Need Help w/ Nightscaping Transformer & Timer

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    I remembered today why I hate Nightscaping. But I had a big job and the customer was on a budget. The lighting was a very small part of the job so I went with a cheap transformer (vs. the Unique one I would have normally used) just to save money.

    Today, we finished the job and I hooked up the transformer. But the damm thing is confusing as hell. And the instructions are worthless.

    So I need some help. I finally figured out what everything did but I still can't get the lights to turn on with the timer. The only way I can get them to come on is using the toggle switch. The timer has little white toggle switches along the perimeter. As far as I can tell, there are no other switches anywhere, even though the crappy instructions talk about some red switches. So apparently, these white toggle switches get moved out and one turns it on, the second turns it off.

    Problem is, they don't work. When I turn the main toggle on/off switch off, the lights don't come on. Even when I rotate the timer to the time when they should turn on, nothing happens. I feel it click and it definitely FEELS like a normal timer. I mean, it's moving a mechanism inside. But no lights come on. When I get to the "off" time, I feel it moving something as well. But again, nothing happens.

    The only way I can get the lights to work is to use the toggle button.

    Yah...yah...yah.... I know. I should have gone with a better brand. But I figured a brand new one would at least freakin' work!!! No wonder these jerks are going out of business!!!!

    Anyone know what I am doing wrong? Or is the damm timer just broke?

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    Calm down Jim, it sounds like a problem with the timer or your hook up in the 120 v compartment. It's been more than a few yrs that I've wired a Nightscaping one up but unless something has changed (and maybe it has) you should have 4 wires coming off the timer and 5 terminals inside the 120V trans compartment. It also sounds like you are describing a grasslin analog time switch. some models are made so when you push the white trippers towards the outer edges of clock the timer comes on and vice versa. Nightscaping used to use the Grasslin one that was different than what other manu's were using so you have to read the instructions to see where the trippers must be for the duration on time. The arrow line up is self explanatory for the current time. Just make sure of the am/pm.

    Unplug the transformer. As for your hookup- terminal 1 inside 120v compartment from top to bottom on trans- connect 1 black wire from timer to terminal 1. red wire from timer to terminal 2, other black wire to terminal 3 and white wire from timer to terminal 4. terminal 5 not used. Then make sure your silver toggle switch is in the off position. You don't mention a photo cell. if you have one the wiring is a bit different. let me know. This should work. let us know how it goes

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    I just looked on their website and if you have the Grasslin without the manual on switch then you must push all the trippers out to the edge of the timer for the duration that you want the lights to come on and stay a block of trippers from 7:30PM to 11PM. Off time trippers must be pushed completely towards center of clock.
    If you have the Grasslin with the manual on/ off switch then it's the opposite
  4. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Those instructions sound right. i have redone many nightscaping timers, but I always have to look at the instructions that come with the new timer unit. I have been frustrated a few times when the new timer does not solve the problem. I have installed a digital external timer in those cases and just left the test toggle on. They are around 20 bucks or so.
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Yah, that's what it was. There are like 144 little switches and if you want to have it on from 7-11, for instance, then ALL of the switches during that timeframe need to be pushed out. I finally figured it out about an hour after making this post. It's just azz-backwards from every other timer out there. But to be honest, after I figured out how the dang thing worked, I kinda like it better than regular timers.
  6. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Jim, so you might want to consider that in fact there is NOTHING wrong with the Nightscaping Powercenter you used, and there is nothing wrong with the Grasslin Analog Timer that you used (other than it is an analog timer and for only a couple of bucks more you could have installed the astro, digital, powerswitch timer). In fact, it was installer error/impatience and not a fault of any component.

  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876


    But you might consider that the INSTRUCTIONS SUCK! They refer to a totally different variety of timer. One where you pull ONE switch out for your start time and then ANOTHER switch out for the end time, which is how every timer I've ever used works. So yah, I guess I am an idiot for believing the instructions. Or maybe I am stupid for believing that a company should install instructions that would match the unit the instructions are going to. Or maybe I am a dolt for expecting this timer to be like every other analog timer on the market.

    Your soooo right. I should have known that this timer worked in a totally different way than than what the instructions said, I should have known the instructions they enclosed weren't actually for the timer in front of me, and I should have known this timer was different than every other analog timer I've ever seen. How stupid of me. I'll try to keep that in mind next time. Thanks for the help! If you hadn't have said anything, I never would have realized where I went wrong. But now I realize how inept I really am. Thanks for that. Your advice and encouragement was invaluable in helping me solve this riddle. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  8. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Thanks Jim I needed a smile this morning. All the NS units I come across the silk screening info on the inside is worn off. It can make thoes switches inside seem a bit funky to understand.

    I think its important to see the real moral of this story. You attempted to save money by using a product unfamiliar to you when in the end it cost you several hours... a return trip and the time to post in this thread. How much did you actually save in the end :)
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Nothing. And I regretted it right off the bat. First time I had ever INSTALLED a transformer other than Unique or FXL. And probably the last time. I've worked with Nightscaping transformers in the past (usually replacing them) but the ones I saw before had different timers. But yah, you're right. You get what you pay for and for some stupid reason I seem to make myself learn that lesson all over again every once in a while.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    For future reference, here are the instructions for the Grasslin Analog Timer that Nightscaping has been using for some time now. (available online to anyone, easily searched in seconds via google)

    Not sure how Jim might have been provided with the old intermatic instructions, and that is a shame he had to spend so much time figuring this out. Things like that are never fun.

    (I have found that a wireless card in my notebook comp. is invaluable for solving problems like this on site. Blackberry's and IPhones work too of course. If that is not a viable solution for you, well, most clients do have internet access these days.)

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