Direct Bury waterproof connectors for LED's

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Bob Klaidman, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. Bob Klaidman

    Bob Klaidman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    Hello All,
    I have recently re-discovered this forum, although I have never participated...but I do see that you guys really know what you are talking about as far as landscape lighting goes!

    I need feed back with regard to connectors. Installing waterproof connectors has always been a concern, but now with LED products on the rise, it is even more critical.

    In the past, if moisture "wicked" up through the wire splice, the effects of corrosion on sockets and lamps took a long time to do any real damage.(Assuming sockets and fixture parts were made of non-corrosive materials like brass or stainless steel.) But now with a hard wired LED lamp...when moisture wicks through the pig tail it can do some serious damage very quickly. Imagine having a tiny moisture tube feeding into your cell phone or computer 24 hours a day. While most LED products (from all manufacturers) can handle quite a bit of moisture (rain/irrigation) from the outside, internal moisture is an LED killer! I'm talking about internal moisture inside the LED itself, not just inside the fixture. Some moisture inside the fixture is really not a problem.

    So my question to you is: What is the best waterproof direct burial connector for landscape lighting? Details please.

    Any and all feedback from you guys in the field would be greatly appreciated. This is my first post here, I am a manufacturer and I hope this type of inquiry does not offend the protocol of this forum.

    P.S. I am also interested in devising an "Anti-wicking" device built into my fixtures.

    Thanks in advance,

    Bob Klaidman
    SPJ Lighting, Inc.
  2. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    HI Bob,
    My waterproof connector of choice is the Ace... first offered by Nightscaping, now in similar versions by others like Vista, King Innovation, etc.

    If you don't know it, it's a brass lug with set screws which gets sealed with shrink tube.

    I've also heard good things about Lighting Shrink, but haven't field tested them yet.
  3. Bob Klaidman

    Bob Klaidman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I am familiar with this 'ACE" style, but is it really 100% waterproof just with the heat shrink?

    I would think it needs some silicon base to completely seal, while I'm sure it's sufficient for direct burial, I am not so sure about it's anti-wicking capability. I may be wrong??
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Bob the Ace connectors have a sealant inside. I think it is more like hot glue but I have never had an issue even in some pretty soupy areas that stay wet.

    Even without LED's it is important to make sure you have a good sealed connection.

    I did put some ace style connectors in my own pond to soak. They have been there 6mo and I intend to remove them after a year but right now the only thing i see is algea on them. The boots appear intact.
  5. Bob Klaidman

    Bob Klaidman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 18

    I do agree that it is always important to have a good sealed connection regardless of LED or any other type of landscape light.

    I was not aware of this sealant you are referring to. Are you saying that the Heat shrink tube forms a sealant, or the brass "butt connector" comes with some kind of a goop (for lack of a better word) already inside of it?
  6. rlitman

    rlitman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,763

    The heat shrink tube is coated on its inner surface with a heat activated adhesive (like a thin layer of hot-melt glue). I would think that adding grease, or silicone, or anything that blocks this layer from sticking would make the seal fail sooner.
  7. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    The heat shrink with the adhesive that Nightscaping uses (or at least used to use, I haven't been to the factory for 4 years) is a 3M product.
  8. jshimmin

    jshimmin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 99

    I have used the 3M heat shrink for years (15+), sealing antenna connectors on the tops of radio towers. The internal adhesive does break down over time with changing temperature cycles. We typically use it as a first layer, then wrap with monkey dung, tape, then a layer of 3M's outer sealant.

    They still fail after 5-7 years exposed on the towers. But at that point the antennas need to be swapped anyways.

    I have no idea what will happen to a unit that is not exposed to UV to aid the break down.

    Elevated sealed junction boxes containing waterproof wire nuts will probably be the only way to ensure no wicking.
  9. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    What is monkey dung?
  10. jshimmin

    jshimmin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 99

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