Wire Connectors…Good, Bad, & Ugly

All landscape lights have to be powered by electricity… from batteries in cheap solar lights to a cable system connected to a transformer. For this discussion lets leave the price driven diy market and look at lighting that is powered by a transformer. The lighting needs to be connected to the 12v supply by some attachment to the secondary (technical term for the 12v supply wire) Why: have good connections? Especially LED need water proof connections… if the connection is exposed to moisture the nearest LED fixture will draw more amperage (milliamps) from the transformer and basically ‘eat’ themselves to death or burn out. This can happen within a few weeks. There is no repair…the lamp or fixture will need replacement. NOT GOOD! What: Connecting to the Secondary 12v supply. Ugly – Do it yourselfers and inexperienced contractors will use standard marretts and maybe fill them with silicone or even tape them with electrical tape. After all, isn’t electr. tape plastic? That may be but the adhesive is a water based adhesive and will dissolve over time with exposure to water allowing moisture to enter…ergo…burnout. Bad – Pinch on connectors… These are the connectors with the sharp point inside that pierce the cable insulation to contact the copper wire within. The metal piercings are not water proof in any way. Back in the day of halogen it didn’t matter, it worked for a long time and that was fine. However, the metal rusts, the point of piercing allows water into the secondary causing corrosion of the copper and of course the LED…burns out. Good – A good splice will fully seal the point of connection with a dielectric grease (not silicone)… There are many good products on the market but Silhouette has chosen the Dry Conn connector made by King products. This prefilled marrett type connector is CSA approved for direct burial and will, if done right, seal out moisture. How to make a great wire connection – Cut the wire cable at the point of connection, split the wire and strip all for leads back 2″, fan the multi-strand wires along with the lead from the light, tightly twist all three fans together, trim back to 7/8″, twist on Dry Conn connector as tight as you can by hand. If you want to make it mechanically secure, tape the secondary leads below the connector…yes, with electrical tape. (it’s not for sealing but for fastening)