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Pro-Scapes
12-16-2008, 06:03 PM
I went out on a service call for a few burned out lamps today. I got curious and pulled out the meter to check them since they were not that old. HOLY COW 14v at the fixture!!

Thoes that know me know good and well I would never leave a system in that range. I didnt really notice any tampering inside the trans and the line voltage is only about 3v above where it was when I installed it almost 3 years ago but the voltage at every fixture was around 2v higher than installed. All the taps were exactly where I had left them.

Seems the trans is putting out more power than it once did ???

Ideas ?

I disconnected all 7 runs and rewired the trans and all seems fine now. The only changes that I have made to the system was the installation of 4 new lights this summer and we removed the x10 modual in favor of a digital timer. Since the trans is relay triggered inside the timer swap would not have manipulated the voltage.

JoeyD
12-16-2008, 06:56 PM
transformers cant MAKE votlage, at least not the ones you are using for your lighting. My only explanation for this would be one, the increase in primary power, but obviously a 2% increase wouldnt cause a 2volt swing. Or two you had a bad volt meter battery when you originaly installed the system and it was always over volted. It could also increase if lamp wattages were reduced. Thats all I could think of off the top of my head.

NightLightingFX
12-16-2008, 06:56 PM
I have had that happen to me once. A couple things to consider.
1) temperature flexuation. in cold weather less resistance. I wouldn't think that would be much of an issue in Mississippi. It can be a big deal in my part of the country when it can be well over 100 degrees in the summer and 15 degrees in the winter (like right now - we have had a rare cold streak THIS SUCKS).
2) When you initially tested the system was it in the HOTTEST part of the the day? - more resistance.
3) Was there a load on the primary electricity causing a lower than normal voltage going to the transformer when you tested it.

There maybe some other things to consider? That is all I can think of right now.

Because when this happened to me it was a hassle to get the system all straightend out. I always record what my primary voltage was. And if I am testing the system when it is hot out I always require a little bit lower voltage perameters for my system. If I am going to error on voltage, I try to error on too low of voltage vs. too high. That is just me though.
~Ned

NightLightingFX
12-16-2008, 07:09 PM
Another thing to consider be aware of what primary voltage is in your area. For me is seems to be pretty high. 122 volts is pretty common. When I get a reading of 122 volts I am pretty comfortable knowing I am not going to get too much of an increase. I will be pretty confident in dialing my low voltage system into that kind of a reading.

On the other hand if I get a reading like 110 volts. Then I am not very confident about how the voltage of my system will be. Depending on the the temperature out side, time of day/electrical load of the facility etc. I will try to consider all those factors and make an estimate as to what level my low voltage will be.
~Ned

Mike M
12-16-2008, 09:52 PM
That's a big difference. Sounds like a change in the primary. Could you have had the transformer hooked up to an extension cord when you did the original reading? (maybe the EC didn't have the box set up yet?)

Chris J
12-16-2008, 10:17 PM
City Electrical will usually adjust the output during different periods of the day. ie, lower voltage during periods when most folks are gone, higher when everyone is home. It's possible that you installed the system during low usage hours, then you tested it again during peek hours. Just a thought, but then again I've found that a different volt meter will give you very different readings; have you changed meters?

irrig8r
12-16-2008, 10:36 PM
When one burns out, voltage increases to the rest on the line, no?

Or were you checking with new lamps installed?

My first inclination would be to look at the 120V. I've run across as low as 109 and as high as 127 (not on the same job).

Chris J. had some good ideas...

Eden Lights
12-17-2008, 12:56 AM
Primary Voltage.

LightYourNight
12-17-2008, 02:26 AM
What Brand/Model tester were you using?

Mike M
12-17-2008, 05:10 AM
Billy, were you drunk?

Alan B
12-17-2008, 09:30 AM
I usually think most problems are caused by the simpler/obvious than the mysterious (like change in main line voltage or outside temp):
1. Homeowner or anyone changed bulbs to lower wattages= less draw=higher volts at fixture
2. Fixture(s) bulb(s) out making remaining fixtures on run have higher volts=cascading voltage
3. Wire or cable cut making other fixtures on same run have higher voltage
4. Someone (homeowner) moved to higher taps.
5. Some fixtures removed increasing voltage to remaining fixtures
6. Voltmeter battery originally low and gave you wrong voltage.
7. Faulty (cheap) x-10 outlet was drawing power before it got to transformer--when you eliminated x-10 outlet it eliminated the 2 volt draw.

If its not one of these, then you do have an interesting mystery.

irrig8r
12-17-2008, 01:32 PM
What Brand/Model tester were you using?

Hi John, you seem to be new around here.

Tell us a little about yourself/ your business/ your service area.

LightYourNight
12-17-2008, 05:14 PM
My company is Landscape Lighting Specialist and we work in southeast Michigan out of Ann Arbor. I started out working in a lighting showroom/wholesale electrical warehouse when I was in high school. I worked there for about 4 years. During that time I went from the warehouse to the showroom. I laid out recessed lighting/cove/undercab/chandelier/sconces/etc. I got bored with this quick and moved to the back wholesale counter where I sold wire/conduit/and other electrical supplies to contractors all day. I've also worked with electricians as an apprentice and was the showrooms lighting technician for awhile(switching out bad fixtures for builders in new subs and such. I did some landscape lighting side jobs while I was there and I loved it. I used to do low volt wiring in show cars(stereo/starters/tvs/etc) during high school so it was easy to get started. I quit working there and bought a warehouse down the street from where i used to work. Now I do landscape lighting everyday with a small crew. Im afraid to post my website address because somebody has been deleting my post because of it.. I dont know why! But I also have 2 websites where I sell a lot of kichler and other products. I've been reading this forum for a long time and have posted some things under a different name... forgot my password and made this new name. I look forward to helping out on this great forum and I'm sure I'll have questions for you guys who have been in this industry for a long time!!! Thanks

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-17-2008, 06:39 PM
John, just to be clear, and to be able to understand your operations...

You operate as:

A: A Lighting Designer
B: A LV Lighting Systems Contractor
C: A Landscape Lighting Wholesale Distributor
D: A LV Lighting Retailer (DIY, Cash & Carry, etc etc)
E: An owner and adminstrator of a LV Lighting Forum
F: All of the above

Personally I don't have an issue with A through F... I am all for diversifying and vertically integrating one's business. But, depending upon your response and the reality of your situation, you might be able to see where the Administrators of this forum find some conflict with their operations. :)

So, if you want to avoid having your posts deleted, you might want to refrain from promoting your forum, and from directing any traffic to your distribution business. The Admins would prefer you to advertise and sponsor if you want to include that info here.

All is good, the guys here just want to know who is whom and what is what.

Regards.

irrig8r
12-17-2008, 09:17 PM
My company is Landscape Lighting Specialist and we work in southeast Michigan out of Ann Arbor. I started out working in a lighting showroom/wholesale electrical warehouse when I was in high school. I worked there for about 4 years. During that time I went from the warehouse to the showroom. I laid out recessed lighting/cove/undercab/chandelier/sconces/etc. I got bored with this quick and moved to the back wholesale counter where I sold wire/conduit/and other electrical supplies to contractors all day. I've also worked with electricians as an apprentice and was the showrooms lighting technician for awhile(switching out bad fixtures for builders in new subs and such. I did some landscape lighting side jobs while I was there and I loved it. I used to do low volt wiring in show cars(stereo/starters/tvs/etc) during high school so it was easy to get started. I quit working there and bought a warehouse down the street from where i used to work. Now I do landscape lighting everyday with a small crew. Im afraid to post my website address because somebody has been deleting my post because of it.. I dont know why! But I also have 2 websites where I sell a lot of kichler and other products. I've been reading this forum for a long time and have posted some things under a different name... forgot my password and made this new name. I look forward to helping out on this great forum and I'm sure I'll have questions for you guys who have been in this industry for a long time!!! Thanks

Thanks John Paul. Or do you prefer to be called John?

(Were you named after a couple of Beatles, or a pope?)

I'd say welcome, but maybe we already talked when you had another name... well, welcome back anyway.

BTW it wasn't Pete Scalia by any chance, was it?

(j/k... look him up if you don't get the joke...)

irrig8r
12-17-2008, 09:18 PM
duplicate .... please delete

Chris J
12-17-2008, 09:43 PM
All Kichler on your website too? That's kind of odd for a distributor to be selling just one manu. Are you a small timer who only has a reputation with Kichler, and you don't even get distributor pricing? :hammerhead: Your prices seem to be quite high compared to other online supply sources. So, how's that going for you?

LightYourNight
12-17-2008, 10:33 PM
Call me John... I sell to homeowners mostly and we are still in the process of building our sites and getting things up and running... but things are going good.

Do any of you have experience with controlscape systems???

Pro-Scapes
12-17-2008, 11:12 PM
nice hijacking

Yes changed meter brand. I am the only one to service the system . I already stated the primary was only a couple of volts off from when I installed it. Its recorded inside the trans lid.

They could not have changed to a lower wattage because everything is 20w and again I am the only one changing the lamps out. Like I said the only change in the system was the removal of the x10 mod inside the trans and the installation of a timer. This was only due to the client not using the x10 and didnt want the clock inside the house. I really cant explain this one. About the only explaination I came up with is possibly a bad ground before???

This would still call a full reading of voltage except where its under a heavy load such as my 7amps on my primary ?

Mike M
12-18-2008, 08:00 AM
You write the primary voltage on the trans lid? That's awesome. I'm gonna start doing that.

Billy, how can a bad ground change your A/C voltage? Do you mean a loose connection on the common?

As far as the outside temperature, you could probably know if it's that by seeing if there is a notably bigger voltage increase on the farthest run vs. shortest run.

What made you buy a new meter?

Pro-Scapes
12-18-2008, 08:13 AM
Meters get thrown around and abused on jobsites. They are bound to wear out. I am going back next week with my fluke 88... I do not normally use the fluke on jobs as my other meters have always proven to be reliable and really close. The fluke is just too darned expensive to use on a jobsite.

The meter I used when I installed originally was a quality Ideal clamp on meter.

I installed it in late August of 06. It was probably 90 degrees. It was 74 the other day when I serviced it. I doubt 16 degrees will make that much of a voltage diff.

JoeyD
12-18-2008, 12:21 PM
The temp should not effect the voltage like you described. And I knew it wasnt the primary because you told us your primary was only off by a little bit. This is why documenting your incoming voltage and your primary load at the time of install is crucial. Our units used to have a real nice chart on the label that allowed for marking your run#, location, load in watts and amps, as well as room to write in TF info such as primary power and primary amp load. We stopped putting them on the labels because we found that it was too small for most guys so they never used it. We now just reccomend for you to use a sharpy on the inside of the lid or do the right thing and completely document your entire job on verification forms. If anyone needs some generic forms I would be happy to email them.



I would still bet it was something as simple as a bad reading from your meter. Has the primary amp reading changed at all Billy?

Pro-Scapes
12-18-2008, 11:26 PM
Before I rewired the amp reading was 7.4.... after rewiring the reading was 6.5

The only other thing I can think of is I changed the brand of lamp out in the system. Same wattages everywhere. Its all 20w but was CAST lamps when installed and is now ushio. I still have not made it back to check with the fluke which I know is accurate.

Funny none of my other systems installed with that same meter (which was almost new at the time) have an issue.

JoeyD
12-19-2008, 02:04 PM
Before I rewired the amp reading was 7.4.... after rewiring the reading was 6.5

The only other thing I can think of is I changed the brand of lamp out in the system. Same wattages everywhere. Its all 20w but was CAST lamps when installed and is now ushio. I still have not made it back to check with the fluke which I know is accurate.

Funny none of my other systems installed with that same meter (which was almost new at the time) have an issue.



Very Strange.....Was it a dedicated circuit?

Pro-Scapes
12-20-2008, 01:43 AM
Very Strange.....Was it a dedicated circuit?

absolutley. Cant rememeber if I gave the specific trans. It is a cast 12-18v 900w with the extra common. No issues with the trans or the reliability. Its mounted near the utility area of the home and have about a 5 ft run of romex in flex conduit on a dedicated 20a breaker.

Never had a service call for a tripped breaker or even a gfci.

Chris J
12-20-2008, 02:47 AM
Is your meter for low volts or high volts. There is a difference, and it will show up differently. I once thought I was buying the best meter on the market for $750, and it was a good meter but it didn't register low voltage very well. Always compare two meters on the same job. The difference between the men and the boys.

Pro-Scapes
12-20-2008, 08:23 AM
Which meter do you recomend ? Mine reads to the hundreths now which I thought was pretty good. Never had an issue really and all my other systems are in check. You know I do a quality job Chris. I just cant explain this unless ushio lamps are like twice as effecient as the cast lamps ?

Chris J
12-22-2008, 09:07 AM
That I can't answer. I'll be in the process of testing several in the days ahead just to see what kind of differences there are among, say, 5 or 6 of the best models. My true RMS meter is real good, but there is a volt difference between that one and an ideal model on low voltage circuits. I know for sure that the ideal model has a more accurate reading between the two. (Not that I'm suggesting that Ideal is one of the quality brands).

Pro-Scapes
12-23-2008, 09:34 AM
I am going back today with 3 meters and will report my findings. I am taking a fluke 88... sperry from home depot(I have found this to be a reliable and inexpensive meter) and an ideal.

klkanders
01-02-2009, 02:02 AM
What were your findings Billy?

Keith

Eden Lights
01-04-2009, 02:11 AM
Any fluke RMS meter is best, I like the combo units myself. The 335 is my favorite, but the cheaper ones in the 300 series line will be just fine. The one tool I cant live without, I use it everyday.

irrig8r
01-04-2009, 12:04 PM
I'm anxiously awaiting Billy's findings too.

My true RMS Greenlee (I think it's an 850.... not with me at the moment) has definitely given me different readings than the Commercial Electric meter I got a few years back at HD. The CE meter also seems to be less accurate when the batteries aren't as fresh.

Pro-Scapes
01-08-2009, 12:18 AM
Sorry vacation came and I been getting rained out. I did check my meters at home and all are within .2 volts of eachotheron the 120v lines. I just got a freebie today in the mail from the NLVCA and it is made by Tenma... anyone any experience with these ?

I hope to get some side by side comparisons tmrw when I return to that project to install moonlighting over the driveway.

This also proves another point. Stay in contact with your clients. This project went in a long time ago. Just now they are having me do another phase.

Chris J
01-08-2009, 06:41 AM
Billy, it will be necessary to check the meters side by side on a 12v circuit. The meters I have that show a 1 volt difference (remember, and RMS compared to an HD Ideal?) is the same reading on the primary.
Any word on the off-shore fishing trip this month?

Chris J
01-08-2009, 06:43 AM
..........double post

Pro-Scapes
01-08-2009, 08:50 AM
emailed you but it looks like Jan is def the best bet. There is a blackout on grouper for feb and march so it would be amberjack only... if we go in jan we can do amberjack and grouper. Awaiting replies from the boats now

Pro-Scapes
01-09-2009, 07:16 PM
and the verdict is...

At the fixture under load. 20w ushio eurostar.. Cast voltage testing pigtail thing (2 sockets wired together with test pins so you can place a lamp to simulate load)

Fluke 333 clamp meter. 11.6v
Sperry clamp meter from home depot. 11.7
Tenma n2272 clamp meter 11.7

I think this is a pretty safe bet I am within range and my meters are accurate. Still shows the original post is unexplained.

Mike M
01-10-2009, 12:02 AM
You guys are going fishing?? I'm on the arctic circle, but an invite would have been nice.

Mark B
01-10-2009, 12:22 AM
Just have pictures on the return.