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Old 07-08-2011, 05:31 PM   #1
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


I have some antique-like lanterns that I would like to wire for lights and hang on my patio (which is only partially protected from the weather). I have an outdoor outlet, controlled by a dimmer switch on the wall - up to that point, I'm code-compliant.

My first thought was to simply wire them like I would a lamp, using lamp-cord and 40-watt decorative bulbs in a "candle" mount. I suspect that arrangment might be frowned upon by the NEC folks.

Would a low-voltage system be safer? and code-compliant? Most of the transformers I see are upwards of $300 - seems awfully steep. Except for the transformer, I assume wiring would be similar - maybe even thinner wire which I could camouflage better.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks

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Old 07-08-2011, 05:43 PM   #2
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


Low voltage lighting is usually safer,
But $300 for a tranny sounds expensive !
Are you sure that price is correct ?
You would only need a 10a tranny
to run 2 x 40w lamps at 12v.
Look around a bit more for a cheaper tranny.
Or buy a cheap 12v battery charger
you should get one for $100 tops.

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Old 07-08-2011, 05:55 PM   #3
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


$300 for a simple LV outdoor lighting transformer? For a few lights? Absurd.

This will offend some but cheapest way to go? Do you have a liquidator like Big Lots near you? Buy the complete landscape kits with wire, transformer, timer and 16 lights or whatever for $30 that should be showing up about now.

Toss those tacky plastic outdoor light covers away. Fit the bulbs to your fixtures, with silicon or something to hold them in place. Or take all to a lamp place if you are not handy.

Run and staple the low voltage wire. Paint it if you want.

Hook the fixtures to the wire.

Done.

Except, you should remove the rheostat/dimmer---or duct tape it to fully on or something. You don't want it ahead of your transformer.

For years, before the liquidators, I raided auto and marine electric departments for whatever bulb sizes and wattage I wanted and bought the corresponding transformer to match the wattage draw and timer from my electrical supplier. Never remember paying $300 though for a project like you describe.

Last edited by user1007; 07-08-2011 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 07-08-2011, 05:56 PM   #4
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


If the receptacle is controled by a dimmer, then you are not code compliant.
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


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If the receptacle is controled by a dimmer, then you are not code compliant.
thanks for the tip - so outlets cannot be controlled by a dimmer - indoors or out?
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:18 PM   #6
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


thanks for your input on the "cheap" transformers. Now I am also contemplating some landscape lighting - on a different switch. I assume I will need 2 transformers, or could I use one transformer, and have 2 separate switches after the transformer?

thanks
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:26 PM   #7
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


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Originally Posted by jmhultin View Post
thanks for the tip - so outlets cannot be controlled by a dimmer - indoors or out?
Can be by clowns and idiots but code says no. Reason? Think about it. If the dimmer is attached to a light or a similar rheostat for a motor like a ceiling fan? Makes sense. An outlet is an invitation to plug anything further in...

Christmas lights. LV transformer. Toaster. Refrigerator. Lava lamp. Space heater.
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:50 PM   #8
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmhultin View Post
thanks for your input on the "cheap" transformers. Now I am also contemplating some landscape lighting - on a different switch. I assume I will need 2 transformers, or could I use one transformer, and have 2 separate switches after the transformer?

thanks
It will get expensive if you start putting remote switches or timers on the low voltage side of your installation. And for residential? Why? You will be running the transformer all the time just to keep your LV switches working on demand. If this is for the yacht you want to buy me for the advice? I totally shift my comments.

I would do one transformer and timer or switch for each low voltage circuit you have in mind since it now sounds like you want the lanterns and whatever else to be turned on/off separately?

Timer or switch will be on the 110 side. Dimmers for the outlet removed!

The transformers are going to be picked by what watts you want them to kick out. I had no problem guessing your converted lanterns will work on an end of season find. You sprung the additional outdoor lighting out of nowhere.

How much light? How many watts to be drawn from the floods, walkway lights, deck lights you have in mine? I don't know if my packaged transformer idea will support what you have in mind for the second batch? Still, I cannot see you going $300.
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:06 PM   #9
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


For most low voltage wiring you have to worry about voltage drop. For a given piece of wire the number of volts dropped varies with the number of amperes drawn. Losing one volt out of 12 is of course much more significant than losing one volt out of 120. And for a given number of watts, the number of amperes is greater for a lower voltage.

You would at least have to try to put the transformer more or less int he center of the low voltage wiring network, and/or run fatter wires.

Fortunately nowadays you can get LED lights that use much less in watts for a given amount of light, allowing longer wire runs before voltage drop becomes a problem.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 07-08-2011 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 07-08-2011, 07:09 PM   #10
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Outdoor lanters - low voltage?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jmhultin View Post
thanks for your input on the "cheap" transformers. Now I am also contemplating some landscape lighting - on a different switch. I assume I will need 2 transformers, or could I use one transformer, and have 2 separate switches after the transformer?

thanks
It would be easier to use two transformers,
Because switchs to handle high currant 12v loads
tend to be more expensive.
Especially if it is DC.

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