This is one of the most popular questions we get from our customers. Most home and property owners are usually eager to ensure that their transformers are being optimally utilized, but also have room for potential expansion in the future.
First and foremost, when making use of low voltage lights you require a transformer that will convert your standard line voltage, usually 120V or 277V, into low voltage of about 12V or 24V. This is to ensure the proper and safe functioning of your lights. Connecting low voltage lights directly to traditional electrical power would make your lights burn out faster due to the high voltage. The transformer serves to convert the voltage to the appropriate level.
To determine the number of lights or fixtures you can power with a single transformer, you’ll have to check out the minimum and maximum wattage ratings. The minimum wattage rating lets you know the lowest number of watts needed in order for the transformer to work. If you go below the minimum rating, there will not be enough draw on the transformer, and the transformer can overheat and fail. The maximum wattage rating indicates the highest total number of watts that could be handled by the transformer.
This gives you a hint as to whether additional fixtures can be added to your transformer. Transformers take on two forms – magnetic and electronic. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. While the electronics are quieter, cooler and more compact than the magnetic, they are limited to power no more than 300 watts, whereas the magnetic ones can power up to 1200 watts.
When making use of an electronic transformer, the total wattage of the light fixtures connected to the transformer should be less than or equal to the maximum wattage rating. For most magnetic ones, the total wattage of the light fixtures connected should not exceed 80% of the maximum wattage rating, due to the cheaper design of many magnetic transformers.
Therefore, all you have to do to know if you can add additional fixtures to your landscape lighting is to determine the total wattage of the light fixtures already powered by the transformer and compare with its maximum wattage rating, remembering that the total wattage of the light fixtures connected to most magnetic transformers should not exceed 80% of its maximum wattage rating. Your certified landscape lighting technician can guide you through this process and ensure that everything is done safely and properly.
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