Tips to Reduce Voltage Drop on Landscape Lighting:

Wire Size, Wire Size, Wire Size....

Did you get the subtleness?? O.K. a lot of people have this problem and a little bit of pre-planning can reduce or completely eliminate this...

Yes, wire size is important but what a lot of people assume is that because it's 12volts it's not dangerous, or that because the voltage is low that the wire can be small. WRONG!!!

So the guy at the mega super deluxe depot store close to your house told you all you need is the 14 gauge wire they sell, or even more likely there was no one to help you at El Cheapo so you grabbed what was there because it was packaged by the same company as your lighting. 14 gauge would be just alright for maybe 3 or 4 fixtures of 20watts if the wire length was short. However we recommend nothing less than 12 gauge be used but more often we'd like to see you run 10 gauge for runs longer than 50ft and we even have 8 gauge landscape for longer runs.

What else can I do??? This is a landscape wiring technique passed down through the ages... Run a loop a stagger fixtures, not for the purpose of increasing capacity but for reducing voltage drop and increasing reliability. In the diagram you'll see two 'loops' but each should represent one linear run or trench, where you are simply looping back, paying mind to the polarity and terminate both of the same polarity on one screw and both of the other polarity on the second screw or lug of that circuit. Notice I didn't say positive or negative, because it's still AC not DC. So in this example we'll say each fixture is 20watts so we have 100watts on each loop. In this example we probably could get away with 14gauge if the distance was short, but we're trying to describe the idea of the loop, see the wire size recommendations at the bottom to better size for your system. The wire is probably one of the less expensive components of your landscape lighting and one of the most over-looked. Also you could actually bust out the soldering iron and make some solid connections, instead of using open displacement connectors. You could spend a few extra minutes here and have trouble free lighting for years. Or you could go the easy route and have trouble from the beginning. Also, your wire if not protected or sealed properly will act as a conduit for water and a tiny bit of moisture will find it's way in to a low spot in the cable and over time corrode and eventually make the wire fail. So take some time with your connections so you only have to do them once. We sell 3M resin packs for less than $2 each splice, or some good silicone will do well...

Here is a guide, technically you could load up the wire more but this is our recommendation:

14 gauge landscape wiring should be used for sprinklers and tying stuff to your truck

12 gauge is listed for 20amps or 240watts at 12volts, we recommend no more than 200watts and 50feet

10 gauge is listed for 30amps or 360 watts at 12volts, we recommend no more than 300watts and 50 to 100feet, also if you've looked at most landscape lighting transformers they usually have 300watt cores, that's why they are typically sized 300, 600 , 900 each 300watts is usually another circuit - Just another reason this is the most common size wire...

8 gauge is listed for more than 40 but that what will use for our recommendation of 450watts 75-150feet

If you have some really long runs consider running 120volts to a remote or direct burial transformer.

Also, just because your transformer is 600watts doesn't mean you should put 600watts on it. Think of it as your speedometer on you car, say your car can do 120mph, as much as we might like to we all know the car won't hold up very long if we always drove it at 120mph. Use the 80% rule on your transformers and keep it as close as possible to that, in other words use a 300watt transformer at 240watts, I know you are going to ask so yes 260 is Ok, but we'd like to see 240. You can use all 300watts but you also have to account for some minor resistance in the wire and some voltage drop in the wire, all of which may add to your load to a small degree. And you have to ask yourself how long you want it to last. On more thing, a 300watt transformer at $100 dollars puts out 300watts and some one else's $500 300watt transformer still puts out 300watts, you might be buying a name or a stainless enclosure or some other bells and whistles but it doesn't make it more powerful because you spent a lot of money on it. Features we like to see are a plug in or cube timer and remote photocell. Multi taps are nice if you didn't read all of what I wrote above....

We sell so many brands of landscape lighting it's sometimes hard to keep track of, but here are a few we do a lot of business with:

Focus | Corona | Kichler | Dabmar | Aurora - See our links page as well for more suggestions on lighting manufacturers