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View Full Version : Need Help w/ Nightscaping Transformer & Timer


JimLewis
04-04-2009, 04:17 PM
I remembered today why I hate Nightscaping. But I had a big job and the customer was on a budget. The lighting was a very small part of the job so I went with a cheap transformer (vs. the Unique one I would have normally used) just to save money.

Today, we finished the job and I hooked up the transformer. But the damm thing is confusing as hell. And the instructions are worthless.

So I need some help. I finally figured out what everything did but I still can't get the lights to turn on with the timer. The only way I can get them to come on is using the toggle switch. The timer has little white toggle switches along the perimeter. As far as I can tell, there are no other switches anywhere, even though the crappy instructions talk about some red switches. So apparently, these white toggle switches get moved out and one turns it on, the second turns it off.

Problem is, they don't work. When I turn the main toggle on/off switch off, the lights don't come on. Even when I rotate the timer to the time when they should turn on, nothing happens. I feel it click and it definitely FEELS like a normal timer. I mean, it's moving a mechanism inside. But no lights come on. When I get to the "off" time, I feel it moving something as well. But again, nothing happens.

The only way I can get the lights to work is to use the toggle button.

Yah...yah...yah.... I know. I should have gone with a better brand. But I figured a brand new one would at least freakin' work!!! No wonder these jerks are going out of business!!!!

Anyone know what I am doing wrong? Or is the damm timer just broke?

MAGLIGHTING
04-04-2009, 07:28 PM
I remembered today why I hate Nightscaping. But I had a big job and the customer was on a budget. The lighting was a very small part of the job so I went with a cheap transformer (vs. the Unique one I would have normally used) just to save money.

Today, we finished the job and I hooked up the transformer. But the damm thing is confusing as hell. And the instructions are worthless.

So I need some help. I finally figured out what everything did but I still can't get the lights to turn on with the timer. The only way I can get them to come on is using the toggle switch. The timer has little white toggle switches along the perimeter. As far as I can tell, there are no other switches anywhere, even though the crappy instructions talk about some red switches. So apparently, these white toggle switches get moved out and one turns it on, the second turns it off.

Problem is, they don't work. When I turn the main toggle on/off switch off, the lights don't come on. Even when I rotate the timer to the time when they should turn on, nothing happens. I feel it click and it definitely FEELS like a normal timer. I mean, it's moving a mechanism inside. But no lights come on. When I get to the "off" time, I feel it moving something as well. But again, nothing happens.

The only way I can get the lights to work is to use the toggle button.

Yah...yah...yah.... I know. I should have gone with a better brand. But I figured a brand new one would at least freakin' work!!! No wonder these jerks are going out of business!!!!

Anyone know what I am doing wrong? Or is the damm timer just broke?


Calm down Jim, it sounds like a problem with the timer or your hook up in the 120 v compartment. It's been more than a few yrs that I've wired a Nightscaping one up but unless something has changed (and maybe it has) you should have 4 wires coming off the timer and 5 terminals inside the 120V trans compartment. It also sounds like you are describing a grasslin analog time switch. some models are made so when you push the white trippers towards the outer edges of clock the timer comes on and vice versa. Nightscaping used to use the Grasslin one that was different than what other manu's were using so you have to read the instructions to see where the trippers must be for the duration on time. The arrow line up is self explanatory for the current time. Just make sure of the am/pm.

Unplug the transformer. As for your hookup- terminal 1 inside 120v compartment from top to bottom on trans- connect 1 black wire from timer to terminal 1. red wire from timer to terminal 2, other black wire to terminal 3 and white wire from timer to terminal 4. terminal 5 not used. Then make sure your silver toggle switch is in the off position. You don't mention a photo cell. if you have one the wiring is a bit different. let me know. This should work. let us know how it goes

MAGLIGHTING
04-04-2009, 07:45 PM
Calm down Jim, it sounds like a problem with the timer or your hook up in the 120 v compartment. It's been more than a few yrs that I've wired a Nightscaping one up but unless something has changed (and maybe it has) you should have 4 wires coming off the timer and 5 terminals inside the 120V trans compartment. It also sounds like you are describing a grasslin analog time switch. some models are made so when you push the white trippers towards the outer edges of clock the timer comes on and vice versa. Nightscaping used to use the Grasslin one that was different than what other manu's were using so you have to read the instructions to see where the trippers must be for the duration on time. The arrow line up is self explanatory for the current time. Just make sure of the am/pm.

Unplug the transformer. As for your hookup- terminal 1 inside 120v compartment from top to bottom on trans- connect 1 black wire from timer to terminal 1. red wire from timer to terminal 2, other black wire to terminal 3 and white wire from timer to terminal 4. terminal 5 not used. Then make sure your silver toggle switch is in the off position. You don't mention a photo cell. if you have one the wiring is a bit different. let me know. This should work. let us know how it goes


I just looked on their website and if you have the Grasslin without the manual on switch then you must push all the trippers out to the edge of the timer for the duration that you want the lights to come on and stay on.ie: a block of trippers from 7:30PM to 11PM. Off time trippers must be pushed completely towards center of clock.
If you have the Grasslin with the manual on/ off switch then it's the opposite

David Gretzmier
04-04-2009, 11:16 PM
Those instructions sound right. i have redone many nightscaping timers, but I always have to look at the instructions that come with the new timer unit. I have been frustrated a few times when the new timer does not solve the problem. I have installed a digital external timer in those cases and just left the test toggle on. They are around 20 bucks or so.

JimLewis
04-05-2009, 05:14 AM
I just looked on their website and if you have the Grasslin without the manual on switch then you must push all the trippers out to the edge of the timer for the duration that you want the lights to come on and stay on.ie: a block of trippers from 7:30PM to 11PM. Off time trippers must be pushed completely towards center of clock.
If you have the Grasslin with the manual on/ off switch then it's the opposite

Yah, that's what it was. There are like 144 little switches and if you want to have it on from 7-11, for instance, then ALL of the switches during that timeframe need to be pushed out. I finally figured it out about an hour after making this post. It's just azz-backwards from every other timer out there. But to be honest, after I figured out how the dang thing worked, I kinda like it better than regular timers.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-05-2009, 10:04 AM
Jim, so you might want to consider that in fact there is NOTHING wrong with the Nightscaping Powercenter you used, and there is nothing wrong with the Grasslin Analog Timer that you used (other than it is an analog timer and for only a couple of bucks more you could have installed the astro, digital, powerswitch timer). In fact, it was installer error/impatience and not a fault of any component.

Sheeesh.

JimLewis
04-06-2009, 03:42 AM
Thanks.

But you might consider that the INSTRUCTIONS SUCK! They refer to a totally different variety of timer. One where you pull ONE switch out for your start time and then ANOTHER switch out for the end time, which is how every timer I've ever used works. So yah, I guess I am an idiot for believing the instructions. Or maybe I am stupid for believing that a company should install instructions that would match the unit the instructions are going to. Or maybe I am a dolt for expecting this timer to be like every other analog timer on the market.

Your soooo right. I should have known that this timer worked in a totally different way than than what the instructions said, I should have known the instructions they enclosed weren't actually for the timer in front of me, and I should have known this timer was different than every other analog timer I've ever seen. How stupid of me. I'll try to keep that in mind next time. Thanks for the help! If you hadn't have said anything, I never would have realized where I went wrong. But now I realize how inept I really am. Thanks for that. Your advice and encouragement was invaluable in helping me solve this riddle. :rolleyes:

Pro-Scapes
04-06-2009, 09:38 AM
Thanks Jim I needed a smile this morning. All the NS units I come across the silk screening info on the inside is worn off. It can make thoes switches inside seem a bit funky to understand.

I think its important to see the real moral of this story. You attempted to save money by using a product unfamiliar to you when in the end it cost you several hours... a return trip and the time to post in this thread. How much did you actually save in the end :)

JimLewis
04-06-2009, 10:55 AM
Thanks Jim I needed a smile this morning. All the NS units I come across the silk screening info on the inside is worn off. It can make thoes switches inside seem a bit funky to understand.

I think its important to see the real moral of this story. You attempted to save money by using a product unfamiliar to you when in the end it cost you several hours... a return trip and the time to post in this thread. How much did you actually save in the end :)

Nothing. And I regretted it right off the bat. First time I had ever INSTALLED a transformer other than Unique or FXL. And probably the last time. I've worked with Nightscaping transformers in the past (usually replacing them) but the ones I saw before had different timers. But yah, you're right. You get what you pay for and for some stupid reason I seem to make myself learn that lesson all over again every once in a while.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-06-2009, 03:54 PM
For future reference, here are the instructions for the Grasslin Analog Timer that Nightscaping has been using for some time now.

http://www.nightscaping.com/instructions/timers/at_inst.pdf (available online to anyone, easily searched in seconds via google)

Not sure how Jim might have been provided with the old intermatic instructions, and that is a shame he had to spend so much time figuring this out. Things like that are never fun.

(I have found that a wireless card in my notebook comp. is invaluable for solving problems like this on site. Blackberry's and IPhones work too of course. If that is not a viable solution for you, well, most clients do have internet access these days.)

irrig8r
04-06-2009, 08:28 PM
I was gonna tell you:

Next time you know you're going to be dealing with a Nightscaping Powercenter, and want to look at the instructions before hand, they're easy to come by.

(I have the more common control module options printed and laminated and in a binder.)

But you know what? When the page was redesigned there were a lot of screw-ups.

Clicking on some of the photos or hypertext links takes you to other product's pages.

Sometimes clicking just takes you to a wiring diagram, but not the instructions.

Seems to me Nightscaping is currently operating without a webmaster... low priority maybe.

Anyway, maybe you'll find something useful if you look around enough.

http://www.nightscaping.com/instructions/

Randy1972
12-16-2012, 11:10 AM
Hi-I have the above unit for path lighting, and a T-10-02SSA: Analog Time Switch. However, there are no instructions for how to set on/off/duration for this puppy! When I spin the outer wheel, the inner wheel and 'clock' also spin! I see the last post was like 2009, but maybe someone will see who knows how to set this timer to work as I'd like it???? Thanks in advance.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-17-2012, 12:03 PM
http://www.nightscaping.com/timers/ Contact Nightscaping directly for tech support. I have never used an analog timer so cannot direct you.

irrig8r
12-17-2012, 03:18 PM
That link I posted in 2009 doesn't work anymore.

And this one takes you to the timer, but no instructions.

http://www.nightscaping.com/timers/

I haven't installed a NIghtscaping Powercenter for a few years now.

For me, it's either Vista or FXL.

LLC RI
12-18-2012, 01:18 PM
From what I remember of those timers, they had two metal tripper pins that slid into the timing wheel at the time you wanted them on and off. If you are not hearing/feeling the timer wheel click on and off as you rotate it, it's likely that there are no pins in your wheel.... call nightscaping 1-800-544-4840 and ask to order/get replacement set of pins...

AOLP
12-19-2012, 11:30 PM
Yah, that's what it was. There are like 144 little switches and if you want to have it on from 7-11, for instance, then ALL of the switches during that timeframe need to be pushed out. I finally figured it out about an hour after making this post. It's just azz-backwards from every other timer out there. But to be honest, after I figured out how the dang thing worked, I kinda like it better than regular timers.

Jim, Nightscaping offers an exceptional product. It's the AOLP's desire that they would join the organization as they have much to contribute. knowing the products available in our industry is valuable to all of us. appreciate your input here and hope to see you in atlanta in feb. if you can make it

irrig8r
12-21-2012, 09:34 PM
Nightscaping transformers exceptional? They have been long lived in my experience, but a few annoying features with long overdue upgrades had not been corrected last I checked. Safe? Certainly! Reliable? Mostly. Easy to configure? No. Easy access? No. Wide distribution? No.
Posted via Mobile Device

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-22-2012, 09:29 AM
Nightscaping transformers exceptional? They have been long lived in my experience, but a few annoying features with long overdue upgrades had not been corrected last I checked. Safe? Certainly! Reliable? Mostly. Easy to configure? No. Easy access? No. Wide distribution? No.
Posted via Mobile Device

Here is my assessment of the venerable Nightscaping PowerCenter Line of transformers:

They certainly have been around for long enough to work any bugs out! :-) and they are long overdue for some modernization. But they work, hardly ever fail, and have some features that no other transformers offer.

The case is probably the most in need of some updates. The silly slide up and remove door system, with is sharp edges and easily bent mounting tabs is their weakest 'feature'. Back in the day, many of us were on Bill to update the door to a hinged unit with a clasp, but this would require an expensive re-listing of the entire transformer.

Inside is where the magic happens. They are a dream to install and wire up for the busy contractor, what with ample room for extra wire and any necessary in-line accessories. I think they have more interior cabinet space than any other transformer on the market. And if this is not factually accurate, then it is the unique, large, dual sided terminal lugs that make the difference. Biggest lugs I have seen and you dont have to contort yourself in order to get under the transformer to ensure that your wires are all into the proper spots.

They also have a unique Low/Medium/High power switch, that when combined with their H2O (multi tap) transformers give you un-matched micro control of voltage outputs.

The Modular control bay is another fantastic feature. I don't understand why more manufactures have not borrowed from this. The contractor can easily install or replace / upgrade the controls on board in the field. The options are many what with stand-alone and combinations that include photo cell, analog timer, digital timer, relay module, sprinkler control module, x10 module. With a bit of upgrading Im sure they could produce a UPB module too. ( I make my own using the modular control bay blank plate.) This feature alone is worth the price of admission.

Another great feature is the on-board control over-ride switch. This simple toggle allows you to by-pass any installed control device and send power out to the system. Fantastic for service calls. Another unique feature as far as I know. Great for those times when a control has failed or programming is messed up and you want your client to have the lights on immediately.

For a long time I was a fan of the S-series fustats that these transformers used for secondary output safety. But that was back in the incandescent days. The fustat is still a great diagnostic tool, but in all honesty, there is something to be said for magnetic breakers, especially when your customers are located far and wide and there is not a supply of Buss S-25 Fustats nearby.

I think the NS Powercenter is still a great transformer, but it is probably due for an update. A switch to a torroid core, a door with hinges and a clasp, a UPB control module, a new smaller size (150 Watt) would be welcome.

irrig8r
12-22-2012, 10:28 AM
As I recall, they never stopped making a 150 W Powercenter. The module bay was a great innovation, but frankly I prefer the plug-in set up that I think FX was the first to use. The lugs on the FX are plenty big, especially considering there's a limit of 25 A per circuit. As I recall, they were also the first to offer multi-tap transformers.

This year FX switched from an ETL listing to UL, which might mean they also meet the Canadian standards? They redesigned the way the cord enters the box and added a new closed in 120V compartment.