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JimLewis
08-10-2010, 02:37 AM
Can anyone recommend a good 1500w multi-tap transformer? Preferably one with breakers too. Do they even make them this big?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-10-2010, 02:44 AM
Typically none over 1200W.

You can find a good transformer at CAST Lighting.

OR, design your system using LED lamps and save about 75% of the required electrical load. The money saved on that huge transformer can go a long way to installing quality LED lamps from www.ledlightsdirect.com (... just sayin' :) )

steveparrott
08-10-2010, 07:54 AM
Can anyone recommend a good 1500w multi-tap transformer? Preferably one with breakers too. Do they even make them this big?

The CAST Lighting 1500W Master Series Transformer (CM1500SSMT) (http://www.cast-lighting.com/products/transformers/master-series/30/)

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
08-10-2010, 08:19 AM
You may want to check the listing on the Transformer that you choose to install in a Landscape Lighting or "garden lighting" application. There are some transformers on the market that carry what looks like an appropriate UL certification, but when you look deeper (or when you get inspected by a electrical safety inspector) you discover that the approval on the power source is not appropriate for the application in which it has been installed and used.

Take cUL 506 certifications for instance. The Scope for UL 506 / cUL 506 clearly states:

"1.2 These requirements do not cover liquid-immersed transformers, variable voltage autotransformers, transformers having a nominal primary rating of more than 600 volts, transformers having overvoltage taps rated over 660 volts, cord and plug connected transformers, garden light transformers, voltage regulators, swimming pool and spa transformers, or other special types of transformers covered in requirements for other electrical devices or appliances."

http://ulstandardsinfonet.ul.com/scopes/scopes.asp?fn=0506.html

As such, a transformer that is listed with UL 506 is not acceptable for use in Landscape Lighting applications.

There are a number of 1000w and 1200W transformers on the market that are properly approved for use and the CAST 1200W Master Series (UL 1838) is one of them.

JimLewis
08-10-2010, 12:37 PM
Anything wrong with the VOLT 1200w transformer?

This one by VOLT (http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/Low-Voltage-Transformer-Outdoor-Lighting-p/7300-1222-p.htm) seems to be about 1/3 of the price of This on by CAST. (http://www.cast-lighting.com/products/transformers/master-series/29/) They look very similar. Seem to have similar construction and taps. Any big reason why I should tell my customer she needs to spend 3x as much for the CAST?

steveparrott
08-10-2010, 01:41 PM
Anything wrong with the VOLT 1200w transformer?

This one by VOLT (http://www.landscapelightingworld.com/Low-Voltage-Transformer-Outdoor-Lighting-p/7300-1222-p.htm) seems to be about 1/3 of the price of This on by CAST. (http://www.cast-lighting.com/products/transformers/master-series/29/) They look very similar. Seem to have similar construction and taps. Any big reason why I should tell my customer she needs to spend 3x as much for the CAST?

Jim, the CAST Transformer is not 3x the price - re-check your distributor's pricing. As always - you get what you pay for.

The Lighting Geek
08-10-2010, 01:56 PM
Unique now has a 1838 transformer.

1838 watts that is. That should cover it! lol

JimLewis
08-10-2010, 02:11 PM
Jim, the CAST Transformer is not 3x the price - re-check your distributor's pricing. As always - you get what you pay for.
Well, that VOLT controller is on sale on that website. So fine. Not exactly 3x. Maybe 2.5x the price. Even if I could talk my distributor down by $200, that's still over twice as much for the CAST one.

I understand the concept of "You get what you pay for." And in general, I think that's kinda true. But it's also true that some brands are just way overpriced. In irrigation, for instance, Rain Bird is currently a good 20-30% less in virtually every area than their next competitor (Hunter) and yet in my experience, Rain Bird's quality is better in almost every category, their warranty is better, the service I get is better, etc. Similarly, with water feature components, materials from Aquascapes is a good 200% of what the other manufacturers are, and their products, IMO really aren't that much nicer. I prefer to use Savio, Pond Eco, Watermark or several others that have good reliable products at about half the price.

When it comes to lighting, I think it's generally true that you get what you pay for. I love the Unique Odyssey fixtures because they are just worlds better in terms of looks, durability, construction, warranty, service, etc. when compared to most other brands of lighting (Cast, maybe being the exception. I think they are on-par with Unique). And Unique fixtures are only maybe 25% more than FXL, Kichler, Focus, etc. So for slightly more, I get quite a lot better product. THAT I understand. I am willing to pay a little more to get a LOT more.

But I am not sure I want to pay 2-2.5x as much for a controller unless I'm convinced there's a really good reason. Which is why I asked the question. I'm looking for someone to give me some good reasons why I'd recommend that my customer spend 2-2.5x as much for a CAST transformer. And I'm not sure the customer's going to suffice for me just saying, "Well, you know you get what you pay for! payup"

steveparrott
08-10-2010, 03:25 PM
Well, that VOLT controller is on sale on that website.

Jim, the price you were quoted is the suggested retail price - not the contractor's price.

S&MLL
08-10-2010, 03:53 PM
Jim, the price you were quoted is the suggested retail price - not the contractor's price.

Steve you know better then anyone...... No talk about pricing. Hard numbers or just discounts off msrp.... NO TALKING




So Jim Lewis you are more then welcome to talk about lighting here all you want. I think there a bunch of topics on transformers but leave price out of it.


I Also have never used or seen a volt product. But I donít really plan on it. Why should my clients be able to access the same material I have so easily online. Not to mention see what I pay.

So lets compare Cast vs. Kichler. Both made by MDL. Cast has soft start. The rest do not. Cast is very stingy on warrantee work. Use what YOU want to use. Not what your client can and can not afford. I can stick up for Cast and say there taps can be loaded 100 percent. I have used a 1200 watt tranny and had 1060 watts running from the 12volt tap. Most other transformers will burn up a tap running that heavy on the voltage side.

emby
08-11-2010, 01:11 AM
Hey Jim,

Just a quick comment about the transformer discussion. What I have done here (two years ago) is I obtained five different transformers from five different companies.
I set a bench test up using the same outlet so that my line voltage was constant and loaded them up with the same set up of lights.
I was a amazed with the results and without becoming a sales person all I can say is that you pay for what you get. There are reasons to as why some are priced a little more than others. One noticable difference was that the secondary voltages were maintained on the more expensive transformers while it dropped on the others.
I can see this becoming a problem when your bidding on jobs and the competition is proposing one of those cheaper transformers but personally I want the quality and reliability if the customers budget will allow and not to mention less headaches when installing.
I made my decision two years ago and I am very pleased as I have not had a single incident with any of them.
Just some more for you to think about and I hope it helps you out.

Ken

David Gretzmier
08-11-2010, 05:49 PM
I have used the Volt trans, ( I believe I reviewed it somewhere here with voltages and load results) and I can say, they have performed perfect up to this point. I have also tested ( and reviewed) copper moon, and used more than a few Jefferson electric clones. They do not hold voltage at all as well as the Volt.

But I am pretty sure that Volt does not make a 1500w.

I have not had the opportunity to test a Cast or the Gambino unit, but folks say that they are the best out there. Until I try one or the other, and I am convinced they are easier to install, longer lasting and/or can hold voltage better than Volt, I have no reason to switch whether they are more expensive or less.

I do not like that Volt publishes prices and sells direct to consumers either, but they have some great products and I deal with the fallout if customers find them online.

as an aside, why do folks use 1500w trans and up anyway? I tend to load my 12 and 10 guage wires from 80-140 watts each, and a 1200w trans tends to get pretty crowded with 10 or more wires in there. and that is about the max # of wires you can shove in a 1 1/4" grey PVC.

I would do 2 900 watt trans and have headroom for growth, less heat and there fore longer life, more cabinet room to wire and less wires to deal with in each box. if you have a dedicated outlet/breaker, it should be able to handle 1800 watts anyway.

steveparrott
08-11-2010, 06:27 PM
I do not like that Volt publishes prices and sells direct to consumers either, but they have some great products and I deal with the fallout if customers find them online.

Just curious, how do your deal with the fallout?

Alan B
08-11-2010, 08:00 PM
Jim, the CAST Transformer is not 3x the price ... As always - you get what you pay for.
Just curious, how do your deal with the fallout?
Steve,

:nono: Lot's of uncharacteristic behavior in this thread. First the pricing then the fellow sponsor bashing. You are usually such an informative gentleman.


I can understand that this thread is not exactly what a (CAST) Communications and Marketing Director wants printed about their product, and that you felt compelled to defend your pricing.

I too saw this thread which mentioned/compared our VOLT transformer to your CAST transformer and had some compelling things I wanted to say as well. However I felt in the spirit of being fellow sponsors it was better to stay out than say points or encourage dialog in a thread that could disparage CAST, a fellow sponsor. I cannot stop other members from commenting negatively about CAST, but I can avoid encouraging them by staying out of such discussions.

I did the same with Unique when Joey was actively posting because I felt it made for a more harmonious board.

If you prefer that we each stick up for our own products (when they are compared), let me know and I will be happy to put on my Communication and Marketing Director hat and we can keep this thread at the top.

Cheers!

Alan
Fellow Sponsor

steveparrott
08-11-2010, 09:53 PM
Alan, you're right. I was getting a little cranky and shouldn't have posted the question that pokes at your business model. I apologize.

As for defending CAST products, I feel justified in doing that - as long as I'm being truthful. I have no problem with other sponsors doing the same.

Pro-Scapes
08-12-2010, 12:09 PM
back to the original topic here,

Jim, In my experience using transformers larger than 900 (1200 if there is a fair lenght of wire between the breaker and the transformer and it is a dedicated run) can create some issues.

1. Inrush ...When the transformer cuts on there is a rush of current. This can cause tripped breakers and ultimatly service calls. I installed CAST units pre soft start in which I had these issues but I think the soft start helps remedy them? Some of the better transformers out there have a handle on this.

2. Workability. When trying to stuff alot of wires inside the smaller wiring compartments of MOST brands of transformers and worse yet trying to fit too many wires into a single voltage tap it increases the risk of installer error.

3. These transformers get awfully heavy and I have seen them knocked off of walls even when hung with lead anchors in concrete walls (someone bumped it while trimming bushes)

I have gone to the practice of installing multiple smaller transformers in most cases because of the above issues. This allows you to possibly spread the load over multiple primary breakers.... move transformers closer to the zones they will power saving wire (read as $$$) and allowing you more flexibility for expansion. You may want to consider 2 transformers at 900w (or sized as needed) vs the single 1500w The only way I would use the 1500w is if it were a commercial project with huge lamps and limited 10ga runs. I would also do all I could to ensure the 120v primary was up to the task of handeling the load. When you start drawing this kind of amerage this is not something you just plug into the outlet by the patio.

klkanders
08-12-2010, 06:54 PM
I agree with Billy's points. I also have to ask....why do some of the " best on the market " transformers only come with a 10yr warranty? Will they still consider repair or replacement after that time frame on an individual basis? Do some install brass fixtures with 15 to life warranty with 10 yr transformer? Isn't the transformer the heart of the system? Just curious.
I hope this is still somewhat on topic.

Pro-Scapes
08-12-2010, 07:15 PM
I agree with Billy's points. I also have to ask....why do some of the " best on the market " transformers only come with a 10yr warranty? Will they still consider repair or replacement after that time frame on an individual basis? Do some install brass fixtures with 15 to life warranty with 10 yr transformer? Isn't the transformer the heart of the system? Just curious.
I hope this is still somewhat on topic.

Its a good topic Kieth but I think warranty related things should be discussed in a different thread. When I offer my warranties it includes the manufactures warranty but a 3 year warranty on sockets and wiring.

klkanders
08-12-2010, 08:35 PM
I can do that! New thread it is.

BrandonV
08-12-2010, 09:48 PM
Jim i've not used the volt trans but I have learned a valuable lesson ov the last three years in using another brand that I think is a clone of those, but not sure they're made in turkey I'm told. Anyways I've gotten really good at replacing 1200w transformers infect I think 65% of them... I have bad luck but not that bad. I have also installed 5 cast 1500w and they've all been flawless, they're more $ but at least for me it's hard to charge someone a service call on a 1 year old unit, so it quickly catches up with you. Even if you install them for little to no markup it's worth the cost of a good unit. Even the stainless steel looks better. I've not used unique or others but have also had good luck with some old hadco units, I might have just gotten a bunch of bad ones in a row and the manufacture has been easy to work with but my time is worth something, not much but something.
Posted via Mobile Device

BrandonV
08-12-2010, 09:50 PM
Also want to point out I bought some volt down lights, liked them a lot, not real sure on the set screw for lens cover but like threaded cover.
Posted via Mobile Device

Alan B
08-13-2010, 11:47 AM
Jim i've not used the volt trans but I have learned a valuable lesson ov the last three years in using another brand that I think is a clone of those, but not sure they're made in turkey I'm told. Anyways I've gotten really good at replacing 1200w transformers infect I think 65% of them... I have bad luck but not that bad.
Posted via Mobile Device

(Even though I have spend ~$15,000 with Moose River Media I still feel like this is a contractors forum and try and limit my posts so that people don't get annoyed. :) )

Although Brandon was talking about someone else trans, I was curious about our defective rate so I looked it up. We have had (3) Volt 1200W transformers ever returned, warrantied, or malfunction. Granted its only been about 2 years, its far less than 1% -- very remarkable considering the variables like shipping a 55 lbs electric item (e.g. shipping damage), installation issues, lightening etc.. Also don't know about others manu's but Volt is not made in Turkey.

Lastly don't underestimate the reliability of Toroidal cores (All Volt and CAST trans use them and very few other brands do). The core is the heart of the transformer and Toroidal cores have been proven (undisputed in the electrical industry) as more efficient, reliable, run cooler. The only reason not everyone manu uses them is because they cost more than laminated magnetic. I have only heard great things about Casts trans.

I couldn't agree with Billy more in his post. I always recommend getting 2 smaller trans than 1 large. Faster install, less wire, less digging, less labor, less voltage drop, less likely for wires to get cut, no digging under walkways and hardscapes, more room in trans.

Cheers!

Alan

BrandonV
08-14-2010, 08:29 AM
Good deal alan. Ain't nothing wrong w/ 1%

JimLewis
08-14-2010, 03:25 PM
Thanks everyone for your input. We'll see what happens with this project. Haven't landed the job yet. But you may be hearing from me, Alan.

David Gretzmier
08-14-2010, 07:21 PM
Yeah billy, I love that everyone agrees with you about using two smaller 900 w trans instead of one larger, and all those wires in the cabinet, that was great stuff...especially when it was mentioned in post #12. :laugh:

Illumicare
08-16-2010, 10:27 PM
With the use of LED lamps and fixtures, the requirement for 900, 1200 and 1500 watt transformers is pretty rare.

To those of you using LED products, have you noticed a change in the way you design, layout and power your systems?

David Gretzmier
08-17-2010, 12:06 AM
In the new systems where we are testing LED's here and there, we are still wiring them as if using traditional halogen bulbs. On some add ons however, we are stretching that limit by using 2 or 3 mr-16 LED retrofits to allow adding a light or 2 on a previously maxed out circuit or common tap. In the event those LED's fail prematurely, we will probably test a newer LED rather than go back to halogen.