the fixture in a counterclockwise direction and insert the lamp inside. Now just simply screw the cap back on in a clockwise fashion and be sure to tighten it all the way down against the rubber gasket. Finally, set and tighten the fixture at the angle and depth you desire and then place it back on the lock ring. Simply line up the tabs with the slots and give it a twist to lock it in place. Fine-tuning the aim is easy with just the push of a finger.
Well, that’s it - the Articulator well light. One of my favorite fixtures of all time. Perfect for grassy areas where a spotlight just isn't going to cut it. If you have any questions about how to install this or any other VOLT® products, please give us a call at (813) 978-3700.
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