Author Topic: Installing LED strips and other LED issues  (Read 7432 times)

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Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6367
Installing LED garden lighting and other LED issues
« Reply #60 on: July 31, 2019, 12:37 PM »
So, last evening was beautiful and as I was sitting outside just enjoying the lighting, I started to think about a tutorial on LED lighting issues, specifically when it comes to garden lighting.

I initially installed a commercially sold solar lighting system in the garden 15-16 years ago.  It was comprised of 30 stainless bollards, each with a small solar panel for a cover, 2 rechargeable batteries inside and using 2 each 5 mm LED's. It was neat at the time because it was a self sustaining system, however one soon realized that this was a system from heck if you were serious about maintaining a back yard that was illuminated for longer than 2 hours per day.  [eek]

The solar approach at the time was a great idea, but because of the then available rechargeable batteries, the low efficiency of the available solar panels, the low efficiency of the LED's and the Minnesota winter temperature extremes, the concept just wasn't feasible.

This led me to convert the luminaries from solar to 12V DC. The 12 VDC system has worked extremely well over the last 13 years and it's still working tonight.  [smile]  I have it connected to a photoelectric cell so it turns on at dusk and turns off at dawn.
The system in the back yard consists of:
30 ground lights
20 downward projecting fence lights
4 spotlights
2 stainless in-stair lights
And 2 lit butterfly baths

This runs dusk to dawn, 24/7 and costs around $1 per month.

The first aspect of this conversation was converting the stainless solar bollards to 12 VDC LEDs and the second aspect, 2 years ago was converting RAB 120 volt dome-down fixtures to 12 VDC dome-up fixtures. Out with the old...in with the new. The RAB vapor proof luminaires are sweet and I use them as they were designed dome-down on the house for general outside lighting. However, adapting them for dome-up fixtures in the garden was an interesting challenge because of the rain and the snow.

If there's some Iinterest in the RAB conversion process let me know.

Here are some interesting snippets from the garden last night.

The RAB vapor proof light converted to 12 VDC LED's in a dome-up configuration.




One of the butterfly baths. An inverted wine bottle with a very deep punt and filled with LED tape.






General ground lighting






Spotlights on the cat & on the fountain






The gate entrance with downward projecting LEDs lighting the pathway while the fence also has downward projecting LEDs at a higher level to highlight some of the taller plantings. You can also see the fountain in the background on the LH side.


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Offline Richard/RMW

  • Posts: 1914
Re: Installing LED strips and other LED issues
« Reply #61 on: July 31, 2019, 04:44 PM »
@Cheese I cannot let the boss see any of these photos or I'll spend the rest of my free time natural lifespan installing lighting. She's a stage lighting pro from her prior life, while for me lighting is either "enough" or "too dim".

Anyway, beautiful spaces, I can understand your enjoyment. Thanks for sharing.

RMW

PS - love the "butterfly bath".

As of 10/17 I am out of the Dog business and pursuing other distractions. Thanks for a fun ride!

Offline neilc

  • Posts: 2727
Re: Installing LED strips and other LED issues
« Reply #62 on: July 31, 2019, 08:55 PM »
Your yard looks amazing.  Really cool to see the impact of light and shadows on a space!

Thanks for sharing!

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6367
Garden LED Lighting and other LED issues
« Reply #63 on: August 03, 2019, 09:12 AM »
The lighting is pretty dramatic at night however, what's missing are the colors so I snapped this photo just as the sensor kicked the lighting on. In photography parlance, it's known as the "Golden Hour". Here's a comparison of the same basic area just taken at different times.





And @Richard/RMW here's the butterfly bath taken at the Golden Hour. I placed it in front of the purple Echinacea which Monarch butterflies love.




What can't be seen are the Liatris cylindracea just behind the Echinacea. The Monarchs love the Liatris even more.  [big grin]


Offline Koamolly

  • Posts: 87
Re: Installing LED strips and other LED issues
« Reply #64 on: August 03, 2019, 01:45 PM »
That is really cool landscape lighting you have there.  I’m always trying to come up with a creative functional design to light the fifty stairs that lead to my house.  Years ago I put some of the original Malibu tiered lights using ABS pipe to raise them up a bit and set them in concrete.  I live in a rain forest so the height helps since the vines tend to take over pretty quickly.  This setup worked really well for quite awhile until feral pigs moved through and dug up the set in concrete lights, cutting the wire and rolling many down the hill.  They also undermined my 4’ wide concrete stairs about 2’.  I ended up with cheap solar lights from Costco which maybe last 3-4 hours, which have also been dug up by the pigs.  They last a couple of years.  The latest ones have a long LED bulb which produce lighting from the lower portion of fixture that causes one to be looking directly at the light source which means it’s actually hard to see the stairs in the dark.  I like your industrial dome lights.  I have some near my shower.  I was wondering...  Don’t you get a lot of glare from those two designs since the tops are clear?  Do you need to nestle them down in the foliage to avoid that?  Maybe from a distance it works better?

My place is basically in a jungle with the house looking at a huge tree which I’m able to light up with floods mounted on the house.

I really like your wine bottle light idea.  I need to give that some thought.  They would stay full of water at my place but the mosquitoes have so many sources of water it probably wouldn't make any difference.  I certainly produce enough empty wine bottles!

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6367
Garden LED lighting and other LED issues
« Reply #65 on: August 04, 2019, 11:53 AM »
That is really cool landscape lighting you have there. 

Don’t you get a lot of glare from those two designs since the tops are clear?  Do you need to nestle them down in the foliage to avoid that?  Maybe from a distance it works better?

I really like your wine bottle light idea.  I need to give that some thought.  They would stay full of water at my place but the mosquitoes have so many sources of water it probably wouldn't make any difference.  I certainly produce enough empty wine bottles!

Thanks @Koamolly ...no there's no glare at all. Most of the light is transmitted side ways. The LED bulb is comprised of 12 side emitting LEDs and only 1 top emitter. I actually line the inside of the globe with a piece of frosted vinyl film to prevent glare and also to change the LED from a point-source to a line-source.






This is how the RAB's are supposed to be installed.




When you turn them upside down, water/snow melt collects at the light base and it wants to get past the rubber gasket and enter the light.

I was able to drill 2 holes 180º apart that channels the water into and through the light base, then into the bottom bowl and finally it runs down the inside of the 3/4" MNPT galvanized post into the ground. 




Here's a shot of the light base attached to the bottom bowl (LH) and the bottom bowl by itself.




Probably the most important part of having maintenance free garden lighting is to come up with a robust wiring method. The typical solutions used for home owners, center around using this style of lighting connector. CAUTION...this solution is a total  abomination and will only work for a very limited time.




My experience is that this style of connector lasts maybe 2-3 years before you start to have lighting issues. Lights that don't come on, lights that flicker, lights that flash on & off. It's all in the connector. Moisture enters the wire "wound" and oxidizes the individual wires and also the wire connector. The oxidation interrupts the electrical path and it'll only get worse.

I tin all electrical wire connections and use Wago wire nuts The tinned wires will not corrode because of the lead in the solder. In the last 12-13 years that I've used this methodology, I've not had a single light issue with almost 60 lights and 70 light & wire connections.  [smile]




Here's a shot of the punt inside the bottle. It's pretty deep so the water stays in the bottle for at least 4-5 days.  [big grin]

« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 12:56 AM by Cheese »

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 6367
Why I solder LED connections rather than use the slip-on connector
« Reply #66 on: August 13, 2019, 12:21 PM »
When I fabricated the LED light bars for a built-in cabinet, I decided to solder each connection to the LED bar instead of using the slip-on connectors that are supplied. Here's the slip-on connector attached to the LED tape.



My thought was that the drawers will be opened and closed thousands of times over the life of the LED bar and the drawers are also equipped with Blumotion slides that produce a small shock when they fully close. I figured that the vibration would eventually compromise the slip-on connector integrity. So I soldered the leads to all 20 light bars. Not a big deal...just a PITA. [smile]






Now, moving on to the under counter LED lighting in the kitchen. It's an aluminum channel that conceals 12' of LED tape from Diode LED. It's their UltraBlaze line of LEDs. It draws 4.3 watts per foot.
I decided that because the under counter lighting is permanent, it doesn't move and its not subject to vibration, I'd use the standard Diode LED slip-on connector.

Well after 18 months of the LEDs working, the factory slip-on connector died. It was a slow death and happened in fits & starts.

I think the large current draw coupled with the frequent use of the LED lighting compromised the connection and over time it was all down hill. These under counter LEDs get turned on & off at least 8-10 times per day.

The plastic connection was actually burned as was the copper connection on the LED tape.




From here on out, I'll be soldering every connection to LED tape.








Offline six-point socket II

  • Posts: 1032
  • aka @the_black_tie_diyer
Re: Installing LED strips and other LED issues
« Reply #67 on: August 13, 2019, 01:16 PM »
Thank you for this "loaded to the max" thread of LED wisdom & knowledge!

Kind regards,
Oliver
Kind regards,
Oliver

Offline tjbnwi

  • Posts: 6065
  • Cedar Tucky Indiana
Re: Installing LED strips and other LED issues
« Reply #68 on: August 13, 2019, 05:42 PM »
This is the only other LED tape connector I'll use besides soldier.

http://gmlighting.net/LED_Sure-Tite™_Tape_Connectors

Tom