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The official dimmable control thread

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Pro-Scapes, Jul 5, 2007.

  1. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Just got done speaking with the automation guy for our latest project. Its a new construction and the entire home will be controlled by Vantage controls and AMX with touch sceens mounted throughout the home.

    I know you UPB boys are using dimmers for these projects as well. How are you setting them up... if you can list specific controllers and slaves that would be great.

    The unit we will be using on this one is a standard dimmer control which will integrate into the vantage system. The guy assures the homeowner it will all work fine. My only thing is I want to be able to turn the system on easy when I come for maint.

    The main control system goes so far as to automatically adjust light levels and the blinds in the room if it detects glare on the tv or too much sunlight coming in. It also automatically raises light levels as it gets darker.

    A good night button will automatically lock all doors... close the gate and shut blinds as well as set your thermostat to the pre determined level.
  2. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    You need to talk with client and integrator about where and how your client can turn the Landscape Lts on. AMX touchscreens and or certain keypads that will be in the home. Ask for buttons for front, back, normal, full bright, and etc.

    This is another topic for the UPB thread, I think.

    Each Vantage dimming module can have up to 8 loads, Max total module load of 32 Amps-3840Watts, and Max Individual load of 16 Amp-1920Watts. Lets say you ask for two loads (One for the front up to 1920 Watts and one for the back 1920 Watts) Make sure you ask for enough capacity to upsell your client in the future, that is what I would ask for at least. You said dimming, but sometimes you just get on/off power from a relay module, but still ask for the proper capacity so you don't sell yourself short in the future.

    Ask that all the outside lighting loads be on the system and be dimmable. Also ask that programmer be made available for a night time editing for final scene lock down as a timed event. Landscape___%, Porch Lts___%, and etc.

    If you get all this the client can turn the lights on and off at will for maintenance or just use an extension cord to the nearest non-controlled outlet.

    I never use the controlled outlets for anything during the install and I unplug the trans. anytime I am working on it as a precaution. Label your inuse covers (Do not use controlled circuit)

    Remember your just the landscape lighting guy, so you have to have your hat in hand and play dumb. Put your requests and recommendations in writing to the homeowner so the responsibility falls on the integrators to supply what you need. The last job I did like this I asked for 4-15 amp circuits under the house in writing, I got two and used them both on the front. When the pool went in the integrator crawled and crawled looking for the other two, but he ended up doing one mean retrofit on his time.
  3. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    thanks Eden... I got 3 decidcated 20a on diff ends of the house right now with 1 more going in a remote bed. I got in on this a bit late in the game. I should be fine with 2 transformers at 600 (in ground units)... 3 at 1200 and another set by the proposed pool at 600 ea.

    I will hit you in the UPB thread for more info on that.
  4. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Still looking for some high wattage transformers without relays. Anyone ???? hoping to find some in the 900 to 1200 class but will mount multiple 600's if need be.
  5. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    Unique, FX900, Maybe Vista?
  6. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    I'm coming in late on this conversation, but why the intense need for a transformer without a relay? Is this a necessity for using the upb devices that you intend to use?
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    well i am not 110% percent on this but since the timer plug is on a relay and that relay is made to operate at line voltage then if.....

    I supply less than the line voltage via dimmable outlet is that relay going to close on time every time even if they are only running 60v into the outlets ?

    The MDL units I Normally use have a very noticable THUNK sound when you power them on. This is the relay energizing. When this client cuts thier lights to 50% power (cutting the line voltage) I am told I will need a trans without a relay inside. The relay is good for most applications. This application wnt be a UPB but I assume the same is true on UPB dimmed outlets.

    This particular job is going to be AMX touch screen controls on a Vantage controlled system all wired into the home automation system that will control everything from the door locks to the blinds and drapes.
  8. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Eden... since you do similar systems are these your reccomendations that will work or are you asking me if they will ? I was hoping to use the unique I force due to hard to reach area they are going in but I cant seem to find info on if these contain relays or not!

    If you can please sir... pm me and let me know what your using on your dimmed systems.
  9. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    Ok, some time back someone got smart and stopped running the loaded primary current of an transformer through the timer and or the photocell ports. In these transformers unloaded line voltage is running through the timer and or photocell ports which is switching a relay which is now doing the switching inside the transformer of the actual loaded primary current. So in these transformers that massive 7-10 amp load is no longer going through the timer and or photocell port, the voltage running through the timer and photocell ports are just control wires to the relay that's doing all the work. I have two old 15 amp timers that completely melted away after a few years switching 7 amp loads that is why alot of trans over 900 watts has this setup now. Ok now, when we are using a advanced control system with dimming and or a ramped on voltage this what happens on relayed transformers. In this setup there are no timers or photocells involved so when 120 volts comes into the trans and hits the relay it closes making the connection to supply power to the transformer. If you use a ramped or dimmed voltage supply the relay chatters since the reduced voltage can't close the relay and the relay with chatter when opening and closing since it is not an instantaneous on/off 120v supply.

    Unique would be my choice, but you could always talk to other manufacturers.
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    Yeah I understood the reasoning of why we could not use the relay trans and I will continue to use them for regular non dimmed systems. Eden I really do appreciate your help with this. I am just trying to arm myself with all the knowledge I can before jmping in on my first advanced system. The front will not use different scenes for the most part but the back and especially pool area when its complete will definatly get some advanced programs and perhaps some macros. The automation guy told me he can make the transitions from one scene to the next very fluid and spread it out over 10 seconds so it almost seems animated.

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