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Bob Klaidman
10-15-2010, 01:22 PM
Hello All,
I have recently re-discovered this forum, although I have never participated...but I do see that you guys really know what you are talking about as far as landscape lighting goes!

I need feed back with regard to connectors. Installing waterproof connectors has always been a concern, but now with LED products on the rise, it is even more critical.

In the past, if moisture "wicked" up through the wire splice, the effects of corrosion on sockets and lamps took a long time to do any real damage.(Assuming sockets and fixture parts were made of non-corrosive materials like brass or stainless steel.) But now with a hard wired LED lamp...when moisture wicks through the pig tail it can do some serious damage very quickly. Imagine having a tiny moisture tube feeding into your cell phone or computer 24 hours a day. While most LED products (from all manufacturers) can handle quite a bit of moisture (rain/irrigation) from the outside, internal moisture is an LED killer! I'm talking about internal moisture inside the LED itself, not just inside the fixture. Some moisture inside the fixture is really not a problem.

So my question to you is: What is the best waterproof direct burial connector for landscape lighting? Details please.

Any and all feedback from you guys in the field would be greatly appreciated. This is my first post here, I am a manufacturer and I hope this type of inquiry does not offend the protocol of this forum.

P.S. I am also interested in devising an "Anti-wicking" device built into my fixtures.

Thanks in advance,

Bob Klaidman
SPJ Lighting, Inc.

irrig8r
10-15-2010, 01:43 PM
HI Bob,
My waterproof connector of choice is the Ace... first offered by Nightscaping, now in similar versions by others like Vista, King Innovation, etc.

http://vistapro.com/Product.aspx?ProdID=536&CatID=4&typeID=9
http://www.kinginnovation.com/products/irrigation-products/ace-connector/


If you don't know it, it's a brass lug with set screws which gets sealed with shrink tube.

I've also heard good things about Lighting Shrink, but haven't field tested them yet.
http://www.lightingshrink.com/SiteResources/Modules/webstore/scripts/prodList.asp?idCategory=15

Bob Klaidman
10-15-2010, 02:05 PM
I am familiar with this 'ACE" style, but is it really 100% waterproof just with the heat shrink?

I would think it needs some silicon base to completely seal, while I'm sure it's sufficient for direct burial, I am not so sure about it's anti-wicking capability. I may be wrong??
Thanks

Pro-Scapes
10-15-2010, 02:55 PM
Bob the Ace connectors have a sealant inside. I think it is more like hot glue but I have never had an issue even in some pretty soupy areas that stay wet.

Even without LED's it is important to make sure you have a good sealed connection.

I did put some ace style connectors in my own pond to soak. They have been there 6mo and I intend to remove them after a year but right now the only thing i see is algea on them. The boots appear intact.

Bob Klaidman
10-15-2010, 03:48 PM
Pro-scapes,
I do agree that it is always important to have a good sealed connection regardless of LED or any other type of landscape light.

I was not aware of this sealant you are referring to. Are you saying that the Heat shrink tube forms a sealant, or the brass "butt connector" comes with some kind of a goop (for lack of a better word) already inside of it?

rlitman
10-15-2010, 04:26 PM
The heat shrink tube is coated on its inner surface with a heat activated adhesive (like a thin layer of hot-melt glue). I would think that adding grease, or silicone, or anything that blocks this layer from sticking would make the seal fail sooner.

irrig8r
10-15-2010, 08:42 PM
The heat shrink tube is coated on its inner surface with a heat activated adhesive (like a thin layer of hot-melt glue). I would think that adding grease, or silicone, or anything that blocks this layer from sticking would make the seal fail sooner.

The heat shrink with the adhesive that Nightscaping uses (or at least used to use, I haven't been to the factory for 4 years) is a 3M product.

jshimmin
10-16-2010, 08:38 AM
I have used the 3M heat shrink for years (15+), sealing antenna connectors on the tops of radio towers. The internal adhesive does break down over time with changing temperature cycles. We typically use it as a first layer, then wrap with monkey dung, tape, then a layer of 3M's outer sealant.

They still fail after 5-7 years exposed on the towers. But at that point the antennas need to be swapped anyways.

I have no idea what will happen to a unit that is not exposed to UV to aid the break down.

Elevated sealed junction boxes containing waterproof wire nuts will probably be the only way to ensure no wicking.

irrig8r
10-16-2010, 09:38 PM
What is monkey dung?

jshimmin
10-16-2010, 10:34 PM
Politically correct way of what we normally call it...
Electrical putty tape if you will. I've used on landscape lighting fixtures with no problems.


http://www.tessco.com/products/displayProductInfo.do?sku=430741&eventPage=2

David Gretzmier
10-17-2010, 12:32 AM
what has shown itself to work in the field, direct bury, with over 2 decades of experience is grease filled wire nuts. They have been used in irrigation around here at least as long as I have been repairing it ( over 20 years ). I have never had to replace an irrigation wire because of corrosion when the wire nuts were attatched and filled with grease. I would say that 25-35% of the time the connections are inside a valve box and actually are submerged in water, and not buried in dirt.

they of course will fail when wire tension pulls out the wire, but I have found this extremely rare in irrigation since wire is almost always buried in the pipe trenches that are typically 12-14 inches deep. Landscape lighting, however, no matter what most folks say, is rarely buried much deeper than 4-6 inches. very few folks use a trencher to bury LV wire in a yard, or in beds, so on wire nuts it gets pulled out by tension much more often.

I have never had a grease wire nut connection that I have made over the last 15 plus years of landscape lighting cause corrosion as long as it did not get pulled out. this is where the electric tape or zip ties come into play. once you make your connections, I zip tie the bundle so the tension pull is on the zip tie, not the wire nut. other folks use electric tape to bundle wires and go the extra step of covering the base of the wire nut. I did jobs for many years without the zip tie or bundling, so I still pay for that when the wire gets grabbed and pulled by someone digging something. luckily the light or lights go out and I usually get called for a quick repair.

in downlighting/moonlighting trees, if no j-box is desired, I leave an extra 2-3 feet of wire bundled and in the past used heatshrink and ace. using the extra wire, I redo those connections occaisionally. I will use lightingshrink in the future. The best option is 35-50 foot leads and no connections in trees.

heat shrink tubing does tend to fail over time, especially winessed by par 36 spade connectors. and those connections tend to be above ground and can air dry. 5-10 years is a good estimate. again, the exception to that rule is the newer lightingshrink.com connectors that seem similar to the ace, but that really squeeze out goo when heated and appear to seal splices very well.

Mayor_tx
10-17-2010, 12:48 AM
http://www.farwestcorrosion.com/fwst/cable/3m12.htm

We've been using these 3M connectors lately and I'm really liking them. Anyone else using them?

Illumicare
10-17-2010, 10:24 AM
In the past, if moisture "wicked" up through the wire splice, the effects of corrosion on sockets and lamps took a long time to do any real damage. Not necessarily, I have had leaky fixtures cause halogen lamp failures and socket failures in under 1 year. Using quality fixtures that keep the moisture out is your first line of defense.

But now with a hard wired LED lamp...when moisture wicks through the pig tail it can do some serious damage very quickly. While most LED products (from all manufacturers) can handle quite a bit of moisture (rain/irrigation) from the outside, internal moisture is an LED killer! I'm talking about internal moisture inside the LED itself, not just inside the fixture. Some moisture inside the fixture is really not a problem. Actually, most LED lamps on the market clearly state on the box or in their product literature that they are not for use in humid or moist environments! That is because even a slight bit of moisture (condensation) on their electronic driver circuitry can and will cause those components to corrode or even short out, resulting in premature and complete failure. (if you are not sure whether the LED lamps you are using are rated for moist or humid environments, you can pretty much bet that they ARE NOT.)

Our LED lamps have been designed specifically for operation in moist and humid environments! Our drivers use full IC (integrated circuit) architecture (no high voltage capactiors to arc and fail) and are potted in epoxy to protect the entire driver from moisture. Also, the pins on our lamps are moisture resistant, as we use nickle plated brass for these critical connections. Finally, a clear sealant is sprayed on our LED chips and mounting board to further protect the lamps from moisture issues. These are steps that few, if any, other LED lamp manufacturers take. These protective measures are critical if you are going to be using LED lamps in Outdoor Lighting Systems. www.ledlightsdirect.com



As for the need for waterproof connections... yes they too are critical, no matter what type of lamps and fixtures you are installing. If you do a search on this topic here at Lawnsite, you will find that it has been discussed at length in many threads.

Pro-Scapes
10-17-2010, 11:15 AM
http://www.farwestcorrosion.com/fwst/cable/3m12.htm

We've been using these 3M connectors lately and I'm really liking them. Anyone else using them?

Joel this seems like little more than a glorified pierce point and similar to the phole line crimps. Granted there is grease inside but your also getting an unsure amount of actual contact surface with the physical connection. With the high amps used in landscape lighting I would not trust something like this. Looks like a melt down waiting to happen. If I cant see the physical connection inside it would concearn me. Just my opinion. You do really nice work and I think your capable of better than a pierce connection

RLDesign
10-18-2010, 10:58 AM
Hello All,

My input is that I would only use a barrel type heat shrink connector. I suggest this if you intend to move your lighting system and fixtures around often. Trees and landscapes change. I pride myself on designing easily adjustable lighting systems. I size my whip or lead wires to specific plant species and growth rates. Lighting Shrink or ACE every day. I suggest that everyone size their connection to fit their splice. Since I move or adjust my lighting designs to fit the landscape multiple times per season, I need a streamlined connection that pulls easily through the roots. Everything becomes rootbound, especially with a mixed planting garden. My experience with any other type conneciton is that is that it becomes stuck in the roots and pulls apart, even with zip tie. I have no experience with heat shrink tubing glue failure, just success.

The dock lighting project in my avatar is spliced with Lighting shrink and ACE. I recycle wire within our own projects. If I try to use recycled wire from other contractors, we see quite a bit of wire that we pull out of other contractors jobs where there is degrading/wicking due to improper splices. I am currently redoing 3 dock lighting jobs where the connections were made with "goop" filled wire nuts and zip ties. Each project has some type of corrosion from the waves pounding the connections.

Talk soon.

Tanek

Bob Klaidman
10-18-2010, 12:59 PM
WOW, lots of activity this weekend, thanks for all the great feed back!

So it seems most of you rely on the Ace connector except for David who still uses the standard grease/silicon filled wire nut. I have been thinking about this over the weekend...you all are real Pros and search out the best possible solutions, I think I need to worry about the average guy who is not so concerned about how he does it.

I am going to do some testing this week. I am going to take a 3 foot section of #18 LV cable, attach a pump to one end, and see if I can get it to act like a vacuum tube in a bucket of water. Then I will try and stop it! I will test the Ace, and the grease filled nut, and a few ideas of my own. If anyone is interested in my results, let me know.

In Reply to LED Lights post:
I am glad to hear that your Retro-fitable lamps are out door rated and that you are dealing with moisture issues. Do you have an IP rating for them? Maybe you can make me an OEM deal for my Retro-fit needs.

My problem is that I am not using a socket, I have a hard wired LED. Our LED's are potted and we have an IP67 rating which means that the unit can handle quite a bit of moisture...but the pig tail feeds directly into the electronics, so again, I am concerned with wicking-

[I]FYI IP Ratings:
In the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 60529 Standards document, it specifies an
international classification system for the sealing effectiveness of enclosures of electrical
equipment against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies (i.e., tools, dust,
fingers) and moisture. This classification system utilizes the letters "IP" ("Ingress Protection")
followed by two digits.

0 No special protection
1 Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from
deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter
2 Protection against fingers or other objects not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm
in diameter
3 Protection from entry by tools, wires, etc., with a diameter or thickness greater than
2.5mm
4 Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm
5 Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the
equipment
6 Dust-tight
****
0 No special protection
1 Protection from dripping water
2 Protection from vertically dripping water
3 Protection from sprayed water
4 Protection from splashed water
5 Protected against low-pressure jets from all directions - limited ingress permitted
6 Protected against direct sprays from all directions - limited ingress permitted
7 Protection against effects of immersion from 15cm to 1m
8 Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water from 15 meters or
50 feet

irrig8r
10-18-2010, 02:35 PM
...My problem is that I am not using a socket, I have a hard wired LED. Our LED's are potted and we have an IP67 rating which means that the unit can handle quite a bit of moisture...but the pig tail feeds directly into the electronics, so again, I am concerned with wicking.....


Seems to me that the only way to stop all possible wicking would be a physical barrier... probably the best way would be a plug-in waterproof connector outside the fixture body and a socket on a short lead extending from the body. I've used a version of this with Hydrel well lights. Connectors with greased o-rings, very snug fit.

Illumicare
10-18-2010, 05:20 PM
In Reply to LED Lights post:
I am glad to hear that your Retro-fitable lamps are out door rated and that you are dealing with moisture issues. Do you have an IP rating for them? Maybe you can make me an OEM deal for my Retro-fit needs.

My problem is that I am not using a socket, I have a hard wired LED. Our LED's are potted and we have an IP67 rating which means that the unit can handle quite a bit of moisture...but the pig tail feeds directly into the electronics, so again, I am concerned with wicking-



Hi Bob. I would be happy to talk to you about OEM supply arrangements on our line of LED Lamps. I will send you an email directly. We are putting the finishing touches on our new Company Identity, Launch to Market, and Introduction of a full line of new Miniature LED lamps. Thank you for your interest.

As for the wicking issue... you could try an "anti siphon" solution such as one that Lumiere uses. They simply strip off a 1/2" of lead wire insulation inside the stem of their fixtures (staggered works better to eliminate any shorts!) Then when any moisture is wicked up inside the lead wire jacket it is exposed to the 'atmosphere' inside the stem it dries up and cannot continue to wick up the lead wire. A really simple solution.

Regards
James

trailboss
12-07-2010, 03:29 PM
WOW, lots of activity this weekend, thanks for all the great feed back!

So it seems most of you rely on the Ace connector except for David who still uses the standard grease/silicon filled wire nut. I have been thinking about this over the weekend...you all are real Pros and search out the best possible solutions, I think I need to worry about the average guy who is not so concerned about how he does it.

I am going to do some testing this week. I am going to take a 3 foot section of #18 LV cable, attach a pump to one end, and see if I can get it to act like a vacuum tube in a bucket of water. Then I will try and stop it! I will test the Ace, and the grease filled nut, and a few ideas of my own. If anyone is interested in my results, let me know.

In Reply to LED Lights post:
I am glad to hear that your Retro-fitable lamps are out door rated and that you are dealing with moisture issues. Do you have an IP rating for them? Maybe you can make me an OEM deal for my Retro-fit needs.

My problem is that I am not using a socket, I have a hard wired LED. Our LED's are potted and we have an IP67 rating which means that the unit can handle quite a bit of moisture...but the pig tail feeds directly into the electronics, so again, I am concerned with wicking-

[I]FYI IP Ratings:
In the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) 60529 Standards document, it specifies an
international classification system for the sealing effectiveness of enclosures of electrical
equipment against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies (i.e., tools, dust,
fingers) and moisture. This classification system utilizes the letters "IP" ("Ingress Protection")
followed by two digits.

0 No special protection
1 Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from
deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter
2 Protection against fingers or other objects not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm
in diameter
3 Protection from entry by tools, wires, etc., with a diameter or thickness greater than
2.5mm
4 Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm
5 Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the
equipment
6 Dust-tight
****
0 No special protection
1 Protection from dripping water
2 Protection from vertically dripping water
3 Protection from sprayed water
4 Protection from splashed water
5 Protected against low-pressure jets from all directions - limited ingress permitted
6 Protected against direct sprays from all directions - limited ingress permitted
7 Protection against effects of immersion from 15cm to 1m
8 Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water from 15 meters or
50 feet

Bob, what were the results of your connector(s) test?

Thanks!

Chrysalis
12-08-2010, 12:14 AM
Strip the ends off your wire, stick into copper crimp tube, crimp down with your special crimping tool, stick into grease tube, snap top on, and be done with it.

That connection is forever and will never need to be worried with.

Florida Outdoor Lighting Distributors sells packs of 50 grease tubes / 50 copper crimps for 32.50. Crimp tool is $60 though.

Marc

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
12-08-2010, 12:41 AM
Marc. Sounds simple enough but you end up with a big, bulky connection that has the possibility of being messy too. What do you use for in-line connections? How about for highly visible locations? What about for small connections or very large connections (obviously you must get different sized crimp tubes)

There are lots of good options out there... each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

The debate continues (and probably will never end)