How can I diagnose and fix an LED fixture short?
If your low voltage outdoor landscape lighting system wasn’t professionally installed or if you’ve neglected basic maintenance on an older system, it’s not uncommon to experience fixture outages. Fixture outages are usually simple to diagnose and repair according to Harold Salkin of Custom Lighting of America. Shorts occur when electricity arcs within the system. The direct burial wire used to power lighting has 2 wires, and arcs happen when the currents passing through these wires touch each other. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but a few common ones are a poor wire connection, substandard materials used for the installation, use of the wrong outdoor connection system, a cut or frayed wire, moisture damage within the system, and places where wire is stretched over roots and rocks. You’ll also want to look for broken filaments and yellow colored LED diodes, which indicate lamp burnout.  Most repairs, according to the service department at Custom Lighting of America out of South Florida, could have been avoided with a basic annual maintenance check-up which is usually much less than the cost of sending out a technician.

If all your lights are out, this is probably an easy fix. Check and reset the breaker in your customer’s transformer. If this does not fix the issue and there’s no power to the transformer, check the GFCI outlet on the circuit. Reset this, then try resetting the breaker again. If the outlets are working, check the voltage and amperage- the transformer could need to be replaced. Ensure wires entering the transformer are inside the terminal lugs and tightened, as these wires could potentially arc off each other. If customers have a photocell within their transformer that is another thing to check; bypass this and try again. If the lights are working, you’ll need to replace the photocell. You can also use your voltmeter on individual fixtures to check power to specific fixtures, which is a good way to track a short. 

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If some lights work and others don’t within a well-built system, this is typically due to lamp burnout and you can simply replace the LED lamps. However, if that does not work, check the connections next. Connections that slide can loosen, pull at the wire, and allow moisture in, causing damage. If this is the problem, consider switching the system to copper crimps or heat shrink connections, as these work more efficiently. After checking the lamps and connections, ensure the sockets are high grade and the seals are intact. If the seals are broken, the sockets could have moisture damage and you should replace them. 

If a section of lights is out in a certain area, it indicates that a run has been cut off a circuit. If you’ve tried all of the above and the lights continue to trip, it could mean a cut wire is the issue and will need to be replaced.  

When all else fails, or if you want a professional landscape lighting repair expert to have a look in the first place, Custom Lighting of America is always standing by to help. Whether you have a single fixture out, an entire system, our technicians will have your system shining brightly by nightfall. At CLALighting.com, we “Light Up Your Life”. For all your low voltage landscape lighting needs throughout South Florida, call Harold today at (561) 204-3000.

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