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Need some helpful advice

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by ACutAboveNC, Aug 25, 2007.

  1. ACutAboveNC

    ACutAboveNC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    We have a customer that we are installing landscape lighting for in the front and back yards. We are going to complete the project in the fall but in the meantime her irrigation had to be reinstalled due to a lot of failures by a sub contractor which included his wiring of the control panel for the system. Well, an electrician shows up and they get to talking about her landscape lighting. We ran 12 gauge wiring through the irrigations trenches to simplfy our job this fall but that will soon be comprimised because this electrician has convinced her that we are idiots for not using 8 gauge. We have installed 2 other systems with 12 gauge and had no problems with the wiring. We even have a family friend who is an electrician confirm our way as an ok way. I think some people are just out for the money when they see they have a fish on the line and it really bugged me that she might be takin for a ride. She is a neighbor and a really wonderful lady but I feel she is having the wool pulled over her eyes. Am I wrong?
  2. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    No, you are not wrong. You need to educate her as to what kind of load you are planning for the areas and what size wire will be needed to handle that load. Then you can show her the cost difference between #12 and #8 wire. Sometimes we have to educate our clients so they are not taken advantage of.
  3. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    no one can answer your question without details

    in some cases 12ga is fine. In some cases only 8 or even multiple runs of it will do. Just because the other systems worked with 12 doesnt mean this one will.

    How long are the runs?
    What method will you use to hook up the lights (Im guessing daisy chain)
    How many watts are on the run?
    What voltage taps are avalible on your trans ?
    Will you need the room to expand or up the wattages later as plants grow ?

    The elctrician could be right or he could be trying to steal the job from you. Alot of electricians are clueless when it comes to low voltage lighting but others know thier stuff.

    Good rule of thumb.

    if its over 100ft or over 100 watts run 10 ga or better wire.
    Short runs with low wattages have no problem running 12ga

    At this point in the game you should have a drawing or at least good notes with the lenght of runs and thier wattages and the calculations.

    I hope you also sealed up that prewire to prevent moisture from wicking up the lines. Just snap a grease tube over it.
  4. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Good avice from Paul and Billy. Find out what the lighting needs are going to be now and adding a few in future. Just sitting down having an informative session with the customer and deciding what both parties objectives are will clear this up. When this is done and you know how many lights, wattages are on each run you can then prove what wire gauge is needed. Like Paul's last line educating the client is the way to go so they feel comfortable that you care and are not just telling them you have to do this because I said so.
  5. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 581

    I have only been doing this for two years, so maybe I have no idea what I am doing. But I have never used 8 gage on any of my jobs. Heck, I have only used 12 gage. I have gone almost 200 ft with 12 gage. I was obviously using a tap that was above 15 volts. I would guess that is where I would get some criticizm regarding the UL 1838 issue. I have been considering using 10 gage for my long runs. In my opinion, it seems like 8 gage is way overkill.
  6. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 581

    I would just like to add to my previous message. That I always check my amps and volts. Especially on the long runs. Using 12 gage wire if my run is over 16 amps I will go to the drawing board. To be honest i don't think I have ever seen any of my runs over 14 amps. It seems like my 12 gage homeruns usually run around 8 and 13 amps.
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    if you do country installs like paul and I do you might need 8ga. I chose to run 2 strips of 10ga (no not in parralel paul I learned my lesson on that) instead of a run of 8ga... it was actually cheaper and enabled me to split the hub across 2 runs.

    8ga does have its time and place I probably wouldnt run 14a on a single 12ga tho either
  8. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 581

    For future reference, and I m not challenging you I want to know all the tricks of the trade. What was the circumstance that you used 8 gage wire? Thanks for your input
  9. JackTorsed

    JackTorsed LawnSite Member
    from Utah
    Posts: 57

    long cable home runs
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    100w hub at 335ft. Was cheaper to install the 8ga than have electricity and another trans out there. If you would of needed several runs of it to 1 area at that distance you would be best off to have the line voltage installed and add a transformer. At least most the way out there. In this case it was to a driveway entrance for 5 lights. I was a bit soft on the voltage when it was done and on a 15v tap.

    Estimate from electrician to install line voltage was over 3 times the cost for me to run the 8ga (we used machinery to bury this). Some of you may of still run 12ga and used a 21v tap. This is not part of my practice and I will never do that. I reckon I could of done the 10ga but my trans only went to 15v

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