To address the question right off the bat, the answer is voltage loss. There are a number of causes of voltage loss but no matter what the cause it has to be mitigated. If voltage loss is not compensated for you will experience shorter life on fixtures and poor performance overall. We’ll discuss the main causes of voltage loss and how to deal with the problem with a multi-tap transformer.
What is a Multi Tap Transformer?
Technically speaking a multi tap transformer is a step up (or down) transformer that has multiple taps on either the primary winding or the secondary winding. A multi tap transformer provides flexibility in your input and output voltage requirements.
In the landscape lighting world, a multi tap transformer provides multiple terminals with outputs ranging from 12 volts up to 15 or more volts. The installer has the choice of employing as many of the taps as necessary to ensure even voltage to all fixtures.
When you are low voltage outdoor lighting troubleshooting, voltage drop is a key element to check. Of course there are obvious items to check such as bad connections. But when it comes to ensuring your system will last a lifetime, managing voltage loss is key.
Voltage loss is phenomenon that occurs when electricity loses voltage as it travels down a wire. Your voltage drop will depend on how long your wire is, the thickness of the wire and the number of fixtures on the circuit.
Create an efficient layout
Your fixture should be wired in ‘zones’. This allows you to keep all fixtures in an area the same relative distance from the transformer. Group the fixtures close to the transformer (30′ or less) together, then group the ones that are slightly farther away (30′ to 60′) and finally group the ones the farthest distance (60′ to 100′).
Avoid these outdoor lighting installation mistakes
There are many ways to mess up an outdoor lighting installation. Most pros warranty their work. They also know the installation pitfalls and realize the value of doing the job right the first time.
Every week we see mistakes made by do-it-yourselfers. These mistakes can drastically reduce the lifespan of a system but they are also easily avoidable.
We’ve put together a list of the biggest and most common mistakes we see in our outdoor lighting installation travels. Take care not to make these mistakes and you’ll be much closer to a long-lasting outdoor lighting system.