Planning - Wiring and Layout
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Wiring & Layout
Wiring gauge tells you exactly how much current the wire can carry. It's an inverse relationship: higher current runs on thicker cable, which is indicated by a lower number gauge. Wire should be purchased according to the type of light you have selected, the location of the lights and the wire layout.
Decide where you want to run your wires: stapled exposed under the handrail, hidden in a routered space within the railing, or under the deck and up each post. As current runs along the main cable to each light fixture in a circuit, voltage drop may occur, which can lead to insufficient voltage being supplied to lights at the end of your run. To limit voltage drop, it is recommended that for circuits with multiple light fixtures and/or long runs, you loop the main cable as illustrated in the first diagram below.
For each diagram below, fixtures should be attached by splicing the fixture wire leads into main wire run and using weather proof wire nuts to make a connection. The diagram above shows the connection for the first light fixture in each run. The other light fixtures are similar, except they will go to the previous light instead of the transformer.
Light fixtures are arranged in a looped circuit, reducing the effects of voltage drop. DecksDirect.com recommends this installation type.
For a loop installation, you will run wire from your transformer to the first light, from the first light to the second and so on. Finally, you will connect the end of the wire to the transformer. This means both the beginning and end of the wire run will be connected to the transformer.
Also called a line installation, the wiring in this layout starts at the end of your lighting and follows the direct light fixture sequence, all the way to the transformer.
This configuration works great with short wire runs. Because of voltage drop, this configuration is not recommend for large wire or for large fixture quantities. If your last light is dim, you are probably experiencing voltage drop. A voltage meter can also be used to determine this. Also, see our Transformer Guide to learn more about multi-tap transformers and how they help combat voltage drop.
In this layout, the transformer is centrally located among the lights. This creates a more equal distribution of power but also requires a heavier gauge of wire (8 or 10 gauge) running from the transformer.
Split Load Installation
This wiring layout is recommended when light fixtures run in two or more directions from the transformer. For this layout, locating the transformer in the center of the run reduces the effects of voltage drop.
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