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Thread: Automation and Landscape Lighting

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    Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Does anyone know if Pentair Automation Systems replaces the need for a low voltage transformer used for low voltage landscape lights? I have read that some load centers have ample space for low voltage wires, which I assume means that no separate transformer is required. But I can't find anything that confirms this. Thanks.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Yes. The EasyTouch has that capability.
    That being said, what type of landscape lighting are you interested in? I'm not a big fan of hooking up landscape lighting that way. Stand alone systems with dedicated transformers are much better in my opinion. Consider options other than what you can buy at HD or Lowes. Those types of lights are ok if you want something that just glows, but if you want real landscape lights that look great and last a lifetime, I have some suggestions.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    I for one would be very interested and take notes on your suggestions!
    (DIY):16K Gal 20X30 rectangular IG Gunite, w/spa, CCP 520 filter,2 Pentair VS pumps, 400KBTU Pentair gas heater, Heat Pump for cooling, **update5.25.2013** added an intellichem with acid pump that will control existing SWG. My Build Thread Here

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    CAST Lighting (thats a brand). The fixtures are made from cast bronze. They last forever. You can get transformers from 300W up to 1200W. Lights range from 15 watt to 50 watt in capability. Most are 20 watt for the majority of applications. These types of lights actually light your landscape. Most of what you see at the box stores are cheaply made, will last maybe 2-3 years, less in a harsh climate, won't illuminate anything, really, and just basically glow at night.

    With professional landscape lights, you can get well lights, bullets, wall washers, deck lights, etc. They are not cheap, though. CAST isnt the only brand out there. A couple others are comparable. I happen to like CAST though. No i dont sell them, just love the look. I have 55 on my property (front yard, backyard, around the pool, some well lights in the ground, and a few in the trees.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Pentair, Hayward and Jandy controllers low voltage raceway is meant for items such as temp probe wires, valve actuator wires, etc..., not for low voltage lighting. What you can do is take the lead from the transformer and run it into the high voltage side and use it as the line side connection for the relays going to landscape lights. Then each leg of your landscape lights can be controlled that are connected to the load side of the relays being used.

    Pentair also has Intellibrite LED landscape lights that might be worth looking at. They are fairly bright and you can run a lot of them off a single power source since they use so much less current.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by PoolGuyNJ
    LED landscape lights
    Thats similar to "painted pool" in my book
    IMO, LED lights for landscaping look awful. If your going to do landscape lights, do something that looks nice. Those LED lights remind me of runway lights at the airport.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    LED bulbs can be purchased in various warmths (color; for example cool white vs warm white), lumen (perceived light intensity), and wattage (which can affect the lumen in each "style" of bulb).

    Because I have so many lights, many the cheaper ones and some "professional" quality, and several large transformers and a few smaller ones, and keep most on all night I do use quite a bit of electricity with the halogen bulbs. Depending on which lights I have on my wattage can be 1Kw, 2Kw, 3Kw, etc., using all halogen and incandescent for most hours of the night. I've switched over some of the bulbs to LED in areas where I don't need the brightest lighting. I spent weeks looking at LED replacement bulbs and ordered a few to try out. If you search for "replacement LED bulbs for low voltage landscape lighting" your results will be limited so you have to search "outside the box" Replacement LED bulbs come in a pretty wide variety and the choices are increasing pretty fast. BTW.... many of the fixtures come with a bulb or two included and many are halogen. Some come with the wedge base. These don't go up very high in wattage.

    The only Solar lights that are (or have turned out to be) useful to me is two metal wedge, solar lights on one side of the spa housing, that stay lit all night, just enough light to not spoil the mood, but enough to see snakes when going to the spa. On three of the other sides I have motion activated battery operated, small lights, that are LED and have good intensity. They go on pretty quickly and go off pretty quickly. I use rechargeable high amp batteries and they last pretty long before needing recharging. When the deck is dark, and soaking in spa, it's fun to see the lights pop on and off as the raccoons circle the spa. Sometimes the dogs are so quiet I only know they are out there with me when a light pops on as they get up to shift position.

    Most of the lights I have closest to the pool, where you can see the light while you are in the pool, which is important in that you don't want the glare in your eyes, are for just enough lighting on the deck, and walkway up against the house, enough for us to see the copperheads at night when they are on the concrete. Yet they aren't so bright as to spoil the "mood" when we want the area not so lit up. These are "pathway" lights and use 18 w wedge bulbs. When we want the area more lit we use a remote controlled fluorescent flood light mounted up on second story deck. One of the LED replacement bulbs I ordered to try in those lights is a little brighter than the 18 watt wedge bulbs, and is a warm white that matches the incandescent wedge bulbs very closely in "warmth"; warmth going from cool white to warm white with tones in between.

    As indicated in the above post, you get what you pay for, but you can find that the "professional" type fixtures vary greatly in quality and price. Many of the big box store metal lights in the lower price range $20-35 per will lose their coatings after several years. Some of my "copper" lights are flaking off but turning to a nice weathered "verde" color/texture. Many of the bargain pathway lights will fail at the place where the post connects to the base.

    If you spend a lot of time researching on Internet you can find some really good deals on the real professional, and the sort-of professional lights.

    I have found some great lights on eBay. I have about 12 man-made rock lights, pretty good sized, where the rock is split horizontally, with bulb in base point up, and then the top part of rock sits on little metal pegs anchored in base. They blend in nicely with our natural environment and give a good deal of light for pathways, with light spreading 360 degrees around the light. I tried LEDs in those but the halogen 60 watt works the best. Reflector is mounted above the bulb on the bottom of top piece of rock. They are really expensive lights and I have not found them sold in the US, online or box stores. What looks to be the same light, sold in Europe, is many times what I paid for them on eBay. I purchased some of these without transformers, and a couple of "sets" came with a transformer. Most transformer that come in sets have a rate for just a little over the wattage needed for the lights in that set.

    After adding so many lights, over the years, I basically discarded the included transformers that came with any sets becuase I now use large transformers for most of the lighting. Using the larger transformers makes for less concern when adding lights because of wattage limitations on the transformers, but as I add more lights to each transformer, I have to start counting the amount of wattage in use already.

    It is hard to find, in big box stores, wiring any heavier than 12 gauge. It's best to go with 10 gauge from the very start and for especially long runs even 8 gauge. 8 and 10 are much more expensive than 12 gauge and up. With low voltage the voltage can drop drastically by the time you get to the end of line so the heavier the wire the better. If your landscape allows for it you can do a loop configuration so that voltage drop is then not an issue.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Sounds like a big system. I prefer the uniform look. Every fixture is from the same manufactuer so the look is the same whether or not its a path light, wall washers on my hardscape, bullet lights that uplight the house and down light the trees, or well lights in the ground. I have several trees and shrubs back lit for effect. I have 2 transformers; one is 900w, the other 1200w. Several home runs back to the transformers with spider connections buried in the ground to connect light to light on one circuit. Most bulbs are 20 watt. My lights mounted in the trees for downlighting effect are 50 watt.
    The system professionally installed was $275 a light. That includes the transformers for the system, fixture, wire, labor, etc. I'm going to add another 25 this spring. That should finish it up. 80 lights total.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    When we bought our place, a little over 3 years ago, it already had some landscape lights from a company called Twilight. I had never heard of them, but the lights are now 8 years old and still working great. The finishes are also holding up well, especially considering the hot Texas sun they have to deal with. I haven't seen their stuff in retail stores, but their prices are far more reasonable than other high quality fixtures I've looked at. Check out their stuff at http://www.twilightlighting.com/

    I really like their power packs. I can manually switch them on and off, set them for dusk-to-dawn mode, or (my favorite) select how long they stay on after dusk. The latter setting provides 1 to 12 hours of light, in 1-hour increments.

    At the other end of the spectrum is the el-cheapo, plastic Malibu light sets that you find at Wally World and other big-box stores. Yes, they're cheap, but expect to replace them often.
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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Those look nice.

    Here is what i have

    http://www.cast-lighting.com/homeowners/
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    I, also, like some uniformity but mine are spread out over a pretty large ares on all sides of the house. For many you can't see the fixtures.

    I will only use the very best for well lights especially if there is any possibility that they will be stepped or tromped on which is a given, at my place, with GIANT and large bouncing dogs. Most of my fixtures get hit/stepped on by the dogs so durability is always a big consideration when purchasing lights now that I've tried so many.

    One of the only reasons I would ever purchase a cheap variety set, again, of the plastic lights would be to play around with and planning placement, type, and light output, lumen and spread, for the more expensive, permanent fixtures. I have enough cheap ones in the shed to do the job now so I won't be purchasing any more of those.

    For temporary applications a good portable fixture or more, outdoor halogen or fluorescent, with good quality outdoor extension cords can't be beat.

    I've tried out all kinds of fixtures for the umbrella poles, incandescent, halogen, oil, LED, some wired, solar, and battery. Last year I went through about 8 different kinds for the main, big umbrella on the deck before deciding on my favorite; light and ease of use. All are LED, and all that I purchased I researched pretty well first. Some came with a plug in power brick to recharge the batteries, one has a pull out pack that plugs in to charge, and one type you have to pull the batteries out but does have a socket for plug in charging. A "newly" improved solar disc type, LED pole light was a failure. The most expensive doesn't always have the best hinge and snap closure for easy put up and removal. All are plastic. You can mount them with lights down or up for ambient lighting. The cheapest ones, bought 8 on eBay, give enough light to read by but aren't glarely. They can be hung, suspended, so I'm saving those for "special", once in a while use. All of those umbrella pole lights have varying color warmths.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryH3
    I really like their power packs. I can manually switch them on and off, set them for dusk-to-dawn mode, or (my favorite) select how long they stay on after dusk. The latter setting provides 1 to 12 hours of light, in 1-hour increments.
    I really like that feature too and have some of those. A couple of my older 1200 watt transformers don't have those options but rather manual off/on and timer dials where you place in the little tabs on the dial.

    I ordered a 1200 watt transformer, multi function, off eBay last year. It was new and cost much, much less than what I paid at big box stores for the others.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Oh yes, need to add. It seems the more I add the more I want.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Those look nice.

    Here is what i have

    http://www.cast-lighting.com/homeowners/
    Great site. Thanks
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryH3
    or (my favorite) select how long they stay on after dusk.
    Thats what I do. Dusk to 12 midnight.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    In a good friends neighborhood, every house but one has tasteful lighting in the front. Front yards are small so it makes a huge difference that there is or is not some conformity. One neighbor put in solars along the straight walkway from sidewalk to house. All of the neighbors are up in arms about it. Just that little bit is a big sore spot in the neighborhood. I don't think their Association has any "codes" for that either.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by bk406
    Quote Originally Posted by HarryH3
    or (my favorite) select how long they stay on after dusk.
    Thats what I do. Dusk to 12 midnight.
    I do many of mine to 2-3 a.m. as we stay up later and outside later than most people. Where needed, for the dogs, they are on dusk to dawn. Of course that is in the winter only becuase we have to bring them in at dusk, March 15-Oct 15, because of the copperheads. Snake avoidance training doesn't work for when they step on them and get bites on feet and legs.

    gg=alice
    1981, 25K, IG, Blue Plaster 1996, somewhat oval, widens a bit at shallow end, 1.5" pipes, 2" at Pad, 1 separate main drain, 1 skimmer, 4 returns + dedicated cleaner return, 10 ft deep end with very fast decline from shallow, Pentair Quad 80 DE, Pentair Intelliflo VF, 3/4 HP Booster Pump (equipment pad about 8 ft below top of pool), Challanger 3/4 Trash/Emergency Pump 120v, Polaris 280 (pressure), iRobot Verro cleaner (robotic), Aquabot Turbo (robotic), Jacuzzi Tracker 4X (vacuum) Pool Blaster (Buster), Two (2) PoolSkims, Solar Breeze (solar powered top skimmer) (beta to ver. 2, release date 2010), ColorSplash LED replacement bulb. Aries 550 gal separate spa, 2002 (our 3rd and BEST spa) , BBB-Bromine

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Well, that was certainly more info than I bargained for...thanks all. Yes, it's an EasyTouch Automation system but sounds like I should just go with the transformer anyway. Will definitley look into wiring it into the EasyTouch control panel to gain the automation through the remote. The project is a multi-level pool deck so I'm thinking "Integral" lights in the wall. They mount simply under the top cap and are very discreet. Haven't picked out the step lights yet. The steps are going to be stamped concrete so I think any step light will work and I'll have the concrete bubbas install them while they pour. I'm thinking maybe Vista or Kichler, but I still need to look into the "Cast" lights. I definitely don't want to spend more than $50 a fixture so that will be limiting factor. I can get the Integral 6in wall lights for under $50, but the step lights will be tough. Have to check out Ebay. Thanks again.

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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    I'll bump this old thread rahter than start a duplicate.

    I need to plan the layout for out lights next week. We are going to run the wires and then I'll purchase the actual lights once we have some money (pools cost a lot ). We have 450' of wire in the pool budget. I thought this would be enough, until I stopped to think about it.

    I'm pretty sure we will install all LED Landscape lights. They cost a little more, but should pay it back over time.

    If I want most of the lights in the yard to operate off a single line; I can just run 1 long run and 'pigtail' all the lights off the run.

    If I want separate switches for: Path Lights, Up Light, Wall Wash and Spot Lights, Do I need to run 4 separate lines?

    Or does someone make an LED fixture that can read a control signal on the power line? Like running Internet over the power lines in your house.
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    Re: Automation and Landscape Lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare
    If I want most of the lights in the yard to operate off a single line; I can just run 1 long run and 'pigtail' all the lights off the run.

    .
    Thats not really how to do it. I'm not sure what system you are going to get, but the better systems use a multitap transformer. The fixtures (most low voltage systems) use 12 volts. The longer the run, the more voltage it will need from the supply to maintain the 12 volts. Similarly, the bulb wattage will effect the voltage needed as well. For instance, on a long run the voltage on the end of the run may be down to 8 or 9 volts. If thats the case, you need to put the line on a 16 volt tap in the transformer to get 12 volts at the end of the run. The idea is to balance each home run to 12 volts and pig off 4-5 lights off each home run. If you have several 50 watt spots on a run,you may only get 3 lights on the run with the run plugged into a 20 volt tap to get 12 volts to each light. If you have a shorter run with a few 20 watt path lights, you could get up to 5-6 on that run plugged into a 12 or 14 volt tap.
    What you do is to run a home run out to where you want a cluster of lights. hook up all the lights for that node, then tie in the run to the 12 volt tap. Turn the system on and measure the voltage at the node. If its 8 volts, the difference from 12 is 4. Add 4 to 12 and you get 16. That means tie the run into the 16 volt tap and you have 12 volts at that cluster.
    If you ran one home run and pigged lights off of one run, the power you end up with to the lights wouldn't be enough and you would end up with dim lights, or lights that wouldnt light. Low voltage, DC lighting needs to be balanced; which is different than installing high voltage AC lights.

    A note on the LED lights. My opinion only, but the light they cast as compared to incandescent lights is not as appealing. In terms of cost, they aren't really that much more cost effective. Low voltage lights are already really cost effective anyway. I have 50 lights in my yard, and thats around ~ 1200 watts. At 15 cents a kw/hr, that around 18 cents an hour for all 50 lights.

    In terms of switching, the multitap transformers generally have 4 "common" breakers or switches. One side of the DC goes into the appropriate voltage tap, the other wire goes into the common. You can have as many wires under the common as you want. I have my wall washers on one, tree lights on another, and pathlights on another.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

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