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PlantscapeSolutions
10-09-2010, 01:13 AM
Has anyone else used a Cast solder pot or made their own solder pot setup. I've been using my solder pot for years on my 10 gauge main line splices. If you solder your will pretty much get a zero drop in voltage versus all these guys that use wire nuts. Wire nuts are bad about corroding over time and shorting out. Once you solder a splice the wire nut has something solid to bite onto and it will pretty much last forever.

I also loop all my lights to insure even voltage. There are way to many companies running lights above 12 volts close to the transformer and below 10 volts at the end of the line.

Classic Lighting
10-09-2010, 08:58 AM
I have used solder pots in the past. Solder makes a great connection. I switched this year to barrel lugs with lithium greased caps due to the simplicity. IMO, solder is a pain because it has to be kept constantly hot. Also, in the event of adding an additional wire, the entire connection has to be cut, re stripped, soldered, then capped. With barrell lugs, simply loosen the lug, add wire, tighten lug, cap. Just easier IMO.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-09-2010, 09:05 PM
Here is a picture of my setup. The solder pot was about $195 on Amazon.com. The tray is from a tool box I had. You can buy solder in sticks. The flux I just buy at Fry's Electronics. I just use a soda can with water to cool the connections after I solder them.

If you have a 100' cord on a reel you can easily move the solder pot around the jobsite. I use Kichler Quick Connect Discs for the lights and the solder on any main line splices. I've offered to do the solder for lighting connections as well as a $20 per connection upgrade. I've never used Garden Light but they also use a version of the connecting disc.

I find that all types of connections are inferior to soldering. Soldered connection show no measurable resistance while all other connections do cause resistance. I've found many over loaded systems installed by others where the connections were barrel lugs or wire nuts and the splices over heated and melted.

If you solder and run a loop you can run more lights and have better voltage consistency. Unfortunately, with many companies it about cutting corners and landing the job. The norm tends to straight runs of skimpy 12 gauge wire that is spliced twenty times. The voltage drops twenty times as a result and the voltage is often in the 14 volt to less than 9 volt range.

I'd like to see Kichler come out with an improved disc that was better quality and possibly had a gasket with a corrosion proof gel in it. I like the discs because it's easy to reconfigure the lights if you need to.

David Gretzmier
10-10-2010, 12:12 AM
I have to disagree with you on the voltage drop thing. I use thousands of wire nuts per year and have tried a few other systems, and I have not seen voltage drop issues when using wire nuts. I am open to testing your theory. I think I will take a 50 foot or so section of 12 guage wire and put a load on it, and just cut it and wire nut it a few times to see if the voltage drops. I may be surprised, but I am guessing even 10 sets of wire nuts won't drop a tenth.

and the wire failure thing. over the last 15 years doing lasndacpe lighting, I have not ever had one of my grease wire nuts fail by way of moisture intrusion, but I admit they will fail when pulled out by tension. also, over the past 20 years of repairing and installing irrigation, I have yet to find a grease nut that was properly tightened in a valve box that has failed either. those I often find submerged in water for years.

finally, I think I am not alone in thinking that if loaded properly, 12 guage wire has a place in landscape lighting. I would not call it skimpy, as most folks use either 10 or 12, and many use 16 guage for lead extensions. If you get your fixture voltage from 10.8 to 11.6, i am fine with 12 or 10 all day long. I have not used 8 guage wire on install in several years.

are you doing solder and grease nuts? or just solder then a wire nut?

PlantscapeSolutions
10-10-2010, 02:37 PM
I have to disagree with you on the voltage drop thing. I use thousands of wire nuts per year and have tried a few other systems, and I have not seen voltage drop issues when using wire nuts. I am open to testing your theory. I think I will take a 50 foot or so section of 12 guage wire and put a load on it, and just cut it and wire nut it a few times to see if the voltage drops. I may be surprised, but I am guessing even 10 sets of wire nuts won't drop a tenth.

and the wire failure thing. over the last 15 years doing lasndacpe lighting, I have not ever had one of my grease wire nuts fail by way of moisture intrusion, but I admit they will fail when pulled out by tension. also, over the past 20 years of repairing and installing irrigation, I have yet to find a grease nut that was properly tightened in a valve box that has failed either. those I often find submerged in water for years.

finally, I think I am not alone in thinking that if loaded properly, 12 gauge wire has a place in landscape lighting. I would not call it skimpy, as most folks use either 10 or 12, and many use 16 gauge for lead extensions. If you get your fixture voltage from 10.8 to 11.6, i am fine with 12 or 10 all day long. I have not used 8 gauge wire on install in several years.

are you doing solder and grease nuts? or just solder then a wire nut?

Wire nuts work great for irrigation work because you get a a solid bite on the solid core wire. It is very difficult to pull a wire nut off properly solid core wire when properly installed. I don't care how well someone think's they have installed a wire on stranded wire just a gentle tug on the wire and your connection is compromised.

This often creates a short that can heat up and be a fire hazard. I used to use wire nuts and I would tape them up or you could even tie the main line in a knot to take the stress of the spliced area. But it never failed we'd be working in the flower beds later on doing mulching or other work in the area and nuts would come loose. The other problem is a little movement would cause a little water or even air to enter the wire nut and cause corrosion or just simple oxidation of the copper which would cause resistance.

I usually just 10 gauge everything by default and loop the wire from the transformer to all the lights and then back to the transformer. I look forward to doing some LED jobs where I can crank up a single run of 10 gauge main line to 15 volts or so and all the LED's will self adjust to the proper voltage.

emby
10-10-2010, 09:47 PM
I too solder 90 percent of my connections. I also use silicone filled wire nuts with electrical tape over the connection on top of that.
I use barrel connectors with water proof heat shrink for discreet connections such as wiring a pergola or in trees. Basically any spot that I cannot get the solder pot, I use the barrel connectors.
My solder kit is the Cast kit and I have zero complaints with it.


Ken

Viewpoint
10-11-2010, 06:57 PM
I solder every new connection as well, but I've never used a solder pot. I can't imagine the hassle of lugging around that kit through someone's yard on the end of a cord tinning 30+ splices.

I use a 1 lb spool of 16GA flux-core solder and a small butane torch. The torch and spool fit in the bag, and most connections on clean (new) wire don't need any additional flux. There are no cords, and the torch gets the connection hot enough to suck up solder in a few seconds.

Soldering the connections is time consuming as is, but a solder pot seems even more cumbersome. Am I missing something?

-Andy Thomas

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-11-2010, 07:30 PM
So are all you guys who are using flux (acid) on your connections and then dipping into melted solder ( not burning the flux off with heat) not concerned about what the acid will do to the copper strands over time?

Thousands upon thousands "grease" filled wire nuts used over the past 12 years and have never had an issue. Like all things they must be installed correctly. I still find clean bare copper when I cut open connections dating back to 1998. Do it right and there are no issues.

That being said, I do think that the Lighting Shrink product is superior, as is the ACE (but a PITA to deal with on every connection)

There will never be an end to this debate, and that is fine. Bottom line is that we all need to ensure that our connections are strong and waterproof. Solder, Tubes, Crimps, Nuts, Barrels, .... to each their own.

elegance_alex
10-11-2010, 09:20 PM
We solder and cap with moisture proof wire nut.

Classic Lighting
10-11-2010, 09:33 PM
A solid connection can be made with or without solder. It's a matter of quality workmanship, not material utilized.

steveparrott
10-12-2010, 11:19 AM
First, to clarify, while CAST promotes the use of the solder pot and the soldering technique, we don't manufacture this equipment, nor the kits that our distributors sell. They may call it "The CAST Soldering Kit" but this is only because we teach this method and encourage people to buy the kits.

For detailed instructions (with photos) click on this link: Wire Soldering for Secure Connections (http://www.cast-lighting.com/learning/articles/4_article_51).

Pro-Scapes
10-12-2010, 08:13 PM
A solid connection can be made with or without solder. It's a matter of quality workmanship, not material utilized.

I do agree with this. As high end installers you should be well versed and equipped to make connections in a variety of situations as needed.

I do carry the Gambino Ace style connector on my truck and have used them extensivly without fail. They are priceless for trees, structures and other areas that require an inline connection. I also use them for connections inside transformers when using ABT or when I am forced to use inground transformers.

To be fair I have also placed thousands of soldered connections in the field without fail as well. I do not use the king drycons tho. I preffer to use the DBR tubes when soldering connections. I have never liked the idea of putting a wire nut in the ground without some sort of solid unbreakable connection.

I have the very same "CAST" soldering kit I purchased years ago. While it looks like a complete mess from spilled flux and other debris it still performs flawless. For anyone thinking soldering is more time consuming than a crimp or ace style connector your just not used to it. If you splice all your connections then run back with the solder pot you can make over 10 connections or more before it cools off. It is a very secure cost effective connection.

PlantscapeSolutions
10-13-2010, 09:40 AM
I solder every new connection as well, but I've never used a solder pot. I can't imagine the hassle of lugging around that kit through someone's yard on the end of a cord tinning 30+ splices.

I use a 1 lb spool of 16GA flux-core solder and a small butane torch. The torch and spool fit in the bag, and most connections on clean (new) wire don't need any additional flux. There are no cords, and the torch gets the connection hot enough to suck up solder in a few seconds.

Soldering the connections is time consuming as is, but a solder pot seems even more cumbersome. Am I missing something?

-Andy Thomas

The flux sucks the solder into the wires and turns the wire into a solid weld pretty much. If you cut the wires you soldered in half it is silver to the core. I soldered a couple of times on accident without flux and I could just pull off the solder if I really tried. The solder doesn't seem to weld the wires into a solid chunk of conducting metal without the flux.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-13-2010, 03:07 PM
Nobody has addressed my question about the long term effects of copper strands exposed to acid base flux. Because you are dipping your wire into the solder and not heating the copper and flux with a flame, you are leaving an acid residue on the wire itself. I would think that over time, this could be an issue.

steveparrott
10-13-2010, 03:54 PM
Nobody has addressed my question about the long term effects of copper strands exposed to acid base flux. Because you are dipping your wire into the solder and not heating the copper and flux with a flame, you are leaving an acid residue on the wire itself. I would think that over time, this could be an issue.

The type of flux we recommend is a non-corrosive type.

From the flux mfg.:

Description: GC Liquid Solder Flux Rosin / Alcohol

"As effective as acid or chloride types but non-corrosive. Ideal for soldering bus and ground wires to aluminum and steel chassis, hermetically seal lids to chassis, or pot tinning of copper and brass parts."

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-13-2010, 03:58 PM
Hey thanks Steve... good to know.

Prolightscaper
10-13-2010, 08:00 PM
Nobody has addressed my question about the long term effects of copper strands exposed to acid base flux. Because you are dipping your wire into the solder and not heating the copper and flux with a flame, you are leaving an acid residue on the wire itself. I would think that over time, this could be an issue.

If you can answer this question then you will have your answer.

Are the copper water pipes in your house deteriorating and leaking at the soldered joints?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
10-13-2010, 09:08 PM
If you can answer this question then you will have your answer.

Are the copper water pipes in your house deteriorating and leaking at the soldered joints?

No, of course not... however they were not dipped in acid flux and then dipped in solder. When you assemble plumbing you generally apply flux, then heat the pipe with a flame which burns off and neutralizes that flux, then apply the the solder.

Steve from CAST had the best answer, to use a non-corrosive flux.

Chris J
10-13-2010, 10:28 PM
Some topics never die. Just go back to using the supplied "pierce point" connectors that come with most manu's fixtures, then, over time, you will find that most anything is better than that!

Pro-Scapes
10-14-2010, 07:38 AM
The flux sucks the solder into the wires and turns the wire into a solid weld pretty much. If you cut the wires you soldered in half it is silver to the core. I soldered a couple of times on accident without flux and I could just pull off the solder if I really tried. The solder doesn't seem to weld the wires into a solid chunk of conducting metal without the flux.

Yes Andy you are missing something :)

Ok first off you dont need to lug a cord around with you. I usually run a cord out to my trailer when doing an install so i can run my chargers and such anyways without having to run a generator.

You plug in the solder pot while your doing other things like stripping and twisting wires. You then unplug the solder pot and go around splicing connections. After 5 min or so you go and plug the solder pot back in while you do something else. If you time it all right there is little issue in waiting for the pot to heat up

Flux cleans the wire and allows the solder to stick Not sure if you have ever spilled that flux or got it on your fingers but its like tree sap!