Garden lighting - How can I adapt retail kits for better control?

Having looked around at what's available, I settled on some garden lighting kits that were to my taste and today bought them from B&Q. I have just had a large deck built in the garden and they will be installed in a number of locations in and around the decking.
The kits are as follows...
3 x 50mm Round LED Kits (Each of these contains 2 fittings and 1 Transformer. A 4-way adaptor allows 2 extra fittings to be connected to 1 Transformer, making 4. I need 6 fittings, so will use a 4-gang and 2-gang combination, leaving the 3rd transformer redundant (or, as I told the missus... 'a spare, just in case!'. These will be flush fitted, into the decking, as a straight line along the left edge of the deck).
1 x 10mm Round Step Warning Kit (Contains 10 x mini-LED fittings and 1 transformer. I will install these at the step onto the deck, 5 on the step and 5 in the riser.
1 x Post Lights Kit (Contains 4 post-light fittings with spikes at base and 1 transformer. These are to go in the flower bed along the right-hand edge of the deck.
All kits are supplied with standard, fuse-rated plugs which are intended to be "plugged in" to domestic, 240v wall sockets INSIDE the house! Everything else is external rated and can be located outside.
I would rather avoid routing the plugs into the house and have to chase-out and install 3 new double sockets, in the nearest wall! This'd be a lot of work, look unsightly and not be an ideal situation for controlling the lights.
A much better solution would be for me to 'spur off' of an existing 10mm, 3-core, armor cable that is buried in the flower bed, on the right, and sends juice to the sheds at the far-end of the garden.
This is where I need advice... assuming I take the spur cable (using new armored cable), under the deck and to the front edge, could I remove the plugs from the 4 kits and connect the flexes to 3 separate, externally approved switches that are protected by fuses of the same rating as was in the plugs? (do such devices exist?). These would all be fitted in a line, one next to the other, along the front edge of the deck and would all be connected (in series?) to the spur cable. I am aware that a spur should normally only supply a single socket - hence my uncertainty. I'm also in doubt about connecting the 2 transformers (supplying power to the 6 x 50mm Round lights) to the 1 switch, so that they are all controlled via that.
Another alternative, regarding switching control rather than nature of installation, that I'm considering is to have ALL the kits controlled by just the one switch. This again conjures up a host of queries to me, as to how this could be catered for... perhaps by locating the 1 switch, before the lighting circuits, on the main armored spur?
Can anyone tell me if I've got this all wrong and suggest an appropriate method? To assist anyone kind enough to help, I have uploaded a diagram that illustrates my plan and this can be viewed here...
http://d.heighington.users.btopenworld.com/garden/deck_lighting.jpg
Also, here's a link to the specs of the flower bed, post lights. I can't seem to find specs for the 2 other kits, but they are the same manufacturer and, I think, are of the same rating!...
http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/product/product.jsp?CATID 7541&entryFlaglse&PRODIDw80167&paintCatId Many thanks,
Dean
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Run a conduit or trunking that spurs to the ring circuit of the house sockets. The spur should be fused at the correct rating to supply both the transformers, but this does not mean doubling the rating because there are two. Conduit or trunking isn't to unsightly if installed along the bottom or top of a skirting board or door architrave, and should be enough to take the proper sized cabling needed for the lighting system.
Your switch gear could then be installed indoors to keep them out of the weather, which is safer in the long run.
Good luck with it.
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snipped-for-privacy@yesits.freeserve.co.uk wrote:

Does this include all the trasformers (freqently these are not rated for external use either)?

Where would you ideally like to control the lights from?

Hmmm, don't fancy that much...

A fused spur can supply any number of sockets...

Are all these transformers supplying the same sort output (i.e. 12V AC for example)?

I think I would be looking at doing the vast bulk of the wiring, and switching on the low voltage side of things. Perhaps building a new PSU that can feed a LV supply from the house to the deck, and then having whatedver switching is required for the different lights in the LV wiring on the deck. That saves lots of fuss messing about with 240V outside.

http://www.diy.com/diy/jsp/bq/product/product.jsp?CATID 7541&entryFlaglse&PRODIDw80167&paintCatId Does not say if they are AC or DC, but at a guess they will be AC. Not sure what the LED lights will expect however. Assuming they all want 12V AC then an electronic LV lighting transformer of the type used for internal halogen lighting could supply enough juice for the whole setup. One hefty ish cable run outside from the house to the deck, switched and then direct connection to the lights.
You can forget about all the bundled transformers that way, and not worry about using mains outside at all.
--
Cheers,

John.

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As mentioned, transformer are included but are also the plug for each kit and NO, they're not externally rated!

Somewhere on or around the deck. Not from wall socket in house.

Why's that?

OK, thanks for pointing that out.

Yes they are, I think its all 10V AC.

Due to other, ongoing building works currently happening, I do have an available cable route from the garden, through the kitchen, garage and into the understairs cupboard where the consumer unit is. This is all via 2" conduit hidden behind fixtures and fittings. Are you suggesting that I add a new circuit to the consumer unit, using one of the spare 'ways', and fit a PSU which converts 240V to LV (replacing the kit supplied transformers) and suitable for providing LV to all 3 lighting circuits in unison? And then interrupting the LV supply to each by installing the desired switches?
Sounds like a potential solution and seems proper. How do I go about calculating the requirements and selecting the correct components to allow this?

Is this an alternative to the above or in addition? It sounds like an option as the biggest problem I have is the kit supplied transformer plugs and it seems plausible that there would be a transformer on the market that would cater for all three circuits. Again, I lack experience with LV systems, but assume that such a device would have an array of (2 or more) connectors and converts 240V on one side to multiple LV outputs on the other? I can then install switches on each LV feed?

Have I understood you correctly? Which do you think is more appropriate and cost-effective?
thnks,
deano.
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Dean Heighington wrote.
All sounds confused. Use one transformer to supply the lot, and it will need to be a toroidal, not an electronic one, since the tronics have minimum load requirements that youll go below.
The toroidal transformer plugs in the mains, theres no reason to add a CU way for it.
Switch everything on the LV side, switches wherever you want them.
To determine ratings of transformer we need the specs of the lights: power, voltage and type. The kit says halogen, you say LED. Kit says 10w, you say 10v - proper info required.
Since everything will be wired at LV, life will be easy.
NT
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Are the lights part of the select-a-light system http://www.cmsgardens.co.uk/lightselect.htm ?
If so which ones?
There are multiple transformers available to suit different numbers of lights.
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Please see preceding post for details.
cheers.
d.
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Hi Dennis.
I respond to all your previous posts here. Having read them, it seems a more simple way of obtaining a solution than by employing the use of a single transformer, rated to supply the lot (computer PSU).

I wasn't aware of this range, from this manufacturer. I'm guilty of seeing the ones in B&Q, liking them and buying on the spot (scuse the pun). However, the range at the above URL do not have white LED units, which is what I was after... I wanted to try and avoid the "garden-fairy" atmosphere that the Blue and Green lighting might create!

Good point (the heels [another pun]) although they tend to make my feet hurt so I wear them only on special occassions... or did you mean the womenfolk who constantly crave my company and wear nothing but heels? :)
Seriously though, I might have to swap them for fittings intended for deck mounting... B&Q did have a similar set but I didn't like the black rubber outer ring which, with hindsight, was probably a shock absorber for just such deck installations!

OK, so this would use 2 transformers, and 2 of the 4-way adaptors, from the 3 x "2 Beam" kits I have. Each 4-way would hold 3 of the "2 Beam" LED lamps and on the 4th (spare) way of one adaptor, I could connect the 10-light "Ultra" array! This'll leave me with 2 redundant transformers, one from a "2 Beam" kit and one from the "Ultra" kit!? That sounds do-able, although how would I distribute the switching to isolate the various phases? The simplest, I suppose, would be to install just 1 'master' switch at the 240V feed, before it reaches the 3 transformers, rather than controlling each circuit individually!
The 2000mA I mentioned was printed on the supplied transformer, not the lamps themselves.

This is what concerns me about the alternative solution using a PSU for all the phases/circuits! I'm quite happy to utilize the supplied transformers, if they can be housed in a neat-looking box in the garden and I can add a switch(es) to the installation. Would there be any risk from frost using this setup?

This is similar to a suggestion by "Chip" elsewhere in this thread. Do you have a URL for the devices you mention above? I can't seem to find them on the B&Q (diy.com) website! I'd like to read the spec on the wireless sockets with the remotes, although I'm still confused about there being 2 remotes, but 3 plug sockets!

Again, can I view this online somewhere? Combined with the wireless (or even hard wired switches) it sounds like a promising solution as long as frost won't pose a problem.
cheers
deano.
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snipped-for-privacy@meeow.co.uk wrote:

OK, I should've done this to start with... I've grabbed the boxes and here are the relevant specs/ratings:
Kit Name: "2 Beam" (2 x 115mm dia lights containing 36 LED bulbs each)
Barcode: "5 014838 170038" Model No.'s: 7002, 7003 (Info is not very clear as these are repackaged for B&Q) NB: Having read instructions inside, these now tell me that light fittings should ONLY be fitted in a VERTICAL position! But doesn't specifically say NOT Horizontal, just that WET locations should be avoided. No indication of this requirement on the box itself! I want to mount them horizontally in the decking... should/shouldn't I? I could use some 4" drainpipe to deter water ingress... yet more questions!
As mentioned before, I bought three of these kits, to give me the 6 lights I'm after. Leaving me with 1 redundant transformer and 4-gang adaptor. I know there are accessory packs available containing just lights, transformers etc, but you know B&Q... chaotic, understocked and when you eventually find a staff member, they don't know jack!
According to the packaging and instructions, the kit includes:
1 x Internally rated, plugin transformer (12VDC 2000mA) + 15m cable 1 x External (IP44) 4-way JB (adaptor) 2 x External (IP44) light fittings + 5m cable
************************************************************************
Kit Name: "10 Ultra" (10 x 15mm lights containing 1 LED bulb each)
According to the packaging and instructions, the kit includes:
1 x Internally rated, plugin transformer (12V 200mA) + 15m cable doesn't specify whether AC or DC! 1 x External (IP44) 10-way JB (adaptor) 10 x External (IP54) light fittings + 5m cable each
************************************************************************
Kit Name: "Button" (4 x Post Spike lights with Night Sensor [optional])
According to the packaging and instructions, the kit includes:
1 x Indoor plug with 3AMP fuse 1 x External (IP64) Transformer (12VAC 4200mA) + 4m cable 1 x External (IP44) Photocell (night sensor) + 2m cable 1 x 14m extension cable 4 x External (IP44) spiked, Halogen lights
************************************************************************
Kits 1 and 2 are from the same manufacturer. Kit 3 from another.
Can all these be powered by one transformer?
rgds,
deano.
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As they are 12V then it shouldn't be electrically dangerous to mount them horizontaly... but they probably won't last for long as the water gets in and they corrode.
Will they survive if someone steps on them? In heels?

You should be able power these from the same transformer as the above (deck lights). Put 3 lamps on each transformer and these on one of them.
Do the lamps have a rating lable on them as 2000mA seems a lot for four LED lamps.

These are best left on their own transformer as they are AC. You can run them on DC but it will cost more than its worth.
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Dean Heighington wrote:

Ah, OK wall warts then...

It is a lot of hassle to dig up a SWA and then make a waterproof junction to it underground etc.

OK looking at your specs from the other post, the LED lights both have a 12DC Supply, the ordinary halogen ones use a 12V AC supply. There is nothing to stop you running the AC lights on DC since they should just be ordinary incandescent bulbs (the reverse is not true since the LEDs won't like having AC stuffed up em!)
So you need one 12V DC supply that can handle a total current.

No need for a dedicated circuit here - we are talking about a tiny load overall - less than 100W in total.

Yup that would be a solution...

Personally I would start by measuring the actual current draw of each set of lights (with multimeter if you have one)

It was a continuation of the above - just suggesting a cheap and available source of power supply - but now we know two sets require DC it is not such an attractive solution since the output of lighting transformers are AC and not DC and hence unsuitable for the LED lights.

There is a huge choice of PSUs of various types available. Your requirements would seem to point toward a fairly high powered DC one at the moment. Perhaps a small computer PSU would do the job since these will knock out a good number of amps at 12V. You need to find out how much each of the clusters of lights are using first before getting into too many more specifics (computer PSUs also have a minimum load beneath which they will not work).

If you had a PSU with enough output then you could simply take your three feeds from it and then switch them.

Using the ones you have is the most cost effective, however it may not be the most appropriate.
--
Cheers,

John.

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YEP... nice metaphor :)

Indeed AND uneccessary to.

OK, I can sort of understand you on this. My knowledge of electrical theory and principles is somewhat weak. I studied Technology at school but had a boring teacher and other, more appealing, distractions at the time. I take your word for it, but FMI, is it that the LEDs need a 'steady' (direct) current as they are very sensitive, whereas the halogens would prefer alternating current, as they rely on heating of an element, but will withstand DC through not being so sensitive???

OK... A 'daddy' transformer then? :)

Not wrong then, but would be overkill?

OK... Need to source 'external' switches that would suffice for LV. Or would I have to use ones intended for 240V, because that's all is available on the market? Again, I want to keep costs down, so would consider any switching solution... would you employ 1 master switch for ALL 3 circuits, or control them individually? Do you have a URL so that I can see the full range of components available for 'external' installations for LV (if they exist)?

I have some such device from RapiTest... I need to did it out, but I'm sure I remember it being a multimeter... might have been for cars though. Should I have one (or buy/borrow one), I have no idea how/where to take the readings from... can you advise?

Should I now disregard this then?

That's why I'm concerned about choosing the wrong device. Would you assist me with the selection and point me to a source where I can obtain all that I might need?

What's your 'ballpark' figure on the cost of going the CPSU route? It may be that, ultimately, it would be prudent for me to use the supplied "Warts" in a hidden location in the house (say the understairs cupboard) and then just buy 1 (or three) external switches and fit them to the LV cables at the deck. Again, available components dictating what I can do... I assume that a 'single master switch' would have to be '3-pole' (is this the correct terminology?). Also, would it be sufficient for me to construct/purchase a 'waterproof box' at the house wall, into which I could install a 4-gang, 240V extension block, with the 'warts' attached and contained within?
Thanks
Dean.
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Dean Heighington wrote:

probably a uk.d-i-y special, but it seems to capture the essential qualities l-)

Sort of... the halogens are ordinary light bulbs which are not at all fussy about what you feed them. Hence for garden lighting applications it is cheaper to feed them AC since all you need is a transformer and nothing much else.
LEDs (Light Emmiting Diodes), are electronic components that in most respect behave like ordinary (i.e. non light emmiting) diodes - they have a one way valve type of effect - they will only let current flow in one direction. So when you connect them the "right" way round to the power source they conduct, and emit light. When the wrong way round they don't.
So best case on an AC supply (i.e. one that keeps swapping its polarity) is that they would flash on and off at mains frequency (i.e. 50 times / second). Unlike a light bulb they have no persistance of light output - so when you turn them on of off, they react immediately. You may not see this flicker when you look straight at them, however it would be distracting as you move your eyes around since you would catch it in your peripheral vision.
The worst case is if the supply voltage is higher than what is known as the maximum "reverse bias" voltage of the diode. Ordinary dioes are quite robust in that you can stick quite high voltages accros them in the reverse direction and it does them no damage. LEDs however are a bit more fragile and don't usually like large revers voltages. On some more tahn 5V will kill them.

Yup.
Basically yes.

External switches designed for 240V will tend to be fine for 12V also.
Something like:
http://www.tlc-direct.co.uk/Main_Index/Wiring_Accessories_Menu_Index/Weatherproof_Accessories_Index/Weatherproof_Switches/index.html

If you end up connecting to a socket to feed the daddy PSU then that can be your master switch. See the TLC site above for a good range of stuff.
Also look at:
http://www.cpc.co.uk /

Multimeters are dead cheap anyway. See CPC above or www.maplin.co.uk.
To take a current reading you need to place the meter in series with the circuit. i.e. you need to disconnect one of the wires to the PSU and connect it to one of the MM leads. Then connect the other MM lead to the PSU so that the current is actually flowing through the meter. (This is different from using it to measure volatage where you can simply connect it across the terminals of the PSU)

You can disregard the bit about the LV ligghting transformer since the output of this will not be suitable for the LED lights.

The CPC link above is a good choice for PSUs. I can advise on a model, but will need to know how much current all your lights are really going to need since that will affect how much you need to spend!

Assuming you need a 5 to 10A supply, then then cheapest PSU would probably be a computer one. These start at about 10 quid. If you went for a nice neat small boxed unit however you could easily end up spending 30 to 40.

There is alot to be said for that. You will often need to extend the wires for these things anyway...

No need for 3-pole, single pole would do. (you split the supply to the three lights after the switch, not before)

Someone posted a link to such a thing the other day - it may have been on the TLC site...
--
Cheers,

John.

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B&Q sell a wireless socket switch kit for 20 (two remotes and three plug sockets) and a large waterproof plastic box for ~16.
Put a 4way in the box with the wireless switched socket adapters in it and connect the 4 way to an existing socket.
Very safe as you only ever touch the remote to turn the lights on and off.
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This sounds promising!
So, if I understand correctly, I can plug the 4 transformers, supplied with the kits, into a 4-gang socket block, with a wireless adaptor between each transformer and each socket on the block. All this goes into a big plastic box and I have a remote for each plug?
I know this doesn't add up, as you mentioned: 2 x remotes; 3 x plug sockets and 1 x 4 way (socket block?)
Also, I only want 3 circuits... the 50mm Round lights have to be joined and controlled by 1 switch!
I must admit, I'm a little confused, could you spell it out for me?
tnks,
deano.
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Its a big box so you could put a 4 way and a 2 way in.
The lights don't use much power so heat shouldn't be a problem.
You could extend the low voltage wires and put the stuff in the garage/shed.
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No, not at all! The picture is great. As a designer, I always have to see things visually before I can resolve what's in me 'ead!
They look like just the ticket, I can stuff all of these inside a wall mounted box and keep the remotes handy... that'd impress the hordes of girls dressed in nothing but heels! The product at http://tinyurl.com/dvsln looks good but I'd like to compare it with the B&Q one that you suggested! Can you give me the product name and/or model No.s of the wireless switch kit and the ABS housing you have mentioned? That way I can ring my (not so) nearest B&Q and hopefully avoid a wasted trip... if that is where you bought/saw them?
Also, I'm still unsure how I could configure the set up so that the deck lights and step lights are switched separately... if I employ your method of 3 deck lights per transformer, with the step lights added to one of these, and then plug these transformers into 2 of the 3 wireless sockets, I would end up with an odd split! I could plug a 2-way adaptor into 1 of the wireless sockets and then 2 transformers (for the deck lights) into this... or would that be verging on the 'unsafe'?

Again, I'd like to see it before making a decision... I'm tempted to nip down to B&Q now for a butchers!

If there's room in the box, I'd prefer to hide it!
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snipped-for-privacy@yesits.freeserve.co.uk wrote:

Thanks for all the useful replies. Before I answer each individually, I need to state that since my first post, I have discovered that each of these lighting kits uses a transformer which is also the plug. Thus, it is apparent that the manufacturers intend for this to be 'plugged in', to a wall socket WITHIN the house. This scuppers my original plan but I still want to avoid a mass of transformers on the wall indoors.
I'm confident, from your posts, that there is a solution which will enable me to 'do away' with these ugly beasts AND allow me to control the lights from the decking.
cheers,
deano.
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On Sun, 26 Jun 2005 15:00:59 +0000 (UTC),it is alleged that Dean
uk.d-i-y:

Its 20 quid, but TLC's http://tinyurl.com/dvsln might be what you're after, it (so far as I can tell) ends in a flexible cord with a plug, but that's a normal plug and could be removed for connection via a switch etc,and it WILL hold and hide those ugly transformer plugs and could be wired into a switch (with the appropriate cable glands etc). TLC's outdoor cheapo wiring section contains very cheap weatherproof switches etc which may help.
My general idea would be to take the circuit from a fused connection unit indoors, an RCD protected type if no other RCD is on the circuit, thence to the switch, and from there to that box, using the correct glands etc.
HTH
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