Killing GFI Outlets

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by PlantscapeSolutions, May 7, 2012.

  1. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    Has anyone else has an issue with a lighting system likely grounding just enough to eat GFI outlets but not enough to ever trip the transformer? Luckily, the problem is at my own house.

    The main line has all soldered spices and is looped. The light connections are Kichler disc's and I'm sure that's likely the cause of the problem. I've had disc's fail by melting or corroding and quit working in the past.

    It seems like someone could build a better disc that has a gasket and is more rigid. I'd rather solder all the connections if it fit in peoples budget. I have offered solder over discs as an upgrade but nobody ever bites.
  2. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149


    I have two questions: 1. What do you mean that the main line is soldered and looped? and 2. WHY are you using quick discs ( or any other quick connect method?)

    Surely there is a middle ground between the quick discs and a soldered splice... even wire nuts and silicone and tape would be better without much additional cost or time. As a professional, I would advise against using any quick connect method in that those are designed for the DIY'er.

    A quick disc melting is a result of the current draw through the tap pins, which, over time get corroded/oxidized and reduce the clean flow of electricity. The result is arcing and is what heats up wires. A solid wire to wire connection will rarely produce arcing if everything is tight.

    One last bit of advice would be to make sure the GFCI you are talking about is WR , weather resistant. These tend to produce fewer 'nusiance' trips.

    First thing I would do at your house is to remove all the quick discs and install wire nuts which you can shoot with some silicone, and then tape up the splice well.

    Good Luck
  3. LLC RI

    LLC RI LawnSite Member
    Messages: 149

    I found 2 more cents worth of my commentary as I sipped my cawfee... If you are comfortable and confident with your soldered connections, just make those standard with your projects, all of your projects. Unless your customer is an electrical engineer who would understand the potentials for failure with quick disc type connections, most customers will opt for the 'cheaper' alternative because they don't know any better.

    They don't know the importance of a proper and tight connection, even with low voltage- especially with low voltage.

    If I were you, I'd use my solder method of connection as a selling point and in fact, even include that in my guarantee.

    Good Luck

  4. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 510

    I concur with the above. Quick discs are not a quality connection. Solder with a waterproof nut should be your connection of choice.
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,230

    I would consider dependable connections to be basic to an installation. Where would you stop to fit people's budgets? Cheaper fixtures, cheaper bulbs, cheaper transformers, cheaper cable?
  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I would stop and ask why the customer has any knowledge at all of what your connections cost? Just incorporate the cost of proper connections into one system price and provide that. No alternatives.

    Stop selling stuff, start selling systems.
  7. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 751

    This is the first ive ever heard some a contractor having pricing options for connection types. Even a copper crimp and grease tube cost $2.00 per fixture. On a 100 fixture job we are still only talking $200.00........ Why offer the homeowner in the first place?
  8. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    to each his own, but I have irrigation systems out there 20 plus years, with lots of little low voltage wires and many, many grease nuts on them, around valves in wet soil constantly, and no corrosion issues period. ditto landscape lighting. no problems.
  9. PlantscapeSolutions

    PlantscapeSolutions LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,009

    Wire nuts work great on solid wire since that was the intended use where they can actually self thread and bite on the wire. With stranded wire you totally lose the important self threading feature which properly secures the wire.

    Many times I've found wires where expansion and contraction of soil, foot traffic, or other issues allowed wire nut connections to corrode or actually short out because the connection became so small.

    In irrigation your only usually operating one valve at a time so your amp draw is probably too small to even measure with most meters I would think. With lighting your amp draw is many times greater so a failing connection will overheat much more easily as it fails and be an actual fire hazard.

    A fully loaded lighting system running at capacity may also have a short from an aging wire nut connection where as a lightly loaded system may run just fine under the same scenario with it's much lighter amp draw.

    I've seen wire nuts on other people systems that were only two years old heat up to well over 100 F and get to the point where they start melting.

    I'm probably going to get out my Goot solder pot and ditch my evil little quick connect discs. I still think there is a simply way to design a great quick connect disc that has a gasketed enclosure that would be a labor saver. It may me better to have two separate pockets in the disc with two connection prongs in each side and two caps. It can be a pain to try to get all four wire perfect as you try to tighter the cap on the Kichler disc. You can think of these improved discs as being almost more of a mini hub connection and less of an evil disc.
  10. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,230

    This thread has changed into a thread on wire connections, so..................

    I don't have any experience with quick discs. Are they pierce point?
    And if they are pierce point, doesn't that damage the wire strands?

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