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  • OFF TOPIC: Low voltage lighting transformer

    So I have a couple of Low voltage transformers for my landscape lighting. I got them on clearance and to replace them would be quite costly. They both exhibit the same issue: The internal break is tripping even with no load whatsoever. As a matter of fact, on 1 outlet in my house, one of the transformers WORKS!

    I took open my 900w one (3x 300w) and I disconnected all the actual 120v->12v transformers. It still trips the breaker.

    I tried to find a replacement part for the "controller" in it, but all my searches turned up nothing (not surprsing to me). So, what can I do to "fix" them? Is there anything? Is it not worth it?

    I was thinking I could do one of the following:
    1. Remove the "controller" module with the circuit breaker in it and wire the transformers directly to 120v (the controller box only takes in 120v and outputs 120v). This would mean no circuit breaker.
    2. Find some kind of circuit breaker to replace the control module with and wire it in. This should give me the same level of "protection" I just lose all the stuff I never used (photovoltaic light sensing, auto off, etc).
    3. Throw it away and buy a new one ($300-400 is my estimate).
    Am I crazy for wanting to fix it?

    Does anyone have any other suggestions or maybe a good circuit breaker(s) to replace the control module with? Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    I should clarify, these worked perfectly for YEARS before this issue came up. I didn't buy them with this issue. I think the Circuit breakers in them is just going bad.
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    • #3
      A long shot but have you checked the mains voltage at the transformers?
      Last edited by cc4005; August 23rd, 2018, 12:09 PM. Reason: edit: clarity
      -Wade

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      • #4
        If you amortize the initial cost over the time you've had the units, it's likely that you've gotten your money's worth. This may be a 'canary in the mine' warning and a good excuse to replace them. On the other hand, if you don't mind having them trip the breaker on the circuit they are on, and you plug them into a GFCI outlet, bypassing the controller is probably not a huge risk as long as you do the wiring properly.
        Mike____________________________________________________________ __________________
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        • #5
          Here way back I was using 3 1000 Watt AC multiple voltage toroidal Landscaping transformers for multiple zones of incandescent outdoor lighting.

          There were inline breakers for each out of the transformer with buttons . Thinking these were for the 12VAC side.

          Long runs of wire were around 200 plus feet and I used 16 volts AC for these outdoor zones.

          I did move the transformers inside of the house and near the fuse panel wall. Neigbor left his outdoors and positioned next to outdoor outlets around his home.

          After around 3 years neighbors transformers started to rust (looked to me like they were stainless steel when I purchased them).

          I had issues trying to switch all of them on with one UPB or ZWave appliance module connected to a single 20 AMP breaker. It would always trip the breaker. I switched it over to an old X10 appliance module and didn't have any issues afterwards. I know I was pushing the three transformers connecting them to X10 appliance modules. I do remember seeing sparks coming from the UPB and or ZWave modules when going on.

          A bit afterwards started to convert each of the outdoor lighting zones to LEDs. Concurrently switched AC Power supply to smaller DIN mounted dual 12VDC power supplies. One zone per one load.

          I connected the AC from the MeanWell power supplies to one UPB relay. Never had an issue with this set up.

          Posted a DIY low voltage pictorial of concocation and use and zones some where here on the forum.

          Now tinkering with using Mosquitto and multiple DIN mounted relays controlling each of the low voltage (12VDC) LED outdoor lamps.

          DIN mounted 12VDC LED power supply ==> DIN mounted 4 port 12VDC relays (multiples of) ==> switched 12VDC LED landscaping light zones using Mosquitto. For a bit here was thinking of converting the 120 VAC outdoor coach lights to 12VDC outdoor coach lights.
          - Pete

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          • #6
            Originally posted by cc4005 View Post
            A long shot but have you checked the mains voltage at the transformers?
            I have not, but with all 3 transformers removed from the "controller module", it still trips. I guess that it could be looking for a certain "draw" and tripping because of that, but it trips the same way no matter what.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by sirmeili View Post

              I have not, but with all 3 transformers removed from the "controller module", it still trips. I guess that it could be looking for a certain "draw" and tripping because of that, but it trips the same way no matter what.
              Was thinking the internal breakers might be sensitive to high or low voltage, but I suppose not likely they're seeing that consistently or you'd have issues elsewhere.
              -Wade

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              • #8
                The worst part is that I went to replace it and Portfolio has decided that they don't want you to use their transformers on switches so if you don't use the photovoltaic light sensor or their built in timer, it always defaults to "Off" after power is restored, which is actually kind of dumb. I mean they literally made their product LESS useful.

                I've been trying to find a replacement that is missing all that crap so that I'm not paying for features I don't want, but it seems like every transformer has a timer and light sending built into it. I may have to consider going the route that Pete did, but I wanted to get them back up for halloween because I use the low voltage lights with gels for some effects.
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                • #9
                  Just found these. For <$20 I could replace the control module and still have 3 - 3amp circuits to the transformers, which is what it has now.

                  https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...k_ql_qh_dp_hza
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