The most important element in installing a low voltage system is keeping the voltage consistent throughout the layout. The fixtures at the end of the line should be the same brightness as the fixtures closest to the transformer at the front of the line. As the fixtures get further away, they receive less voltage from the transformer, which is called voltage drop. Voltage drop can be minimized by using a multi-tap transformer, using shorter cable runs, using a heavier cable (10 gauge), keeping fewer fixtures on the cable run or by utilizing lower wattage lamps. Hide the cable with soil, bark mulch or other landscape dressing. Since it is 12 volts, it can safely be buried only a few inches under ground.
Although each fixture comes with a plastic quick connector, it is best to use silicone-filled wire connectors. This will ensure that over time, dirt and bugs and all the other elements in the ground will not disturb the wire connection. Quick connectors can be quite finicky, as the teeth must precisely pierce the wire to make the proper connection. Low voltage splicing techniques Without a waterproof splice connection, any system will develop voltage loss and low-grade shorts making your lighting installation not fun! Below is our proven method of insuring you will have years of trouble free high performance.
We do not recommend the use of Quick Clip style connectors that come with most fixtures because they are not waterproof and will rot out creating resistance and shorts. By using silicon filled wired connectors, thus spending a little more time on your installation, you will save yourself lots of time and headache over the years. Begin with a 12,10 or 8 gauge direct burial low voltage cable mainline. Using single strand THHN or Romex (120v style) wire for low voltage circuits can present problems as it does not have the same current carrying capacity at 12v as the multi-strand cable does; therefore it will lose slightly more voltage.
Cut the mainline cable in half and strip back 3/4″ of the insulation from each side to expose the multi-strand copper conductor.
Join one of the fixture’s conductors to each side of the mainline as shown in the diagram. Since there is no polarity in low voltage it doesn’t matter which side is which when joining the conductors together. Install a wire nut on each side. If installed properly, each wire connector will have 3 wires in it.
(Splicing information courtesy of FX Luminaire.)
Mount the transformer next to a grounded outdoor outlet, at least one foot above ground. It can
Always conceal the light source, either with a shroud on the fixture, or by tucking it behind a shrub, large branch, wall, or rock. Ideally, you will be unable to see where the light originates. The effect should be visible not the source.
Avoid installing fixtures in the undergrowth of low shrubs or tall grasses. The beam of light needs unimpeded passage from the fixture to the focal point so there are no distracting spots of reflected light (unless you want a shadowy effect, in which case the opposite applies).
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