Landscape lights not as bright as before


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western NC
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Hi all! I've been a poster over on the sister site of gardenpondforum.com for awhile, but this is my first foray over here :)

I've been working hard to landscape my front and back yard this year, paying special attention to a walkway that goes by my pond. The landscaping is coming along nicely, I think, thanks to some advice I've read here over the last year or so.

But my issue today is with my lighting.

In October 2018, I bought a Moonrays 600W transformer (2 channels, 300 watts per channel; Amazon now says it's "Yellow Jacket"). It's mounted on my back deck, and I run wire from 1 of those channels along the side of the house to the front yard. I'm guessing that it's between 100 and 150' total length of wire, and I'm not positive but I BELIEVE that the wire I bought is 14/2 gauge. The wire has 2 splices in it.

I have nine 7W lights + two 10W spotlights on that channel.

It did well all winter, but I recently noticed that the lights in the front are much dimmer than they used to be, and much dimmer than the lights in the back yard (which has 14 7W lights, 2 10W spotlights, and 1 50W spotlight; so, double the load as the channel for the front).

I measured the voltage coming out of the transformer, and it's 12.2V. I then measured the voltage at my first light: 9.2V!

My first thought was that there's a break somewhere along the wire, but I took apart the second splice in the wire (just before the first light) and measured... it was 11.8V. A 0.4V drop over the distance would be fairly normal, I think.

But then I made another discovery: if I remove all of the light bulbs from the circuit and then measure, then all of the lights are 11.8V!

Then I put one bulb back in: 11.6V. I added another: 11.4V. And it continued to drop with each bulb that I reinstalled. Even if I measured at the first light in the chain (without a bulb) and installed a bulb at the last light in the chain, I would see the same voltage drop.

I'm quite confused by this. The problem shouldn't be that I'm using too small of wire, because then the voltage would have dropped below 11.8V with nothing plugged in, right? And the fact that this is a new issue implies that something has changed.

I DID mulch over the wires recently, and pulled up a ton of Anne Marie Ivy from around the wire. But if the wire was damaged then it would have shown when I measured without the bulbs, right?
 
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Joined
Jun 15, 2019
Messages
13
Reaction score
3
Location
western NC
Hardiness Zone
7a
Country
United States
Will do... it's raining all week this week, so I'll have to update sometime next week and hope that I'm not damaging the transformer
 

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