Featured Pool Light - No transformer?

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
In-ground pool light is dead. In fact, never has worked.
Pole light used to work, but hasn’t for years.

Finally got around to having a good look for a transformer yesterday. No plates in the concrete, nearby posts, etc. Is there a chance the pole light (fixture?) could somehow be used as a transformer?

If no, unless it’s incorporated into something within the sub panel, we don’t have such.

So what’s involved in installing a transformer? Does it have to be near the light (cutting through concrete pad) or is there a better option? Maybe installed in our pump house or on the pole light, is there a light we can purchase that houses the transformer in it?

Intend to do whatever work I’m comfortable with (pulling through new wires, attaching light to niche, etc) but have an electrician make the connections and check everything out. Is that a good idea, or no?

Thanks for any info you can offer
 

Attachments

Ematicic

Active member
Oct 10, 2019
37
Spotsylvania, Virginia
The transformer steps the power down, it is more efficient to step the power down near the pole, then to the light. If you have a multimeter you can check for power at each stage to see where the disconnect is, and if it is in fact getting stepped down by a transformer. That is a huge light so it may use 110 vac from the pole. Honestly though, considering the risk of volts AC around water, I would have a pro come out to make sure everything is grounded right before trying to power the light.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Household6

avspin

Gold Supporter
Jun 3, 2015
112
Reno, NV
Lights come with or without transformer depending on application. What I see in your photos is a 110v lamp, no transformer needed.
 

Texas Splash

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
This would be a good time to evaluate your lighting requirements (pool, equipment pad, pole, etc) and determine whether you want a traditional Halogen bulb or one of the newer LED bulbs that work off of a lower voltage and would of course require a transformer. Then you could plan accordingly for placement and such. Looks like a good time to get all of that cleaned-up at the box and start fresh. :goodjob: Nothing like an excuse to go to the hardware store to buy stuff. :)
 

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
Lights come with or without transformer depending on application. What I see in your photos is a 110v lamp, no transformer needed.
Not trying to replace the lamp on the pole just yet. It’s the pool light that’s most needed. Should I not be concerned with 12v Light versus 110v Light for it?
 

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
This would be a good time to evaluate your lighting requirements (pool, equipment pad, pole, etc) and determine whether you want a traditional Halogen bulb or one of the newer LED bulbs that work off of a lower voltage and would of course require a transformer. Then you could plan accordingly for placement and such. Looks like a good time to get all of that cleaned-up at the box and start fresh. :goodjob: Nothing like an excuse to go to the hardware store to buy stuff. :)
We’ve spent over $1000 at Lowe’s and Home Depot this week in repainting the pool. Plus another $400 or so on a new meter base to work on getting 200 amps ran to the house. Trying to make it so an electrician only has to come out once.
I don’t really care about having all the neat colors and such. White is fine, so I’m good with halogen. What I don’t like is the thought of something crazy going wrong and 110 volts getting to someone’s ticker. Having said that, is 12 volts enough to put someone in the ground anyway?
 

GDN

Bronze Supporter
Oct 17, 2016
367
Dallas, TX
I'm not expert, most of what I've learned is from having a pool built 5 years ago and this web site, but seems most pool lights traditionally came in 120v or 12v, you could choose either and safety was the same. I don't how the decision was made on which to use, but Pentair makes the same light in both voltages, I think the other manufactures did too. Just 5 years ago my pool brand new had 120v lights installed. I guess there is a risk, but with proper code and installation, circuits, gfci, etc I don't know if one can be determined safer than another. The housings are sealed and there are no wire connections below the water line of the pool.
 

Rossterman

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2016
290
Martinez, CA
I would venture to say you have an older 120vt light with no transformer which uses replacement 120vt ac bulbs. My older jandycolor lights were available as 12 vt dc or 120vt ac. The reason for the 120vt is on long runs to the powercenter the 12vt dc has more resistance than a 120vt ac wire so ac versions prevented a dim light. In those cases, the transformer was placed in the light housing and bulbs on either version were identical 12vt models. With newer led light setups, I suspect the voltage drop of 12vts dc is limited as current is much lower than a halogen bulb. Although they have plenty of safeguards and I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by one, I’d still feel more comfortable with a 12vt light.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
15,823
Northern NJ
I would venture to say you have an older 120vt light with no transformer which uses replacement 120vt ac bulbs. My older jandycolor lights were available as 12 vt dc or 120vt ac. The reason for the 120vt is on long runs to the powercenter the 12vt dc has more resistance than a 120vt ac wire so ac versions prevented a dim light. In those cases, the transformer was placed in the light housing and bulbs on either version were identical 12vt models. With newer led light setups, I suspect the voltage drop of 12vts dc is limited as current is much lower than a halogen bulb. Although they have plenty of safeguards and I’ve never heard of anyone being killed by one, I’d still feel more comfortable with a 12vt light.
Pool light transformers have connections for 12v, 13v, and 14v. For longer runs you use a higher voltage tap to have 12v at the light.
 

Rossterman

Well-known member
Jun 5, 2016
290
Martinez, CA
Yup, any decent low voltage landscaping light has those and anything within 4 ft of pool required a divorced coil, pool and spa rated transformer (which is what I have for my landscape lights) I was under the impression that the jandy lights came with a separate 12vt transformer you were required to use as cost as the same for either version. If that isn’t the case I sure wish I would have bought the 12vt version as I spent close to $1000 for a 800 watt transformer for the landscape that had extra capacity to easily handle the pool and spa lights. 😢
 
  • Wow
Reactions: Household6

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
Ok. Got an electrician out here on Saturday. Confirmed it’s 120 vt.
Turns out the old wiring currently poking through the niche IS viable! So two questions -

1. How safe is it to splice the existing wires and wires for a new light together?

2. What are the chances the wiring is just buried in dirt versus being ran through conduit? (Haven’t tried to pull it through yet.)
 

GDN

Bronze Supporter
Oct 17, 2016
367
Dallas, TX
You can NOT splice the wires at the niche. That splice will end up being in water (unless something is different about these older niches/lights). Water floods and enters the niche. The water tight part is the light housing with the lens attached (and bulb inside) When you purchase a new housing/light you need to purchase with a cord long enough to reach the above ground junction box at the pole (they sell them with various links 25', 50', 100'). Use the old wire to tie on to and pull the new one through. Use a wire lubricant to help make that easier.

For question 2 - where/how does the wire come out of the ground at the pole? It really should be in conduit with an above ground juntion box. It it doesn't, your new one should.
 

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
You can NOT splice the wires at the niche. That splice will end up being in water (unless something is different about these older niches/lights). Water floods and enters the niche. The water tight part is the light housing with the lens attached (and bulb inside) When you purchase a new housing/light you need to purchase with a cord long enough to reach the above ground junction box at the pole (they sell them with various links 25', 50', 100'). Use the old wire to tie on to and pull the new one through. Use a wire lubricant to help make that easier.

For question 2 - where/how does the wire come out of the ground at the pole? It really should be in conduit with an above ground juntion box. It it doesn't, your new one should.
1. That’s what I was thinking, but there was talk about shrink wrapping and heat guns making the connection waterproof.

2. See photos 3 & 5 from my initial post. Though the wires do come up from the ground in conduit, my fear is this could have just been a facade to pass inspection as some point. Other than the age of the pool, no reason to believe this is the case, but just trying to gauge the likelihood of what we believe will be no more than pulling the wire through turning into a more involved project requiring the digging of a ditch and maybe even busting up 20’ of concrete deck.
 

GDN

Bronze Supporter
Oct 17, 2016
367
Dallas, TX
1. That’s what I was thinking, but there was talk about shrink wrapping and heat guns making the connection waterproof.

2. See photos 3 & 5 from my initial post. Though the wires do come up from the ground in conduit, my fear is this could have just been a facade to pass inspection as some point. Other than the age of the pool, no reason to believe this is the case, but just trying to gauge the likelihood of what we believe will be no more than pulling the wire through turning into a more involved project requiring the digging of a ditch and maybe even busting up 20’ of concrete deck.
Never would I rely on number 1 - ever. I would also truly believe that the conduit is in tact the whole way or your pool would leak water. It may not be a very straight path since your switches are over to the side of the pool, but that conduit should be in tact and would have water in it if the pool were full.
 

avspin

Gold Supporter
Jun 3, 2015
112
Reno, NV
The light conduit starts under water behind the light. Sometimes putty is used to try to seal it in case the conduit leaks. Sometimes nothing is used and the water in the conduit stays at the same level as the pool. Which is why the box is above water level. My conduit is not sealed and has never been sealed and I have had no issues.
 

GDN

Bronze Supporter
Oct 17, 2016
367
Dallas, TX
This video shows one of the best ways it works under water - very short simple video. The light housing with glass lens he removes is sealed and the electrical connection coming into the housing is sealed. Near the end of the video he goes back underwater and shows where the conduit connects to the niche. You can see that is not sealed. The electrical wiring from the light travels through that conduit all the way back to the above ground junction box. You can see it is not sealed and would also have water in it.

This is why any splice you made would have water on it and not be safe or protected. The only splice should be at the end of that conduit above ground in a sealed box.

If the niche in your pool is good, you need a new sealed light housing with a cord/wire long enough to be fished all the way back to where that conduit comes out of the ground.

 

Household6

LifeTime Supporter
Sep 15, 2013
509
Fayetteville, NC
The light conduit starts under water behind the light. Sometimes putty is used to try to seal it in case the conduit leaks. Sometimes nothing is used and the water in the conduit stays at the same level as the pool. Which is why the box is above water level. My conduit is not sealed and has never been sealed and I have had no issues.
Ah. Ok, here’s where I was confused. Ours has the putty/epoxy on the back.

Pool is currently empty as we just finished painting it yesterday and waiting for paint to cure before refill. But now that I’m thinking about it, we noticed a line going down the wall from the niche a couple days after we drained it. Looked like where water had gone down. Didn’t think much of it. But now I know where it was coming from - leaking through the putty. So this answers the question of whether or not there’s conduit ran all the way. Wouldn’t have leaked 2 days later if there wasn’t.

Any particular reason you elected not to plug it?