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BrandonV
02-03-2010, 02:29 PM
Guys I'm having a problem I've never had before, transformer is not turning off. Timer is working, and the photocell is working but the transformer just keeps going. any clue to why? it's not overloaded and none of the runs have more than 300v so I'm a bit perplexed.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-03-2010, 02:55 PM
Make and model?

klkanders
02-03-2010, 03:34 PM
Correct me if I am wrong but the transformer will always be on unless something else is telling it to shut down like the timer, photocell or other controlling device.
I assume you have swapped out with new any of those items? :)

NightScenes
02-03-2010, 04:29 PM
Is this a 900 or 1200 watt transformer???

BrandonV
02-03-2010, 04:39 PM
1200w name escapes me at the moment, it was something the store wanted me to try instead of an alliance one. we had an alliance one in there first and it always had a real hum to it (fuse style) and it gave out after 1 year so we put this one in about a month ago.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
02-03-2010, 04:49 PM
Brandon, no offense man, but it is hard for us to help you diagnose this unit when you dont know its make, model, etc.

Does it have a control over-ride switch like Nightscaping and others use? This would by-pass the controls and leave the transformer on all the time.

Is it possible that the plug in controls you have installed are in fact faulty? What steps have you done to trouble shoot it?

NightScenes
02-03-2010, 05:13 PM
I would be willing to bet that the contactor inside the unit is stuck which will allow power on the secondary even if the inner plug is out.

BrandonV
02-03-2010, 05:51 PM
Yeah, I can unplug the photo cell or the timer. Still on, is there a fix? And why?
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irrig8r
02-03-2010, 07:02 PM
Remove the photo cell and timer and go with an external outdoor astro timer (http://www.intermatic.com/products/timers/consumer%20outdoor%20timers/digital%20timers/hb800rcl.aspx)?

Pro-Scapes
02-03-2010, 07:30 PM
Pauls right sounds like a stuck relay I have seen it a few times especially on the bigger ones. It will stay on regardless of the photocell or timer operation.

You should replace it but the external timer would also remedy the situation. I really recomend you replace it.

BrandonV
02-03-2010, 08:03 PM
oh I'll replace it but just want to know what's going on. I've heard there are ongoing problems with the 1200w models right now and I guess since just about everyone has the same company making their transformer brand jumping ain't going to fix it. I had tried to go w/ the big 1500w cast on this but HO wanted to go w/ a bit more budget friendly option.... so here I am driving 1hr each way...

BrandonV
02-03-2010, 08:16 PM
Brandon, no offense man, but it is hard for us to help you diagnose this unit when you dont know its make, model, etc.

Does it have a control over-ride switch like Nightscaping and others use? This would by-pass the controls and leave the transformer on all the time.

Is it possible that the plug in controls you have installed are in fact faulty? What steps have you done to trouble shoot it?

Checked with my foreman, its an encore. It to me looked essentially the same as the alliance but w/ colors :-)
sorry for not point it out first james, been a rough week and the HO's email at 1:15am isn't helping me much

S&MLL
02-03-2010, 09:50 PM
Never used either brand. Never even heard of encore. Last time I saw an alliance model Rob assured me it wasnt a jefferson. He wouldnt tell me who makes his trans.

Pro-Scapes
02-04-2010, 05:02 PM
but HO wanted to go w/ a bit more budget friendly option.... so here I am driving 1hr each way...

This is EXACTLY why as a pro you should not be letting your clients dictate what you use. I just wrote an article that will be in the upcoming issue of landscape and hardscape design and build about selecting a transformer.

Brandon I have seen some of your photos. You have some nice work. I am curious now where is the cost savings now that you have to drive back and forth an hour due to a budget unit ? I can only assume the true project cost is now higher than it would have been had you used a quality unit that performed as it should. 95% of the time when you try to make a cost cut it will come back to bite you. I wonder how effecient that low cost off brand trans is. Is it really saving your client money ? Was a few hundred less for a trans a deal breaker ?

emby
02-04-2010, 11:51 PM
oh I'll replace it but just want to know what's going on. I've heard there are ongoing problems with the 1200w models right now and I guess since just about everyone has the same company making their transformer brand jumping ain't going to fix it. I had tried to go w/ the big 1500w cast on this but HO wanted to go w/ a bit more budget friendly option.... so here I am driving 1hr each way...

Brandon,
I totally have to agree on Billy's comments. I too think that your work is outstanding and with that being said all your components should be outstanding as well IMO.
Just to touch on the point of the transformers being made by the same company. That might be true but if you look into the Cast transformers you will see that they are made specifically with Cast's specification requirements.
The 1200 w Cast unit also comes with the soft start option which stops in rush issues and they look very cool when first ramping up.
I understand and respect your situation but the way I look at it is this...I want to install products for my customers that are going to be trouble free for many years (other than the usual maintenance) so if the price seems a bit high to the customer, then split up your design into phases. This way the customer knows that they are getting nothing but the best and you know you will not be driving 2hrs once a week to troubleshoot inferior products.
Just a different aspect from a new guy. :)

Ken

BrandonV
02-05-2010, 06:54 AM
oh i know, this customer wanted "options" I give options.... I have to let the HO dictate or they'll dictate someone else :-)
I love the cast tranny and think it's the best I've used, I try to use them as much as possible, but they're about twice the cost... maybe I'm getting taken by the dealer I don't know, but its a hard sell. I will try harder next time.

steveparrott
02-05-2010, 09:59 AM
A transformer that stays on continuously is always caused by a stuck relay. Replacing the relay will solve the problem.

klkanders
02-05-2010, 10:38 AM
Brandon,
It sounds like your "store" needs to step up and "make this right". From what you have said this is the second trans. you have had at this job. I can't stand a loud humming trans.
Is this store close to exchange for a new one?
Live and Learn huh? Good Luck! :)

NightScenes
02-05-2010, 10:58 AM
I've run into this problem with 900 and 1200 watt models. The best thing to do is replace the unit. A good manufacturer will cover these expenses. If they don't, find another product to use.

Pro-Scapes
02-05-2010, 11:31 AM
Well said Paul. I know when I came across a CAST 1200 that stuck like this they took care of it no problems.

Brandon, If your clients want you to dictate the use of lower quality materials you should let them dictate that to someone else. 2 transformers later all it has done is eat your bottom line and tarnish your reputation for putting out a quality project.

I walked away from a few projects this past year because we could not come to terms on what needed to be done. They were older systems installed by a hack. The homeowners mostly admitted they had never been pleased with the results but were all for the most part wanting me to just put out new fixtures and wave my magic wand. Even tho it was a bit slower than I like as far as new installs I never budged on doing the right thing by offering off brand products with questionable performance.

Now what happens if x brand transformer is replaced and the next one melts down ?

JoeyD
02-05-2010, 01:24 PM
I dont think I have ever heard of a stuck relay. Then again we dont have relays accept in our larger 1500 and 1838watt models and they are replaceable in the field. Wise man once said, "if you cant rmember the manufacturers name you probably shouldnt use it." lol

BrandonV
02-05-2010, 02:53 PM
the store gave me the the 2nd transformer... Joey my endevor came today... awesome. Also the vanguards I put in look great thanks for the help!

Guys I'm glad yall have work to turn away. I'll try harder next time...

BrandonV
02-05-2010, 02:54 PM
Wise man once said, "if you cant rmember the manufacturers name you probably shouldnt use it." lol

but he couldn't type evidently :dancing:

BrandonV
02-05-2010, 03:40 PM
couple of pics joey... at first I wasn't sure how to get the wire out the back of the two sided wall but copper pipe worked out I think rather well. iphone night shot too.... we put the vangards in about 2 weeks before everything else as we built the wall, i put a junk tranny out there just to give the HO a little light.

steveparrott
02-05-2010, 04:55 PM
Brandon,

Next time you install lights in a wall like this, I suggest you saw a wire channel under the capstones along the length of the wall. At each fixture location you drill down and over to the back of the fixture.

See drawings and instructions (http://www.cast-lighting.com/__userfiles/file/product_specs/cewl5cb_specs.pdf).

JoeyD
02-05-2010, 05:01 PM
Brandon that is awesome!!! I actually think the copper tubing looks cool on the backside and will also weather to blend in. Steve's idea is a good one but in this case wher the back of the wall isnt very visable your way was probably a lot easier.

I do need to remember spell check! hahahah

The job looks fantastic. if you wouldnt mind emailing me those photos I would like to use them as samples during training classes and power points.

Great work Brandon...Now buy a good transformer! hahah

BrandonV
02-05-2010, 06:49 PM
steve I see what your saying. I did think about his but the only problem I saw with that is if I ever *pray never* had to replace the fixture or wire with the cap glued on I'd have to build a new wall, the glue is stronger than the concrete you know. I've glued all the blocks EXCEPT for the ones with the fixtures. They're simply wedged very tightly in but with some effort you can pop them out.

S&MLL
02-06-2010, 12:35 AM
steve I see what your saying. I did think about his but the only problem I saw with that is if I ever *pray never* had to replace the fixture or wire with the cap glued on I'd have to build a new wall, the glue is stronger than the concrete you know. I've glued all the blocks EXCEPT for the ones with the fixtures. They're simply wedged very tightly in but with some effort you can pop them out.

I thought most block had those channels cut in already? Also brandon Even the best glue out there can come up after years times with just a flat chisel.

steveparrott
02-07-2010, 12:05 PM
It's a little more work, but some will set pvc conduit in the channels and run the wire through them. This allows for easy pull-throughs if you need to replace wires in the future. If you do this, as with all long conduit runs, include a pull string.

Pro-Scapes
02-07-2010, 12:21 PM
I am amazed that with that paver job and retaining wall let alone pricey fixtures like endeavors that a a hundred or 2 difference in the price of a good trans vs a budget one would have been the deal breaker.

I would have knocked my price a few hundred if need be knowing it would give me piece of mind and save me money in call backs.

BrandonV
02-08-2010, 06:49 AM
Wrong project.
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Lite4
02-08-2010, 01:25 PM
When I retrofit rail lights in existing freestanding walls, I will take the cap off and get a hammer drill with a 2' bit and drill straight down through the wall until I hit dirt. Sometimes I have to remove a block or 2 to get all the way down. I then then fish a tiny 1/2 hole and fish out the wire from under the wall. Vuala, very easy and just as if you had installed them when you built the wall.

ChampionLS
03-05-2010, 04:02 AM
Here are a few examples of routing the cable on a pillar application. The fixtures can be held in place with adhesive, before the caps are set.

Lite4
03-05-2010, 07:00 AM
kids are so funny. I had this open looking at the columns Anthony posted and my son sits down next to me and says the top column looks like a happy column (referring to the lights as eyeballs) and the second column looks like he is scowling. I didn't even see that at all. Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective to see things that are there. Kinda funny to me, just thought I would share.

indylights
03-05-2010, 02:57 PM
Tim, not to hijack this thread, but I heard you aren't going to be at Mr. Quik anymore. Hope everything is alright with you and it was just a business decision. Are you going to stay in Indy?

ChampionLS
03-05-2010, 10:32 PM
Tim, maybe he was refering to the Crescent shape with the screws as eyes. : ) Hope all is well.