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Outdoor Lighting Transformer Buying Guide


Most outdoor landscape lighting requires a transformer to convert your 120-volt household current to 12-volt, and picking which wattage you need can be challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Glance over our comparison chart and then read our guide below to see which transformer is right for your application.


Model 0150BK 0075WSS 0150SS 0300SS 0600SS 0900SS
  Hinkley Lighting Standard Series 150 Watt Transformer With Composite Cabinet Hinkley Lighting Pro-Series 75 Watt Transformer With Stainless Steel Cabinet Hinkley Lighting Pro-Series 150 Watt Transformer With Stainless Steel Cabinet Hinkley Lighting Pro-Series 300 Watt Transformer With Stainless Steel Cabinet Hinkley Lighting Pro-Series 600 Watt Transformer With Stainless Steel Cabinet Hinkley Lighting Pro-Series 900 Watt Transformer With Stainless Steel Cabinet
 

Standard Transformer

Pro-Series Transformers

Style

Composite Resin

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Wattage

150

75

150

300

600

900

12v-15v Multi-Tap

12v only

12v + 15v only

12v + 15v only

Yes

Yes

Yes

Automatic Timer (4H, 6H, 8H)

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Modular Timer Available

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Photocell

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Modular Photocell Available

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Auto On/Off Switch

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

3' Line Cord

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Bottom Plate

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Thermal Cut-off Primary Side

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Thermal Reset Secondary

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Magnetic Reset Secondary

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Standard Terminal Block

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

High Capacity Terminal Block

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

10-Year Warranty

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Lifetime Warranty

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

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12V Low Voltage Design & Installation


Step 1: Make a Plan


What do you want to light? Pick favorite trees, interesting plants, fountains, statues or other attractive architectural elements. These items will be the focus of your lighting plan. Think about how you use the property. Are there areas you would like to illuminate for work, recreation or entertaining? Think about areas in which added light would enhance safety, such as steps or a wall around the side of your home

Step 2: Prepare Your Equipment


Low Voltage Systems
Most residential landscape lighting is done with 12-volt distribution. The system consists of a central transformer, weatherproof cable and low voltage fixtures and accessories.

Fixtures
Decide on what fixtures you will be using as part of your complete lighting plan. Choose styles you like and select the appropriate wattage for the application.

Transformers
Transformers convert your 120-volt household current to 12-volt. Outdoor transformers can be installed on the side of your house and plug into an exterior outlet. They must mount at least 12" above the ground. Higher wattage transformers are actually multiple circuits in one transformer. For example, our 600 and 900 watt transformers are 2x300 watt and 3x300 watt circuits respectively. This allows you to run a higher number of lights for one installation while using only a single transformer.

Cable
12-volt fixtures take power from a weatherproof, flexible 2-wire cable that can be used above or below ground and generally does not need to be housed in conduit or buried as deep as 120-volt wiring. 12AWG cable is minimum gauge recommended for LED installations. Measure the distance from the last fixture on the run to the transformer to calculate the amount of cable needed. Add 1-2 feet of cable per fixture to allow for repositioning.

Step 3: Wiring Your System and Voltage Drop


Cable Fixture and Layout
If your lighting plan requires more than one transformer, you will need to divide the fixtures into groups or zones. To do so, consider the many areas of your property and how they are used. You may want all of the front yard lighting on one transformer, patio and deck lighting on another transformer, etc. The location of your electrical outlets will also help you to determine how to group the fixtures.

Maximum Cable Length Per Total Fixture Watts/VA
Cable Size 50w/VA 75w/VA 100w/VA 150w/VA 200w/VA 250w/VA 300w/VA
12-2 300' 200' 150' 100' 75' 60'
10-2 475' 318' 240' 160' 120' 100' 80'
8-2 750' 506' 380' 250' 190' 150' 125'

Voltage Drop
Excessive voltage drop occurs when too much wattage is placed on a cable that is too long or too small for the load. Voltage drop causes lamps furthest from the transformer to be dimmer than those near the transformer.

Loop Installation
Here, fixtures are arranged in a loop, reducing voltage drop. It is essential that cable polarity be maintained in the installation.

Straight Run Installation
Fixtures run in sequence directly from the transformer.

Split Load Installation
With a Split Load installation, fixtures run in two or more directions from transformer. Locating the transformer in the center of the run and connect wires to the transformer as you would when using straight run installation.

Hub Installation
With a Hub installation, fixtures in a group are connected at a central hub. The voltage drop will be virtually identical for each fixture, which makes this installation option optimal. Fewer connections are needed, simplifying troubleshooting and system servicing.

“T” Installation
A “T” installation allows more equal distribution of power to the center of the run, or to the run some distance away. If lengthy runs, Use 8 or 10 AWG cable to split. Use 12 AWG cable to cross the “T” between fixtures.

Step 4: Consider Accessories


Photocells
Photocells turn the lighting on when the sun goes down. You can combine a photocell (on) and a timer (off) to avoid wasting energy after the household has retired for the night.

Timers
Timers provide automatic on/off control, according to how you program them and can be used in conjunction with photocells.

Lenses
Hinkley lenses are available for use with spotlights to create directional beams of light, diffuse lamp beam spread, enhance color and to reduce overall glare.


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