Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Landscape Lighting Troubleshoot

This week I was called out to a job site to help troubleshoot an LED landscape lighting system where the LED was flashing. My initial thought was the installer did not have enough voltage going to the lights (voltage drop). Arriving on site i realized the fixture was only 25 feet away from the transformer so voltage drop was unlikely.

Tip: When you troubleshoot a job be patient and start by turning on the system and noting anything that isn't usual. For example, the flashing LED and half of the system off. Helps you get closer to the source of the problem.

So, what wasn't told to me prior is the second half of the yard wasn't working at all. Hmmm.... So here's the deal.

I started at the source of the first flashing led to test the voltage (need 12-13v for efficiency) and we were at 6 volts. I pulled up the wiring and discovered lots of heat...bad bad.

I cut out the overheating connectors and discovered crossed wires - sparking when they were touching which tells me the circuit is closed instead of open. So, the problem wasn't at that particular fixture.

Going back to the first fixture in the line - incorrectly wired; the connections and the wiring had melted all the way down. Now the installer has to re-pull wire under tile and concrete to make the correction.

How to avoid this: Take your time. Low voltage wiring is fairly simple if you go one step at a time. Most low voltage wire is marked with one rigid wire and one smooth (or one with writing on it and one without. In this case, the installer actually wired both wires of a line together.

I'll discuss this more in another post, perhaps in a video.



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