Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

APR 2017

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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Power Move A Look at Transformers and Wiring by Mike Dahl, LC/DBM 34 LC DBM Left Some transformers such as those in the Kichler PRO series, and the VOLT® Clamp-Connect LED series have taps that can output at a variety of voltages to compen- sate for voltage drop that can occur in longer wire runs where a higher voltage terminal might be needed to ensure 12 volts of power to the fixtures at the end of the runs. B Besides cost savings on electricity, many homeowners are sold by the increased aesthetic values, according to Best Pro Lighting, of low volt lighting systems, which require a trans - former to operate with the American Standard 120V 60Hz power. These values include lamps that are smaller and less obtrusive, and come with different beam angles that direct light more precisely for better artistic effects. The higher watt lamps of 120-volt systems create unwanted glare and reduce the ability for subtle landscape lighting. Transformer Installation The Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals advises to keep the transformer at least 10 feet away from open wa - ter and at least 12 inches above grade – more if the area is subject to flooding or even deep snow. To avoid fuse tripping mount it 15 feet away from the primary breaker. And when choosing a wall of the house to mount it on, be mindful of a transformer's low resonant hum it can occasionally produce. Here are some transformer installation guidelines from VOLT® Lighting: • It must be plugged into a ground fault interrupter cir - cuit (either a GFIC receptacle or GFIC breaker at the circuit panel). • Do not use extension cords with transformers. • Transformer may become hot; do not mount on vinyl. The National Electric Code specifies that the actual work - ing capacity of a transformer should only be 80% of its rated capacity. Additionally, to account for loss of current through wire, reduce the 80% by another 10%. Sollos Landscape Lighting reminds that if the transformer has a photocell to automatically turn the system off and on based on the amount of available daylight, it should be in - stalled in an outdoor area that receives sufficient natural light in the photocell's sightline, such as on the side of a structure. Locations such as under a porch are not ideal. Focus Industries offers these additional installation tips: In some cases, 120-volt power must be pulled into or placed in a specific location for the best results. A weather - proof receptacle (GFIC) cover must be used in all exterior applications. If the transformer has to be mounted in areas with poor access to daylight or inside the home or garage, a remote photocell can be used. If necessary or if preferred, cus - tomers can choose manual or time clock operation. Time clocks require adjustments throughout the year as daylight hours change. If a residence has a motion control security lighting sys - tem and landscape lighting system, it is recommended to dedicate an entire transformer to each separate system. Voltage drop is inherent in all lighting systems. When pos - sible, center the transformer and minimize cable distance from it. Make mutiple cable runs to transformer. Plan ahead for future growth of the system by using a more powerful transformer than currently needed.

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