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View Full Version : redesign challenge - help please


PLSWest
04-02-2011, 03:33 PM
First off, I am glad I found this site. The information everyone posts is invaluable to the newbie and professional alike. Here is my situation, I moved into a home with an existing system. Rather than leave as is I decided to do some research (wife calls it a flaw) and have determined there are too many issues to just re-bulb. The existing system has two separate single tap 600 watt transformers mounted indoors (one in basement and one in garage). The lights are daisy chained on one lead per 300 watt transformer. The well lights (5 on house and 3 on trees) are par 36 and the connections are rusted with a few melted/burned tubes. The two driveway lights are 13 watt incandescent bayonet base. There are also two bullet lights that i have no idea what they are supposed to shine on.
Now that I have decided to redo it I am stuck on where to start. I should really purchase new transformers with multi tap connections so that I can hit the maples out front and light some elements in the back yard. Rather than do that i am going to keep it simple for now and just tackle the front areas closer to the house. I was going to rewire from each 300 watt leg with a hub system. I was going to stay away from the par lights due to the mulch bed and the issues with existing but i am not sure i can get the effect i want on the house and taller trees. What would you do??
Thanks in advance.

Classic Lighting
04-03-2011, 09:12 PM
Your on the right track. It sounds like what you currently have is pure junk IMO, bullet lights would be a wise choice for your needs. They are versitile and can be moved as the landscape grows, wells cannot be moved easily. Do you have a sleeve across the driveway? In order to utilize one transformer for the front, you'd need to cross the drive.
If you are unsure about the design, I'd recommend calling your local lighting company. I'm not a proponent of offering design ideas via the web. The site needs to be walked by a pro.

PLSWest
04-03-2011, 09:37 PM
Thanks for the help. There is one transformer on each side of the driveway...the left side is fed from the transformer mounted in the basement and the right side is fed from the unit mounted in the garage. You are right, and if i had the budget I would call on a pro. So I will go with 5 bullets uplighting the house on the corners concentrating on the brick design (3 on the left side and 2 on the right). Would it be worthwhile lighting up the two rocks? or stick with the trees? Also, should i bother with the trees right next to the house or concentrate on the birch and smaller crabapple on the left side? Also, there is some native grass that gets pretty tall....steer clear of that or put in a tall path light above it? I appreciate any feedback. I realize I will eventually have to hire a pro for the landscaping needs...no one cared for it last summer.

RLI Electric
04-03-2011, 10:03 PM
How about keeping it simple?
Light the 2 trees on either side of the driveway close to the house to frame the entrance.
Lose the light post immediately.
If that is a recess light over the door, change the trim to angle toward the door. Put it on a dimmer.
Just a thought. It is a bit different than the standard uplighting of the house.

PLSWest
04-04-2011, 07:44 AM
Thanks. Simple is a good idea. Going that route I should only need 300 watts of the 600w transformers (one on each side of the driveway). Do i just not wire to one of the 300 watt legs? Or is there a way to internally disconnect the transformer before the 300 watt coil to save some energy?
I like the light on the door idea - where do i get a fixture like that? Also, I may have found out the reason for an odd placed bullet the previous design had....it was located next to the rock on the right and may have been directed at the dormer above the front door. Should i give that a try? Bullet for that? Its about 20-25 feet from the target. Should I use bullets on the two trees as well?

Lite4
04-05-2011, 02:18 PM
If you need some help on your project I am only about an hour and a half drive away in Indy.

jlouki01
04-05-2011, 03:59 PM
PLS,

We are located in Cincinnati and could give you some advice on what direction to head with your project..

That being said what kind of transformers did you discover? If they are of decent quality ( something commercial / contractor grade ) and the installation of those transformers isn't to hoaky you might able to pull some new wire to re-balance the system , re-bulb some of the fixtures and maybe add a few.

PLSWest
04-05-2011, 11:44 PM
Thanks so much for the input. The transformers are Malibu single tap and I am concerned with the indoor installation as the manual indicates for outdoor installation only. I am most likely going to do it right and have an electrician put in an outdoor rated GFCI outlet. Are there any indoor rated transformers? The original installer just drilled some holes in the foundation above grade and pulled the wires through the holes.
My next concern is the timing of the lights. If i have to go with two outdoor transformers on each side of the driveway how do I make sure they go on and off at the same time? The light will not be the same so a photo cell probably wont do it. Another option would be to use one transformer and run some conduit under the single path driveway..probably not very realistic. I'm starting to find that a few weeks of research doesn't equal years of experience.:laugh:

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-06-2011, 08:59 AM
Are there any indoor rated transformers? The original installer just drilled some holes in the foundation above grade and pulled the wires through the holes.

Yes there are a few transformers on the market that carry the appropriate listings for use indoors AND for powering low voltage landscape lighting systems. Vista's MT series of transformers for instance.

Check your listings carefully. There are a number of 'listed' transformers on the market that are not actually approved for landscape lighting or 'garden lighting' applications.


My next concern is the timing of the lights. If i have to go with two outdoor transformers on each side of the driveway how do I make sure they go on and off at the same time? The light will not be the same so a photo cell probably wont do it. Another option would be to use one transformer and run some conduit under the single path driveway..probably not very realistic. I'm starting to find that a few weeks of research doesn't equal years of experience.:laugh:

Look to UPB controls to easily solve your control synching issue between the two transformers. You would need a control module in each transformer, a control switch or timer unit inside the house and a phase coupler to ensure that all works smoothly. It is a lot less work than installing a sleeve, control wire and relays under the drive or path.

drewguy
04-06-2011, 04:38 PM
What about an outdoor-rated transformer would make it inappropriate for installation indoors with wires exiting the foundation as described by OP? I can imagine code issues with the wires and adequate protection, fire rating, etc.,

(FWIW, the Hadco transformer I have specifically states it is rated for indoor and outdoor use)

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
04-06-2011, 04:55 PM
There are a myriad of different ratings and listings for low voltage transformers. Far too many to get into all the details here. Bottom line, if you want to be code compliant, you must only install transformers and components that are approved for their application.

In this case, if the transformers are going to be installed inside the home, they must be ULc, cETL, CSA, cTUV, or cMETus approved for indoor and outdoor applications. (few are). Of course you must also ensure that the transformers being used to power low voltage landscape lighting systems are also appropriated listed for that application. It is not appropriate to use interior/remote low voltage transformers to power landscape lighting systems.

If the transformers are being installed inside the home there are other issues regarding the type of wire used inside, how that wire transits to the exterior (conduit is required) etc. It can be done properly, but does require a bit of knowledge and some extra attention to codes etc.

Ultimately, as the homeowner, PLSwest can pretty much do as he chooses. However, if the installation is done incorrectly and a problem develops his insurance may not cover the DIYer / out of compliance installation. Also it can be an issue come re-sale time.

There are a lot of advantages to hiring a local, experienced, licensed/approved professional to work on such things. Well worth the extra money.

PLSWest
04-06-2011, 08:20 PM
Thanks for confirmation of my concern regarding the indoor transformer locations (one more thing my home inspector missed:nono:). Last question (maybe)....does it make sense to install the lighting system now when odds are we will get an irrigation system within a year? I have no idea how difficult it will be for an irrigation company to work around a lighting system?

Classic Lighting
04-06-2011, 09:52 PM
If the irrigation is being trenched (usually warmer climates), you may be able to piggy back the lighting wire on the pipe. If the irrigation will be plowed (usually in colder climates), it will not be feasable to combine the two.

IMO, I'd do the irrigation before lighting. It's difficult to work around wires (cable, gas, lighting) with those big, cumbersome trenching machines.

jlouki01
04-07-2011, 02:09 PM
PLS,

Scrap the whole thing and start over. You will never get the system properly balanced with those transformers. It will having you chasing short bulb life the entire 6 months the system will last.

Like I said we are close call us and we can stop out and get you in the right direction.

Tim is also nearby either one of us can get you fixed up.