Malibu Light Question

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  #1  
Old 07-09-05, 07:56 PM
S2K2C6
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Unhappy Malibu Light Question

I have 3 Malibu lights installed in my front yard. They operate on 12 volts. These were installed at the time the house was built.

The 3rd of the three lights has stopped working. I tried a new bulb and an new light, none of which work. I used a volt meter and found that it is drawing between 7-8 volts. When I put the meter on the other two working lights, it shows somewhere between 10-11 volts. I realize that's not 12 either, however, the meter might be a bit off. However, clearly there is a drop.

I've tried re-splicing the wires that connect into the light, but to no avail. The wires run under the lawn (I am not sure how far under) so I don't have a great desire to pull up the lawn to try and get at it.

What could cause this drop in power?

Thanks for any help.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-09-05, 08:07 PM
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Voltage only drops under load. So your readings are suspect. If the second light reads 10 volts, and there is no load after that, the voltage at the third light cannot read less, because there is no current that would cause the voltage to drop.

My guess is that you have a broken wire. Look for it.
 
  #3  
Old 07-09-05, 08:15 PM
S2K2C6
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Thanks for your response.

I am guessing that the way these lights were wired has a main line running under the lawn. At least lights 1 & 2 probably tap that line. I am not sure if for light 3 there is also a tap or if they just surfaced the end of the main line which then connects into the light.

Based on what you are saying, if there is a broken wire, would you say it would have to be between the 2nd and 3rd light? If so, this would mean that it would have to be underground. If that's the case, I'll probably have to do without the 3rd light because it's probably not worth ripping up the lawn.

Thanks.
 
  #4  
Old 07-09-05, 08:21 PM
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Yea, my guess is that the break is between the second and third light.
 
  #5  
Old 07-09-05, 08:51 PM
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Try this

The Malibu lights use a vampire tap type power connector. My in-laws have had a ton of problems with these connections. On your third light, try to find it's tap and reconnect/secure it. It should be at the base of the 3rd light, just below the ground.

hth
 
  #6  
Old 07-09-05, 09:00 PM
S2K2C6
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Originally Posted by big_bogus
The Malibu lights use a vampire tap type power connector. My in-laws have had a ton of problems with these connections. On your third light, try to find it's tap and reconnect/secure it. It should be at the base of the 3rd light, just below the ground.

hth
I actually don't use the vampire tap. They were installed using bare wire, so I clipped off the vampire taps. However, the bare wire coming up from the ground is showing 7-8 volts so its even before if gets to the light.

Thanks.
 
  #7  
Old 07-09-05, 09:58 PM
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S2K2C6,

The drop in the voltage (7-8Volts) would be correct. By the fact that you have this voltage would suggset no broken wire. The lights at the end of the chain will pull enough current through the resistance of the line to drop this amount of voltage and also;indicate your line is indeed intact. Make sure your fixture is indeed connecting with the bulb contacts.

Your meter uses very little current and will read a voltage however, your bulb will cause a large voltage drop if your contacts in the lamp base are deffective inturn causing the lamp not to glow. It's also possible that the feeder has been partially severed to just a few strands and this will cause a major voltage drop with the bulb installed however, if this be the case; the lights behind this fixture will also dim.

God Bless,
Dave
 
  #8  
Old 07-09-05, 10:12 PM
S2K2C6
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Dave237,

Thanks for your response. I am quite sure that the unit is not the cause of the problem. This is actually the second new unit I have tried in that location. The first new unit I purchased for the location didn't work so I used it in a different location and it worked fine.

I tested the volts from two different places. First, without the fixture attached at all, I read it from the two bare wires coming up from the ground. Next, I connected these wires to the fixture and I took a reading from the two contacts where the bulb would connect. Both places read the same 7-8 volts. On the other two fixtures, I took the reading from the where the bulb connects and they read between 10-11 volts.

I am not sure what all of this means other than I am confident that the problem is not with the third fixture. Actually I would have thought that even with 7-8 volts, the bulb might have come on but dimmer. However, it doesn't light at all.

I am really at a loss.
 
  #9  
Old 07-09-05, 11:14 PM
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Normally, neither side of this line is grounded. I suspect that you have a broken lead and one leg is open but partially grounded.
 
  #10  
Old 07-09-05, 11:26 PM
S2K2C6
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Originally Posted by 594tough
Normally, neither side of this line is grounded. I suspect that you have a broken lead and one leg is open but partially grounded.
Where along the line would I look for this?

Thanks.
 
  #11  
Old 07-10-05, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by S2K2C6
I actually don't use the vampire tap. They were installed using bare wire, so I clipped off the vampire taps. However, the bare wire coming up from the ground is showing 7-8 volts so its even before if gets to the light.

Thanks.
S2K2C6,

What do you mean by "bare" wire? Also, have you done any yard work along the lighting wire path? How about aerating the lawn? If, not then I would look at the second light for the break. The line may have broke at the connection for the second light.

Good Luck,
 
  #12  
Old 07-10-05, 09:15 AM
S2K2C6
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Originally Posted by big_bogus
S2K2C6,

What do you mean by "bare" wire? Also, have you done any yard work along the lighting wire path? How about aerating the lawn? If, not then I would look at the second light for the break. The line may have broke at the connection for the second light.

Good Luck,
I am probably using the term "bare wire" incorrectly, but what I mean is that coming from the ground are two wires with stripped ends. In other words, there are no connectors or any such things on them.

I will check the second light again today, but if there were a problem at that light, why wouldn't I have problems with the second light?

Thanks again all for the help.
 
  #13  
Old 07-10-05, 10:36 AM
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You don't indicate the distance between light # 2 & # 3, but my solution would be to get some new wire - available where they sell the lights - splice it in at light # 2 - cut the old wire at light # 2 - run the new wire to where you want light # 3 - slice the sod with a heavy knife or other sharp tool to a depth of maybe two inches - lay in the wire and step down the slit to close it - hook up light # 3 and you should be in business. Just remember where you ran the wire so you don't put a shovel through it in the future when you decide to change the landscaping.
 
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