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pete scalia
10-29-2007, 09:20 PM
nearly three yrs ago I wired in an electronic dimmer switch to one of the transformers that feeds 12 lamps on a portion of my yard. The kind that has variable ramp rates. I adjusted it to the slowest setting. Soft on and soft off. This spring the lamps will be 3 yrs old and not one has been replaced yet. They are all operating between 11.5 and 12V. 12 lamps is hardly a test. Has anyone tested this on a larger scale and have you found this to be an effective way to extend lamp life?

Pro-Scapes
10-31-2007, 10:59 AM
hrmmm kinda a soft start rigging ? I often thought manufactures should build this into transformers. I find lamps most often blow at start up and recently had 3 mr bulbs pop on initial installation

Interesting approach. I wonder if we can do this with UPB and upstart software ? I will also see about doing it on that touch screen project we have going on.

ChampionLS
11-08-2007, 02:38 AM
nearly three yrs ago I wired in an electronic dimmer switch to one of the transformers that feeds 12 lamps on a portion of my yard. The kind that has variable ramp rates. I adjusted it to the slowest setting. Soft on and soft off. This spring the lamps will be 3 yrs old and not one has been replaced yet. They are all operating between 11.5 and 12V. 12 lamps is hardly a test. Has anyone tested this on a larger scale and have you found this to be an effective way to extend lamp life?

Now that's a nice way to overheat your transformer and cause a possible fire. You should never try to 'dim' the primary side of a transformer. Read the label on your power unit. As per UL labeling, it must say:

Mount power pack vertically at least one foot above ground. Do not lay on the ground.
Plug power pack directly into an outdoor GFCI outlet with a weatherproof
cover marked “wet location.” Do not use extension cords.
Mount power pack at least 10 feet from pool or spa.
When connecting wire at terminals, do not allow insulation to get under the clamping plate, and firmly tighten the terminal screws.
Do not use cable smaller than listed in the table below.
Do not coil extra cable around the power pack. Either cut off extra cable and discard, or leave at the end away from the power pack.
Do not repair or tamper with cord or plug.
Do not submerge power pack.
Do not connect two or more power packs in parallel.
Do not use with a dimmer.
If house circuit breaker trips when power pack is turned on, unplug power pack from AC outlet, correct fault, restore power, then reset circuit breaker.
Power pack and fixtures must be installed in compliance with national and all local electrical codes and ordinances.

NightScenes
11-08-2007, 08:04 AM
So enlighten us Anthony on the proper way to dim a transformer.

Eden Lights
11-08-2007, 08:34 AM
Now that's a nice way to overheat your transformer and cause a possible fire. You should never try to 'dim' the primary side of a transformer. Read the label on your power unit. As per UL labeling, it must say:

Mount power pack vertically at least one foot above ground. Do not lay on the ground.
Plug power pack directly into an outdoor GFCI outlet with a weatherproof
cover marked “wet location.” Do not use extension cords.
Mount power pack at least 10 feet from pool or spa.
When connecting wire at terminals, do not allow insulation to get under the clamping plate, and firmly tighten the terminal screws.
Do not use cable smaller than listed in the table below.
Do not coil extra cable around the power pack. Either cut off extra cable and discard, or leave at the end away from the power pack.
Do not repair or tamper with cord or plug.
Do not submerge power pack.
Do not connect two or more power packs in parallel.
Do not use with a dimmer.
If house circuit breaker trips when power pack is turned on, unplug power pack from AC outlet, correct fault, restore power, then reset circuit breaker.
Power pack and fixtures must be installed in compliance with national and all local electrical codes and ordinances.

I am interested in your comments, please explain the science behind them. I am truly interested in your experience or knowledge since I was unaware that as a general rule you couldn't't dim a transformer on the primary side. Yes your relayed transformers are not dimmable and not all dimmers are Magnetic transformer rated.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-08-2007, 08:03 PM
Anthony, that is pretty funny. I guess all those engineered, approved, magnetic low voltage dimmers out there we designed for doing something other then dimming magnetic low voltage transformers?

I have said it before and I will say it again... before you post here.... do some more research!

ChampionLS
11-08-2007, 09:39 PM
Anthony, that is pretty funny. I guess all those engineered, approved, magnetic low voltage dimmers out there we designed for doing something other then dimming magnetic low voltage transformers?

I have said it before and I will say it again... before you post here.... do some more research!

James,

No... That's not what I said. Installing an off the shelf Dimmer, such as that used for your dining room chandelier is not suitable, and can be a possible fire hazard when used on the wrong type of transformer. Unless the end user or installer has a clear understanding of transformer knowledge, it is advised and required by UL to clearly mark and label those products that can possess a hazard. It is also a requirement that all instruction sheets and shipping containers be clearly marked as well. The Canadian UL marking may be slightly different.

Type of Dimmers: The dimmer selected to control an electronic transformer should be specifically designed to control that type of transformer whereas a dimmer selected to control a magnetic transformer should be specifically designed to control that type of transformer. Now that there are newer and older systems in use, it is important to identify the differences between them.

Older style electronic transformers are generally lighter in weight, smaller in size, cooler to operate, and quieter than a magnetic transformer. However, electronic transformers cannot provide more than 300 watts of power whereas some magnetic transformers can provide as much as 1200 watts of power. On Pete's post, he indicated approximately 12 lighting fixtures, so there can be a issue here if it's an electronic one.

Newer systems use a Toroidal Magnetic Transformer. If a magnetic transformer is used to power a low voltage lighting system, a toroidal magnetic transformer should be considered. This type of magnetic transformer is more efficient, lighter in weight, smaller in size, cooler to operate, and quieter than a conventional EI magnetic transformer.

Peter also mentioned the voltage was less than 12 volts. A voltmeter reading can be false because an electronic transformer provides its power at very high frequencies (usually greater than 20,000 Hertz) a standard voltmeter cannot be used to accurately measure the output voltage. Instead, a “true RMS" voltmeter must be used to measure the secondary voltage of an electronic transformer.

We are in the progress right now with Underwriters Laboratory in Melville, NY with approval for two new units, so this has been an ongoing issue. We feel it is just easier to manufacture lamp modules using 14 volt incandescent lamps to extend the lamp life VS teach the correct use and wiring for dimmers.

May I help you with something else? :usflag:

-Anthony

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
11-08-2007, 10:01 PM
I am pretty sure you simply said "You should never try to 'dim' the primary side of a transformer." Which is inaccurate.

The jury on Toroidal transformers is still out.

Chris J
11-08-2007, 10:04 PM
Seems like someone is trying to back-peddle on this one really quick.

pete scalia
11-08-2007, 10:25 PM
The voltage reading is highly accurate and the dimmer is inductive load for magnetic transformers. Don't throw me under the bus to make yourself look good when you clearly have no clue what you are talking about.

Pro-Scapes
11-08-2007, 11:36 PM
Anthony your info is inaccurate.

You can dim the incomming voltage. BUT you cant do so or at least not much IF your transformer has a relay operated photocell and or timer plug. The reduced input voltage may either make the relay chatter or not close at all. Unique and some others dont have a relay in thier transformers. You can dim these via the line voltage side of the units if you use safe and proper means.

ChampionLS
11-09-2007, 12:06 PM
Anthony your info is inaccurate.

You can dim the incoming voltage. BUT you cant do so or at least not much IF your transformer has a relay operated photocell and or timer plug. The reduced input voltage may either make the relay chatter or not close at all. Unique and some others dont have a relay in their transformers. You can dim these via the line voltage side of the units if you use safe and proper means.

I agree with you 100% on that. And... that is primarily the reason why an amateur or homeowner should never attempt doing so, without knowing the system. There are many more people reading these post's that may get an idea to try to do so. The fire hazard or trouble stems from the other components that may be attached or included on the primary side that can overheat when subject to lower voltages.

Why would anyone want to 'Dim' their whole system anyway? We're all so concerned about voltage drop and making sure halogen lights operate at the right voltage. There are accessories on the market that will provide a soft-start to extend bulb life.

-Anthony

Pro-Scapes
11-09-2007, 12:14 PM
I agree with you 100% on that. And... that is primarily the reason why an amateur or homeowner should never attempt doing so, without knowing the system. There are many more people reading these post's that may get an idea to try to do so. The fire hazard or trouble stems from the other components that may be attached or included on the primary side that can overheat when subject to lower voltages.

Why would anyone want to 'Dim' their whole system anyway? We're all so concerned about voltage drop and making sure halogen lights operate at the right voltage. There are accessories on the market that will provide a soft-start to extend bulb life.

-Anthony

Dimming is an advanced technique that allows the designer to create different scenes and backgrounds for the client.
Such as...
not in use (soft lighting just to show the areas there)....
cocktail hour... nice dramatic lighting...
dining... bit brighter so you can see what your doing....
security ... my gosh theres someone in my back yard hit the lights!!!

as well as set layered light levels to desireable levels to create moods.

There is more to landscape lighting than core drills and 4w lamp moduals.

ChampionLS
11-09-2007, 12:14 PM
Heres some more information on how dimmers work.

Resistance dimmers work through resistance- they lower the voltage and the dimmer switch gets hot, and the light bulb becomes very inefficient as low voltage barely warms the filament. The bulb lasts forever but it uses as much electricity as if it was running full blast.

Then the electronic dimmer was invented, which work by turning the light bulb on and off faster than we can see it, 120 times a second. It is not 100% efficient, which is why dimming your lights 25% reduces your electricity consumption only 20%. And it is no wonder why it causes problems for compact fluorescents, which are not designed for this additional turning on and off of a switch 120 times per second.

Pro-Scapes
11-09-2007, 12:17 PM
who said anything about using compact floros and potentiometer style dimmers ? :dizzy: :dizzy: :dizzy: