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Dreams To Designs
09-04-2007, 08:33 PM
Well written, short article by Steve Parrot on Landscape Online. Good fundamental information.

http://www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/9172

Kirk

Pro-Scapes
09-04-2007, 10:47 PM
informative as usual from Steve.

30 volts huh. Crap this is a can of worms waiting to happen. One more BIG reason why we need standards of training. This may force the little guy out and require more low voltage techs to become licensed electricians increasing the costs to our clients.

I dont see a reason to raise it to 30v. 18v maybe... 30v no.

NightScenes
09-04-2007, 11:14 PM
informative as usual from Steve.

30 volts huh. Crap this is a can of worms waiting to happen. One more BIG reason why we need standards of training. This may force the little guy out and require more low voltage techs to become licensed electricians increasing the costs to our clients.

I dont see a reason to raise it to 30v. 18v maybe... 30v no.

There is a standard for installation out there right now. Contact the AOLP!! This is one more reason for certification.

David Gretzmier
09-04-2007, 11:15 PM
what a great read for beginners. I hope UL does update to 22 volts, perhaps even 30. as wire gets more expensive, I am seeing more and more folks use less 8 and 10 guage. 12 seems to be the standard, just make the voltage work.

JoeyD
09-05-2007, 12:16 PM
Well written, short article by Steve Parrot on Landscape Online. Good fundamental information.

http://www.landscapeonline.com/research/article/9172

Kirk

Here was somthing our Transformer engineer wrote after reading the article. Our engineer is also the same guy who invented the GFI.

"The article is basically correct. But the efficiency of a toroidal transformer is only as good as the design. An EI core can be designed to be just as efficient as a toroidal core. The toroidal core itself is more expensive than EIís and more difficult to insulate between primary and secondary, especially when it comes to meeting stringent specifications such as pool and spa requirements. (layer of .005 inch thick copper foil between windings). Toroidal cores are more expensive to buy, wind, and insulate. But they do have lower profile.

As far as electric shock goes there is an International standard for SELV (safety extra low voltage) which is less than 60 volts DC. or 42.4 volts AC. This voltage is considered safe for people to touch. So the 15 VAC limit is ridiculously low."

John R.

He (John Reeves) also stated that if you are using cheaper materials building a Toroidal then all arguments of it being more efficient are out the window. The fact that we use the highest quality components in our EI core's make them just as efficent, run just as cool, and as quiet as any other unit out there.

Unique uses an EI core and have been from day one. We have a 1% failure rate on our units. Very efficient and long lasting EI cores!

Dreams To Designs
09-05-2007, 12:25 PM
Joey,

Thank you for that added information. It gives all of us some more information to make educated decisions.

Kirk

NightScenes
09-05-2007, 12:36 PM
It's always good to get both sides of an issue. Thanks Kirk and Joey for this information.

JoeyD
09-05-2007, 12:41 PM
Sure, I thought it was a well written article as well. It spawned us to inquire how we were doing things. This type of stuff is great for everyone involved int he industry.

ar-t
09-05-2007, 02:26 PM
First off, I need to 'splain that lighting is my second profession. My previous one was as an R&D engineer. (You are toast at 45 in engineering.....couple that with R&D labs are the first cost-cutting measures big companies take when slashing expenses.)

Anyway, I have designed plenty of transformers. Both EI stacked lamination, as well as toroid. Many of the cons expressed in the article about EI can be traced to not enough copper on the primary. You can do the same thing with toroids, as well.

Yes, a bit more efficient, as there is no air gap. Not sure that is a concern here.

Toroids can radiate quite a bit, if the windings are not evenly spaced, across the entire core. Again, not a big problem here. Buzzing.......yes, that is. I have rejected more than one toroid, as the steel band that makes up the core can come loose internally. So, while very rare, toroids can buzz.

UL is a subject I best stay away from. I have friends who worked there, and their opinion.....based in fact.......is more cynical than mine. Yes, their focus should be safety, but they are believed to be very arbitrary in what they consider safe. 'Nuf said.

But 30V??????????

This sounds like a red herring. C'mon, if anyone is daft enough to put 30v on any bulb that we use, how long do you think it will last? Even 22V seems out of the range for 99% of the applications.

It would take over 200' of 12 ga wire to drop 10V on a 180W load. (15A, which is all you can put on 12 ga.) So, when is the last time anyone has needed to run 375' of cable?

Just because UL will let someone make a 30V tap transformer is no reason to expect one the hit the market any time soon. Or ever.

But, if it does, it will most likely not be a low-cost item. The contractors who won't understand how to use it properly probably won't rush out the buy one. Not sure we should panic. Not quite yet.

steveparrott
09-05-2007, 02:47 PM
Good discussion going here. You're absolutely right about good toroids and bad toroids. There's recently been some low-cost toroids coming out of asia. Our engineer ripped one apart and found the problems that Joey described.

NiteTymeIlluminations
09-05-2007, 02:53 PM
Wow...this is awesome...look at the great discussion!!! :drinkup:

ar-t
09-05-2007, 03:04 PM
The Chinese have discovered how to make toroids! Yuk.

Actually, I do use some Asian-produced toroids in my manufacturing business. Avel-Lindberg now winds most of theirs in China, but they have their own QC people in the plant at all times.

Hate to sound like a xenophobe, but Asians have much different concepts of quality and "intellectual property" than we do.

OK..a bit off-topic, but.......

The worst transformer that I ever bought came from a local supplier. I spec'ed the hell out of it, so that he couldn't screw it up. I don't know if he was impressed or annoyed that I knew so much about transformer design.

The only thing I did not spec was "bifilar windings". I assumed he had enough sense to do it that way.

He didn't, and they are all still in my garage. Now that the price of scrap copper has gone up, I may recoup 1.23% of my cost.

Pro-Scapes
09-05-2007, 04:04 PM
joey is 1 out of 100 failures acceptable ? on bulbs I would think but not sure on transformers. I have yet to have any trans fail that I have installed but I did have one that was tweakin the gfci to pop on occasion so we changed it out... all is well now.

Took a MDL unit apart from a popular manufacture. Bottom of the core looked like pebbles ? is this normal ?? Also a friend took one apart from same manufacture and the core was actually exposed! 2 more of this same brand had to be removed from a single project because they were getting too hot.

I no longer specify or will purchase the K box but will instead use Cast or unique until something better comes my way.

On another note. My dist also offers an offshore trans made by a company called pantech. I use one for my demo set and there is one installed in a small area ocean side for test purposes. 1 failure out ALOT sold. Makes ya wonder a bit.

I got an 8 year old vista unit that we pulled off a job driving part of my house. complete with 11v tap! No probs comes on nightly with the x10.

A design is only as good as the manufacturing process. Good design manufactured poorly is still junk. Bad design manufactured well is still a bad design.

I still dont see a need for 30v. It will just lead to manufactures making internally regulated fixtures and guys with no meters stringing them along like the do now.

JoeyD
09-05-2007, 04:07 PM
First off, I need to 'splain that lighting is my second profession. My previous one was as an R&D engineer. (You are toast at 45 in engineering.....couple that with R&D labs are the first cost-cutting measures big companies take when slashing expenses.)

Anyway, I have designed plenty of transformers. Both EI stacked lamination, as well as toroid. Many of the cons expressed in the article about EI can be traced to not enough copper on the primary. You can do the same thing with toroids, as well.

Yes, a bit more efficient, as there is no air gap. Not sure that is a concern here.

Toroids can radiate quite a bit, if the windings are not evenly spaced, across the entire core. Again, not a big problem here. Buzzing.......yes, that is. I have rejected more than one toroid, as the steel band that makes up the core can come loose internally. So, while very rare, toroids can buzz.

UL is a subject I best stay away from. I have friends who worked there, and their opinion.....based in fact.......is more cynical than mine. Yes, their focus should be safety, but they are believed to be very arbitrary in what they consider safe. 'Nuf said.

But 30V??????????

This sounds like a red herring. C'mon, if anyone is daft enough to put 30v on any bulb that we use, how long do you think it will last? Even 22V seems out of the range for 99% of the applications.

It would take over 200' of 12 ga wire to drop 10V on a 180W load. (15A, which is all you can put on 12 ga.) So, when is the last time anyone has needed to run 375' of cable?

Just because UL will let someone make a 30V tap transformer is no reason to expect one the hit the market any time soon. Or ever.

But, if it does, it will most likely not be a low-cost item. The contractors who won't understand how to use it properly probably won't rush out the buy one. Not sure we should panic. Not quite yet.

Art you would be surprised as to how many times you need the 22v tap!!! we even have a 24v unit for extra long runs. Fact is you only use a higher tap to compensate the drop. You would never put 22v at a bulb!

JoeyD
09-05-2007, 04:20 PM
joey is 1 out of 100 failures acceptable ? on bulbs I would think but not sure on transformers. I have yet to have any trans fail that I have installed but I did have one that was tweakin the gfci to pop on occasion so we changed it out... all is well now.

Took a MDL unit apart from a popular manufacture. Bottom of the core looked like pebbles ? is this normal ?? Also a friend took one apart from same manufacture and the core was actually exposed! 2 more of this same brand had to be removed from a single project because they were getting too hot.

I no longer specify or will purchase the K box but will instead use Cast or unique until something better comes my way.

On another note. My dist also offers an offshore trans made by a company called pantech. I use one for my demo set and there is one installed in a small area ocean side for test purposes. 1 failure out ALOT sold. Makes ya wonder a bit.

I got an 8 year old vista unit that we pulled off a job driving part of my house. complete with 11v tap! No probs comes on nightly with the x10.

A design is only as good as the manufacturing process. Good design manufactured poorly is still junk. Bad design manufactured well is still a bad design.

I still dont see a need for 30v. It will just lead to manufactures making internally regulated fixtures and guys with no meters stringing them along like the do now.


Billy, I would say 1 out of 100 is not OK, but when you factor in that every transformer we make is wound by hand (assisted by a machine turning the bobin) and we make over 50,000 units a year a 1% failure rate is pretty good. Understand that included in that 1% are the transformers we get back due to installer error. Majority of the units we have that fail are eiher becuase of an old hardwired photo cell (which we no longer hardwire) or the transformer was overloaded and when the fuse continued to pop they installed a larger fuse thus damaging the unit. We do have the occasional thermister go out and we have seen connections come lose for whatever reason. Bottom line is we test our units 3 times with a Hi-Pot tester which runs 2500v of electricity exposing any failure in the coil. We run this test 2 times before the coil is even canned then once as it is being canned.

We always strive for perfection as any manufacturer should but human error is apart of the game and the only way to get around it is to implement stringent testing procedures. And then of course FIRE anyone who makes a mistake!!!!!!! JUST KIDDING! Nate is tuff but he isn't Stalin!!!!!

ar-t
09-05-2007, 04:23 PM
I know that you sell them, but I can not imagine not being able to locate the AC/transformer somewhere closer. Maybe I have just been lucky.

Hmm.....internally regulated fixtures.....I seem to recall some peddler wanting me to look at his earlier this year. Yeah, I can see where guys without smarts could use those on one run, and make a mess of things.

OK.....now Paul's stance makes more sense.

JoeyD
09-05-2007, 04:36 PM
I do not want anything to do with regulators, unless I am watching Young Guns!!! Just one more component to fail.

Pro-Scapes
09-05-2007, 04:49 PM
nates wiring suggestions lead us to use higher taps. Some preffer adding wire or additional transformers.

My next project as designed by the LA called for 300 ft runs. Instead I am specifying an additional sub terranean trans to be installed in the remote beds. Yes it will cost the client now but it will be alot more effecient and also reduce the risk of lines being cut from being run across the property.

I have used regulators before. It was on a rework where the client declined to let me replace the entire system at this time and it would require some decent excavation and a long bore to wire it properly. With that said I was able to send 17v down the main line with regulators at the first 2 fixtures (11.4 at the lamp) and the remaining 3 fixtures were iable to be rewired into a lollipop at the far end. Was it really the best way to do it ? Probably not but it offered a price effective solution and was much safer (and brighter at the far end) than it was originally.

Regulators can have thier place but in no way should they substitute for proper techniques or knowledge.

NightScenes
09-05-2007, 04:54 PM
I think education is the key. Build great equipment and certify technicians to use it properly. Then you have everything, quality and safety.

ar-t
09-05-2007, 06:07 PM
Hi-pot testing will catch problems due to insulation break-down long before it would be a problem in the field. Even without that screening, it is not a common problem. The operator would have to be a klutz to cause stress to the enameled insulation on most magnet wire. Either that, or the wire is dreck.

Nothing can prevent overload damage. I suspect their actual failure rate to be very low, once minor snafus like photocells are weeded out.

Pro-Scapes
09-05-2007, 11:28 PM
this is another reason we moved away from the mdl timer and photocell combo and to the astronomical timers in the trans for clients who do not wish to have control. Less components = less things to go wrong.

David Gretzmier
09-06-2007, 12:49 AM
where do you need the higher than 22 volt tap?- at the beginning of those long driveway runs. I can't count the number of folks who want a light or two at the beginning of a long driveway. I had one 3 months ago, and they had beds at the entry of thier drive- 340 feet away. when you start figuring 10, even 8guage wire that far, copper adds up in hurry. start me at the right voltage and let 12 guage take me there.

yet another reason when LED's arrive at a good place in the landscape lighting biz- they work just fine at 8 or 9 or 14 volts I hear. and less load. 3, 5 years maybe?

Pro-Scapes
09-06-2007, 09:08 AM
if there are line voltage lights out that far than you should install a small trans out there If not give the client options of either running line voltage out or the price of you running lv wire out.

I still think higher voltage taps will increase installer error considerably. Face it... big diff with an installer being over a volt vs being over 10v.

JoeyD
09-06-2007, 10:28 AM
The higher taps could create a problem if the installer hooks up to a 22 when they only needed a 15. But if you know what you are doing, you own and use a volt meter, you amp probe your runs to make sure they are not overloaded and you install fusing on your secondary runs then you really have nothing to fear. I personally would rather run 12/2 or 10/2 out 350ft than tell the homeowner I need to sub out to have 120v ran that far at $10 per ft (roughly). If 1838 wasn't ever written no one would even care. I know that statement could open up a can of worms but bottom line is if 30v is considered safe by the NEC and 24v irrigation lines are being ran all day why is everyone so afraid of hooking up to 22v AT THE TRANSFORMER if it is going to ensure you get between 11 and 12v to your lights? There is a reason that UL has a listing for ours and others tranformers up to 22v. If they were so dangerous and they had so many problems dont you think UL would rip their listing approvals right off our labels?

as a foot note as to not confuse we carry ETL approved Transformers that conform to UL 1563 for Pool and Spa, UL 506 Specialty Transformers (up to 30v under any load condition), UL 1571 Incandescent Lighting (up to 30 volts under any load condition), and yes we do have UL 1838 (Limited to 15v and 300w).

Lite4
09-10-2007, 12:53 AM
Great discussion. I have never used anything over 15v nor probably ever will. I don't mind using 10 and 8 for longer runs or higher loads. If it's out of reach, it's time to run some uf to that location with a smaller transformer. It just makes me nervous pushing 18+ volts through 12/2. It's like pushing 25 gallons of water through a one inch pipe designed to flow at 16 gpm. With the increased pressure in the wire comes the inevidable foe of heat. High heat and trannys mounted on buildings...not good bedfellows.

JoeyD
09-10-2007, 12:32 PM
Great discussion. I have never used anything over 15v nor probably ever will. I don't mind using 10 and 8 for longer runs or higher loads. If it's out of reach, it's time to run some uf to that location with a smaller transformer. It just makes me nervous pushing 18+ volts through 12/2. It's like pushing 25 gallons of water through a one inch pipe designed to flow at 16 gpm. With the increased pressure in the wire comes the inevidable foe of heat. High heat and trannys mounted on buildings...not good bedfellows.


Tim your anology of pushing 25 gallons of water through one inch pipe isnt exactly correct when it comes to wire and voltage. All wire has a minimum rating of 150v per the NEC so pushing 18v or 22v for that matter is not stressing the cable one bit. It's the amp load on the cable you need be concerened with, 16amps being the max at 80% you can use on 12/2. People need to understand that 22v transformers are not all that dangerous. Used improperly they can cause some issues such as burning up lamps and so forth but I said it before and I will say it again if 1838 was never written we would never have this discussion. Botom line is you could incorrectly wire up a 15v unit and cause the same sort of issues.

ar-t
09-10-2007, 12:45 PM
Agreed.

The only danger I see is some yutz putting a fixture 10' from the transformer on that run that has to go 375' to the driveway. (Who has driveway that long to begin with?? Certainly, none of us city folk do!)

It all comes back to knowledge and proficiency of the installer.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-10-2007, 01:34 PM
The real issue here has nothing to do with properly designed, installed and maintained systems, nor has it much to do with professional contractors who understand how to design and install professional systems

The real issue here is one of safety and compliance with electrical appliances and their systems as seen by the various rating agencies and the electrical saftey industry. If a system or component can be 'made to be unsafe' by a lack of knowledge and understanding then it generally is not approved for that purpose. This is why (at least one of the reasons why) UL1838 is THE code for outdoor low voltage lighting systems.

Of course there are many other 'codes' that can and might apply to the use of low voltage equipment and components in a lighting system but UL1838 is the only code that applies specifically to LV Landscape Lighting systems. As such, it is what we use and will continue to abide by here at INTEGRA Works.

If you are professionally involved in the design, installation and maintenance of Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting Systems, and if you have insured yourself as such, I would suggest you work with UL1838 standards and equipment. If you choose to use other equipment and standards, then you might want to update your insurance company as to what exactly you are doing.

As for installation codes and standards.... some do exist but are generally not accepted by the NEC and local Electrical Safety Authorities (yet... we are working on it) For a good example of such a code, look to Landscape Ontario's Lighting Commodity Group. I will post this info here when I find the online link.

Have a great day.

David Gretzmier
09-11-2007, 01:18 AM
James, I agree on using UL stuff, but bear in mind I'm not aware of any UL standard for LV fixtures, sockets, splices or wire. So I'm not sure how informing the insurance company on the trans makes that big a difference, as pound for pound, there is plenty of non UL stuff to go around.

I'm sure they'd be glad to raise your rates, but I only use a non UL trans when I need to go further that 15 volts will take me. and I am counting on in the event of short 1) the tran's internal ciruit breaker popping or 2) the gfci on that outlet popping or 3) the circuit breaker on that circuit popping or finally, 4) the main breaker popping. In the event of a fire, 3 out of the four things in that list have nothing to do with me. If they all fail, I'm sure that my name would be on the lawsuit with the trans manufacturor and the electrician.

It amazes me that on the Christmas light side how much the lights, cords, wreaths, garland have to go through to be UL indoor/outdoor rated. saltwater testing, surges, fire protection, burn time and heat tests, it is a nightmare to get it approved. Yet how many dozens of LV fixtures have I put my bare hands on and burned my fingers? I think the fire danger in this business has nothing to do with UL on the trans. It has to do with the fixtures.

JoeyD
09-11-2007, 12:39 PM
I am still waiting for someone to tell me that they have been kicked off of a job, sued, injured, killed, burned down a house, ruined their buisness, denied innsurance, or any other outrageous claim due to using non UL1838 products. in more particular 22v multi tap TF's. I have been listening to these claims for years yet no one can or ever has surfaced any real facts or show proof that it has happened.

What i dont understand is that so many people utilizing UL1838 transformers have no problem powering up lights ran into eaves and on architecture when it is pretty clear that UL1838 is ONLY FOR LANDSCAPE. Where our UL approvals are for general purpose allowing us to power up lights on the home and in the home, we can even mount our units inside of a home or structure yet the minute we power up a light stuck in the dirt we are dangerous and illegal. UL1838 was written for a SYSTEM including WIRE, LAMPS, and CONNECTIONS. When was the last time anyone bought UL1838 approved wire nuts, or UL1838 approved Light bulbs, or UL1838 Cable. So I guess my point is if it is ok to use my 22v transformer to power up lights on the inside of a home why is it not safe to power up lights ina landscape? And better yet why would we be allowed to even sell our units for this purpose if it is so dangerous and can cause so many problems. I have said it before and I will say it again you can cause the same problems with 15v that you can with 22v.

OK I am going to back to bed................:sleeping:

ChampionLS
09-11-2007, 12:47 PM
When a manufacturer has a UL listed product or group of products, they have been tested and evaluated to work as within the scope of the product's design. Halogen lights and/or lighting products are in a separate category from Incandescent. If a fixture is for Pond/Spa/Pool use, its also in a different category. There are UL Listed products that CAN NOT be used by themselves (As a separate component)- and must be used with other corresponding products in the lighting system.

Yes, it's true- You can burn yourself on a fixture that's UL Listed. Thats not what a UL listing is about. It's about safety. A fixture that gets very hot will be rated for outdoor use, and not on any building or structure. These products will have labeling and identification warning of such heat or possible fire. UL testing protects the consumer on listed products, whereas the products can fail safely and not cause bodily harm, fire or property damage.

Besides lighting, there are Thousands of products UL regulates for safety- Furnaces, hot water heaters, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, all household appliances and electronic equipment. The list goes on and on. It's an insurance policy against disaster.

Can you use a non UL listed transformer on a project?- Im sure you could, but there will be no case history or documentation on what could go wrong if something does. If the system is not UL listed, your relying on a breaker to trip or a fuse to blow? Who tested it? What fuse? What breaker? No testing=no reliability. Would you stand in front of a Microwave Oven with NO UL listing? If you called the Gas Man or Oil Man to your home, and he fixed your furnace.. would you expect a trustworthy component to be installed? Think about it. It's not worth an unexpected fire, electric shock or lawsuit to be cheap and cut corners. One shortcut can cost you your business or your life.

JoeyD
09-11-2007, 01:11 PM
That is a valid point Evening, but for the record Unique carry's more UL approvals then most of our competition when it comes to products. We make the UL1838 products you are discussing that limit wattage to 300 and voltage to 15 however we sell very little of them. We do however carry units listed under UL506 (soon to be UL2108), UL1598, UL1571, UL1563 Pool and Spa. Most all of our fixtures carry UL approvals, those that do not currently have them are undergoing the approval process. As some of you know the testing process isnt the most timely of processes but thats why we went with ETL vs UL or ARL or any of the other testing labratories out there.

This discussion will continue to re invent itself over and over again as it has for years but again I want to hear or see proof that a non UL1838 product being used in the landscape for landscape lighting has caused any problems. Now so I am clear I am not promoting the use of non UL approved products I am simply stating that just becuase it does not have UL1838 on it does not make it dangerouse and unsafe for landscape. As earlier stated if it has a UL approval that means it has gone through a rigerous testing process and is listed for the purpose. In my opinion UL1838 was written for no other reason other than allowing home owners to install Malibu lighting kits.

It is the installer who makes the system safe....15v will cause the same problems as 22v if it is improperly used.

NiteTymeIlluminations
09-11-2007, 01:52 PM
This gets better and better...you know I demo'd a brass spot ligt with a 20 watt bulb once on a resort...What was I thinking, these things were so hot after a few minutes I had to move them 7 foot up into the tree so no kids could touch them...People ask me all the time about unique's deck lights...I say no way, sorry joey, I won't suggest brass anywhere someone can touch the fixture, anywhere...what do I uses on resorts...composite 120 volt spots...

JoeyD
09-11-2007, 02:06 PM
Well preference is preference, to each his own. Those lights are UL approved and yes Copper and Brass will retain heat much longer and will operate much warmer than aluminum or composite. But this is something that occurs with all brass and copper products not just ours.

David Gretzmier
09-12-2007, 01:14 AM
I just wonder how many spots ever get any UL approval for outdoor use. I have seen plenty of burned mulch and leaves, but no fire. I do like the idea of some UL approval on trans, as that means they should have loaded the unit, checked it for heat and burning against a combustable surface, water, salt water exposure, etc.

bmwsmity
09-17-2007, 04:56 PM
I know that you sell them, but I can not imagine not being able to locate the AC/transformer somewhere closer. Maybe I have just been lucky.



Last month I had a customer who wanted path lights along their 450 foot long drive way ;)

If it hadn't been for Unique offering the 20v tap, I couldn't have done the job.

One downside to higher taps is that you have to be vigilant about bulbs going out. I just had to go replace 5 bulbs for a builder that had a run off an 18v tap. Because the house is still for sale, no one noticed that a well light had gone out, causing the voltage at each fixture to spike to 14+ volts, then all the others on the run went out fast.

Needless to say, I'll be checking on the lights weekly from now on since it's close by.

Chris J
09-17-2007, 06:33 PM
Steve,
or any of you Cast installers with the knowledge to answer the question:
I don't understand what the extra common does. I read the article, but it doesn't explain if the extra common is another 300w tap, or if it is just an additional common that distributes the additional wattage accross all of the transformer's circuits. In other words, what is the purpose for the extra common? Could someone please explain this to me so I don't have to plunder through the cast website to try to dig it up?
Thanx,

Dreams To Designs
09-17-2007, 06:59 PM
Chris, according to the Cast teachings. The additional tap allows the full use of the transformers capacity.

If you have a 1200 watt transformer and 4 commons at 300w each, and you only have 250 watts on each of the 4 commons, in theory you still have 200 watts to use, but cannot put that 200 additional watts on any of the 4 standard commons, because that would overload that circuit. The extra, or 5th common, in this case, allows you to load the transformer to max by using the remaining 200 watts on one common, the extra.

It's a convenience to have the extra common for more even distribution of load and an additional breaker/switch. You do have to be careful and not load each of the commons to max, 300 watts, including the extra. if I could i would like each circuit on it's own common for ease of diagnostics and more control, but that would bring a whole new set of issues.

Kirk

Chris J
09-17-2007, 07:05 PM
That's interesting. Though I don't understand how this additional common can separate 200w and send just 50w to each individual circuit? As you mentioned, how would you diagnose a short in a run coming off of this circuit as it appears that it should trip all of the breakers being that it is distributing current to all of the circuits. Very confusing, but thanks for the feedback.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-17-2007, 09:00 PM
if I could i would like each circuit on it's own common for ease of diagnostics and more control, but that would bring a whole new set of issues.

Kirk


Hmmm each circuit on it's own common... You mean just like the Nightscaping Series of Powercenters? Both the standard 12V and the multitap Powercenter line from Nightscaping have been using individual commons for each circuit for a LONG time. They also make use of really large terminal lugs that are positioned perfectly for ease of connection.

Check them out some time. The oldest might still be the best.

Have a great day.

Chris J
09-17-2007, 09:27 PM
James,
Unless I am misunderstanding something, several transformer manufacturers have this option these days. Kichler transformers, for example, are MDL transformers which separate each 300w circuit with it's own common. Additionally, the terminal blocks are tilted at 30 degrees giving the end user more flexibility and room for wiring.
I'm not discrediting Nightscaping's units, by any means, but their units are not too much unlike any of the other major brands. They all seem to follow one another in some way or fashion before too long. Did Nightscaping invent this type of transformer, or did someone else invent it and everyone else is now using it (or some simulation of it)? Have a nice Day!:canadaflag:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-17-2007, 09:47 PM
Hey Chris.... I will go out on a limb here and say that Nightscaping probably did invent this type of transformer. They (Bill Locklin & his 'family') pretty much invented every other idea in low voltage outdoor lighting at some time in the past.

I just came off a job where I pulled out about $60K of those stupid rock lights. (I truly despise them...as much as I despise Pagodas) and ended up making use of a couple of the Hadco 600w TriTap and a few Kichler 600w TriTap transformers that were on the property. I found the terminal lugs in the Kichler units to be a real pain in the arse. A couple of them had stripped set screws and I managed to break another set of lugs. I found the Hadco's to be even worse. I hated having to lie down in the dirt to wire those things up. Sheeesh.

One commonality I found between both the Hadco and the Kichler Transformers was the relatively small size of their terminal lugs. I guess I am spoiled with the ease by which I can wire up a Nightscaping Powercenter. Needless to say, I won't be changing brands any time soon.

Have a great day.

Chris J
09-17-2007, 10:09 PM
Well, you are an intelligent guy so I guess it would be pointless to explain that you were uninstalling "old" Kichler and Hadco products that had the old style lugs. Before Bill and his family invented the new stuff, this is what we all had to use (including Bill's guys). Now that Nightscaping has opened up a new generation of products for us all, the whole industry is all the better for it. In 15 years, when our offspring has to do one of these re-vamps, he won't have to lie on his back (no matter what manufacturer) due to the great strides made by your mentor.
Have a nice Day! :canadaflag:

pete scalia
09-18-2007, 01:29 AM
Hmmm each circuit on it's own common... You mean just like the Nightscaping Series of Powercenters? Both the standard 12V and the multitap Powercenter line from Nightscaping have been using individual commons for each circuit for a LONG time. They also make use of really large terminal lugs that are positioned perfectly for ease of connection.

Check them out some time. The oldest might still be the best.

Have a great day.

I don't mean to knock Nightscaping but they have and still use fuses that do not allow a full 25 amp load to be placed on a secondary. Try even putting 23 amps on it and you'll be back for a service call for a blown fuse. I've always used the magnetic breakers and have never had an issue. I can remember going to a NS seminar some yrs ago and being told that there fuses were the safest and everything else was risky and you were taking your chances. Scare tactics. The only transformers I know of out there that don't have secondary protection standard are pool/spa, buck boost, Unique, some chinese electronic no name brands etc. Nightscaping was notorious for not grinding down the edges on their stainless steel transformers. You touch a corner and you've got a nice gash. I guess they wanted to prove they use surgical steel:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Have a nice day

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
09-18-2007, 10:38 AM
Pete. There are some advantages to using Fustats over magnetic breakers. Remember Nightscaping uses a Fustat and not a Fuse. It is a diagnostic device that tells you if you have an overload or a short in the line. A great time saving device on service calls.

As for loading the secondary to "a full 25 amps". Perhaps you might want to do some more math. (I hope most of you get this reference!)

Have a great day.

niteliters
09-18-2007, 08:28 PM
amen!!!!! brother james, I have read some of emails on night chat...bull not sure which. I think you should be our nightscaping rep. :)
this stuff can be addictive and informative ey?

pete scalia
09-18-2007, 11:13 PM
Pete. There are some advantages to using Fustats over magnetic breakers. Remember Nightscaping uses a Fustat and not a Fuse. It is a diagnostic device that tells you if you have an overload or a short in the line. A great time saving device on service calls.

As for loading the secondary to "a full 25 amps". Perhaps you might want to do some more math. (I hope most of you get this reference!)

Have a great day.

what the fustat is is a major pain in the aZZ. I have a diagnostic tool it's called a multi meter and it doesn't need replacement diagnosing a short.

as for your full 25 amps reference . Are you saying that Nightscaping's transformers are not rated for 300 watts (25amps) so they shouldn't be loaded as such. Touche' , but if they are advertised as 250 watt models then why use a 25 amp fuse or fustat before I get corrected again?
:canadaflag:

Have a great day