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Thread: Help putting together a dimmable voltage setup with a saved dim level preset?

  1. #1
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    Help putting together a dimmable voltage setup with a saved dim level preset?

    I've got a setup right now with 3 of these: https://www.amazon.com/Hampton-Bay-W.../dp/B01EM5N3OS and 20+ of these: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Home-Dec...-LED/301227455 I have been wanting to replace this setup with something that I can 1) dim lights to various levels in multiple zones, and 2) save the set dim level so I don't need to set it every night at dusk. I understand I would need to replace both the transformers and the LED lights. I've contacted several landscape lighting companies and electricians. Most have told me the same thing: they haven't done any installs with dimmable low-voltage landscape lighting. Those few that have done them do not have any solution for a pre-set dim level. Would someone possibly be able to point me to the specific products that would work for what I am looking for? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I have never done dimmed landscape lighting before either. I would generally recommend having multiple zones of landscape lights, so you can turn some sections off separate from others. But I have seen dimmable landscape lights before. You will need MR-lamp compatible heads (that would traditionally take a halogen bulb) and dimmable LED replacements (or halogens if you are crazy and enjoy changing light bulbs).

    The part I'm not super sure about is the transformer. You will definitely need something that doesn't have a built in timeclock. I have had success with VOLT landscape lighting, the price is right and the quality is good.

    You could try a transformer intended for indoor lighting, but the maximum distance will be severely limited, since most landscape light transformers have 12 volt as well as 15 volt taps (often more in between)

    BE WARNED that this is certainly unorthodox, and will probably (definitely) void the warranty of the transformer. It could very well hum, make weird noises, and/r fail prematurely.

    With a system like this, it is very important that you keep the voltage as consistent as humanly possible across all the fixtures, so you will need many circuits from the transformer, and utilize the multi-taps.

    Then you can quite easily hook your transformer to a Caseta PRO dimmer (good for MLV) and see if all this nonsense actually works. Connect the dimmer to a bridge and you are off to the races as far as astronomic timeclock events, remote access, etc.

    If you go to voltlighting.com you can check out all the different options they sell- just stay away from the integrated LED and the bulbs they will sell you. You will need to find your own.

    I have no experience with anything like this, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. It sounds like a much better idea to me to just add more zones of landscape lighting, that would achieve a similar end goal. I wouldn't sell this as a solution to a client, but would be willing to try it if they very clearly understood the risks and limitations. I would not bet more than $50 that this would work really well.
    Evan Kirkhart- Home Electronics Solutions
    Santa Barbara, CA
    evan@homeelectronics.solutions

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by evankirkhart View Post
    I have never done dimmed landscape lighting before either. I would generally recommend having multiple zones of landscape lights, so you can turn some sections off separate from others. But I have seen dimmable landscape lights before. You will need MR-lamp compatible heads (that would traditionally take a halogen bulb) and dimmable LED replacements (or halogens if you are crazy and enjoy changing light bulbs). The part I'm not super sure about is the transformer. You will definitely need something that doesn't have a built in timeclock. I have had success with VOLT landscape lighting, the price is right and the quality is good. You could try a transformer intended for indoor lighting, but the maximum distance will be severely limited, since most landscape light transformers have 12 volt as well as 15 volt taps (often more in between) BE WARNED that this is certainly unorthodox, and will probably (definitely) void the warranty of the transformer. It could very well hum, make weird noises, and/r fail prematurely. With a system like this, it is very important that you keep the voltage as consistent as humanly possible across all the fixtures, so you will need many circuits from the transformer, and utilize the multi-taps. Then you can quite easily hook your transformer to a Caseta PRO dimmer (good for MLV) and see if all this nonsense actually works. Connect the dimmer to a bridge and you are off to the races as far as astronomic timeclock events, remote access, etc. If you go to voltlighting.com you can check out all the different options they sell- just stay away from the integrated LED and the bulbs they will sell you. You will need to find your own. I have no experience with anything like this, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. It sounds like a much better idea to me to just add more zones of landscape lighting, that would achieve a similar end goal. I wouldn't sell this as a solution to a client, but would be willing to try it if they very clearly understood the risks and limitations. I would not bet more than $50 that this would work really well.
    Thank you for the reply. My intention is to have everything dimmed, so I'm not sure how adding more zones would resolve that. An alternative would be to just replace the lights with a lower lumen light. Is there a common light used that comes in many different brightness levels?

  4. #4
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    So, if I approach this differently and just replace the LEDs with non-dimmable 3-watt or similar...is there an easy way to setup multiple zones without replacing these transformers?

  5. #5
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    Additional zones is easy, just buy more transformers. Instead of connecting all the fixtures together, you would connect certain fixtures to one transformer and others to a different transformer.

    Adding more zones is an alternative to dimming that is more common and is less of a gamble. The problem is you currently have two settings: Disneyland and 16th century. You want something in between, but still want the ability to have Disneyland when you have a party, etc.

    This could be accomplished with dimming, with all the compromises and issues illuminated previously, or you could add multiple zones.

    Say for example: Path lights, Garden lights, Tree lights 1, Tree lights 2.

    Not all of these zones would turn on automatically. Perhaps you have a few trees illuminated softly on one circuit and the rest of the trees/more extensively lit on the other (we have big Oak trees in central CA, so that's what people generally want lit up)

    Then you have path lights, and another circuit that might have downlights in the trees to really light up the area. Those downlights would probably not be on all night every night, only when you go outside/have a party.

    That accomplishes something similar to dimming. It's not the same, and has limitations. However, dimming one giant zone of lights also has limitations.

    Dimming plus multiple zones- now we're talking. However that's probably not the cheapest or simplest proposition.
    Evan Kirkhart- Home Electronics Solutions
    Santa Barbara, CA
    evan@homeelectronics.solutions

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