Landscape Lighting Pro Tip #1
A Multi tap transformer is essential for professional landscape lighting projects
Multi Tap Transformers
Consumer grade landscape lighting (like you'll find in home centers) use single tap 12 volt transformers, making it near impossible for a professional result. For a professional result you need to use a multi-tap transformer (a transformer that outputs at a variety of voltages from 12 to 22 volts) to keep lights bright and even by controlling voltage drop.
What is voltage drop? With low voltage lighting the more lights on a run, or the longer the distance from the transformer, the more the voltage will decrease. Accordingly a professional contractor will use a higher voltage tap from the transformer to compensate for this voltage loss. For example a contractor may start a cable run at 15 volts. By the time it reaches the end of your driveway it has decreased by 3 volts but is still outputting 12 volts at your fixtures.
Multi-tap transformers are usually only offered with professional grade systems and should be installed by a professional contractor who understands how to operate them and knows how to design a proper layout to compensate for voltage drop. Contractors will also use tools like a voltmeter for verifying the correct voltage is reaching each fixture, and an amp meter to make sure the transformer is not overloaded. This is vital for performance, system longevity and safety.
In addition to understanding the above, a professional will use higher grade fixtures, direct burial waterproof splice connections and understand the art of landscape lighting design.
Home center product is limited and has a very short life span. If you are looking for quality results AND a long lasting solution, you will save money by hiring an outdoor lighting professional.
Note: contractor's buy all sorts of things from home centers, but you'll notice low voltage landscape lighting is not one of them. Now you know the reason why.
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