Trouble with Outdoor Lighting

fleemo17September 23, 2012

I hope a question regarding low-voltage outdoor lighting is welcome here.

The outdoor lighting system I installed myself many years ago is having problems. The transformer (and therefore, the lights) keeps cycling on and off. The customer service tech I spoke with said the transformer is overheating. It's a Malibu 120-watt transformer and I have 120 watts worth of lighting on the system. He told me that it could be problematic to max out the wattage. He also told me that lights should not be attached to the end of the line, but instead, an extra foot of line should follow the last light. This would mean digging up the lines and splicing on an extra foot of cable, and since the line tees, ending in two places, the chore is doubled.

Does this sound like good information? After going online, I've found that all these Malibu transformers have many, many complaints and one-star ratings, so before I go digging up the yard I wanted to get some feedback on the soundness of the customer support person's advice, particularly the foot of extra line bit.

Thanks.

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brickeyee

"It's a Malibu 120-watt transformer and I have 120 watts worth of lighting on the system. He told me that it could be problematic to max out the wattage."

100% loading is almost always a bad idea.

Try to stay no higher than about 80%

"He also told me that lights should not be attached to the end of the line"

If you have the common vampire (simple clamp on) taps to the lights the line should be run a little longer.

Digging and aplsicing after the fact is not going to help much.

Just remove the last light but leave the cable the same length.

Water starts into the cable almost from the moment you bury it, especially from a cut end.
Making it run a few inches to the first fixture gives you more time for corrosion to cause problems.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 1:24PM
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fleemo17

Thanks for the reply, brickeyee.

>100% loading is almost always a bad idea.I've ordered a 150-watt replacement to give myself a little headroom.

>If you have the common vampire (simple clamp on) taps to the lights the line should be run a little longer.I've found that the convenience in installing those type of connectors are not worth the sacrifice in reliability, so I have not used them in this setup.

>Just remove the last light but leave the cable the same length.Hmmm, not really an option in this case. That would leave a big dark pocket right next to the patio. Would it be worth splicing on the extra length if I carefully sealed the connections with a silicone-filled wire cap?

>Water starts into the cable almost from the moment you bury it, especially from a cut end.
Making it run a few inches to the first fixture gives you more time for corrosion to cause problems.Thank you for shedding some light on why the extra length is advisable. Didn't understand it until you spelled it out.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:15PM
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brickeyee

" Would it be worth splicing on the extra length if I carefully sealed the connections with a silicone-filled wire cap? "

It is still not waterproof enough.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 6:29PM
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fleemo17

Thanks brickeye. I appreciate your input.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:03PM
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