Issues with Wiring Outdoor Lights
Our expert, Randall Whitehead, IALD, troubleshoots a troublesome wiring issue with low voltage outdoor lights.
I installed new low voltage wire to my exterior light fixtures after an animal chewed through the old wire. After the sun set and the lights came on, they were only half power — if that. The transformer is not overloaded. The wires are connected properly. The lamps are new. What’s wrong?
If the fixtures all are at low output, you may have the incorrect voltage of lamps. See if you have 24V lamps instead of a 12V. (The boxes look the same.). Also, most transformers are multi-tap for numerous voltages. Make sure that you have connected to the voltage that matches the lamp voltage. If the fixtures are dimmer at the end of the run and brighter at the end closest to the transformer, then you may be using the incorrect gauge of wire, resulting in voltage drop. There could also still be a tear in the wiring, resulting in power “leaking” into the soil. Or your house may have been built over a graveyard like in “Poltergeist.” Make sure your daughter has not disappeared into the television.
Randall Whitehead, IALD

Randall Whitehead, IALD, is a professional lighting designer and author. His books include "Residential Lighting, A Practical Guide." Whitehead has worked on projects worldwide, appeared on the Discovery Channel, HGTV and CNN, and he is regular guest on Martha Stewart Living Radio. Visit his website for more information on books, upcoming seminars and the latest lighting trends.

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