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Old 07-28-2016, 08:36 AM   #1
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low voltage halogen installation


am having a problem with a low voltage halogen lighting system, one of those systems where the fixtures hang from cables.

it came with 3 x 20w halogen MR16 bulbs (and the labels are pretty clear that that is the maximum allowed or recommended) but the light is too feeble.

So, I had the bright idea of just swapping in 3 x 35w halogens.

Much better light.
but then, a few days later, the whole system was dead.
testing (before the reset switch), it appears there is no power coming out of the transformer.

I was surprised that I could "blow" a transformer. they seem like dumb blocks of wire and metal.

Time I think to better understand transformer specs.

Here's what is written on the transformer.
Output: 12VAC 5A 60VA

(but wait a minute. about another halogen system, an electrician once told me these halgen systems have to be "under load")

so, what do the specs mean re: what load I can reasonably put on it?
and how can I trouble shoot this?
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low voltage halogen installation-ikea-transformer-640x640.jpg   low voltage halogen installation-lv-halogen-lighting-640x640.jpg   low voltage halogen installation-halogen-light-system-640x640.jpg  
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Old 07-28-2016, 08:48 AM   #2
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


You over amped it.

With 20 W halogens: 60W / 12V = 5A Which is what the transformer is rated for.

With 35 W halogens: 105W / 12V = 8.75A which is way above what it is rated for.

The reset button should take care of it. To get brighter light, find some 12V MR-16 LED's. They make 50W equivalents that use 7-8 watts.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:14 AM   #3
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


Quote:
Originally Posted by pjstock View Post
am having a problem with a low voltage halogen lighting system, one of those systems where the fixtures hang from cables.

it came with 3 x 20w halogen MR16 bulbs (and the labels are pretty clear that that is the maximum allowed or recommended) but the light is too feeble.

So, I had the bright idea of just swapping in 3 x 35w halogens.

Much better light.
but then, a few days later, the whole system was dead.
testing (before the reset switch), it appears there is no power coming out of the transformer.

I was surprised that I could "blow" a transformer. they seem like dumb blocks of wire and metal.

Time I think to better understand transformer specs.

Here's what is written on the transformer.
Output: 12VAC 5A 60VA

(but wait a minute. about another halogen system, an electrician once told me these halgen systems have to be "under load")

so, what do the specs mean re: what load I can reasonably put on it?
and how can I trouble shoot this?
You should note that 12V x 5A = 60 Watts

You then chose to connect to this supply a load of "3 x 35 W halogens" - which represents a "load" of 105 Watts.

Need I say more, concerning the 75% overload which you put on the device concerned.

So, just stop overloading your source device.

Also, I suggest that you should stop using "halogens", use LEDs and consider what it is which you are doing.

(Does anyone in their right mind set out to install "halogens" these days?)

Last edited by FrodoOne; 07-28-2016 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:29 AM   #4
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


"(Does anyone in their right mind set out to install "halogens" these days?)"

we are now wandering WAAAY out of the technical aspects of electricity and into aesthetics but....

I just like the look of these systems and I have not seen anything new that doesn't look chunky and cheap.

Now, if I can find MR16 style LED bulbs that would fit this fixtures, I would swap them in in a blink.

and according to herdfan, I can. so, I'll get on it.

thanks for the explanations.
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:42 AM   #5
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


so if I purchased three x 12W (4x3W) LEDs would that be a light enough load for this system?

does the same math apply? 3 x 12W = 36W which is less than the transformers 12V x 5A = 60 Watts?

could I add 2 extra fixtures to this rig (so 5 x 12w = 60W)?
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:04 AM   #6
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


Yes. Lowe's has them.
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Old 07-28-2016, 10:29 AM   #7
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


Quote:
Originally Posted by pjstock View Post
"(Does anyone in their right mind set out to install "halogens" these days?)"

we are now wandering WAAAY out of the technical aspects of electricity and into aesthetics but....

I just like the look of these systems and I have not seen anything new that doesn't look chunky and cheap.

Now, if I can find MR16 style LED bulbs that would fit this fixtures, I would swap them in in a blink.
I do not believe that aesthetics has much to do with the original "problem" of overloading.
Be that as it may!

Since MR16 LED devices are so readily available, I cannot understand any difficulty you may have in obtaining such devices to suit your requirements "physically".
However, the existing 12 V supply may NOT be compatible with any particular MR16 LED device that you choose to use, BUT that is another story.
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Old 07-28-2016, 12:02 PM   #8
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


"I do not believe that aesthetics has much to do with the original "problem" of overloading"
you are absolutely right. I misunderstood your criticism of halogen.

you were only speaking about the bulbs, not the look of the cables and stuff (which I admit too is quite outdated).

in retrospect it is crazy to use halogen bulbs.
But they were in this kit that I've been storing for ... 10 years! waiting for an application. So I really just wanted to see if the whole system worked.

Now that I know that it does and that there do exist MR16 LEDs I will certainly replace them ASAP.

Peter
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Old 07-28-2016, 01:56 PM   #9
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


Quote:
Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
However, the existing 12 V supply may NOT be compatible with any particular MR16 LED device that you choose to use, BUT that is another story.
It is a 12V AC PS. I will work fine with any 12V landscape MR-16 LED.
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:04 PM   #10
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


Quote:
Originally Posted by FrodoOne View Post
You should note that 12V x 5A = 60 Watts

You then chose to connect to this supply a load of "3 x 35 W halogens" - which represents a "load" of 105 Watts.

Need I say more, concerning the 75% overload which you put on the device concerned.

So, just stop overloading your source device.
But.....
Quote:
Originally Posted by pjstock View Post
I was surprised that I could "blow" a transformer. they seem like dumb blocks of wire and metal.
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:29 PM   #11
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Re: low voltage halogen installation


By "under load" we mean that if the load on some transformers is very small, the voltage is higher than the published voltage. This can burn out some kinds of electronics.

Halogen (or plain incandescent) lamps can take a small amount of overvoltage where the consequence is shorter lamp life. Using one lamp on a transformer meant for three will probably not result in significantly shorter lamp life.
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Old 07-28-2016, 08:21 PM   #12
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"By "under load" we mean that if the load on some transformers is very small, the voltage is higher than the published voltage. This can burn out some kinds of electronics. ".

Say what?
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Old 07-28-2016, 11:54 PM   #13
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low voltage halogen installation


12V MR16 LED bulbs are much easier to find now.

I had 12V MR16 GU5.3 50W halogen track lights. I swapped them with 7W LED bulbs. I changed some of the track heads and was then able to use 120V MR16 GU10 7W LED bulbs with the new track heads.

Last edited by Druidia; 07-28-2016 at 11:58 PM.
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