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David Gretzmier
06-22-2007, 06:53 PM
Got two 600 watt transformers to try out today in the mail from Ryco Engineering. 12,13,14,15 volt taps for each 300 watt side, reset breakers for each 300 watt side, stainless and flip up( on hinges) panel for wires, lugs big enough for an 8-2, UL listed and rated indoor or outdoor. photo-cell and digital hour timer ( the kind you can pick how long it stays on after dark up to 9 hours). built in. possibly can be bypassed for external timer, but not sure yet. still playing with it.

On first impression, I'm impressed, the fit and finish seem very good, and DANG, this thing is HEAVY. I had trouble getting it out of the box. on my scale it weighs 38 lbs, on the website it lists shipping weight as 36lbs. I'm pretty sure these out weigh the 600 watt FX units I am currently using by 10 pounds or so. hopefully that weight is wire and not some chunk of lead they stuck in there.

best of all cost wise these are about half what I am paying for fx transformers from my local distributor.

anybody have experience with these?

Pro-Scapes
06-22-2007, 08:00 PM
never heard of em. Sounds like a pantech ? Post some pics or a link. I doubt I will switch again. I just changed from cast to kichler transformers. Im looking for one with 6 inches below the terminals or more so I can get my fat frickin hands in there easy. Drop downs are a pain in the rump when your just trying to add a run.

I wasnt nuts about the FX transformers I have worked with but I do like the superblox I have only worked with the powder coated ones tho on an existing job

klkanders
06-22-2007, 08:40 PM
www.rycosupplies.com

Chris J
06-22-2007, 08:47 PM
Just my opinion here, but that stuff looks cheeeeeeep.

Mike M
06-22-2007, 09:13 PM
best of all cost wise these are about half what I am paying for fx transformers from my local distributor.

Dave, for what it's worth, the words "local distributer" and "cost-wise" don't go together for me, at least not where I am.

I'm assuming you've either bought on-line or looked into it?

Mike M

David Gretzmier
06-22-2007, 11:29 PM
I've bought them online, just to try them. I agree they look cheap in the pictures online, and I was expecting a light, malibu like transformer. that is not what I've got.

put it side by side an fx or nightscaping, and it's no question, folks would assume the ryco is the higher quality, and I tend to agree based on fit,finish, and weight. I wish I had an 11 volt tap for close in fixtures, but I may just extend my leads a bit to get to 11.5 at the fixture.

I'd like to post pics, but my camera is down and I'm looking for another camera. the pics on the website above are a bit blurry, but basically show the item.

I'll plug in both tomorrow, put a tester on it, and let you guys know what I find.

Pro-Scapes
06-23-2007, 11:32 AM
notice the first light you see on thier page is a dabmar light. These are branded in alot of names.. Kichler... dabmar... corona. Just my opinion even the pantech transformers at fold and sold look better than these.. Lets hear some numbers. Install one at your house and see how it performs.

I was talking to another contractor who installs pantech in place of cast or kichler as a cost savings measure. I asked them how they perform and how they like them and they said they have been very good and come with a lifetime warranty... then they added only 1 blew up so far :laugh: Thanks but no thanks I will stick with proven performers.

NightScenes
06-23-2007, 01:53 PM
I pulled one of those off of a job about a year ago. It was toast. I'm not sure what happened to it but the lighting system that it was on was a typical landscaper install.

seolatlanta
06-23-2007, 02:46 PM
I also threw one in the dumpster about 2 years ago. I have seen these out in the field and it signals to me when I see one - unprofessional.

They really are poor quality. 1 channel was not working and the digital clock was broken. They were installed by a "pro" lighting company and was less than a year old.

Just my .02!

Lite4
06-23-2007, 10:58 PM
I see them on EBAY all the time.

David Gretzmier
06-24-2007, 12:19 AM
The thing is, I threw out a few ( 4, 5? ) nightscaping trans before I switched to FX, and I've sent three of those back for warranty work, on a grand total of what , maybe 50 installs ( combined FX and Nightscaping ) in 7 years? and these are supposed to be good trans. I run at about 80, 90 % max of rated load, and these ( FX and Nightscaping ) things are labeled, tested at 110% load when new.

So I think I have about 70 transformers out there and I know of 7 or 8 failures or a rate of about 10% in 7 years. I figure some of you guys must have multiple hundreds if not thousands of trans out there, what is your failure rate? maybe this is a better time for another thread, but this is the reason for my sniffing around for a different trans.

I worked on my fence today and forgot to test the units, It's on my list of things to do once I get my dog resecured in the back yard.

pglover19
07-08-2007, 06:20 PM
The thing is, I threw out a few ( 4, 5? ) nightscaping trans before I switched to FX, and I've sent three of those back for warranty work, on a grand total of what , maybe 50 installs ( combined FX and Nightscaping ) in 7 years? and these are supposed to be good trans. I run at about 80, 90 % max of rated load, and these ( FX and Nightscaping ) things are labeled, tested at 110% load when new.

So I think I have about 70 transformers out there and I know of 7 or 8 failures or a rate of about 10% in 7 years. I figure some of you guys must have multiple hundreds if not thousands of trans out there, what is your failure rate? maybe this is a better time for another thread, but this is the reason for my sniffing around for a different trans.

I worked on my fence today and forgot to test the units, It's on my list of things to do once I get my dog resecured in the back yard.


David,

What's your opinion on the Ryco Engineering transformers?

NightScenes
07-09-2007, 07:36 AM
The thing is, I threw out a few ( 4, 5? ) nightscaping trans before I switched to FX, and I've sent three of those back for warranty work, on a grand total of what , maybe 50 installs ( combined FX and Nightscaping ) in 7 years? and these are supposed to be good trans. I run at about 80, 90 % max of rated load, and these ( FX and Nightscaping ) things are labeled, tested at 110% load when new.

So I think I have about 70 transformers out there and I know of 7 or 8 failures or a rate of about 10% in 7 years. I figure some of you guys must have multiple hundreds if not thousands of trans out there, what is your failure rate? maybe this is a better time for another thread, but this is the reason for my sniffing around for a different trans.

I worked on my fence today and forgot to test the units, It's on my list of things to do once I get my dog resecured in the back yard.

I have been using the Kichler PR and Contractor (no longer being made) series transformers and only had problems with one shipment. Out of that shipment I had problems with the 900 and 1200 watt Contractor (no longer being made) series transformers. I had never had any problems before then and have not had any problems since.

It would seem that MDL makes a very good unit.

Pro-Scapes
07-09-2007, 08:36 AM
zero probs with the cast and kichler units here as well. I dont feel its worth it to jepordize the integrity (no pun intended) of your system to save a few bucks.

pcrispy
07-09-2007, 09:13 AM
Yardbright.com also sells the same transformers and lights as this. The built in "timer" seems like it would be a pain to deal with.

http://www.yardbright.com/catalog.sstg?catid=56&menu_catid=34

johnquest
07-09-2007, 11:24 AM
Here's a company purporting to sell these under a yardbright name:

http://www.yardbright.com/catalog.sstg?catid=56&menu_catid=34

JQ

pcrispy
07-09-2007, 11:28 AM
johnquest, look at the post just above yours. I beat you to it by about 2 hours.

johnquest
07-09-2007, 02:50 PM
Whoops. Didn't see your post. I tried to contact "Ryco Engineering" and can't locate a telephone number. Strange.

Pro-Scapes
07-09-2007, 05:18 PM
i think the general consensus seems to be they are 2nd rate. If your serious about your business and quality stick to the name brand units and a company willing to stand behind thier unit

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-09-2007, 09:57 PM
I have installed 500+ Nightscaping Powercenters in the last 8 years. (who is counting??? it might be more but not less) I have NEVER had a failure. They look good, perform wonderfully and the H30 (Tri-tap) line save my butt all the time on big jobs. The best part is the modular control options... no other transformer on the market can compare.

Have a great day.

David Gretzmier
07-10-2007, 12:04 AM
It seems no one here has installed one, but a few have removed one or two-

I went ahead and put it on my house, and loaded it to 280 watts per side. I used the 13 volt tap for the closer lights, fully loaded was about 11.8 at the box, down to 10.8 at the end of the run. unloaded was 12.8. I used the 14 volt tap on the right side, and loaded at 275 watts, it was further away and the same range at all sockets, and started at 12.9 at box and 11.6 at first socket. unloaded at 13.9. 19 fixtures in all ranging from 20 to 35 watts. 4 runs of 12 guage from the box. I figure go ahead and load heavy to silence critics I'm being easy on it. It was labeled tested at 110%, so go figure.

box was not hardly warm after 3 hours on, digital timer/photocell has worked well for about 5 days now, and will update this in a few weeks. Runs 6 hours after slight darkness, or around 8pm-2am here. Nice thing- no worries about power outages, resets it self after outage to last setting. has not come on during rain or clouds during day so far- supposedly has a 24 hour reset device.

I Don't like that it is open at the bottom, as spider webs and bugs can get into taps, and the occaisional upside down rain.

The weird thing is, how long does this box have to last to convince me to use it on jobs? 3 years, 5 years? if it fails quickly, that's easy. what's harder is if it keeps working.

since I have removed broken and failed nightscaping and fx, my mind is open. nobody sells anything else here, so only warranty work on others is through mail anyway.

pglover19
07-10-2007, 06:03 AM
It seems no one here has installed one, but a few have removed one or two-

I went ahead and put it on my house, and loaded it to 280 watts per side. I used the 13 volt tap for the closer lights, fully loaded was about 11.8 at the box, down to 10.8 at the end of the run. unloaded was 12.8. I used the 14 volt tap on the right side, and loaded at 275 watts, it was further away and the same range at all sockets, and started at 12.9 at box and 11.6 at first socket. unloaded at 13.9. 19 fixtures in all ranging from 20 to 35 watts. 4 runs of 12 guage from the box. I figure go ahead and load heavy to silence critics I'm being easy on it. It was labeled tested at 110%, so go figure.

box was not hardly warm after 3 hours on, digital timer/photocell has worked well for about 5 days now, and will update this in a few weeks. Runs 6 hours after slight darkness, or around 8pm-2am here. Nice thing- no worries about power outages, resets it self after outage to last setting. has not come on during rain or clouds during day so far- supposedly has a 24 hour reset device.

I Don't like that it is open at the bottom, as spider webs and bugs can get into taps, and the occaisional upside down rain.

The weird thing is, how long does this box have to last to convince me to use it on jobs? 3 years, 5 years? if it fails quickly, that's easy. what's harder is if it keeps working.

since I have removed broken and failed nightscaping and fx, my mind is open. nobody sells anything else here, so only warranty work on others is through mail anyway.


So how does it compare to the FX and Nightscaping transformers as far as functionality/features? It looks like you are happy with the performance so far.

Pro-Scapes
07-10-2007, 07:47 AM
It seems no one here has installed one, but a few have removed one or two-

I went ahead and put it on my house, and loaded it to 280 watts per side. I used the 13 volt tap for the closer lights, fully loaded was about 11.8 at the box, down to 10.8 at the end of the run. unloaded was 12.8. I used the 14 volt tap on the right side, and loaded at 275 watts, it was further away and the same range at all sockets, and started at 12.9 at box and 11.6 at first socket. unloaded at 13.9. 19 fixtures in all ranging from 20 to 35 watts. 4 runs of 12 guage from the box. I figure go ahead and load heavy to silence critics I'm being easy on it. It was labeled tested at 110%, so go figure.

box was not hardly warm after 3 hours on, digital timer/photocell has worked well for about 5 days now, and will update this in a few weeks. Runs 6 hours after slight darkness, or around 8pm-2am here. Nice thing- no worries about power outages, resets it self after outage to last setting. has not come on during rain or clouds during day so far- supposedly has a 24 hour reset device.

I Don't like that it is open at the bottom, as spider webs and bugs can get into taps, and the occaisional upside down rain.

The weird thing is, how long does this box have to last to convince me to use it on jobs? 3 years, 5 years? if it fails quickly, that's easy. what's harder is if it keeps working.

since I have removed broken and failed nightscaping and fx, my mind is open. nobody sells anything else here, so only warranty work on others is through mail anyway.

David... the fact its open on the bottom would be enough to concern me... Not so much bugs or spider webs but what about curious kids or varmins ?

Can you post some pics of it hung and also of this open bottom ?

johnquest
07-10-2007, 09:34 AM
Has anyone talked to anybody at Ryco Engineering? Where is the transformer manufactured and why is it marketed under at least two names we know about (Ryco and YardBright)?

JQ

Chris J
07-10-2007, 03:07 PM
This is the hard part, you won't know how good, or bad, it is unless you install a lot of them and then wait for several years to give the product a fair shot. Installing just one will not be a good test. The best products on the market will occasionally have a bad apple. If you happen to get that "one" you will base your opinion of the entire product line on that one bad experience. The opposite is true as well: This one could last forever, but the vast majority of them might crap out within the first year. Who knows? That's why forums like this are so good to be a part of. You can learn from other's mistakes long before you make these costly mistakes on your own.

David Gretzmier
07-11-2007, 01:16 AM
Chris j- I agree- I may scatter some out, but keep it to five or so and watch them.

Ryco's website indicates they manufacture alot of technical machinery, so the trans may be a piece of a bigger puzzle. a website can be made to show anything, but you be the judge, it looks like these guys make some serious equipment.

other things I like- the lugs can hold 4, 12 guage wires, maybe 3 10 guage or 2 8's. I don't like the lugs only accepting a small standard screwdriver, rather than a large or phillips. someone gave me a set of screwdrivers the other day, and none of them would fit, it only uses the smaller #1 slotted. I definetly like the lugs on fx better.

they have 300-900 watters, mine is a 600. again, the heavyness thing. if it equates to the amount of wire in this thing, that may also have to do with this thing not being warm to the touch, it seems to not be working that hard at near full load. ( 565 watts, a little more than I normally push it. ) I may add 20 watts just to see if this thing even gets warm.

the weight is a negative in the fact you better have your anchors set on the house tight, - and use two hands to pick it up.

It actually looks clean, good finish, square bends and tightly sealed. and looks more like a piece of medical equipment than a trans. better put together than FX or Nightscaping, but then the open bottom thing- easy to wire, but open? the door folds down over the lugs, and digital photocell controller, but still- That is the weak point for now.

I just got my new camera today, I'll try to post my first picture on lawnsite of the bottom of the trans and maybe with it open.

David Gretzmier
08-31-2007, 12:57 AM
just thought I'd give an update, no problems whatsoever from the two of the 600 watters I have out there. after several storms and power outs mine was still doing fine, and I checked on the other that I installed a week or so after the last post, and they report all is fine.

I loaded that one pretty heavy too, just to see if these things can take a near 100% load. the rep assures me they can actually handle 120% of load, and they are underrated. they definetly are barely warm at 560 and 580 watts. the next one I will go to 80-90% load, and maybe another at less than 80% on the next size up trans, 900 watts. After I have 5 out there I will let those sit for a year or so before adding more.

I love that if you set it to run 4 hours after dark, it returns to that same setting over and over again. I did probably 6 service calls to old jobs to reset clocks during that same time frame.

Pro-Scapes
08-31-2007, 08:45 AM
thanks for the update but less than 2 months is hardley a test.

We have been using the intermatic astronomical in trans timers for clients that dont wish to control thier systems... eliminates resetting clocks and they seem to be working fine so far. Have 5 or so out there with no issues yet in about 6 mo

Only prob is you need to flip the outlet on the Kichler trans which takes all of 5 min so it will fit. Wish they would make the timer with the plug on the other side. Also dont need a photocell anymore.

ccfree
08-31-2007, 07:24 PM
This is my opinion not that it matters, but.....Billy, if you install all of the wires in a transformer while it is on the ground,(doesn't't matter what brand), it can become easier for the big or fat knuckled contractor. After everything is installed, hang it on the wall. This will also insure that you have a good copper to terminal lug connection. Besides, the FX transformer in my opinion has alot of room to work with, more than most others. James, I find it hard to believe that you have installed 500 nightscaping transformers and haven't had a problem with them. Wow! I think Nightscaping makes a good product, but no manufacturer has that kind of no call back. You have great luck. No offense by the way. Just my opinion for what it is worth. Thanks

Eden Lights
08-31-2007, 11:23 PM
Only three runs of 10/2 on a 600W transformer due to lug size would cross it off my list. We use 10/2 on all homeruns unless it's right under the transformer.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-01-2007, 12:15 AM
This is my opinion not that it matters, but.....Billy, if you install all of the wires in a transformer while it is on the ground,(doesn't't matter what brand), it can become easier for the big or fat knuckled contractor. After everything is installed, hang it on the wall. This will also insure that you have a good copper to terminal lug connection. Besides, the FX transformer in my opinion has alot of room to work with, more than most others. James, I find it hard to believe that you have installed 500 nightscaping transformers and haven't had a problem with them. Wow! I think Nightscaping makes a good product, but no manufacturer has that kind of no call back. You have great luck. No offense by the way. Just my opinion for what it is worth. Thanks

Well all I can say is that I have NEVER had a Nightscaping Powercenter fail me. Not one, ever. and I have well over 500 of them installed now.

David Gretzmier
09-02-2007, 12:30 AM
James- that's great, I may not be familiar with the powercenter, but I replaced 2 nightscaping trans and 1 fx last week. Neither of the nightscaping wer running more than 200 watts. I am glad you are having zero problems, and all my installs have gone that way except one 7 years ago, but on the repair side on installs I did not do, I have replaced over a dozen of nightscaping trans. sure, they repair them free if you send them off, but leave the customer dark for 2-3 weeks?

I have looked at the digital intermatic's with the battery backup, and like the idea, in Christmas lights we use hundreds of timers. the small digitals I've seen that fit in a trans are not outdoor rated, and don't carry 15 amps closer to 8 or 10, although they should be safe inside a water tight trans. the larger intermatic digitals that we have used in the past, 15 amps, that are outdoor rated fail about 15-25% of the time( I replaced over a hundred in 2005..that's 2 grand in $$)...so we went to photocells last season and will continue to do so this christmas season. they fail about 1% of the time.

of course, the photo-cell with "hours on" on the ryco does not require a battery, so no maintenance there, it just returns to the same hours on previously set before power out.

I know 2 months isn't much of a test, but I figure I'll check in when the Christmas rush is over in march on this thread.

Go Halogen
09-02-2007, 11:37 PM
Guys....No one even mentioned Vista transformers on this thread?
Am I the only one who uses them? Through the years I have installed 200+ of the MTs and atleast 20+ of the HPs. I have had very little to complain about.
I can even get my distributor to order them in various powder coat colors to match exteriors. Vista has a remote photo cell module now and a relay system to link all of the transformers together. I can not find good comparisons to all of that out there and get the materials promptly.

Does anyone else use them?

I am starting to think that I am alone out here??

Anyone??

Andy:confused:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-05-2007, 10:24 AM
James- that's great, I may not be familiar with the powercenter, but I replaced 2 nightscaping trans and 1 fx last week. Neither of the nightscaping wer running more than 200 watts. I am glad you are having zero problems, and all my installs have gone that way except one 7 years ago, but on the repair side on installs I did not do, I have replaced over a dozen of nightscaping trans. sure, they repair them free if you send them off, but leave the customer dark for 2-3 weeks? Why not just keep one or two transformers in stock at all times so that you can switch any problems out for the client? Seems pretty easy to me. Also, find a good distributor to handle your warranty claims! Mine will ship me out any replacements I need and accept the warranty return at a later date and take care of all the shipping charges.... we do A LOT of business with them.

I have looked at the digital intermatic's with the battery backup, Instead of the digital intermatic timers... you need to look North! Aube by Honeywell Systems makes a fantastic Astro Digital timer. It is the same unit Nightscaping uses for their Digital Power Switch unit. It is rated for -30c as it uses a NiMh battery for backup. I wouldnt trust an Intermatic digital product outside in this climate.and like the idea, in Christmas lights we use hundreds of timers. the small digitals I've seen that fit in a trans are not outdoor rated, and don't carry 15 amps closer to 8 or 10, although they should be safe inside a water tight trans. the larger intermatic digitals that we have used in the past, 15 amps, that are outdoor rated fail about 15-25% of the time( I replaced over a hundred in 2005..that's 2 grand in $$)...so we went to photocells last season and will continue to do so this christmas season. they fail about 1% of the time.

of course, the photo-cell with "hours on" on the ryco does not require a battery, so no maintenance there, it just returns to the same hours on previously set before power out.

I know 2 months isn't much of a test, but I figure I'll check in when the Christmas rush is over in march on this thread.

Have a great day!.... James Solecki

pete scalia
10-21-2007, 12:32 PM
I have installed 500+ Nightscaping Powercenters in the last 8 years. (who is counting??? it might be more but not less) I have NEVER had a failure. They look good, perform wonderfully and the H30 (Tri-tap) line save my butt all the time on big jobs. The best part is the modular control options... no other transformer on the market can compare.

Have a great day.

More power too ya! Or maybe too much power? Anyway I think the photo speaks for itself. I agree No other transformer on the market can compare. Thank Goodness.

Made in the USA:usflag:
Have a great day!

pete scalia
10-21-2007, 12:35 PM
Well all I can say is that I have NEVER had a Nightscaping Powercenter fail me. Not one, ever. and I have well over 500 of them installed now.

Please see post above this one.

Thanks
Have a great day!:canadaflag:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-21-2007, 09:31 PM
More power too ya! Or maybe too much power? Anyway I think the photo speaks for itself. I agree No other transformer on the market can compare. Thank Goodness.

Made in the USA:usflag:
Have a great day!

Interesting picutre "Pete", but It doesnt really indicate that the Powercenter failed in any way. How was the wire connected to the terminals? Was it tightened properly? How much load was on the wire? What was the condition of the fustat? Had it been replaced with a 'plug' or incorrect fuse?
Lots of questions....but clearly there was some installation errors made there.

JoeyD
10-21-2007, 11:21 PM
To me that looks to be the tell tale signs of a faulty connection. Weather that occured on the backside of the lug is hard to tell. It could be installer error but it could also be manufacturer error.

pete scalia
10-22-2007, 07:55 PM
To me that looks to be the tell tale signs of a faulty connection. Weather that occured on the backside of the lug is hard to tell. It could be installer error but it could also be manufacturer error.

I couldn't tell you the particulars. The photo was sent to me by an anonymous source who doesn't care to be ID'd. They made that clear.

irrig8r
10-25-2007, 06:58 PM
I have installed only Nightscaping Powercenters for a few years. I have also installed Vista and FX before that.

I have sent back probably 10 NS Powercenters to the factory under warranty, none of which I had installed. Some units were completely replaced. Others were the older non-modular top-door model and just the timer was the problem and it was replaced.

Nightscaping has always been very responsive with returns for me.

A lot of the work I do is service, troubleshooting and repairs. Some of the worst case transformers I've run across were also Nightscaping.

The old green boxes with separate timers with sprinklers hitting them didn't last more than 15 or 20 years... one I removed this past spring crumbled in my hands, installed circa 1985 according to the owner... but the same models in sheds and garages still work fine on a few jobs...

It's nice that manufacturers change product designs as they learn what works and what doesn't over time. And healthy competition has raised the bar as far as both materials and warranties are concerned.

pete scalia
10-25-2007, 07:18 PM
I have installed only Nightscaping Powercenters for a few years. I have also installed Vista and FX before that.

I have sent back probably 10 NS Powercenters to the factory under warranty, none of which I had installed. Some units were completely replaced. Others were the older non-modular top-door model and just the timer was the problem and it was replaced.

Nightscaping has always been very responsive with returns for me.

A lot of the work I do is service, troubleshooting and repairs. Some of the worst case transformers I've run across were also Nightscaping.

The old green boxes with separate timers with sprinklers hitting them didn't last more than 15 or 20 years... one I removed this past spring crumbled in my hands, installed circa 1985 according to the owner... but the same models in sheds and garages still work fine on a few jobs...

It's nice that manufacturers change product designs as they learn what works and what doesn't over time. And healthy competition has raised the bar as far as both materials and warranties are concerned.

I'm sure Nightscaping transformers are fine. I'm also sure every manufacturer has had there share of transformers that they have taken back that looked like the one in the photo I posted. Your post and mine only confirms the fact that Nightscaping's transformers are not infallible. If human hands touch it there is always going to be potential for failure.

JoeyD
10-25-2007, 08:21 PM
A transformer is usually only as good as its installer. We can make them as bullet proof as possible but if you make a crappy connection then it is not uncommon to melt them down in some capacity.

David Gretzmier
10-25-2007, 11:00 PM
got an update- although the photo cell works fine during the day when I cover it with my thumb or a card, It has been failing to turn on the unit last week in the evening on a regular basis. as a temproary fix until I can discover if the photo-cell is replaceable I set it to on and used a plug in photo-call timer we use on Christmas lights.

For the record the photo-cell on the unit does not look replaceable to me, so this may be a warranty fix, which of course means wiring in another trans until the unit is repaired from the factory.

JoeyD
10-26-2007, 11:36 AM
David, not sure what kind of trans you have but if it is anything like our you can cut the cord and wire the red and black togeather. You then just cap off the white. If your trans works you know it was just the PC, you can then just wire a new one in.

Pro-Scapes
10-26-2007, 11:21 PM
got an update- although the photo cell works fine during the day when I cover it with my thumb or a card, It has been failing to turn on the unit last week in the evening on a regular basis. as a temproary fix until I can discover if the photo-cell is replaceable I set it to on and used a plug in photo-call timer we use on Christmas lights.

For the record the photo-cell on the unit does not look replaceable to me, so this may be a warranty fix, which of course means wiring in another trans until the unit is repaired from the factory.
if it works during the day but not at regular night time intervals i would question the ambient light in the area. are you able to aim the cell ? Perhaps facing it down would help ?

David Gretzmier
10-28-2007, 10:39 PM
I though the ambient light was an isue as well, they have big floods at corners of home they can turn on. but I drove by at night, pitch dark, and not on. I try during the day, it works when I cover the photo-cell. can aim it down, but if it won't come on in pitch dark, probably not the problem. the photo-cell is integrated into the digital timer module, and does not appear removable without removing the entire grid. so a common photo-cell for others is not an option here. that's a deal breaker for me.

JoeyD
10-29-2007, 09:42 AM
Sounds like a bad PC. Just change it out and be done with it. Better yet just get rid of the dang thing and save yourself the headache when it happens again.

NightScenes
10-29-2007, 07:16 PM
I would never install a transformer with an integrated p/c or timer. This is just a maintenance nightmare.

David Gretzmier
05-15-2008, 12:51 AM
Thought I'd resurrect this thread and give an update on the ryco's. I still have them out there with external digital timers and some with external photo cell timers. Ive added a few more of the 300 and 900 watt varieties, and have not had a "failure" but the included photo-cell with the unit continues to be an issue. I have set the unit to "on" and use external units and all have been fine. I'm coming up on a year on the first 3, and probably 6-8 months on another 5 that are out there.

I still feel these units are underrated as they do not get very warm to the touch even when fully loaded. on a pounds pounds per watt the heaviest transformer I have found.

Pro-Scapes
05-15-2008, 07:35 AM
I wouldnt of added more when I found out the internal parts were failing like the photocell. Once you have to reservice a job due to a failed cell or add on an external timer you have lost your cost savings.

pglover19
05-15-2008, 07:37 AM
Thought I'd resurrect this thread and give an update on the ryco's. I still have them out there with external digital timers and some with external photo cell timers. Ive added a few more of the 300 and 900 watt varieties, and have not had a "failure" but the included photo-cell with the unit continues to be an issue. I have set the unit to "on" and use external units and all have been fine. I'm coming up on a year on the first 3, and probably 6-8 months on another 5 that are out there.

I still feel these units are underrated as they do not get very warm to the touch even when fully loaded. on a pounds pounds per watt the heaviest transformer I have found.

David,

Where can you purchase the Ryco Engineering Transformers? The website www.rycosupplies.com does not exist anymore..

David Gretzmier
05-15-2008, 07:41 PM
there are several websites that sell them, but i am not reccomending them just yet. The photo-cell is an issue, so I bypass that by going with an external one. I usually add a digital timer to whatever trans I use, FX, Nightscaping or the Ryco. Since I have replaced hundreds of photocells on other trans, plus thier internal timers- ( the fx even makes thier internal timer plug in - they know they fail) I am not considering the photo-cell issue a deal breaker yet. Nightscaping goes out of thier way NOT to warranty thier photo-cell or timer, even though the trans itself is guaranteed for life.

Cost wise, bypassing the internal photocell on the units and adding a photocell box with an in use cover I'm out about 28 bucks. The savings is still in the hundreds per transformer.

I can't really consider the first 3 trans a real life test, so I continue to add them here and there. I think I mentioned in one of the previous posts I'll probably stop around 12 or so.

If all are still functioning afer 2 years, at some point you've got to trust something. If they are junk, then that should reveal itself.

Lite4
05-16-2008, 12:11 AM
David,
You mentioned they are cool to the touch. What kind of core are they using?

David Gretzmier
05-16-2008, 01:03 AM
I'm not sure. I cannot access the core by virtue of removing screws, it seems to be spot welded shut. I can access an elecronics area by removing a few screws and 2 small bolts, but without a cutting torch or plasma cutter, I could not tell you. It is full of something, as it weighs a ton for it's size. as far as cool to touch...

I've got 2 600 watters I've been using for demo's, and it was about 55-60 degrees an hour or so ago, and after finishing up, I picked it up and it was just barely warm. perhaps in the warmer weather it felt cool compared to 90 degrees outside.

Pro-Scapes
05-16-2008, 11:39 AM
I hate welded and riveted shut units. It makes servicing a real pita.

I wrote my first article on transformers These have been working very well and I notice I need a lower tap than with other transformers.

http://www.floridaoutdoorlighting.com/InstallationTips.htm

Lite4
05-16-2008, 02:36 PM
Nice article Billy.

David Gretzmier
09-25-2008, 06:40 PM
a quick update, several of the ryco's are over a year old now, and running strong. voltage was spot on in some rebulbs over the summer. Although I anticipate replacing the photo-cell from time to time, no photo-cell failures have surfaced on the 10 or so that were installed after the original 2.

NightLightingFX
09-26-2008, 01:19 AM
so what website is this cheap transformer located at now? Is Ryco still in business? I have experimented with cheap transformers in the past. As far as transformers go that is the last thing I skimp on, Currently the only transformer I use is Unique - period.

David Gretzmier
09-26-2008, 05:42 PM
I think you have to test units from time to time to see if you are
"skimping" or not. there are transformers out there that cost twice what FX is for the same wattage, and after using 70 or so of them for over ten years, It is a good trans. Some who buy the one that costs double the FX might call it skimping. I have had a few FX's with taps that go out, but overall I am very pleased. the only way for me to know that ryco is bad or good is to put some out there and see how it performs. I call it 1st person research.

I believe if you put one of the ryco's in your hands you would be impressed with it's sturdiness and weight. How you choose what products you use in your business should be a combination of what you have been told and what your experience is. I tend to give more weight to my own testing and experience.

David Gretzmier
01-18-2009, 04:04 PM
18 months on the first few Ryco's and they are all going strong. no failures but the photo-cell issue. I have not added a Ryco to my "fleet" in a while, but I gotta say, If I have no failures, sometime around the 3 year mark I'm gonna have to be honest and say this might be a good trans.

NightLightingFX
01-18-2009, 05:25 PM
Transformers are pretty basic. There isn't a whole lot that can go wrong with them. The cheaper ones when fully loaded will have a lot of voltage drop. If your Ryco transformer when fully loaded can still maintain strong voltage when fully loaded maybe you have something there.

I would be willing to bet a fully loaded Ryco transformer's 15 volt tap is really only worth 13 volts. Having only 13 volts max to work with really hinders your ability to engineer a medium to large lighting system. For me personally, I like using a transformer that has virtually no voltage drop when fully loaded. What that means is after I am done installing a system very rarely do I have to readjust the voltage taps.

I don't know if you guys have noticed a lot of voltage drop in the transformers you use when fully loaded? I definatly have noticed a BIG difference in transformers when it comes to maintaing voltage due to a load. That is why I stay away from the cheap transformers.
~Ned

LightYourNight
01-18-2009, 09:11 PM
kichler is where its at. I love their transformers. Installed around 200 this year and only had problems with 2 1200watt transfromers. They wouldnt turn off with a photoeye or timer after being installed for about a month or so they stayed constant on. The company garden light inc out of tampa has great deals on ss transformers with lifetime warranty. I dont use their fixtures but if i need a cheaper trans theyre a good call.

p.s. loved reading this old thread

Lite4
01-18-2009, 11:31 PM
I have used Vista, Unique and Kichlers transformers. The only one that didn't drop voltage under load is Unique. For what I have used they are without a doubt the most solid. I really like the I-force. I don't like the extra 50 bucks I have to spend for it, but it sure is a dream to wire.

TXNSLighting
01-19-2009, 12:13 AM
I have used Vista, Unique and Kichlers transformers. The only one that didn't drop voltage under load is Unique. For what I have used they are without a doubt the most solid. I really like the I-force. I don't like the extra 50 bucks I have to spend for it, but it sure is a dream to wire.

They definately made the wiring so very easy!

NightLightingFX
01-19-2009, 01:54 PM
kichler is where its at. I love their transformers. Installed around 200 this year and only had problems with 2 1200watt transfromers. They wouldnt turn off with a photoeye or timer after being installed for about a month or so they stayed constant on. The company garden light inc out of tampa has great deals on ss transformers with lifetime warranty. I dont use their fixtures but if i need a cheaper trans theyre a good call.

p.s. loved reading this old thread

Garden Light probably buys the same transformer from the same manufacture as Kichler. I have used kichler transformers, and Garden Light transformers. They work, but they aren't as tight as Uniques. (It is my understanding Unique manufactures their own transformers) From my experience, Unique is the best when it comes to minimizing voltage drop, and it is very noticable.
~Ned

David Gretzmier
01-19-2009, 04:12 PM
I've found FX to be rock solid as well, not dropping under load. The feed seems to also less likely to drop at the end of the run too. makes no sense, as wire drop should not be connected to trans feed, but I swear I get more wire drop from other trans.

Also, I have used the 15 volt tap and the unloaded that I saw was closer to 15.5, drop is around .5-.7 when fully loaded. I have one overloaded about 10% just to see if it will over heat, and the 13 volt tap dropped to 12.5. it has been running for about a year, and again, no major problems.

jimmy1111
01-22-2009, 07:17 AM
Also, I have used the 15 volt tap and the unloaded that I saw was closer to 15.5, drop is around .5-.7 when fully loaded. I have one overloaded about 10% just to see if it will over heat, and the 13 volt tap dropped to 12.5. it has been running for about a year, and again, no major problems.

David;
Was that the Ryco or the FX that you overloaded 10% ?...You know I like overloading specially with my VISTA Problem.

Anyone used Lightcraft Transformers ?

Pro-Scapes
01-22-2009, 08:29 AM
Most MDL based transformers (cast kichler gardenlight coppermoon etc) will have a good voltage drop when loaded up.

Tim is right. The uniques will hold rock solid as they should. The Transformers I use from Gambino lighting hold steady too.

I have never had a major problem with the MDL based transformers. They are a pain to wire up tho and I have had to replace 2 or 3 out of about 100. I have some MDL 600's out there that are loaded to around 550w and I am getting just over 13v out of the 15v taps.

klkanders
01-22-2009, 09:08 AM
Most MDL based transformers (cast kichler gardenlight coppermoon etc) will have a good voltage drop when loaded up.

So knowing this happens is it a problem or just something to keep in mind when using one of these transformers? If you don't load to max and leave available space for add-ons it should be fine correct?

What are the norm line voltage readings for you at the receptacle. Mine are always on the high side with 123 and above?

Keith

JoeyD
01-22-2009, 09:28 AM
Thanks for all the props guys. As you all know Transformers are our bread and butter, thats how Unique started. We do not buy our units from someone else and put them in a can and call them ours. We control everything we do right here in house and can build custom units at will! Our units are wound tight, we use the best of materials, and you will see we have the best voltage tolerances out of any of our competitors. We have them all on the wall here and under no load and under load we are by far the best!

As a matter of fact we have a new H-Force (horizontal) unit getting ready to be released that will come in...get ready for this!.......1500watts and 1838watts! How you like that??? LOL There will be enough commons in the unit that each homerun you pull will get its own dedicated common and each common will have its own spade fuse so you can essentially secondary protect every run according to load!!! I cant wait until I can show you guys pics of this thing, it is insane!! Some of you that went to LightFair had the opportunity to see the prototype.

jimmy1111
01-22-2009, 12:46 PM
Most MDL based transformers (cast kichler gardenlight coppermoon etc) will have a good voltage drop when loaded up.

Tim is right. The uniques will hold rock solid as they should. The Transformers I use from Gambino lighting hold steady too.

I have never had a major problem with the MDL based transformers. They are a pain to wire up tho and I have had to replace 2 or 3 out of about 100. I have some MDL 600's out there that are loaded to around 550w and I am getting just over 13v out of the 15v taps.

So I guess if you set your runs in a way you are still within the acceptable voltage drop tolerence we should just go for the Ryco that Dave seems to load up to 110% for the $250 that is worth rather than pay the $700 and $800 Kichler, Unique, and the rest....

Anyone experienced the Lightcraft Transformers...I called the Manufacturer and they said that they are Fully Loadable and designed for 120% load. Also they got some pretty competetive price. Check this out:

http://lightcraftoutdoorenvironments.com/images/doc/LightCraft%20Transformer.pdf

tonyGub
01-22-2009, 01:05 PM
So I guess if you set your runs in a way you are still within the acceptable voltage drop tolerence we should just go for the Ryco that Dave seems to load up to 110% for the $250 that is worth rather than pay the $700 and $800 Kichler, Unique, and the rest....

Anyone experienced the Lightcraft Transformers...I called the Manufacturer and they said that they are Fully Loadable and designed for 120% load. Also they got some pretty competetive price. Check this out:

http://lightcraftoutdoorenvironments.com/images/doc/LightCraft%20Transformer.pdf

Why are you really a rep for lightcraft? Are you serious. Manufacturers make claims all the time. Why are you so interested? I thought you were a DIY.

JoeyD
01-22-2009, 03:34 PM
So I guess if you set your runs in a way you are still within the acceptable voltage drop tolerence we should just go for the Ryco that Dave seems to load up to 110% for the $250 that is worth rather than pay the $700 and $800 Kichler, Unique, and the rest....

Anyone experienced the Lightcraft Transformers...I called the Manufacturer and they said that they are Fully Loadable and designed for 120% load. Also they got some pretty competetive price. Check this out:

http://lightcraftoutdoorenvironments.com/images/doc/LightCraft%20Transformer.pdf

so what they bassicly said is they deregulate their units to make you feel like you can do more with their units...example the 1200 is really a 1500? You should be able to load any unit up to its MAXIMUM AMP capacity...you will rarely ever get 100% of the watts due to resistance unless all of your runs are within a VERY short distance and you are only using the 12v tap. On top of that the NEC states you should never go past 80% of a rated maximum........That lightcraft unit is an MDL unit if I ever saw one.........

tonyGub
01-22-2009, 03:54 PM
Amen to watt Joey said. I still think this guy is a LightCraft rep.

Pro-Scapes
01-22-2009, 06:01 PM
So I guess if you set your runs in a way you are still within the acceptable voltage drop tolerence we should just go for the Ryco that Dave seems to load up to 110% for the $250 that is worth rather than pay the $700 and $800 Kichler, Unique, and the rest....

Anyone experienced the Lightcraft Transformers...I called the Manufacturer and they said that they are Fully Loadable and designed for 120% load. Also they got some pretty competetive price. Check this out:

http://lightcraftoutdoorenvironments.com/images/doc/LightCraft%20Transformer.pdf

No because I will never load a trans up to 110% of it. I rarley exceed 80-85% and thats only if I have expanded. If I even needed 280w on a job I would be putting in a 600w trans to begin with and charging accordingly. Its better for you and better for your client. Why would you risk having a fire or anything loading a trans up beyond its capacity.

As far as the light craft being able to be loaded to 120% I think its a crock. Your commons can still only take 300w per secondary especially if that is in fact an MDL box.

jimmy1111
01-22-2009, 06:29 PM
Hey hey chill out guys...I just had a bad experience with a $650 Transformer that I opened to find-out that they ran 12 AWG on the Common's to and from the 25 amp Breakers that got toasted...I don't know if i'm missing something but how in the world a prety well know company - that some of you knows from my other Forum - Wires a 12 AWG, 20 Amp rated cable, on a 25 Amp Secondary Breakers. Isn't the breakers supposed to be at a lower rating than the cables ???

To me after this experience something tells me that I should have saved myself a $400on a cheaper Transformer rather this fatal flaw this $650 got.

Again i'm a DIY and i have no interest for anyone to buy any specific brand. If i'm a contractor I would do what you guys doing kinda staying below the 80% of the rated capacity and paying couple more 100's is worth not coming back for replacement since your client is eventually going to pay for it. After my bad experience now i'm shopping arround for my own new Trans. and saw this Lightcraft crap if you want to call it crap...i don't care...I'm just asking if anyone heard of it and hopefully experienced it on a job !!...geesh.

NightLightingFX
01-22-2009, 10:05 PM
Most MDL based transformers (cast kichler gardenlight coppermoon etc) will have a good voltage drop when loaded up.

Tim is right. The uniques will hold rock solid as they should. The Transformers I use from Gambino lighting hold steady too.

I have never had a major problem with the MDL based transformers. They are a pain to wire up tho and I have had to replace 2 or 3 out of about 100. I have some MDL 600's out there that are loaded to around 550w and I am getting just over 13v out of the 15v taps.

Billy is 100% right.

If you want to use a cheap transformer just be prepared deal with voltage drop when loaded. I have tried one of those transformers Dave is talking about. I got it from Lightcraft two and half years ago, they have since changed their name to Advantage Light Source. It looks just like the Ryco transformer with the built in photo cell. This was a 600 watt transformer and I used it to light the tree I got stuck in. The transformer is still working fine, but it was a hassle engineering the system. Under a load of 80% the 15 volt tap was only worth 13 volts. I had to use a voltage enhancer.

Let me ask you this, do you save money in the long run for a cheap transformer when you have to spend an extra $100 for a voltage enhancer? After experimenting around with a lot of transformers. I even tried Gambino's transformer. From what I have experienced NOTHING is as good as Unique's transformers. Nothing will hold a load as good as Unique's transformer. For me personally I am done farting around with different transformers never knowing what you are going to get. Unique's transformers maybe more expensive but there is a way to get them at a reasonable price.

Join the AOLP, and buy from Terradek. Terradak has compeditive prices and with the AOLP discount a Unique transformer is VERY reasonably priced. (Jerry you owe me!)

OK, I have spilled my guts on transformers I am done with this thread.
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-23-2009, 07:49 AM
Ned, I will agree the unique is a very stable trans but your comparing aples to oranges. The Gambino is 1838 compliant and is limited to 15v. Unique transformers go as high as 30v oon thier 24v systems.

Im not an ul1838 junkie or lobbist. I just never have the need for anything much over 15v. I think its just the way I design my systems. I am really curious as to what your unloaded voltage was on the magnum trans was and what your load is and your loaded voltage output is. Primary voltage readings would be helpful too.

Again im not knocking the unique trans. It is a very solid unit and high quality. I have installed em and will continue to use the DB where needed and was impressed by the output stability under load. You already know my thoughts on the magnum trans if you have read my article on it.. It has been rock solid for me and a dream to install.

NightLightingFX
01-23-2009, 10:02 AM
I had a job this summer I did where I gave some of Gambino's products. I absolutly love his inground MR16 light. I also tried his transformer. After I got the transformer the project design changed and I had to go about 150 ft. Needless to say a 15 volt tap isn't going to work in that situation. I had to order another transformer for the job. I used the Magnum and my Unique demo transformer side by side to light my install while I waited for my transformer. I didn't scienentifically compare them, but just by feel I felt a difference. I later used the Magnum for another job where it worked, but still being used to Unique's transformer using my same predicibility it just seemed like the Magnum fell short of my expectations.

My comparison is based on feel and maybe baised oppinion, maybe my expectations of the Magnum were too high. If one was to scienentifically compare, them there probably wouldn't be a difference. However, from my experience I can say without a doubt that the Magnum isn't better than Unique's transformer.

For me personally I like having taps over 15 volts, the higher taps come in handy, and I use them. I personally didn't care for the .5 volt taps (for example 13.5v, 14v, 14.5v etc).

Like I said before I am done experimenting with transformers I am sticking with Unique. I know exactually what I am getting every time. (I wouldn't mind giving Q-tran a try - if you want an expensive transformer there you go)
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-23-2009, 07:17 PM
I had a job this summer I did where I gave some of Gambino's products. I absolutly love his inground MR16 light. I also tried his transformer. After I got the transformer the project design changed and I had to go about 150 ft. Needless to say a 15 volt tap isn't going to work in that situation. Thats your fault in design flaw not the shortcomings of a trans. You preffer to design with 22v taps and thats your right. I had to order another transformer for the job. I used the Magnum and my Unique demo transformer side by side to light my install while I waited for my transformer. I didn't scienentifically compare them, but just by feel I felt a differenceI dont wanna know exactly how you were feeling the transformers to determine this.. I later used the Magnum for another job where it worked, but still being used to Unique's transformer using my same predicibility it just seemed like the Magnum fell short of my expectations. Thats because you used it in a situation it wasnt designed for. I dont know what you were expecting it to do but you obviously dont use advanced controls or care how close to optimum your voltages are. I am very very curious on how it didnt live up to your expectations.

My comparison is based on feel and maybe baised oppinion, maybe my expectations of the Magnum were too high.Im really curious where it left you disapointed besides it being limited to 15v to remain ul1838 compliant. Did it fall on its face ? Did it leave you in a situation where you couldnt use the control of your choice ? Was it hard to wire up ? Did it overheat ? details pls If one was to scienentifically compare, them there probably wouldn't be a difference. However, from my experience I can say without a doubt that the Magnum isn't better than Unique's transformer.No one said its better. Your comparing apples to oranges. 2 different beasts and I already agreed unique makes a nice product I use a fair amount of thier fixtures to prove that.

For me personally I like having taps over 15 volts, the higher taps come in handy, and I use them. I personally didn't care for the .5 volt taps (for example 13.5v, 14v, 14.5v etc). Thats because you do things like duct tape and PVC fpr stablizers :) sorry had to say it

Like I said before I am done experimenting with transformers I am sticking with Unique.good at least your installing a high quality product with exceptional support and something thats built to last. I know exactually what I am getting every time. (I wouldn't mind giving Q-tran a try - if you want an expensive transformer there you go)
~Ned

q tran vs unique is again apples to oranges. Q tran is a system with its own connectors and wire. The half volt taps are good for more than voltage control. It keeps you from having to decide to go high or low with your voltage and from having to cram 4 wires in a single tap. Personally I love em. I have used other transformers where the 12 and 13v tap where about 1.3 v apart. I have also used transformers where the 12v tap is way to hot for a close run and it left me with 12.8v at the fixture . This is where the 11.5 is perfect. Vista for years and I think they still do have an 11v tap in thier transformers for this situation.

Pro-Scapes
01-23-2009, 09:33 PM
Just to add. I had a hunkering about something and Mike confirmed this. We have both run about 150' on 12-2 with 70-80w loads and still be in the mid to high 11v range. with 10ga you could even do a 100w hub with 15v tap and still be kosher.

Your comment about "needless to say a 15v tap isnt going to work in that situation" is unfounded and downright wrong. Just because you made a boo boo in your layout and was unwilling to run the required wire to make the trans installed work doesnt mean the trans has short comings.

David Gretzmier
01-24-2009, 12:09 AM
man, this thread is taking a life of it's own. I'd like to make sure and clarify that I normally only load to 85%, but to test the ryco trans, I loaded one to 110% for testing puroposes only. That unit is holding up well after over a year.

The FX lighting charts indeed back up the 150-180 foot range, 12 guage on a 15 volt tap. I use plenty of 10 guage, on that chart and in my experience, it should take you to 300 feet away,even on an 80 watt load in the high 11's on a 15volt tap. I rarely go much farther than 300, but it does happen, and I have gone with dual 10's to do a 40 watt load or less on each run.

NightLightingFX
01-24-2009, 12:51 AM
This thread is not about my short comings as an engineer of a lighting system. If you want to attack me about my engineering than I guess we can start another thread. The bottom line is from what I have seen I feel the Unique transformer has less voltage drop when loaded than the Magnum. (Period!) I will admit I did not compare them in a scientific way. There is a chance I overlooked something and maybe they are similar in holding a load. But one thing I am pretty sure of, and that is that the Magnum isn't better than Uniques transformers when it comes to maintaining voltage when loaded. I guess the next step is to do a head to head comparison. Someone needs to get a 600w Magnum and a 600w Unique transformer and compare their voltage drop under load.
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-24-2009, 08:53 AM
Why ? no one is denying they both hold thier load. I dont get this. You FEEL the unique didnt drop as much under load but you didnt "scientifically test them" Thats an unfounded statement.

Im not attacking you about your engineering but I am saying your layout in that situation was flawed because you already had a 15v box on site and added to the system in such a way it caused you to have to go to a 22v box then you got mad at the 15v box. Thats like getting upset it rained on you when the weather man says there is a storm coming. You knew what to expect but your day didnt go as planned. If you didnt like 15v transformers you should not have bought it in the first place.

David I never implyed (or at least didnt mean to) that you go around loading transformers to 110% and your testing is clear. I am only conceared for neds half baked testing and claims when he has no evidence to back it up. I would test it myself but I dont happen to have a unique here at this time. Does anyone know where I can get a resistor that would simulate 20 amp loads ? I could easily test several brands I have here including Kichler...coppermoon...nightscaping...vista and the magnum. I think I just need a ryco and unique

NightLightingFX
01-24-2009, 06:43 PM
From what I have experienced NOTHING is as good as Unique's transformers. Nothing will hold a load as good as Unique's transformer.

Billy, as far as I am concerned, this is what our debate is about. When I said, “from what I have experienced NOTHING is as good as Unique’s transformers.” I meant nothing was as good as Unique’s transformer when it comes to holding a load. Apples and oranges have nothing to do with it. If you like .5 volt increases in your taps then that is an apple if you like voltage taps higher than 15 volts then that is an orange.

When I use a Unique transformer very rarely do I have to readjust voltage taps to homeruns due to voltage drop. There is very little voltage drop to the transformer when loaded. I am so confident in the Unique transformers that I will dial in to the proper voltage for my first hub I install even though a full load hasn’t been placed on the transformer yet. After I install my last hub/homerun I will recheck my hubs to ensure proper voltage. Vary rarely will I have to make adjustments with a Unique transformer.

My experience with the Magnum isn’t the same. I assumed the Magnum would be the same as a Unique’s transformer under a load. That wasn’t the case. I had to go back and do a lot of re-adjusting to my taps. So based on my experience the Magnum doesn’t handle a load as well as a Unique’s transformer.

Billy, when you use the Magnum transformer. When you install your very first homerun will you put it on a little bit higher tap knowing that under a full load it will bring that voltage level down to an ideal reading? Or do you have to do very much readjusting of voltage taps do to voltage drop after you have finished attaching all your homeruns? If you answered “YES” then we really have nothing to disagree on. Unless, you have seen more voltage drop on the Unique transformers than I have described.

If you answered “NO” then there must be some biases and unknown anomalies going on. Hell, I have a hard time believing that the Ryco transformer isn’t experiencing more voltage drop than what Dave is describing. But if Dave says it is doing what he says. I guess it is something to consider.
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-24-2009, 08:51 PM
To tell you the truth I have experience little drop with the magnums and the uniques alike. either you have an "unexplained" situation like I did in the "the unexplained" thread or I urge you to perform your own tests. Magnums are designed to give a full output under load. I have yet to see one put out less than the rated voltage at each tap even with a 4.9 amp load on the primary which is darn near full to capacity. 15.1 v with 121v incoming.

Again I never claimed the uniques do not hold voltage. They do hold the voltage better than most transformers out there but your 1 magnum experience is no way compareable to mikes 400+ magnums or my half a dozen uniques and many multiple trans projects with the magnums.

Lets just drop this subject. Your happy with uniques. I love unique gear too but the magnum is the unit for me and others who want the utmost control over this installations. This is going to get no where and next thing you know we will be comparing the big smokey fixture you love so much to uniques.

NightLightingFX
01-24-2009, 09:20 PM
Lets just drop this subject. Your happy with uniques. I love unique gear too but the magnum is the unit for me and others who want the utmost control over this installations.

Agreed, How did you know I liked the Big Smoky fixtures?
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-25-2009, 09:03 AM
You just told me :laugh: Shame using a 2 year fixture with a 20 yr trans. Step it up and use the unique or coppermoon fixtures.

NightLightingFX
01-25-2009, 01:49 PM
Yes I am a little embarressed in admitting I like the "Big Smoky," but regardless were it comes from it is a pretty good fixture. I like the adjustable shroud - Unique or Coppermoon don't have a directional fixture with an adjustable shroud. It is a nice hearty bronze/brass fixture that cost just a little more than the very famous and favorite "Kichler 15384 aluminum." I just can't see myself using an aluminum fixture when I can use a bronze/brass fixture.

I will admit the organization I am getting it from isn't as respected as the likes of Unique and Coppermoon. First it was Lightcraft where Bruce took care of my personally. They had some initial problems with the fixtures some couldn't fit lenses in them. And orders were screwed-up but they always went the extra mile to make me happy, so I hung in there with them.

Then they went to using a spring loaded fixture to enable the use of putting in lens. That was an engineering nightmare. What would happen is the socket wires for the lamp would get all twisted up when you screwed the fixture closed. (WARNING! never use a spring loaded fixture that is closed-up by screwing the fixture togather.) Obviously I have had some maintainance issues, but they always bent over backwards to take care of me. Now, the product is right - it isn't spring loaded and I can put as many lens I need in them. Except, now the name has changed to Advantage Light Source. I wonder what they will be called tommorrow?

At some point down the road your advice to "Step it up an use unique or coppermoon fixtures" will probably be right. I wouldn't recomend anyone to do what I have done. It probably isn't worth the hassle, but what the Hell.

FYI, I have been using a lot of the Coppermoon CM360s. My "Well Light" of choice is the CM360 or the Cast MR16 well - (I haven't used this one yet but I am impressed by it and I will in the future) My path lights of choice is Uniques "Brass Knight series" - They are reasonably priced and they match the "Endeavour" which I like very much and use when ever I can.

OK, now I have really spilled my guts
~Ned

Pro-Scapes
01-25-2009, 05:15 PM
Yes I am a little embarressed in admitting I like the "Big Smoky," but regardless were it comes from it is a pretty good fixture. I like the adjustable shroud - Unique or Coppermoon don't have a directional fixture with an adjustable shroud. It is a nice hearty bronze/brass fixture that cost just a little more than the very famous and favorite "Kichler 15384 aluminum." I just can't see myself using an aluminum fixture when I can use a bronze/brass fixture.

I will admit the organization I am getting it from isn't as respected as the likes of Unique and Coppermoon. First it was Lightcraft where Bruce took care of my personally. They had some initial problems with the fixtures some couldn't fit lenses in them. And orders were screwed-up but they always went the extra mile to make me happy, so I hung in there with them.

Then they went to using a spring loaded fixture to enable the use of putting in lens. That was an engineering nightmare. What would happen is the socket wires for the lamp would get all twisted up when you screwed the fixture closed. (WARNING! never use a spring loaded fixture that is closed-up by screwing the fixture togather.) Obviously I have had some maintainance issues, but they always bent over backwards to take care of me. Now, the product is right - it isn't spring loaded and I can put as many lens I need in them. Except, now the name has changed to Advantage Light Source. I wonder what they will be called tommorrow?

At some point down the road your advice to "Step it up an use unique or coppermoon fixtures" will probably be right. I wouldn't recomend anyone to do what I have done. It probably isn't worth the hassle, but what the Hell.

FYI, I have been using a lot of the Coppermoon CM360s. My "Well Light" of choice is the CM360 or the Cast MR16 well - (I haven't used this one yet but I am impressed by it and I will in the future) My path lights of choice is Uniques "Brass Knight series" - They are reasonably priced and they match the "Endeavour" which I like very much and use when ever I can.

OK, now I have really spilled my guts
~Ned

For just a few bucks more than your paying for that fixture you could have stepped it up to the unique intrepid or coppermoon cm125 both of which have caused me zero issues. The cm125 with a louver is a great light.

If your source keeps changing the product and keeps changing the name and such how do you think its going to be in 5 yrs when you need parts for that fixture and they are discontinued ? In the end you are not saving money nor are you providing a value to your clients if you have to have people bend over backwards to make it right. I would also be more conceared if that source was going to be there in several years. I will admit the smokey isnt a half bad design but it does have its flaws.

Bottom line is if your having issues and orders are being screwed up your not saving money in the end. My advice is deal with reputable sources obtaining reputable materials. Leave the shady sources to the trunk slammers. You seem very serious about lighting and alot of what I have seen of your designs are nice but when I think of big smokeys and duct tape it makes one wonder a bit.

NightLightingFX
01-25-2009, 06:17 PM
I am never going to live the duct tape down, that is fine I will live with it. But when a man talks about my "Big Smoky" now it is getting personal:laugh:

Just sharing ideas here, I can't disagree with what you are saying only that I (PERSONALLY) like the design and functionability of the Big Smoky a lot better than any other directional light fixture out there. So I guess I have to dance with the devil.

For me thats a wrap on this thread,
~Ned "Out"

David Gretzmier
05-25-2009, 04:06 PM
Thought I'd update on one of the Ryco units I've got out there. I had a 900 watt unit get hit by lightning surge, along with a computer and other electronic items inside the home. The unit still worked, but had hum issues, very hot to touch, and the voltages were all over the place on the lugs. The display panel was also out, and the buttons no longer changed the digital readout for number of hours after dark. This unit originally ran from dusk to dawn and still did that, but given the damage, heat and hum and voltage issues I reccomended and the cleient agreed to let me replace the unit. I tried the new copper moon trans in a seperate review.

I will attempt to replace the panel and see if less load will allow this unit to be a temporary or demo unit, or perhaps use it at my house to test lights or something. At 900 watts it is a very heavy unit, and not one I really want to lug around on a demo. but given the heat issues I can't even bear to sell this unit used, and I really don't want to install it at my house until I test out temps at a certain load level.

David Gretzmier
05-25-2009, 04:09 PM
Also , as an update on all the others, after 1.5 to 2 years all other units are performing fine except with the lightning hit model above and the previously mentioned photo-cell issues. I have found some Ryco replacement photo-cell panels , which include the digital readout and timer controls, and I will let you guys know how hard it is to fix that.

David Gretzmier
02-19-2010, 11:00 PM
hard to believe this thread is over 2 and a half years old. did a rebulb on a ryco trans job I put in way back when, 600 watt. all voltages are exactly in spec, trans works fine. the only trans I have had serious issues with was the one mentioned in 2009 that got hit by a lightning surge. The photocell/LED panel replacement module takes about 45 minutes to do, but has proven to be a successful fix for the several out there that had photo-cell problems.

I may celebrate the 3 year anniversary of my testing by putting one more out there.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-19-2010, 11:09 PM
Hey, what ever happened to Ned Hastings? I see he was on this thread. Haven't heard anything from him in a long time now. I wonder how he is doing.

RLDesign
02-20-2010, 01:15 PM
I believe I met him at AOLP conference, but there were some faces and names I wish I had better pictures for. I just read this thread. Pretty neat.

Talk soon.

Tanek

mrveles
02-27-2010, 04:47 PM
i bought two of the units 2 years ago and they are well built, heavy and easy to install BUT both of the switches on the front that allow you to change the timer settings have failed and i can not find any way to contact the manufacturer to honor the warranty. does anyone know a number, website or how to get in touch with them? thanks

Alan B
02-27-2010, 05:16 PM
it is very common (plaguing) problem on them. If it were not for that problem (it seems to happen on the MAJORITY of them within 2 years) we would have carried them as a value line. But it is just not acceptable to have a built-in cpntrol that you know will fail on alrge percentage so quickly.

Sorry I can't help you on a source for the parts. However I can clear a misconception on this thread -- RYCO Engineering does not make the transformers, Ryco is just a private label importer from the real manu.

Alan

Lite4
02-28-2010, 05:46 AM
i bought two of the units 2 years ago and they are well built, heavy and easy to install BUT both of the switches on the front that allow you to change the timer settings have failed and i can not find any way to contact the manufacturer to honor the warranty. does anyone know a number, website or how to get in touch with them? thanks

I did some scouring around the web and I think I found the replacement part you are looking for: see attachment below. $12.95

https://www.yardbright.com/product_detail.sstg?id=401&catid=101&menu_catid=34

mrveles
03-01-2010, 06:29 PM
thank you for the info, i ordered them from the info you provided and hopefully it will work out. thanks again, marv

David Gretzmier
04-24-2010, 01:12 PM
an update on one of the first 2 ryco's I installed. I just did a yearly rebulb and 2 light add on to an install we did back in June 2007. The original 600 watter hs lost 1 300 watt side. They are deisgned with 2 complete seperate commons and 2 seperate 12-15v taps for those commons. the left side common appears to have had some arc'ing and is done. reset switches will not reset. the right side looks and acts fine. this install also has a 2nd ryco unit added during an 11 light add on in 2008. on the failed side, I moved the load over to the unused common and taps on that unit, and checked all loads and connectors, etc.

This is a disappointing failure, and it appears the 4 wires on the failed side were barely in the unit. since all other wires were in all lugs properly, I am wndering if this is my fault or has smeone messed with those particular wires. I noticed the grey PVC was tilted over as if it had been hit, and there is an irrigatin backflow there that was just installed in the spring startup by another company. while it may be great to point fingers, it is the fact that these have open bottoms and the pvc is not secured by a threaded coupler and locknut like I would on a Volt, Coppermoon, FX, Garden Light or any of the dozens of pro units out there. while it my have been strapped to the brick mortar, In the end, my fault and my responsibility to pay for it.

This customer will be adding lighting around their pool and back yard next year, and depending on the add on, I will replace both units with either a 12-1500 watt or 2 900's.

Musky-Hunter
05-24-2010, 01:46 PM
I installed a 600w Ryco a few years ago. After two years it failed and the distributor replaced it. That distributor is now gone and my second one just failed. In both cases the two breakers appeared to be malfunctioning. If you push them in they don't work properly. The breakers look exactly like the the ones pictured in this link - http://www.ace4parts.com/Products/8-AMP-32VDC--250VAC---CIRCUIT-BREAKER__B7008.aspx

Unfortunately they don't show the amp rating so I cannot order replacements. Does anyone know what the amp rating should be so I can order replacement parts?

Thanks.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
05-24-2010, 02:17 PM
I would suspect they are 25 Amp breakers. Have you taken the transformer apart to see if the original breakers have any part number or markings on them.

Musky-Hunter
05-24-2010, 02:20 PM
Thanks for the reply. I did dissemble it and the breakers don't say what amp rating they have. They only have a part number I can't google and 125/250Vac 50Vdc and TC-2 50/60hz I guess this isn't surprising since it is clearly a low cost import.

S&MLL
05-25-2010, 01:39 AM
600 watts. You said two breakers. 300 watts a com. 300w/12v=25amp

silvermaxd
05-26-2010, 12:51 PM
I have used one on my house...its been in service for a couple years now...no problems

David Gretzmier
11-06-2010, 12:33 AM
someone asked about these trans on another thread and I can say that after 3 and a half years ( wow, it seems like yesterday) all units continue to function except for the issues previously mentioned. no new problems since the one already mentioned 7 months ago, ( that unit is still in place, no upgrade to her system yet) and all are holding voltage fine. I was at a property last week that has 3 of the 600 watt units and after a rebulb and cleaning, I checked voltage at sockets on about 6 fixtures. they are all still feeding voltage fine and no issues with photo-cells, timer or anything.

mitch10102000
09-02-2011, 10:17 PM
I know it's been awhile since anyone has posted to this, so hopefully my question gets answered! I recently purchased a Pinnacle Lights (branded by Ryco) 300 watt transformer and I did some testing on it out of the box with my multi-meter. For the different tap ports, these are the voltages I am seeing:

My line voltage is 120 volts.

12 volt tap – 12.1 volts
13 volt tap – 12.9 volts
14 volt tap – 13.7 volts
15 volt tap – 13.7 volts

Is this normal for the 15 volt tap to be putting out the same as the 14 volt tap? Or do I have a defective unit? There is no load on this thing...it was just pulled out of the box and tested. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-02-2011, 10:22 PM
Just for chuckles and giggles, load that up to 280 watts and re-check the voltage at the taps. I suspect you will be underwhelmed by the results.
Posted via Mobile Device

Alan B
09-03-2011, 09:57 AM
No that is not normal. I have researched that transformer and it is priced very well but had some significant drawbacks that prevented us from using it even for a "value line." The most significant is the built-in timer/photocell module. It is very prone to failure (as are all timer photocells). Being integrated made it a significant issue. (note: You are able to buy replacement modules). That will be your bigger issue down the road.

It is the least expensive multitap transformer on the market. It has its place but it is not without issues. Personally if it were re-engineered with a few changes : non-integrated timer/photocell, ability to add your own, I would consider it as an affordable LED transformer. It is multitap, stainless steel, works and is very affordable.

David Gretzmier
09-03-2011, 10:08 AM
James is correct- as with every transformer I have installed, yes, the taps will drop when loaded, exponetially so at a nearly 95% load. It would actually be very desirable for the 12v tap to drop down to 11.5 or so for your close in lights to the trans, just for bulb life. but the 15 volt tap should read anywhere from 14.5 to 15.5 at around 120volts in my experience, loaded or unloaded. I would send the unit back and tell them the 15v tap is wired identical to the 14.

as an update, after 4 years and 3 months all the ryco units I installed continue to work as I have described in all previous posts. I have not installed a new one in quite some time, as I have went to hadco/phillips when looking for a smaller value trans, as they cost about the same as ryco and have a closed door system, and carry a lifetime warranty from a known company. you do have to spend extra on a photocell/timer with the Hadco/phillips, but then they are easily replaceable while the ryco's are not. The photo-cell is the one item I have had issues with the ryco's as stated in previous posts.

mitch10102000
09-03-2011, 07:48 PM
So I am an electrical engineer and out of curiosity, I decided to open this thing up and see why the 14 volt tap and 15 volt tap had the exact same voltages. It wasn't very hard to see why...they have a jumper wire going from the 14 volt tap to the 15 volt tap! Are you kidding me? I should almost take a picture and post it!!!

So the transformer has a red, green, brown and black wire coming out of it. Each one is a different voltage (12, 13, and 14) and the black appears to be common. The black is going to the circuit protector and then another wire is going from that to the common terminal. So it appears this transformer only has three voltage outputs, but they still advertise 4?

The only reasonable explanation was that this transformer's 15 volt tap was faulty or forgotten about after it was sealed at the manufacturer and they used it anyway...since that would be an expensive mistake! Why not just jumper the 14 volt tap to the 15...who's going to notice!?!

So that solves the mystery. I will be contacting the dealer for a return on Tuesday...or see if he has one that actually has a 15 volt tap! This thing does appear to be solid at least...and the photocell looks super easy to replace (I had the thing apart within 15 minutes).

ELumin8
09-17-2011, 06:17 PM
Funny side note, who really uses the higher taps? On 95% of my installations I am able to use the 12-13 volt tap, Personally I would like to see additional 12 volt taps and do away with the higher 14volt taps.
A little planning goes a long way, a lot of planning goes even farther. Keep in mind I only do new construction and I place the 120 volt sources in well planned locations very early in the project.

starry night
09-17-2011, 07:00 PM
Since I am still new to lighting, I hesitate to give my opinions.
But I have wondered all along why the transformers have the taps up to 15 or 16 volts and don't have two or three 12v taps instead. According to Stephen, my idea apparently wasn't so stupid.

And will the transformers change in this way when LEDs become dominant?

steveparrott
09-19-2011, 01:39 PM
Since I am still new to lighting, I hesitate to give my opinions.
But I have wondered all along why the transformers have the taps up to 15 or 16 volts and don't have two or three 12v taps instead. According to Stephen, my idea apparently wasn't so stupid.

And will the transformers change in this way when LEDs become dominant?

There are occaisional projects that do require higher taps because of the large number of fixtures and/or cases where transformers can not be easily positioned close enough to the fixtures.

Let's not forget, one of the advantages of low voltage lighting is that you don't have to have any 120V lines going out into the landscape. Anytime you put a 120V line into the landscape (to mount a remote transformer) there's a risk the line could be cut or damaged - then you have a potentially fatal safety risk.

As for projects that require putting the full load on the 12 or 13-volt taps, all CAST transformers can carry the full load on any tap. If all the wires don't fit in one tap then you can use a transformer installation lug (http://www.cast-lighting.com/products/accessories/installation-accessories/130/)to make it happen.

In a few months we'll be releasing a Journeymen Series 75W transfomer primarily aimed at LED systems. It's a dual-tap transformer - just 12 and 15V. 15V is an ideal tap for most LED systems since (even with some voltage loss) the fixture voltage will be within the 12 to 15V window.