CAST Transformer burning

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Green Sweep, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Messages: 322

    I have a sprinkler customer who asked me to look at his lighting. He said he has certain areas not coming on. He has a 1200W CAST transformer. After throwing breakers and checking, I figured out that the two legs going into the #4 common port were the ones not working. After I put those two legs into another common port, the lights worked.
    I noticed that the #1 common terminal burnt and charred and pushed off to the side and that the common field wires were spliced directly into the transformer wire. I am assuming that the original installer did this.
    So, I now decided to get the #4 common terminal out of there and this is what I found (pic). The wire was totally burned up. I pulled enough of the #4 wire down from the transformer to cut off the burnt wire and splice into the two field commons - all lights now work. However, I do not feel comfortable leaving it this way and the homeowner agrees.

    Entire system is incandescent but it doesn't appear that the legs are overloaded - a couple of 35w mr16's and path lights per leg - no more than 5 fixtures per leg. System is less than 5 years old. I am going to give him an estimate on replacing the transformer (I use Kichler), and I will also suggest LED drop ins for his incandescent fixtures. The design is good and I have always been a fan of the CAST fixtures.

    I am just trying to figure out what the hell is causing all of these common ports to burn up? Never encountered this before.

  2. irrigation man

    irrigation man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 80

    someone didn't get a good tight connection on that leg at the transformer when they installed it I see it a lot with the wire or terminal block looks charred or blackened its from the wires arcing and it can be a fire hazard
  3. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Messages: 322

    I have seen that too. The connection looked pretty tight when I pulled the wires out
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  4. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Messages: 322

    Here is a close up pic of the transformer wire that I pulled out of the terminal for common #4. Could that have caused arcing? Hmmm....

  5. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 512

    According to your second pic, it looks like the wire was pushed too far up into the lug. The screw was making contact with the outer jacket. Therefore, the wire was loose inside the terminal resulting in arching.
    I'd also recommend that you contact Steve Parrot at CAST, he knows the product inside and out.
  6. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    Yes, the problem is most certainly a loose wire or stray strands arcing in the terminal block - perhaps 2 of them with this transformer. We have a very prominent sticker that goes across the terminal blocks in new transformers cautioning installers to completely tighten secondary wires. Installers should also check that set screws are tight and inspect wires as part of their regular maintenance.

    Call or email me with your contact info and I will send you replacement parts.
  7. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    It looks to me to be the case, but the wire shown that has the crimp marks from the terminal block, the white wire, is the terminal supply line coming from the transformers core, not from out in the field. As such, I would say that the transformer, or at least new terminal blocks, should be covered under Cast's warranty on transformers. Steve, confirm this please, no sense in this guy dumping an otherwise good transformer and replacing it with a kichler one.

    Also, maybe you'll want to have him send that back to the factory so they can see who assembled it, as they obviously didn't strip that white wire properly before installing it into the terminal block.

  8. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    Good catch, I didn't notice that - the insulation was crimped inside the block. Yes, it's covered under warranty.
  9. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Messages: 322

    I appreciate the offer but the homeowner is adamant that he wants the transformer replaced. After seeing all of the burnt components, he told me: "I don't want my whole house burning down over a lighting transformer." I would be happy to send the transformer wherever once I have it off of the wall.
    I in no way put this on Lawnsite to bash CAST. Although CAST doesn't seem to have a very big presence here in Western PA, the jobs that I have encountered with CAST products are well done and the products seem to be top notch. Just like all manufacturers, a bad unit can slip through the cracks.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276


    No problem, bring the transformer to your distributor for replacement.

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