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Lots of general lighting and wiring questions about new install

Discussion in 'Ask' started by Keith Coward, Dec 23, 2018.

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  1. Keith Coward

    Keith Coward New Member

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    Good morning,

    I've moved from a large home with outside lighting to a small house with none. For the past year, we've been adding landscaping, paver patios and sidewalks. During the last phase of the sidewalk, I ran 12 gauge wiring under the sidewalk so I could access different areas of the front and back yards. The transformer will be inside in the garage, and I plan to have 5 main lines running to it.

    My first question involves extending one of the main lines. It's currently about 75 feet long, and I'd like to extend it another 50-60 feet or so to get completely around the back side of the house. This line will also have more lights than the other lines, because I plan to add the pathway lights along the sidewalk, run under another sidewalk and add an uplight on a small tree plus more pathway lights. I'd like this line to feed 8 pathway lights and an uplight for an existing tree. So the question, is can I simply add 50-60 feet of additional 12 gauge line using waterproof wire nuts, or do I need a special connection?

    I've enclosed a few pics and this question involves the one with the brick wall. I plan to add some splash lighting on 3 sections of the brick perimeter wall. The wall is 5' high and each section between the columns is about 25'. I'm not trying to cover each section with column to column light, just a splash on each section as an accent. I'm considering VFl-430-4-BBZ but wonder if I should use something else, like maybe the VPL-3024-4-BBZ? I know you have a lot of different options, but I'm not trying to draw the eye to this wall...simply accent it.

    My last question involves the front of the home. It's only 45 feet wide across the front including the garage. I want to add uplights on each outside corner, plus another one between the garage and the front door. I'm considering the Salty Dog well lights like BDL-VWL-710-S-BBZ. The question is how wide is the beam of those lights. I don't want to overwhelm the front of the house, just accent it. These fixture will not be seen during the day.

    I guess my purpose for all of this would be Understated Elegance rather than LOOK AT MY HOUSE.

    I'd appreciate your thoughts or comments on any better way to do this.

    Keith
     

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  2. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Hello Keith,

    What a beautiful home you have!

    When adding additional lights to a pre-existing run, silicon filled wire nuts or other traditional waterproof connectors can be used. Since you're using 12-gauge cable, just be sure to keep the length of the run within the recommend 150' when deciding how far you want to extend it. Also, be careful not to add too many lights to one individual run to avoid any possible voltage loss over a long distance. We recommend no more than 10 fixtures or 80w per individual run from your transformer.

    A wall-washing effect would certainly highlight the beautifully aged brick on that perimeter wall. For this application, I would recommend a ground-stake mounted flood light. The Gentle Splash fixture that you already mentioned is actually an ideal choice. Placing this fixture at least a foot or two away from the base of the wall and angling it to direct light more so at the wall rather than over it, the wide beam spread would be able to cover a wide surface area of the brick. Whether you wanted 1 or 2 fixtures in between each column would be dependent on your personal design goals for the wall.

    The Shielded Salty Dog (BDL-VWL-710-S-BBZ) comes with a 60° beam spread standard. The beam spread for most of our fixtures can be adjusted. For this integrated fixture, you could change the beam spread by simply changing the optic inside of the fixture. The various optics that we offer are available after adding the item to your shopping cart online. When placing lights in between windows or openings, it is always best to use narrower beam spreads. The overwhelming part of the lights would be related to the power consumption and lumen outputs. The 500 Lumen output of the Salty Dog is somewhat in the upper echelons of light output for a low-voltage spotlight. From the sounds of it, you are stressing that you want extremely subtle lighting. For a lower output in-grade option, I may recommend using the lamp-ready version of the Shielded Salty Dog with either a 3w or 5w LED MR16 bulb.

    For the sidewalk in your backyard, I would recommend possibly using a path light in the center of that garden bed. This type of area light will provide illumination for footing along that path and in that area without shining directly into those back windows. Any of our path lights would work but, the most popular is the Max Spread.
     
  3. Keith Coward

    Keith Coward New Member

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    Thank you for the kind words...it's a work in in progress. I agree with your recommendation on the sidewalk lights but only wish I could shorten the length of the stem, and I'm not sure I can push them another 7-8" into the ground, so I'm leaning toward the smaller cone with the 10-12" height. I was planning on 7-8 pathway lights all along the pathway which is about 75' long, all placed on the garden/bed side. And please let me assure you that I plan to buy a bunch of Volt fixtures...just trying to get the right combinations so I have a couple of follow up questions please.

    1) I understand the obvious need for a brighter light for the pathway/walkway, but you are correct that I'm looking for more subtle lighting everywhere else. With walkway and wall lights being in such close proximity, will the 2200k bulb on the wall and the 2700k bulb on the walkway make either look out of place, or make them compete for the eye. Or another way, will they play nice together? I realize my initial choice of wall wash light only comes with a 2700k bulb, so can that bulb be exchanged for a 2200k light? Or would the Fat Boy spotlight, which has a 2200k bulb available, be a suitable wash light for the walls?

    2) Just to be sure I'm clear on wattage and fixtures placed on each run, the wattage is the important part, right? I only plan to use 3w pathway bulbs, and a couple of 3-5 w uplights on small trees but will most likely exceed the units, just not the wattage.

    3) And for the front, needing a narrow beam on each corner and the center, is there a narrow beam sold by VOLT that would accept the 2200k bulb?

    I'll apologize in advance for all the questions, but we've spent quite a bit of time and money over the last 1.5 years, and I need to get these lights pretty close to perfect, to show off our accomplishment. I've enclosed another photo of the back of the house when we bought it. No patio. No sidewalks. No gardens. But a very nice blank canvass to work with. And I don't want to blow it now lol. And I'm open to any other suggestions that may work better than what I've described.

    Thank you for indulging me.
     

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  4. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Generally, we don't recommend using multiple color temperatures in fixtures with close proximity to each other. Compete is actually a great word to describe it; the lighting is in fact not visually appealing with the different colors. 2700K is the most widely preferred color temperature for residential lighting as it is a naturally soft, white color. It's important to remember that color temperature doesn't directly relate to the brightness of the fixture as the wattage does. Any color temperature is essentially suitable for wall washing; it's all about the execution. The Gentle Splash fixture which you mentioned is able to use a 2200k G4 bulb; you can find all of the G4 bulb options separately Here.

    Wattage and the number of fixtures being used are both important. Even though you may be within the proper operating range for your transformer overall, installing too many lights on an individual run may cause voltage loss which can lead to lights towards the end of that run looking dim or not acquiring enough power to light. A voltmeter is always handy to keep around to check the voltage readings which your lights are receiving. Depending on the transformer you are currently using, additional (more powerful) voltage taps may also be available to help compensate for these larger runs. Also, I know you said you were using a pre-existing system so be sure to check that the transformer which you are currently using has a magnetic core and an output of AC (alternating current); both of these criteria must be for use with our lights.

    For an MR16 with a 2200k color temperature, we offer 60° beam spreads. For your backyard, you could possibly install path lights near the patio door and along the garden bed or, just near the door and use another wall washing fixture to blanket that open space of brick.

    No need to apologize Keith, I am always happy to help!
     
  5. Keith Coward

    Keith Coward New Member

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    My intentions are to buy the transformer from your company, once I can determine which one I need. In fact, I plan to buy everything but the 350' of 12 gauge wire I've already laid. All 5 lines lead into my garage and are tied off until I can make all the final decisions for fixtures, which right now I have 24 of them in my VOLT cart, and that number fluctuates every time we speak lol. I had planned to use 2200k fixtures in the front, uplighting the house, and on the walls for the wall washing. And 2700k under the 4-5 small trees which won't stay small forever, as well as the pathway lights...until I considered the possibility that they would be competing. No disrespect intended but I've found that when I've used multiple suppliers for a complicated project in order to save a few bucks, anytime there is a problem there's a lot of finger pointing going on and I only want to make one phone call if I encounter problems.(that sounds harsh, and that is not my intention. Your input is valued and I truly appreciate it.)

    However since my sole purpose is understated elegance, I'm probably overthinking it. I now live in a small retirement community where a lot of residents are on fixed incomes and very few homes have any landscape lighting so I don't want to turn anyone's head but mine and my wife's lol and I thought maybe the 2200k was the way to go. But I'm certainly open to suggestions if anyone has any? And I fully expect to see more landscape lighting in my neighborhood once I complete this project...

    Will 2200k bulbs in the pathway lights defeat the purpose of pathway lights? And the same for the uplights under the small trees?

    Thanks again for your thoughts and consideration.
     
  6. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    I completely understand Keith; investing more time in the planning stage will only make your installation that much easier!

    It seems like you really are desiring the warmer color temperature for the lighting on the front of the house. Another route you could take would be to select a lamp-ready spotlight like the Fat Boy which you mentioned earlier, select your beam spreads accordingly depending on the application (between windows, wall-washing, etc.), and then use a Color Temperature Adjustment Lens to change the 2700k light to a 2000k.

    The Share section of our forum can be a great resource for suggestions from other homeowners but, our Project Gallery is my personal favorite for seeing just how creative some people can get.

    Wanting to use warm color temperatures does not mean you are essentially voiding the point of the installing lighting fixtures. The color of the light is more so a style preference for your design goals; for your path lights, the more important thing would be which wattages you chose. If you are concerned about the light being too subtle, I would suggest using the 4w 2200k G4 LED BiPin for your path lights, and either 5w or 7w bulbs for your lamp-ready spotlights.
     
  7. Keith Coward

    Keith Coward New Member

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    Evan...thanks again for spending so much much time with me. Let me see if I can repeat what you've given me and let you confirm my thoughts.

    So I can use the Fatboy for the front of the house as uplights and put a 3 watt 2200k bulb to keep it soft and adjust the beam to a smaller anger, and use the same fixture as an uplight for relatively small trees but put the 5 watt 2200k bulb to get more depth and leave the angle more open for trees, or anywhere in between? Will the 3 watt bulb with the tightest angle reach the overhang? Since my little home is on a slab, that's only about 9'.

    And then for the pathway lights, 4 Watt G4 bulb in the smaller and shorter conehead to create pools of lights along the walkways, but still be bright enough to somewhat function as path lights?

    And put the Gentle Splash with 3W G4 on the wall?

    And that maintains the right balance and keeps the color consistent around the house?

    Only one run will exceed the total number of lights, and only come close to the wattage limit. I think it will carry about 14 fixtures. Will Volt's 300 watt transformer allow me to plug this run into a 13v-15v if the volatage drops? Right now, I've only got 104 total watts in my bulb selection, so maybe the 150 watt transformer is enough? I could use the 150w transformer and still add up to 16 watts of additional lights for future growth. I seriously doubt I'll be adding more lights, but may increase bulb/wattage size as trees grow...doubt the house or walls will grow anymore.

    Lastly, please send me a link to your exchange policy including restocking fees, etc just in case a fixture/bulb just doesn't give me the coverage I'm looking for. I'm thinking of ordering the transformer and a couple of different fixtures first, with a pair of 2700k bulbs and a pair of 2200k bulbs, to minimize my heartache and shipping fees. But ordering all on one order may be some advantage.

    Thanks again Evan.
     
  8. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Sounds like you are on the correct path Keith!

    The 3W bulb should look beautiful on your home at night and the 4W bulbs will certainly output enough light to adequately light paths, regardless of the color temperature.

    If you have selected the 2200k temperature for all of your bulbs, your layout should be consistent color wise.

    Both styles of our 300W transformers would offer you multiple power taps for bumping up the voltage. The easiest and quickest way to determine if the lights on this run were receiving adequate power is a handy volt-meter. If you happened to experience voltage loss while using a more powerful tap, this may be an indicator that some fixtures need to be removed from the run. Our 150W units do offer multiple taps and the same control features. As far as what transformer to buy, I always recommend to plan for expansion as you never really know what your future plans may entail. The general rule of thumb is to stay within 80% of the unit's maximum capacity.

    Absolutely. Here is information regarding our Returns. This and other information is available towards the bottom of our webpage, under 'Policies'.

    I am just happy to help Keith!
     
  9. Keith Coward

    Keith Coward New Member

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    Evan..just a quick 'thank you' for all the time you invested with me. I ordered an initial order of 7-8 different lights and bulbs, plus the transformer, to place them and make sure they provided the coverage and color I was hoping for. I am very pleased with the ease of installation, thanks to your site's multiple videos and how to's, the quality of the actual fixtures themselves, and especially the "look" they've all provided. Your advice was spot on. I'm going to study them a few more days, but ultimately will have about 14 pathway lights around the front and back of the house, 4-5 spotlights and 4-5 floods...all thanks to you. And have a big enough transformer to be able to add fixtures if needed. Nice work. -Keith
     
  10. Evan Kruk

    Evan Kruk Online Liaison Staff Member

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    Thanks for the kind words Keith and thank you for supporting VOLT!

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