Landscape lighting fixtures - low voltage

Hi,
I am interested in installing some low voltage landscape lights. I am looking at 12v systems. I looked at the lights at Home Depot (Malibu) where the spot lamps 20w are about $US 14.00 each. These look flimsy. If I were to spend something like $US 30 per lamp, what would be a good brand / model to buy?
I am looking for MR16 Based Accent spot lamps, and I live in NorthEastern USA. So get snowy winters, well now I do, not sure what global warming will bring... has stayed pretty mild recently.
Another question is, in general are lamps which will take 50w bulbs better built that the ones which have a max wattage of 20w?
Best, Mike.
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For $30, you'll get crappy fixtures worth $15 more than the really crappy HD fixtures. Landscape fixtures, regardless of voltage can easily run around $100 per fixture for good equipment. Low voltage will also require a transformer. Most higher end companies like Hadco, or Kim, will make many of their fixtures in either voltage. From my experience, low voltage fixtures don't hold up nearly as well as line voltage, and the bi-pin sockets of MR-16 fixtures are nothing but problems

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I just bought & installed the HD Malibu Metal series kit (made by Intermatic) and and very pleased with how it looks. The fixtures (bullet & spot) are heavy aluminum and the kit comes with 100' of the HD power cord. Much nicer than the plastic pagoda lights. Used the bullets to light a 30' flagstone walkway and the spots to wash the house.
Installs easy and looks like it will last a long time. Only suggestion would be if you buy additional cable, be sure to get the HD kind and not the standard or light gauge stuff. Too much voltage drop with that.
-- "Tell me what I should do, Annie." "Stay. Here. Forever." - Life On Mars
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Hi Rick,
I was thinking about those Malibu ones as well. The price is great compared to other ones I see. I was just wondering how they hold up over time. My thinking was if I get the super nice ones, like $US 100, I could like buy six of the Malibu. Would one of the expensive ones really last six times as long?
I was also wondering what the failure modes where. Nomad thinks it is heat dissapation due to higher resistance. I was thinking thermal cycle. These fixtures get real hot. I know that because I bought just one of the Malibu and was testing it with a 12 v battery car charger. So in the winter when the temperature is like 13 degrees (I am in New York State). Turing on one of these will move the temperature to maybe 120 and over, too hot to touch. Would that sort of temperature range break seals and hence allow water to get in? If that is the case is there any gunk sealant that you could try to extend the live of the units?
Best, Mike.
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I bought the 15 fixture kit - 10 bullets and 5 spots for $279. Also includes 100' of cable and a 300w transformer. Bought it more for appearance than how long it would last, but I'm not too worried about it.

Not sure why you were seeing such high temps as my cases get warm, but not hot. The glass does get hot, but that's halogen. The bullets are vented at the bottom and I think the spots were also, but I'm not sure. They had different sized bulbs, so maybe the spots were smaller wattage.
One thing - the instructions said not to place a lamp close than 10' to the transformer, so you may have been pushing too much current through your test fixture.

I wouldn't mess up the venting. They're designed for outdoor four season use...
-- "Tell me what I should do, Annie." "Stay. Here. Forever." - Life On Mars
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Line voltage fixture may be better quality, but low voltage offers many advantages to the homeowner. DIY install, no permits, no electrician, no special wiring to code, no 24" cable burial, less danger,
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I agree. The higher end low voltage fixtures are made exactly the same as the line voltage ones, with a different socket, and essentially are wired the same except for the type of cable used. They don't use the stab type connectors which oxidize in a short time. The 20 watt bi-pin type are fine, but I find that the MR-16 sockets don't hold up in the hostile environment of the Northeast

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Amperage is what matters and low voltage lighting operates at far higher current than high voltage lighting. The power dissipated by an inline resistance is I^2*R; A 60W 120V system will draw 0.5 amps and a 1/2 ohm series resistance will dump 1/8th of a watt. A 60W 12V system will draw 5 amps, and the same 1/2 ohm resistance will dump 12.5 watts and probably burn out in short order.
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Regardless of the voltage of your system, you must use wire properly sized for the current draw. In any low voltage system, the slightest oxidation causes connections to open and lights to go out. Many of the cheap systems use connectors that stab into the conductor. This type of connection is really poor in soil like in the NE
wrote:

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wrote:

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Hi - i'm kind of new to this google groups but joined because we make low voltage lights in Australia, using stainless steel and LED's - they certainly aren't those flimsy lights you'd get at HomeDepot. We are still in R&D mode at the moment but have just finished a big trial and looking to make some more tests. BTW they are also solar powered so there is no need to kill the environment:) the images are not on the web site yet but will be soon - check out some of the other things we do at www.colinklupiec.com - cheers - will
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