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copper moon new trans reviewed

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by David Gretzmier, May 25, 2009.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Installed a new 900 watt jefferson electric trans from copper moon. Joy Shumate (Copper moon Owner Doug's sister ) was extremly helpful and shipped out the trans the same day on Fedex. Not Joy's fault, but Fedex tracking quoted me shipped in 2 days from Georgia, then 3, then finally 4. also some superflex 12 guage ordered at the same time came the following 5th day. Thought I'd go through the pro's and cons, similar to my review of the new Volt trans I put in a month or so ago. This was a lightning damaged replacement of Ryco unit, and I will revive that thread to update.


    1 Nice looking and heavy guage stainless cabinet. nice thick sides, back.
    2 Bottom comes installed, removable, large plastic and several smaller stainless knockouts. cons below
    3 door is removable with a lift, UL listing and diagram on label, cons below
    4 Lugs handle 6 12 guage wires max with patience, postitive block lugs, no guessing. big con below.
    5 Nice 6 foot cord is plenty long to reach outlet nearby, but con below.
    6 3 circuit breaker type switches, rated at 25 amps each can be reset.
    7 included photo-cell loop allows measurement of 120v amps, plus can just bypass photocell for testing, faster than just using cap over photo-cell.
    8 purchased seperate photo-cell aims and just plugs in, and comes with above mentioned cap, but con below.
    9 was boxed and insulated well for shipping, but cord related shipping issue below
    10 mounting the unit was very easy. use the supplied "male" bracket and mount to wall securely, and then hang trans on wall using matching female bracket on trans. no complicated, needs to be perfect keyholes. I like this.
    11 no hum or perceptable heat that I could tell after an hour at about 80 degrees on install day.
    12 pricewise this unit is slightly higher than Ryco or Volt, but less than FX or Nightscaping.


    1- Bottom takes 6 screws to remove and 2 did not want to come out, as the threads do not go all the way to the top of the screw head. further, you must remove the trans from the wall to reinstall bottom, as 2 of the screws face back.
    2- Bottom and Door have very sharp edges. I cannot reccomend working around them without gloves. There were many shavings from the Low voltage wire when threaded through the larger knock out.
    3- vinyl door label does not like ball point or gel pens. I ended up using a fine tip marker, but it smears unless you blow on it. I'm sure a roller ball or something works better, but I only had 3 types of pens with me.
    4- lugs were not labeled and it is backwards from Volt, Ryco and FX that I am used to. From left to right, 15V-12V, then commons 1,2,3. Not labeling is unacceptable. Further, and maybe this is just a Dave thing, This is the first trans I can remember seeing the wires just in open air that feed the lugs themselves, as there is a 1/2 inch gap between the bank of lugs and the trans body. some of those wires had exposed ends. It really makes this look more like a hand built proto type than a finished product.
    5- since the edges of the bottom is sharp, there is a plasic grommet to protect the 120v cord it as it goes through the bottom. however, during shipping, the cord is laid inside and zip-tied, and the stainless cut through the outer insulation of the overall black jacket, and inner insulation of the green ground wire. luckily the black and white were secure, so I heat-shrink tubed it and moved on. again, unacceptable.
    6- Space is fairly tight and I'm pretty sure since there is a plastic plug to allow for a 4th circuit breaker, that this is the same cabinet for a 1200 watt trans. I was already at 6 wires on the 13 and 5 on the 14 volt lug, So I would need bigger lugs or more of them.
    7- More voltage drop than I am used to. unloaded at 120.8 volts from outlet the readings- 12v- is 12.06, 13v - 12.9, 14v- 13.9 and 15v 14.5. Loaded with 20,20.1 and 17 amps on the 3 commons , 12v-11.1, 13v- 12.2, 14v 12.8, 15v 13.4. The 15v only had one wire on it and the 13 and 14 had 6 and 5, I needed to go back and redo some taps as the original Ryco had higher outputs at some taps loaded.
    8-The 120v loop was at 7 amps, or 840 watts going into the trans, and 57.8 amps going out at an average of 12.3 volts at lugs, or 711 watts out. The label rates the 120 volt side at 9 amps max, which would be 1080 watts in, and using math of 711out/840in, or 85% efficiency, then 85% of 1080 would be a 918 watt trans. Given the loaded voltage at the taps, though, I won't be adding any load to this unit anytime soon. If this is a 900 watt trans, 711 watts out of a 900 watt trans is 79% load anyway.
    9. photocell came with one star-nut and 3 prong plastic plug, so to install, you patiently remove the starnut around the plastic plug in, which it really does not want to come through there, so it takes time, then thread the plug through knockout and push plug though starnut again, which is hard again, tighten from inside, and plug in. what has taken me a minute or less in the past on other trans took 5-7 minutes on this one.

    I know this is a new unit for coppermoon, and perhaps some of these things will be worked out over time. Speaking with Joy the other day I am confident they are working everyday to improve just about all items they sell. I will probably try another coppermoon trans in 6 months or so and see if any issues above are still present or have been addressed.
    Last edited: May 25, 2009
  2. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    hey David I am going to try to chime in with my experiences on this. First off I think it is better built them MDL but not near as refined as some other transformers that cost more out there.

    Things I agree on.. The photo cell is a bit of a hassle. A split lock ring like MDL provides would solve this. Getting the lock ring over the plastic plug was a bit more challenging that I would like. Once installed tho it worked fine.

    I agree the bracket is a huge saver. It saves quite a bit of time as you can set the bracket on top of your level and take a sharpie and mark your holes. No jigs or measuring needed.

    Now some tips on some of the issues you had.

    how did the knock out shave your lv cable ? Are you not using conduits and nipples (terminal ends) on your installations ? The 1 1/4 nipple should fit thru the opening then use a lock nut to secure it. 1 1/4 conduit down in to the ground prefferably witht he gfci mounted next to the conduit so you can zip tie your power cable to the conduit and also provide a rain shelter for your gfci. Not only does this look cleaner but it also protects your wires. I didnt even need to remove the bottom door to wire mine up like I need to with MDL

    On the labels. You should be using permanant pens anyways like sharpies or something similar. Ball point ink wont stand up. On the taps mine were in fact backwards from mdl and others with the commons on the right. No big deal. Mine were clearly labeled correctly. I do definatly miss the half volt taps on the gambinos because I was once again forced to decide between being a tad low and being higher than I like. Unfortunatly I had room at each location to mount only 1 trans and since Mike doesnt have a 900 yet I had to find s different line with a 900w box. Doug filled the bill on this.

    wow 11 wires on a 900 w trans. Sounds like the amerages you were pulling are accounted for in the wire loss I think the gripe is unjustifiable it sounded like you need a second trans. I dont care who makes the trans. Fitting 11 wires inside any box I have seen including the Gambino which has the most room I have ever seen would be a hectic day at the office for most of us. Just to be fair I comfortably installed 6 wires 5 of which were 10ga in a 900w

    You need to try a new meter. The temko I am using now seems to be the most accurate next to my fluke which I use as a benchmark. The 4 units I have installed in the past 2 weeks were much more stable than what you are stating. I lost about .4 volts under load.

    I came in around 94% effecient when I tested the ones I installed. When I get home wed I will try to open the file and report back on my findings.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    -I tend to thread all wires through all pieces, conduit pipe and couplers, one at a time and tighten assemble and glue at the end after wires are trimmed for length and secured to trans. with this particular trans, this is the first time I have notices shavings using that method. while mounting the grey coupler to the trans and threading the wires through solves the problem, it does not change the fact that the edges are sharp enough to cut wire should you choose not to do that step first. Someone has to put that plastic plug in there at the factory, they need rough sandpaper in thier hand for 10 seconds to dull those edges.

    - I can never recall trying to find a different type of pen that works on trans before. The ball point I used on avery nametag labels I myself applied to trans I installed 15 years ago is still legible and fine. perhaps sharpies last 20 years plus, but if the cabinet is water tight then I asume any ink should be fine. Also sharpies tend to write fat, and i like to record all my amps, voltages at the tap,amps at 120v loop and what each common is basically running.

    -the amperages and voltages quoted were at the taps, wattages were figured using amps x voltage . for me, voltage wire loss or resistance is figured at the end of wires, not the front end. This is one of 3 trans on the job site, along with a 600 watt Ryco and Older 1000 watt Nightscaping unit. Neither the ryco or the nightscaping unit experienced the kind of voltage drop I experienced with this unit using the same Greenlee tester. All are loaded from 65-85%. the wires on this trans go no farther than 150 feet, and go to different bed areas and uplit trees. If you take a look at the starting unloaded voltages, even the 15 volt tap started at 14.5 unloaded, and this is from a 120 volt measured feed at the outlet. most trans start off at .5 volts "up" unloaded and drop from there. the exception is when your 120 volt feed is low, around 105-110.

    -I tend to use more 12 guage than 10, so I do tend to have more wires. I also design my runs to be able to add, so that adds as well. In this case when I have 3 20 watt uplights on 6 different trees, I run one wire for each tree and go to trans for each. so 6 wires and 360 watts, plus everything else on that side of the home. Also, remember, this same cabinet is used for the 1200 watt. while 11 wires may seem like a lot for a 900 watt trans ( and for me it is not) , at 1200 watts, I would think that and more would be more common. I love it when I only have 5 or 6 wires in a 900, but it does not always work out that way. I'd love to have 1/2 volt taps, as it would give me more lugs and make for an easier install. the ryco this unit replaced had 3 commons and 3 lugs each of 12,13,14,15 v taps. It was much easier to install.
    Last edited: May 26, 2009
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    im too tired to get into this tonight but I will comment :) Its all good we all like something different. Once you go to half volt taps its really heart breaking to go back and have to decide up or down.

    It does play a huge roll in having less wires per tap on any given install because they are distributed better. David I urge you to try a T. Shoot a 10ga out between thoes 2 trees and then split to a 12ga. It will make your job alot easier.
  5. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    btw jefferson electric does not make a 1200watt. But they are in R&D for a 1200. Also as Joy probably mentioned these are just common Jefferson Electric trans. Coppermoon is having there own line come out soon.

    I have always been a fan of the mdl unit. Still not to happy about the switch.
  6. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    Joy had mentioned some issues they were having with the old unit, thus a switch to this one.
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    I had numerous issues with the MDL ones mostly in the form of quality assurance and workmanship. MDL was also unwilling to make changes to suit coppermoons requests.

    I happen to be very happy with the change from MDL to Jefferson so far. It goes on to prove coppermoons dedication to evolving thier line and listening to what the contractor has to say.
  8. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    I guess what there downsouth guys say... Ha kidding. I just put in a 1200 watt mdl due to jefferson not producing one yet.

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