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Clueless Newbie with basic questions

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by mikecox1, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. mikecox1

    mikecox1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    Hi guys. This is my first post on this board but I have been lurking for several months. I am a lowly DIYer that wants to install landscape lighting on my own home. I am doing it myself rather than hire a professional just because I like learning new things. I also like the feeling of accomplishment that I get after I have completed a quality job.

    OK, now that I have told the world how little I don't know I can move on to my questions.

    1) I bought a Ryco 600 watt multi-tap transformer. Can I use more that one of the taps on the same side of the transformer as long as I don't load up that side to more than 80% of its rated capicity?

    2) My transformer will be mounted to the side of my house. One side of the transformer will feed the front yard the other will feed the back. Each of the home runs will need to be about 110 feet and will use 10/2 wire. The average secondary run will be about 25 feet (I had planned on using 12/2 for the secondary runs), generating a total average wire run of about 135 feet. I had planned on putting around 200 watts on each side of the transformer, with all of the lights being on the last 25 feet of the wire run. My question is, how do I determine the total amp load on my wire (is there a chart somewhere that I can see this info), and can I place 10 or so lower wattage fixtures (10 - 20 watts each) on each of the home run lines I had planned on running (I don't really want to invest in another 250 of 10/2 for the home runs if I din't have to.

    Thanks for any any info that you can offer.
  2. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Mike- I've got another thread on those ryco transformers, it talks aboout loading and test results and has some comments back and forth.

    I think you are on the outer limits and probably beyond what 10 guage can do at 110 feet plus 25 feet of 12 guage at 200 watts or so. and folks always end up adding lights or bumping wattage. i'd run a 10/2 for farthest lights and and a 12/2 together for closer lights in each direction and give yourself some headroom on each home run for an extra light or 2. also this allows you to use 2 taps to get your desired window of 10.5 to 11.5 at each fixture. On the web, FX lighting has some excellent voltage drop and easy to read charts for maximum wattage load on wire sizes in thier learning center for installers. you really need a voltage meter and use waterproof connectors as well.
  3. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    You might not want to use 10.5 Volts as the lower end of your "Desired Window" as it is too low to ensure proper colour and output from most 12V lamps. At 10.5 V the avg. 12V lamp is only producing 65% of its rated light output. It will also appear rather yellowish at this point.

    It seems rather nit-picky, but this is the type of thing that separates the pros from the hacks.
  4. mikecox1

    mikecox1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    Thanks guys. Great info. I am going to run four home runs (two in the front yeard and two in the back) just to be on the safe side, as well as to give me the felxability to use the different taps. I have ordered some Dryconn filled wire nuts to make ny connections. Have you guys had good luck with them in the past?
  5. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Just make sure you tighten them up completely (as much as you can) and ensure that you do not strip the wires too much (keep all of the copper inside the Dryconn) and you should be fine. They work great, as long as they are properly installed.
  6. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 886

    Another tip, depending on how the house is built, you may want to mount the tranny on a 4x4 post. Trannys can hum and it can carry though the walls into the adjacent rooms, if it happens to be a bedroom you will notice it.
  7. mikecox1

    mikecox1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    Thanks guys.

    I will make sure my connections are tight.

    The humming of the transformer should not be an issue where I am going to mount it, it will be mounted on the wall that is directly outside of my study. there is a computer running in that room 24/7/365 that has a really loud fan that I would think would negate any noise the transformer would transfer through the wall. I do thank you for the info though. I would have never thought of that and it might. Great info.
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    James- on voltage, what lower end and top end do you reccomend? This is the first I have heard of 10.5 not being the low point. 10.8? 11?
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,186

    I never use dryconns. I have replaced too much of other peoples' wiring as a result of water getting into the copper from not making a proper connection.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    David, I never go below 10.8V myself. 11.2 is ideal.

    Tim, They do work well, but you have to be installed correctly. What I see is that one-man operations do very well with them, because the quality control is very good. When you start to get into having crews of different people installing, then the Dryconn is not the best choice, simply because you cannot be assured that they have been installed properly 100% of the time.

    I used mostly Dryconns for the first 9 years here with great sucess. Now that I have help, I have noticed on spot checks that they are not always tightened on the way I would. I am reviewing my options for this season and will probably be using a new connector that a colleague of mine had developed.


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