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Burnt up transformer plus high end wiring techniques

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by jlouki01, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. jlouki01

    jlouki01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    A customer of mine calls to tell his lighting transformer isn't working. We service his irrigation and some other maintenance related things.

    I stop over I see the 15v tap is completely melted. Send the box to HADCO because they don't do warranty swaps like everyone else. They agree to warranty 4 weeks later.

    Go over today to install the new box and decide to do some quick calculations to see if the system is balanced correctly. I realize there are 13 lights on a 300w transformer. Each has 20w bulb. 260w. Pushing it but shouldn't be melting stuff.

    Can't figure out why there is only one 12/2 coming into the transformer with all these lights. Start digging around ( see attached ) Not one wire nut was a silicone all quick snap connects that were shorted out. Every strand of wire I stripped was turning black / blue inside. Lots of black tape everywhere.

    I pulled all the wire, rebalanced the whole thing and split some off to another transformer he has on the other side of the house with 80w on it. Go figure.

    While working on the transformer I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.. His rain sensor I have been looking for for 2 years now.

    Spring is here!




  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Unfortunately scenarios like this are quite common. I used to have a big issue with poorly designed, poorly installed and poorly maintained systems, but not anymore. Now I just see them as a great big billboard for us. When I encounter a basket case system like this, I will spend a bit of time informing the client of the situation and ultimately 'selling' them on the merits of a tear out and re-do.
  3. jlouki01

    jlouki01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    The good part is it I was able to spend 3 hours and get it mostly straightened back out. It's not perfect but I feel I added to the life system and the over all quality.
  4. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    MDL had the problems with the taps melting from because a loose connection... Had a few hadcos go down on me. Now I Also tighten the factory taps aswell
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    I agree with James, this is sad, but very common. I would have rewired and replaced all lights and trans. my guess is that same wire corrosion you saw is now in all the leads for the fixtures right up to the socket as well. many times the corrosion that is left in the lead wires then jumps to the new 12g wire within months. just something to keep in mind.

    I am not sure I would have blamed the trans manu on this one, as you are pushing 25-30 amps on wire that should be kept to 20 and under.

    If not going with LED, then I would have gone with a 600w trans in this case. If this is what you found on one side of the home, I can't imagine the other side is wired any different.
  6. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    I like the rain sensor. It'll be under leaves in the spring/ summer and will probably never block a circuit.
  7. jlouki01

    jlouki01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    I found another transformer on the opposite side of the house. It was a newer style Hadco. I re-wired some of the lights into the other transformer to get this 300w one under 250w.

    I don't blame Hadco for the failure, I blame them for it taking at least a month to come up with warranty repair. Vista, Kichler all do counter swaps.

    The rain sensor has weep holes at the bottom so it can match true evaporation. With the thing tilted and under a blanket of leaves.. probably doesn't work so hot.

    Home owner was home when I left so I am going back to recalibrate the sensor and get it back working now that it's mounted up on the gutter.

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