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Old 07-08-2011, 07:41 PM   #1
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landscape lighting

Hi 1st post here. I just bought a house and it's got a lot of yard light stuff going on. It's got 4 110v cooper lights in the mix and no conduit or anything they are just sitting there on the ground. I guess the previous owner had them on a timer of sorts that he took with him. The wires are buried. They work well when plugged in but it doesn't look safe or correct to me.
the cooper lights say t-3 lamp 150 watts max.

My thoughts were to replace these lights with 12v lights. But, are the 12v lights going to be as bright as the 110v's? What specific 12v lights would be this bright? I thought I could use the existing buried wires for the 12v's. It also has an existing walkway light 12v system with a small 88 watt transformer. I was going to replace this with a higher wattage transformer. Do the 600 to 900 watt units have to be all on one circuit or loop? how does that work? Also do these units, I guess they are Malibu, have electronic eye feature?

I sure would appreciate some help with this. The house has some nice architectural things that would look good highlighted. 3 big arched windows. 2 of the 110v cooper lights were shining on these from the bottom.


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Old 07-11-2011, 04:16 PM   #2
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12v works great and can be as good as 110v if wired properly. I would visit this site:

The thing is, there is a lot you can learn about low voltage. I would search google for low voltage drop calculators and run multiple circuits from your 'multi tap' transformer (the 300w, 600w etc) where you can raise your transformer from 12v to 13v, 14v and higher. this is beneficial when you are running long runs. use a multimeter and make sure that the volts at each fixture is between 12.2v and 10.4v. this will keep the bulbs in great shape and make sure that you don't have some dim bulbs. if you run one circuit, similar to a daisy chain, you will have bright bulbs closest to the transformer and then the farther you go (and the more cuts you make installing other lights) will lower the brightness of the bulb. that's when the multi tap transformer comes in handy.

Another important thing to consider is the actual bulb. you can use LED fixtures/light combos but if you want to keep it old school make sure that the fixture will accept the bulb that you require. what that means is that the shape/type bulb can determine the spread of the light at the particular distance you are working with. do your research on this. actually in addition to focus lights there is here is a guide to their lights/bulb combo:

This reference will get you thinking in the questions to ask the manufacturer of the lights you may purchase.

I missed the part about the 600w transformer needing to be on one 'loop or circuit.' No they do not. as a matter of fact, I have only ran into 300w transformers that can be 'bridged' and anything larger than 300w transformers were just multiple 300w units contained in one box. this is beneficial if you have limited outdoor receptacles, want all lights to turn on simultaneously and distance is not an issue.

use the correct gauge cable for the installation. never go any smaller than 12 gauge. it's not the rule, it's just the rule I follow. Also, use good wire nuts, tape all junctions (use boxes if funds are available) and buy quality equipment.

Also, Malibu sucks.

good luck.


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Old 07-12-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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I guess I did not understand what a multi tap was and ended up with a malibu 600 watt. It has 2 terminals for each 300 watt transformer within it. Can you just run 2 long chains from 2 terminals? The voltage using a meter is 12v at the 1st light and 8.9 at the last. 3 x 20 watt then 7 x 10 watt in that order. Its only about 40 ft with at least 12G wire (already there)using taped wire nuts. I was going to use the other 300 watt portion for some spotlights on a different run.
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Old 07-18-2011, 10:05 PM   #4
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the advantages of a multi tap transformer are many if you are laying several lights on several different runs. Most pros would use the multi tap because it offers so many valuable voltage options. That said.

if you are running just a few lights on a small run then perhaps the cost of the multi does not justify itself but as you noted you already have experienced some decent voltage drop at your farthest light. This is where it becomes difficult to manage the voltage drop in an effective manner One way to is how you hook the lights effective way is a T connection where you have a long run from the transformer, you splice into that line and one side have two and the same on the other, voltage will be the same on both runs, another is a called a spoke where you have several runs all the same length with the same amount of lights all tied to the one line to the transformer. One more is using 10g instead of 12g. Just keep an eye on your distance from transformer and number of lights...of course using the new LED lights solves most of the V drop issues but they will cost you some cash.
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