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Turf Troll
07-30-2007, 05:22 PM
What is your top choice for transformers ?,

Thanks

johnquest
07-30-2007, 06:52 PM
Jefferson Electric - Outside of high markup by standard Landscape Lighting companies - Proven transformer manufacturer.
http://www.jeffersonelectric.com/cgi-bin/site.pl?3208&dwContent_contentID=62

John

NightScenes
07-30-2007, 09:23 PM
The transformer that you are showing is an older style MDL unit that Kichler used to have and many companies still carry. MDL is top notch and I use the Kichler Pro and Contractor series models all of the time. They have just discontinued the Contractor units so I will have to go to using the pro series only or buy the Hadco unit which is also made by MDL.

klkanders
07-30-2007, 09:34 PM
Hey Paul hows everything goin for ya? I mainly still use the Kichlers but also used a couple Unique for tight or direct burial applications.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
07-30-2007, 11:44 PM
Nightscaping Powercenters and H3O Powercenters on every single job for the last 9 years. There is still no one else building a better transformer with more control options for the professional contractor then Nightscaping.

Never ever had even one problem with a Nightscaping Powercenter..... The Best.

NightScenes
07-31-2007, 08:47 AM
Busy my friend. I'm hopping like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest!!

ccfree
08-01-2007, 08:15 PM
Paul, I definately know of a place close to you where you can pick up Hadco transformers. Somewhere in Cedar Park TX. Just in case you were wondering

Bill S
08-01-2007, 09:43 PM
I have only used Nightscaping powercenters in all my 1 jobs! Actually needed 3.... Compared against Hadco and liked the Nightscaping much better. Time will be the judge though.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-01-2007, 10:03 PM
Don't Worry Bill S. Time will not judge the Nightscaping Powercenter harshly... They will just keep working and working and working. If you ever do have a problem, the things have a lifetime transferrable warranty. I have installed hundreds and hundreds of these and NEVER had one failure.

Enjoy.

Chris J
08-01-2007, 10:14 PM
Why does Nightscaping still use the old fashioned fuses? How do you guys get around checking a system if it has a direct short somewhere? Everytime you put a new fuse in, the thing is going to blow before you have a chance to amp probe any runs? Do you guys carry around a bag full of fuses for situations like this? Just curious.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-01-2007, 10:24 PM
Hi Chris.... The NS Powercenter uses a Fustat instead of a fuse... This allows you to diagnose the problem by simlpy looking into the fuse to determine wether you have a short or an overload. It is a very handy means of secondary side protection. Also safer (in my opinon) then relying on a magnetic breaker should a short develop (they have a way of taking some time before tripping)

As for trouble shooting, Nightscaping provides us with a troubleshooting breaker that fits into the fustat socket. Part number SCK-25. This allows multiple resets while you find the trouble.

Never try to install a standard Buss fuse into a fustat socket! The fustat socket is tapered and forcing a standard fuse in there will screw up the threads.

Give you NS rep a call sometime and have them explain in detail the beauty of the fustat. It might just make you switch transformers... and if that doesn't, the modular control bay, with a plethora of control options should!

Have a great day.

Chris J
08-01-2007, 10:30 PM
Thanks for the explanation. I've been wondering about that for quite some time.

TXNSLighting
08-09-2007, 06:52 PM
Paul, I definately know of a place close to you where you can pick up Hadco transformers. Somewhere in Cedar Park TX. Just in case you were wondering

Hey craig call me again, i lost your number.

ccfree
08-09-2007, 10:57 PM
You bet Ryan...I will call you tomorrow. thanks for the reply.

ccfree
08-09-2007, 11:18 PM
Transformers are transformers. The core of most transformers are built like a rock. They just keep going and going like the energizer bunny. That is why most manufacturers went to modular units. It costs the manufacturer a heck of a lot more money to warranty built in timers or photo cells that costs 10 bucks. Contractors can replace them on the job site to save everyone money..(manufacturer, distributor, contractor). Especially contractors. If you carry some extras on your truck, it becomes a relative cheap repair. Sames goes for photo cells. I look at it from an installation stand point. Is the transformer contractor user friendly? Do you have access to the high voltage side of the transformer so you can troubleshoot or daisy chain two or three of them together to have one master and slaves? Does the transformer have sufficient room to get your big fingers in there to hook of runs? What size knock out is in the bottom of the transformer? 1 1/4-1 1/2" is great in my opinion. Looks great when you have sch. 40 conduit coming up to the transformer with a terminal adapter. Very professional. How many 12 or 10 gauge wires can you get in a terminal? Just some key points in my opinion.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-21-2007, 08:56 PM
Around these parts, anyone other then a licensed electrician caught installing a LV transformer providing over 15V is in for a "shock" (pun intended)

If I had one wish for this industry it would be to establish a concret set of recognized and enforceable standards that would bind all of the players together and have it adopted by both the Canadian and American electrical codes.

Personally, I will not use a LV landscape lighting transformer rated over 15V output, and think that if one knows what they are doing, there is really no need for them.

Have a great day.

Chris J
08-21-2007, 09:15 PM
I'm not sure I understand: What would make it ok for a licensed electrician to install a LV transformer that produces over 15v? Although I also use the UL1838 compliant transformers, there are situations where I have had a need for a little more power. I disagree slightly with some of what you are saying. I believe that these transformers are to be viewed as nothing more than tools that can make our jobs easier in certain circumstances. However, I also recognize that one must know how to use these tools in a safe and practical manner. They should not be readily available to the amateur who knows nothing about the dynamics of wiring, voltage and amperage issues. Not trying to cause a fuss here. Just my 2 cents.

Eden Lights
08-22-2007, 12:42 AM
Around these parts, anyone other then a licensed electrician caught installing a LV transformer providing over 15V is in for a "shock" (pun intended)

If I had one wish for this industry it would be to establish a concret set of recognized and enforceable standards that would bind all of the players together and have it adopted by both the Canadian and American electrical codes.

Personally, I will not use a LV landscape lighting transformer rated over 15V output, and think that if one knows what they are doing, there is really no need for them.

Have a great day.

I think all discussion about 15+ Transformers should be banned, We all will never agree??

Eden Lights
08-22-2007, 12:54 AM
I almost forgot to tell you guys, I have the highest quality transformer that I have ever seen in the shop for evaluation, it's made my QTran and really is more like a fine swiss watch compared to anything else that I have ever used. The build quality alone is like nothing I have seen before. I just started playing with it, but this thread made me think about it, because it has multiple primary inputs for working with dimmed or low primary voltage. While they don't mention this in any way, I think it is a excellent work around when dealing with lowvoltages and staying within UL1838 quidelines. And yes it is at the top of the lot when it comes to price.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-22-2007, 01:00 AM
I almost forgot to tell you guys, I have the highest quality transformer that I have ever seen in the shop for evaluation, it's made my QTran and really is more like a fine swiss watch compared to anything else that I have ever used. The build quality alone is like nothing I have seen before. I just started playing with it, but this thread made me think about it, because it has multiple primary inputs for working with dimmed or low primary voltage. While they don't mention this in any way, I think it is a excellent work around when dealing with lowvoltages and staying within UL1838 quidelines. And yes it is at the top of the lot when it comes to price.

I met with the President and owner of Qtran here in Muskoka last year regarding lighting his cottage. He spoke then of their pending entry into the Landscape Lighting Transformer market. Since that time he has sent me some specifications and cut sheets on their product line for comments / advice. I liked a lot of what I saw and they look like they are on the right track. I am intriqued by their use of Torroidal transformers. I think their short comings may be around things like control options as they seem to be opting for the Hadco / Kichler approach of plug in units. From what I saw all of the cases were powder coated steel.

If you have any specifications or updated information please post it.

Have a great day.

Eden Lights
08-22-2007, 01:44 AM
I met with the President and owner of Qtran here in Muskoka last year regarding lighting his cottage. He spoke then of their pending entry into the Landscape Lighting Transformer market. Since that time he has sent me some specifications and cut sheets on their product line for comments / advice. I liked a lot of what I saw and they look like they are on the right track. I am intriqued by their use of Torroidal transformers. I think their short comings may be around things like control options as they seem to be opting for the Hadco / Kichler approach of plug in units. From what I saw all of the cases were powder coated steel.

If you have any specifications or updated information please post it.

Have a great day.

Every thing is on their website and they do have a SS option. The unit I have is the new underground model. All of my favorite transformers in 900W and up are already Torroidals, as is most of everything coming out of the MDL camp I think? This is just MHO but I think photocells, mechanical clocks, and etc. are a thing of the past. I just took over a property this summer with a 15 year old Nightscaping install that was just beautiful from a design standpoint, orginal work was very good. I removed the controls from 6 transformers and installed UPB inline relay modules with an timed event controller and scene keypads in house and pool house. The customer told me the other day that they have used their lighting more this summer than they every have in the 15 years and they never have gone this long without having to adjust something. When I first met with this client he asked if I could put switches on certain lights so he could have more control of his system for different activites, times, and scenes. He knew that the photocell and mechanical timers just wasn't working. I say all that to point out that putting a grasslin timer and a photocell in a Q-Tran unit would be like putting golfcart parts on a fine automobile.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-22-2007, 03:47 AM
Mechanical timers and photocells certainly are things of the past.... As are most of the digital timers made available out there. I like the modular control bay on the Nightscaping Powercenters because they allow you to add things like the Islander Relay Module, the Digital Powerswitch (Solar timer that tracks sunset / sunrise based on your Lat & Long), the digital hour meter, and x-10 switches (for those of you into x-10 stuff)

For the most part, the relay modules are a life saver as they allow synchronized and sequenced scenes to be built over multiple zones of lighting. NS was the innovator and early adopter of this technology and few others have caught up to them when it comes to up to date, on board control options.

Generally I tie the system back to the house and provide the client with astronomic timers with over-ride inside the house for their convenience. Occasionally we will tie the systems into existing lighting control systems.

Keeping up with new technology, be it controls, lamps, connections, fixtures, etc is a responsibility we should all have to our clients.

Have a great day.

David Gretzmier
08-23-2007, 12:16 AM
I'm usually all for gadgets and gizmo's, but I have to disagree on the UPB thing. I'm positive this system would fit only into a small minority of the folks I work with.

I don't know why, but I'd say that 95% of my residential customers are in the upper range of the income bracket, and they want things absolutely simple. If I showed them a key pad to allow them to turn this thing on, off, dim or program it in anyway, they would not buy. the same is true of thier Christmas lights. They want it fully automatic, and they don't want to touch it. They already are having trouble with thier 5th fully programmable remote control they bought this year. they struggle to program thier stereo/surroundsound/high definition satellite. they don't want something else to control.

They want it to turn on itself, off itself, and fix itself if the power goes off. maybe 1 in 20 wants to play with it. 5% .

Eden Lights
08-23-2007, 01:26 AM
Here is just a different angle to think about. Yes I agree that clients want the system to be automated 95% of the time, but it's that 5% of the time that really makes a difference. Here are some examples: Client just dropped 30K on his lighting system and the party is tomorrow, the guests are leaving late and the lights are already off, what now? Most every new landscape has a firepit and or fireplace, how are you controling that light around the fireplace, it is almost always the focal point and will need to be accented sometimes. It is not a UPB thing, it is a controls thing and your competition is going to be offering it in one form or another. Every one of your customers will want it if they see it and it's feature set and sounds like your clients can afford it.

Eden Lights
08-23-2007, 01:28 AM
David, please let me know once you have read this post.

klkanders
08-23-2007, 02:00 AM
Eden, I just sent you a private message. Answer when you have time. Thanks!

David Gretzmier
08-23-2007, 10:48 PM
Eden- I agree that switch does look simple. I had envisioned a lcd touch panel with bar graphs and menus. I have added outdoor switches for additional party lights over decks, and I like the idea of a consumer being able to turn on all outdoor lights if they think a prowler is out there. I am interested in learning more- Is there a good website with info on training? dave g

David Gretzmier
08-23-2007, 10:49 PM
Also- any problems locally on your end because of "piercing the house" on running wire in walls ? we discussed this in another post and my local code guy says I need a master electricians license to run 12 volt wire in walls.

klkanders
08-23-2007, 10:56 PM
David, I am interested as well. Please let me know what you find on any seminars or training. Thanks!

JackTorsed
08-24-2007, 09:36 PM
Also- any problems locally on your end because of "piercing the house" on running wire in walls ? we discussed this in another post and my local code guy says I need a master electricians license to run 12 volt wire in walls.

As far as I know those switches don't require "piercing" of the house walls as they are powerline carrier like x-10 but purportedly much more reliable.

David Gretzmier
08-25-2007, 12:09 AM
Our local building inspector and code enforcement office does not allow non electricians to run wire within the walls of homes, low voltage or high voltage, thus, no switch panels inside. they allow one pass through the outside walls to mount trans inside and run 12volt outside. but no fishing wires through walls or mounting fixtures on or in home.

Since some 12 volt fixtures can be mounted inside, some non electrician guys were doing that. they had to prevent that in the future.

JackTorsed
08-25-2007, 12:14 AM
Our local building inspector and code enforcement office does not allow non electricians to run wire within the walls of homes, low voltage or high voltage, thus, no switch panels inside. they allow one pass through the outside walls to mount trans inside and run 12volt outside. but no fishing wires through walls or mounting fixtures on or in home.

Since some 12 volt fixtures can be mounted inside, some non electrician guys were doing that. they had to prevent that in the future.

then those switches will be good for you since they require no additional wiring.

David Gretzmier
08-25-2007, 12:34 AM
so those switches are wireless? I assumed that wires went between that 4 switch panel, and to a controller and trans.

JackTorsed
08-25-2007, 12:44 AM
so those switches are wireless? I assumed that wires went between that 4 switch panel, and to a controller and trans.


No they go in place of an existing wall switch and can control remote loads with no direct hard wire connection.

David Gretzmier
08-25-2007, 12:49 AM
jack- even if they control remote loads, you have to fish the wires to get though the walls. I can't get caught doing that. That particular box has 3 other switches in it, I am not allowed to open that box if it has 120 in it. I could hire an electrician to do it.

I have asked about exceptions, like how do home theater guys and security guys get away with it, and even though this guy is my friend, he was pretty blunt. he told me to not do it, and I have no problems.

JackTorsed
08-25-2007, 12:56 AM
jack- even if they control remote loads, you have to fish the wires to get though the walls. I can't get caught doing that. That particular box has 3 other switches in it, I am not allowed to open that box if it has 120 in it. I could hire an electrician to do it.

I have asked about exceptions, like how do home theater guys and security guys get away with it, and even though this guy is my friend, he was pretty blunt. he told me to not do it, and I have no problems.

David, the wire is in the box already you just replace the switch. you then of course need to make provisions to control the load of that switch that you are removing. If you are prohibited from doing this in your city then it's best you sub it out.

David Gretzmier
08-25-2007, 12:59 AM
If I go with upb in the future that is my plan.

Eden Lights
08-25-2007, 01:26 AM
If I go with upb in the future that is my plan.


The keypad that you see cannot control a load, in this project a circuit was dropped under the house for lighting and was switched from this location. The switch was removed and power now goes through the box and supplies power for the keypad. A relay module then goes in the transformer to control the transformer. This allows easier maintenance and prevents a code issue that we see all the time and that is you cannot have a switched receptacle. Lutron has a work around by using special outlets and male cord ends which wont allow anything else to plug up to the receptacle. In the next couple of years the regulations are going to get so rough, that half the stuff we do is going to be a violation of something.

JackTorsed
08-25-2007, 01:35 AM
This allows easier maintenance and prevents a code issue that we see all the time and that is you cannot have a switched receptacle


How about just hardwiring the connection this way you don't need a GFI and you won't be in violation of code. Was the relay a plug in or hardwire application for the transformer?

Eden Lights
08-25-2007, 01:40 AM
This allows easier maintenance and prevents a code issue that we see all the time and that is you cannot have a switched receptacle


How about just hardwiring the connection this way you don't need a GFI and you won't be in violation of code. Was the relay a plug in or hardwire application for the transformer?

I use both this install used several plug in appliance modules

Go Halogen
08-25-2007, 09:47 PM
Mr. Troll,

What have you used so far? You should look for something made in the USA.
Stainless steel, Multi-Tap for longer distances, there are 11 and 12 watt units out there for short run jobs. Most pro-grade transformers are decent. Some may be a bit better than others. Competition between all of the manufacturers keeps the playing field fairly even. I would find a local lighting
distributor and check out a few different models. Sometimes the layout of the units and working room w/in the unit can influence you. Hope this helps.

Turf Troll
08-26-2007, 09:17 AM
I'll use Vista, Nightscaping, Cast transformers to stay with product line through to fixtures. These companies have active representatives in the field that I can email or call to discuss ideas, questions, whatever.

I only want to use the most dependable, best warrantied products that are the best value to a client and myself while at the same time trying to support/use products from manufactures that support me and the client because I am the one who deals with issues when things don't work.

Products may have warranties but it is my time dealing with equipment that is or becomes faulty that will cost me - not the supplier/distributor or up from them the manufacture anything except maybe my business.

I was in an electrical supply house checking on butt splice kits with tubing (Gardner Bender) which are the ace connector with a flat screw instead of allen they stock Hadco transformers when quoted saved me about $150 on comparable wattage transformers from other manufactures on every size.

So with the experience here of people putting in hundreds - thousands of transformers the general question not only got me a general opinion on transformers but also discussions on the options available with them such as the individual zone instead of entire system etc.

Which I thank every one for there input.