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Year round outdoor lighting suggestions, please


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#1 of 7 Paul D G

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Posted November 08 2009 - 11:05 AM

Right now I have some Malibu brand outdoor lighting.  Since that's all I ever hear about I assume they're the main brand.  However I am having an endless battle keeping them lit.  And it's always the important lamps that go out.  For example I have four in front of my house.  Two spotlighting the front door, and two accenting other things.  The two on the door are the important ones yet they are constantly going out.  The other two, which only just even out the lighting, I never have a problem with.  One I replaced a few weeks ago and it's since gone out and I just can't get it going again.  It's not a light bulb issue, and there's no damage to the wires.  I doubt it's a connection problem as they all worked at one time, plus I've slit the cable to allow better connection and they still don't work.

The few other houses in the neighborhood with lighting never seem to have a problem.  When I take a closer look at their lighting they all seem to have the same ones I have.

Does anyone else have year round lighting?  What brands do you use?  Any other thoughts or suggestions welcome.


#2 of 7 Bob McLaughlin

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Posted November 09 2009 - 04:07 AM

I had the same problem with spotlights that I use for outdoor decorations (Halloween and Christmas).  What was happening was moisture was getting under the seal that was at the base of the light bulb, due to the angle of light.  Also the heat from the bulb would react with the moisture and corrode the socket. You need to protect the bulb and fixture from the elements.

One solution is to get some plywood and small L-shaped braces (used for shelving) and make boxes that encase the light on the top, sides, and back (basically a cube with two sides missing).  Place your lights where you want them, then put the boxes over top of the lights.  Make the boxes large enough that the bulb isn't touching the box on any of the sides.  Spray-paint the whole thing black so it blends in with your yard better.

"I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!" - Barton Fink

#3 of 7 Paul D G

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Posted November 11 2009 - 09:11 PM

Thanks, Bob.  I'll investigate that angle.  The two main problem lights are against a concrete step while the other functioning ones are more exposed. I would have thought the step would protect the lights better but perhaps it's adding to the problem.

I have another string of lights that refuse to work that I didn't get into.  I'll have to examine these and see if they're all corroding as well.

Seeing as these are outdoor lights you'd think they'd be more waterproof....


#4 of 7 BrianW

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Posted November 12 2009 - 02:16 PM

I use LED landscape lights exclusively, and in ten years, they have never let me down.  And I don't mean those barely visible solar lights that charge during the day and emit a few photons when it gets dark.  These lights are high-wattage (0.5 to 2.0 watts), extremely bright, and require a transformer, like regular lights. 

For comparison, a 0.5 watt LED bulb is about the same brightness as a 13- to 20-watt incandescent bulb.  The 2.0-watt LEDs are bright enough to use in an upward configuration to illuminate the 20-foot pillars on my porch.  If you've ever seen a 2-watt LED flashlight, then you know how incredibly bright they are.

They've never failed me.

Mine are pretty old, and I can't find the same ones anywhere, but here's something similar:

http://shop2.aol.ca/shop/product--catId_1001233__locale_en__productId_5319114.html

Mine are Westinghouse as well, but they're copper, with a more colonial styling.

You can also convert your existing landscape lighting to use LED bulbs:

http://www.superbrightleds.com/malibu.htm

I even converted the exterior carriage lights on my barn to use 3-watt LEDs, and they look like they have 40-watt bulbs in them.

LEDs use a lot less power for the same brightness as incandescent bulbs.  Each of my strings of 15 lights uses only 10 watts of power -- less than the power required for a single 11-watt bulb from a normal landscape lighting kit.

-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#5 of 7 Paul D G

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Posted November 12 2009 - 08:40 PM

1 - I had pulled latest non functioning fixture and had it in the kitchen so I pulled it apart (mostly) but could not find any issues with it anywhere.  There are a couple of screws holding the base in place so I'll take a closer look tomorrow, and maybe try a new bulb (tho the one in it looked perfect) but I don't see any problem with it.  I just need to pull all the down units wire the thing up where I can work on it without having to run around turning the box on and off and figure out what's going on.  Rabbits actually ate through both cords on one.

2 - Brian - Personally, I just hate the way LED lights look.  There are a few houses in our neighborhood who have replaced their outside house lights (ie porch light) with LED/CFL and they look awful, IMO.  I keep hearing that some lights are indistinguishable from incandescent but I have yet to find them.  I had to buy new xmas lights and looked at the LED ones. There were a variety of types on display but the light just looks too artificial. 



#6 of 7 Paul D G

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Posted November 14 2009 - 06:32 AM

Hey!  I fixed em!

Wanna know what the problem was?  Nothing.

Today I pulled all six non functioning lamps to connect next to the connector box.  One had rabbit damage so I didn't bother.  Another had a broken bulb.  One other just didn't work (it was full of water).  Every other one connected fine.  Even the one I replaced.  I held onto it for parts.  In the end I just cleaned the glass and reconnected them and they all came on fine.  I assume you just need to dis and reconnect them once in a while to get a fresh connection.

I work nights so it's been a torture for me since last winter to see all those light out, especially after I thought I got them working.  And I only get about four hours of sleep a day so I'm usually too tried to go out there and screw with them.  But after hanging the xmas lights I got motivated.

I would like to get some of those colored LED replacements.  I've been trying to find lighting filters off and on for two years but no one seems to sell them local.

Too bad I resolved the problem so late in the year as it put me off wiring the backyard (which involves digging a thin but long pipe trench across the yard).

Thanks to those who offered help.


#7 of 7 Bob McLaughlin

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Posted November 16 2009 - 03:32 AM

Glad it all worked out.  And try to get more sleep, Paul! 
"I'LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!!!" - Barton Fink