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bcg
04-21-2011, 06:22 PM
Being an irrigator before getting into lighting, I naturally used the King connectors on my lighting work as I'd had such great success with them in irrigation. Lately, I'm seeing for myself (and I apologize to those who will rightly say "I told you so") that they have some issues with water intrusion. The picture is of a connection that I repaired (not my install) this week on a system that used the tan/white King connectors and was done pretty much the way I would have done it. This is about 6" into the wire, which was as far back as I could get with the slack I had, and it's still a little green after only a few years in the ground. From what I'm told, the grease in the King connectors melts from the wire heat, which is much more in LVL than irrigation, allowing it to run out of the connector and water to take it's place, which makes perfect sense now that I've heard it.

So, what I'm thinking of doing is continuing to use the wire nuts but to put an adhesive lined heat shrink tube over the top of the wire nut and the wire. I like the ease of installation that the wire nuts allow and believe that the extra protection of the heat shrink will keep the grease where it's supposed to be. I may also be switching to a nut filled with a silicone instead of whatever the King connectors use. This is the heat shrink I'm considering - http://www.shop3m.com/80610787808.html.

What is everyone else doing to make sure their connections are waterproof?

I've also looked at crimp and heat shrink connections, like Lighting Shrink and another 3M product and they're really not any more expensive that what I'm considering but I like being able to just twist and go and having the flexibility to easily redo a splice during installation.

klkanders
04-21-2011, 08:32 PM
Bernie,
This is always a great topic. I have also come upon old connections of this type many over 10 years old. My findings are mixed. When taking them apart some wire has terrible corrosion and wicking while others look close to new. I have never been a fan of just grease filled wire nuts. (sorry David)
I use a combination of King Ace connectors http://www.kinginnovation.com/products/irrigation-products/ace-connector/ and North Star Industries DBR's with the copper crimps. I have also used the connectors from Lighting Shrink. All good products.
I like, when possible, to install all my fixtures, wire, connections and leave them uncovered for the first night. This lets me take all readings with my meter and make any adjustments as needed that night when viewing the property with my clients. The next day the dbr's are installed over the crimped connections, the shrink tubing pulled over the Ace Barrels, heated and wire buried.

rlitman
04-22-2011, 01:03 AM
Silicone filled wire nuts marked DB (for direct burial) are kind of ok.
Adhesive lined heat shrink tube only works if you can get it to bond to the circumference of the wire (must have round wire with no ribs, so it won't work well on split zip-cord type wire).
I've wrapped in Scotch 88 electrical tape, and coated with 3M Scotchkote liquid electrical coating with some success. That stuff kind of melts the vinyl tape to itself, as well as builds up like a liquid electrical tape. I've had the most success with using that OVER DB wire nuts, BUT you must be careful when using the DB wire nuts, because if any of the silicone gets on the wire jacket (like if you have to remove them), then you'll never get anything to stick.

emby
04-22-2011, 02:17 AM
Bernie,

I solder all my connections with a solder pot. Once soldered I use Ideal's silicone filled marretts http://www.idealindustries.ca/products/wire_termination/twist-on/underground.php and then I tape that with 3m's super 33.
For any discrete connections such as on a gazebo etc. I have had great success with the ace connector.
Knock on wood but I have yet to find any failed connections or wicking. The silicone in the Ideal's are clear not white as you may find in the Kings.
Hope this helps.

Ken

S&MLL
04-22-2011, 12:49 PM
Bernie,

I solder all my connections with a solder pot. Once soldered I use Ideal's silicone filled marretts http://www.idealindustries.ca/products/wire_termination/twist-on/underground.php and then I tape that with 3m's super 33.
For any discrete connections such as on a gazebo etc. I have had great success with the ace connector.
Knock on wood but I have yet to find any failed connections or wicking. The silicone in the Ideal's are clear not white as you may find in the Kings.
Hope this helps.

Ken

King switched over 2 years ago to the clear sillicone. Much better then that white paste they were using.

I might be crazy. But I still say there is something differnt from the ones I buy to the ones they sell at lowes. The only time Ive ever had a failure was on a blue/red? ...... I dont know lowes colors for the KING wire nuts. What does everyone else buy colorwise. I get black/white. Black/gray. Black/blue.

rlitman
04-22-2011, 12:49 PM
Bernie,

I solder all my connections with a solder pot. Once soldered I use Ideal's silicone filled marretts http://www.idealindustries.ca/products/wire_termination/twist-on/underground.php and then I tape that with 3m's super 33.


Yup, those are a quality Direct Burial connector.

The scotch 33 is very similar to the 88. The 88 is just a little bit softer in cold weather, and a tad bit thicker. Both are an excellent tape, with some of the best adhesive available, which don't unravel. No other tapes compare (except the scotch 35, which is the 33 in colors other than black).

Still, I prefer to go over that stuff with Scotchkote when underground. It bonds layers of that tape into a single rubber mass, and completely seals the edges.

In the days before direct burial connectors, I soldered all my underground connections. It kept continuity going even if water intruded, but if water did intrude, it would trip GFIs. Focus on a well sealed connection, and corrosion won't be a problem, so soldering is unnecessary.

Lite4
04-23-2011, 09:13 AM
Posted via Mobile Device

Lite4
04-23-2011, 09:33 AM
I used to crimp and heat shrink everything. For hubs and most direct burial connections, Northstar DBYs have worked very well for me. I am a stickler about crimping my connections so they never get loose and cause a heat issue and the quick installation of the grease cover keeps installation time down. They have a really sticky grease that will not wash out.

For above ground connections I still crimp and heat shrink. I buy buchanan copper cimps at Any box store in boxes of 100. I buy my heat shrink tube in bulk and cut it to a usable size. I buy 3/8" tube for fixture connections and 5/8" for hub sized tube.

Go to buyheatshrink.com
I get the medium wall, adhesive lined tubing.
Posted via Mobile Device

bcg
04-23-2011, 02:11 PM
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. I'm going to try many of them and then do some testing to see what works best. I'll let you guys know what I discover.

Tomwilllight
04-25-2011, 02:21 PM
Like rlitman, I use Scotchkote to seal my LV splices. But I dip each splice twice.

First I dip the tightened (and tested with an honest yank) splice into Scotchkote, hold it under until the bubbles stop and the edges of the insulation are covered. Then I set the splice aside to harden. Once I've dipped all of my splices I comeback and tape them with good quality electrical tape and dip them again in the Scotchcote. The Scotchkote does a very good job of preventing any siphoning of water up and into the wire insulation.

I learned this technique from Greg Yale and have NEVER had a splice so treated fail in the 12 years I've designed and installed landscape lighting.

I use the Scotch wire nuts that have the flexible skirts because they allow me to pull the wire insulation into the wire nuts.

It's relatively cheap and I like the way the Scotchcote decorates my hands and all of my work clothes.

TIP: Store the open Scotchkote cans in ziplock bags for transport.

The Lighting Geek
04-26-2011, 03:29 PM
I have used Ace connectors, grease/silicone filled wire nuts, silicone filled screw caps from Unique, Buchanan crimps with grease tubes, and now I am exclusively using LightingShrink.com.

After coming back to all of the above over the years, I found most of them except Lighting Shrink connectors, to have one problem or another. I find the crimping tool to be more consistent than the allen/screws in the Ace or the set screws on the unique ones. Too many times my employees don't get them tight enough. I have not found that problem in the Lighting Shrink crimps when using the special crimping tool they offer. I seriously don't want to come back for a connection problem for all the obvious reasons. I have never had a problem since we changed.

all ferris
04-27-2011, 12:07 AM
Just solder your splices and be done with it. I solder and wrap them with mastic tape.

Just think of it this way. Most water lines in houses are copper pipe that is soldered. They last for years and don't leak..... You could solder stranded copper wire, let it sit out for years exposed and it will still conduct electricity.

bcg
04-27-2011, 12:15 AM
I used to do a lot of offshore fishing and I always liked to rig my own boats so that I could troubleshoot things if they went awry 50 or 60 miles offshore. One of the first things you learn in marine wiring is that you don't solder anything. Granted in a boat this is because vibration will cause things to fail and that isn't something we have to deal with in landscape lighting but, I have to believe that if we can make waterproof mechanical connections in a marine environment, we certainly should be able to do so in landscape lighting. For me, the biggest drawback to soldering, other than having to carry the solder pot around, is that it doesn't allow for easy changes later.

One thing to consider on copper pipe is that it's always in water, not air, so it doesn't get an opportunity to corrode like wire will. It's not the water alone that causes problems, it's the combination of water and air.

I guess there's an argument to be made for the Cast method and I'm sure that it's probably superior in a lot of ways but unless someone can give me a portable gas heated solder pot, I'm probably not going to start soldering my connections.

David Gretzmier
04-27-2011, 12:25 AM
most of the corrosion problems I see with grease wirenuts are improper splicing ( the instructions for different sizes tell you how much to strip, and yet folks always do more ) and overloading/overamping the cable itself. many times the cable is overloaded because the homeowner went up in wattage to get more light. whick lowers voltage, which then ups amps further.

further, many times folks add a light or cable and reuse the same wirenuts. again, on the package, it has told folks not to do that for as long as I have used them. using new nuts seals the redone connection.

The reason the irrigation and LV connections I made 20 years ago with grease wirenuts still work ( never had a failure that I have done) is I followed directions.

I have had tons of traditional heatshrink fail over the last 20 years with par 36 bulbs using spade and fork crimps becasue they allow water wicking with time. even in elevated tree lights, this happens.

the lightingshrink connection fixes that somewhat by having meltable goo that fills in around splices, but I cannot imagine they have enough goo to handle hubs with 1 12g and 4-5 16g leads from lights close by. I make several of those connections per day and I go with the larger grease nuts.

I do see plenty of wirenuts that have been done wrong, much in the same way ace and lightingshrink, and soldering can be done wrong.

finally, cost. if something works for me for 2 decades and costs way less, why would I change?

emby
04-27-2011, 02:10 AM
Hey Bernie,

I am kinda liking what Tom suggested with the scotchcote. That sounds pretty good and your right it sure beats running around with the solder pot.

Ken

all ferris
04-27-2011, 09:45 AM
Who is running around with solder pot???? I just use rosin core electrical solder and a MAPP gas torch. I never have problems.

The Lighting Geek
04-27-2011, 12:29 PM
Today my crew finished over 100 connections. I know everyone was done right. Using a certain connection is not enough if you don't train employees to use them correctly. I know that's obvious, you all see connections done wrong all the time.

I have used LightingShrink on hubs and large connections with the same consistent results. The other thing about them is they are compact and low profile which comes in handy in structures and trees.

Tomwilllight
04-27-2011, 01:56 PM
I'd like to find out if what I've was told about Low Voltage wire is true.

Low-Voltage wire is made of many strands of copper wire. I was told that Low-voltage current likes to run on the surface of the wire and that is the reason LV wire is made the way it is.

Is that true?

Second question: How does tarnish and eventually corrosion on the surface of the wire affect the wire's ability to conduct LV power?

3rd question: what are the issues for a low-volt system if and when water finds a way to wick up the wire through capillary action?

Thanks,
Tom