LANDSCAPE LIGHTING WORLD® FORUMS

Gutter mount question

Discussion in 'Ask' started by Robert Mason, Jul 22, 2020.

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  1. Robert Mason

    Robert Mason New Member

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    Gentlemen, I have some technical questions. I’m planning to install a series of Top Dog and All-Star Mini spotlights to highlight the front facade of my house. The front of the house is especially dark at night. Light from the street light to the right is blocked by my neighbors extended 3 car garage, while light from the street light 2 doors away to the left is essentially absorbed by my other neighbor’s trees. I was thinking 2W bulbs would be sufficient to light the front of my house.



    I plan is to use 15 degree bulbs in the Top Dogs to uplight the brick facade of the front bedroom and the left and right garage door pillars and use 38 degree bulbs in gutter mounted All-Star Mini lights to light the gables, one in each corner of the gable. There are two gables, one over the garage and one over the bedroom which is partially hidden by the front yard oak trees (I have some lower branch trimming work to do in the coming month). My first question is how to connect the gutter mounted lights. In another forum question you recommended using Ace connectors which would mean running a separate wire for each gutter mounted light rather than daisy chaining on a single wire with 3 way connectors. My understanding is that Texas adheres to the national electrical code but I am not versed in those code requirements. There also appears to be varying opinions about how to connect low voltage wiring in gutters. For example, some gutter heating contractors use 3 way shrink wrap connectors while others don’t and some electricians on blog sites are dead set against running any wires in gutters, period, even low voltage ones. I’m not averse to running separate wires for each light, I just want to do what is best practice and in agreement with the NEC. I can envision getting into an argument about gutter wires with a building inspector when we sell the house some day in the far future.



    My second question relates to lighting the dormer above the front entry gate. One option is mounting a Gentle Splash flood to the gutter at the base of the dormer and potentially running yet another wire in the downspout by the front gate. A second, easier to install option (shorter ladder) would be to mount a 38 degree All-Star mini at the front right corner of the garage gable gutter and aim it up at the dormer. My concern is light loss. While ground to soffit distance is 9 and 10 feet for the 15 degree Top Dog front brick lighting, positioning the spotlight in the front corner to the gutter calculates at 13 feet to the center of the stucco of the dormer. Will a 38 degree Mini work as well as a bulkier 15 degree Top Dog for highlighting the dormer? Will a 2W bulb work or should I up it to 3W and add a diffuser lens if needed? Moving the light closer in order to reduce the 13 feet light throw would result in a shadow on the dormer from the gutter around it.



    I’m also planning to add 60 degree Salty Dogs for the two large oaks in the front yard. Should I use 5W bulbs for these lamps or would a subtler 3W work better? Other potential lights include a soffit mounted downlight to highlight the fountain by the front gate (yet another wire run in a gutter), a 15 degree uplight on the skinny palm tree on the right (not really visible in the photo) and a ShadowMaster lamp in the backyard garden.



    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2020
  2. Evan K

    Evan K Online Liaison Staff Member

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    While the NEC codes are mandated in many areas, they are not U.S. laws by any means. Many people look at them as guidelines - but if they are adopted in your area that is a different case with being up to code (always best to confirm local ordinances).

    Our low-voltage cable itself has thermoplastic sheathing that is UV resistant & highly durable. But, it's never really recommended to make wire connections specifically inside of a gutter if it can be avoided. Obviously projects largely vary and sometimes it may be the quickest and simplest solution for a homeowner - it is not typically a legal or safety matter really being low-voltage 12V (again, depending on local codes). More so about longevity; wire connections made in the gutter would be more susceptible to water intrusion over time than ones buried in-ground or in a hub.

    With gutter mounted lights, it is best to try to use longer lead wires and make connections outside of the gutter (in the ground or a low-voltage junction box or hub) whenever possible.

    As far as that front door dormer, there are a few different approaches you could take and it definitely sounds like you have nailed some of them down. I would likely recommend illuminating from the base of the dormer as you first suggested.

    Any ambient light plus the distance you mention could make finding the ideal wattage and beam spread you need tricky (if trying to illuminate from one of the distant points). Also, illuminating at a distance from a downward angle with a narrow beam spread may cast an unwanted shadowing effect into the dormer as well.

    Wattage is largely preferential - personally, I think a 5W would be ideal for that size of tree.
     
  3. Robert Mason

    Robert Mason New Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply. I'll go with the high up light mount for the dormer to avoid shadowing and use the 5W bulbs for the trees, but now I'm stuck. I agree that not splicing inside the gutters would be best, but customer service tells me the smaller spotlights I want to use in the gutter mounts are only available with 4 foot cables.
     
  4. Robert Mason

    Robert Mason New Member

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    This is probably getting way beyond overkill, but how about installing a hub just above the max water height in the gutter to make the connections? Not that much more expensive than the Ace connectors, compared to what the total project cost will be when I finally finish.
     
  5. Robert Mason

    Robert Mason New Member

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    More thinking outside the (waterproof) box - how hard would it be to disassemble the lamp and install fresh cable of the needed length? Are they assembled with something more than a couple of screws holding the socket in place and a couple of soldered wire connections? I assume that would void the warranty, but the fix would be permanent.
     
  6. Evan K

    Evan K Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Investing a bit of extra time with an install can certainly offer long term peace of mind with the system - if you could conceal the hub to your liking and keep it out of water in that manner, that could be ideal. Perhaps making heat shrink connections outside of the gutter if possible? Then still using the gutter to conceal the wire.

    Ha! :D

    But, breaking the fixture down to modify the lead wire yourself would indeed void the lifetime warranty - we typically advise against it because of that and any unforeseen outcomes.
     
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  7. Robert Mason

    Robert Mason New Member

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    There is yet another option. You can buy mini waterproof junction boxes, which when attached to the top of a gutter hanger next to the lamp gutter mount should not be too obvious from the ground. I think I can install the Ace connectors inside those, keeping everything above the water line during a thunder storm, and then run full length wire down to a hub in the ground next to the downspout outlet.

    The HOA has approved my install application. I'll be placing an order next week. I'm still compiling a list of everything I will need from Volt (and the big box hardware store) to complete the install.

    As a suggestion, you will need some flexibility in wire length if you eventually add a longer lead wire option to your lamp offerings. Even the 25 feet you currently offer one some lamps would not have been long enough for some of my 30 to 40 foot gutter mount to ground runs.

    Thanks for your help. Bob
     
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